With its beautiful beaches and lush rice terraces, a trip to Bali is generally seen as an escape from work. Strangely enough, the island has also been gathering a reputation for being an ideal work location — specifically for digital nomads. Singapore couple, Gabriel Wong, 30, and Zoey Sin, 28, were intrigued by this idea and relocated to Bali for a one-month trial run in October 2022.
They weren’t just there to take in the sights and sounds, work was very much a priority too.
In fact, the trial run went so well that they are set on making it long-term in 2023, after the birth of their second child.
Bali-bound once more
When asked about their decision to relocate, Gabriel provided a straightforward response.
“There is almost no benefit to even staying here anymore.”
While population density is a factor for them, the financial aspect of living in Singapore far outweighed it.
“It was starting to make less and less sense to actually pay a premium price because, in Singapore, everything is expensive, right?” Gabriel asks rhetorically.
He even likened the living experience in Singapore to constantly running on a hamster wheel.
“We’ve been running [on it] for a while and we just feel that it’s time to stop and take a break first.”
It wasn’t even a break per se. The change of scenery from Singapore to Bali seems to have greatly benefited the couple’s work life.
They started the digital marketing agency Ascend Marketing in 2019, meaning work is mostly online.
Having thought about it for a number of years, they crystallised a plan for this month-long trial run.
Gabriel and Zoey pinpointed Bali as their location of choice, after falling in love with the island during their last couple of visits.
To best assess Bali as a place to relocate long-term, the work must go on.
“We wanted to see what it’s like to still live the life that we have here, just in another location,” Zoey explains.
In complete honesty, her husband mentions that he was actually less focused when working in Bali.
He continues: “I think it’s partly because there’s a lot of places we’ve yet to explore. There’s also a bit of the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect.
In the long-term though, when time is less of an issue, Gabriel has no worries about work focus being a stumbling block.
Much like in Singapore, their Bali work day is relatively systematic.
It starts bright and early when time is set aside for their 22-month-old daughter, Ayla.
Work starts between 10am and 11am before ending about six hours later.
If time permits, they’d head down to the beach to catch the sunset and have some family time.
Upon their return home, Gabriel and Zoey might continue with work, if there is a need to do so.
Maybe most importantly, high living expenses were a thing of the past. They were able to “save a lot of money” and do so while living a “better lifestyle”.
Zoey describes it as simple and peaceful while Gabriel is certain it was the best time of his life.
The goal is not work-life balance
While many may suggest the duo have their work-life balance in order, Gabriel offers a different lens.
Instead of work-life balance, the goal for him and Zoey is to have work and life coexist harmoniously — work-life integration.
“Generally, the idea of work-life balance is that you try to keep work and live separate,” the 30-year-old says.
This isn’t really possible, especially when you are passionate about the work you do, he adds.
It’s hard to switch off, even on “off days” but Gabriel doesn’t really mind as work isn’t exactly drab. The same goes for Zoey.
However, as passionate as they are about work, they wouldn’t put it above another unit in life.
Gabriel shares: “Our marriage comes first. In order for us to provide love to our kids, we need to be in love.”
So Thursday nights are set aside for just them two and no one else, not even Ayla.
“We’re not going to compromise our marriage [or] family and put that aside just because we need money,” Gabriel says.
There are instances when work seeps into date night but that’s completely fine, given how the couple understands the dynamic of work and life.
It’s all about prioritisation.
Adulting ain’t easy
The couple admits that making major life decisions, be it starting a business or relocating a family, is hard.
Gabriel suggests asking yourself one specific question when a major life decision comes around.
What’s the worst that could happen? Writing it down might help, it certainly did for him.
“When it’s in our heads, it’s exaggerated, right? It’s bigger than we think.”
After writing out his biggest fears, Gabriel realised how “stupid” some of them actually are.
He is keen to avoid regrets when reminiscing on life during his golden years.
“I don’t like to live the pain of regret, I rather deal with the pain of inconvenience.”
Both Gabriel and Zoey feel that having this mentality can help in one’s pursuit of happiness.
It certainly did for them.
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.