‘Being financially free is literally freedom to do whatever we want with the kids, compared to working 10 hours, seven days a week’
A British couple sold their home and all their possessions and moved to Bali to become “financially free” – now their rent is just £2,000 (€2,300) a year.
Matt Dearing, 36, and his partner, Carlie Donnelley, 35, say building their home in the holiday hot spot will also save them £236,000.
The family from Denton, Manchester, wanted to “escape the rat race” and were sick of “living to work”.
They felt they were constantly working to pay bills and not spending as much time as they wanted with their children, Lincoln, seven, Delilah, four and Adelaide, one.
The couple started researching Bali – due to the year-round tourism and hot weather – and sold their three-bedroom property for £365,000.
They booked one-way tickets in November 2022 and say relatives thought they were “mad” and didn’t believe they’d go through with the move.
In March 2023, they found a three-bedroom house to rent for £2,000 a year, as well as a nearby 1,200 square-meter plot of land for £100,000.
They now plan to build their dream home – which will cost them £263k less than in the UK.
Matt, who now lives in Ubud, said moving from the city was “something we have wanted to do for years”, having visited Spain a number of times in search of “cave houses as I wanted to go off-grid.”
The joiner said he was so busy working in the UK he would spend about an hour with his children before bed.
After researching Bali, “as it has all-year-round tourism, and the weather is great”, he learned the return on “your investment here is amazing.”
The family now plan to build two, four or five-bedroom villas, on their 1200 square meter plot of land. Then they’ll sell one and buy more land to build more. In the interim, they live in a three-bedroom home on separate land.
“With the land we bought we plan to keep one villa and sell one, then buy more land and build two more houses and sell one of them and rent another one out
“We have struck gold – this is everything we want,” Matt said.
“For us, being financially free is literally freedom to do whatever we want with the kids, compared to working 10 hours, seven days a week sometime.
“I have always dreamed of dropping the kids off at school and picking them up – I can do that here.
“The people here are lovely and show a lot of gratitude – it ticked all the right boxes.”
When Matt was 24, he had a dream of becoming financially free – having sufficient income, savings, or investments to live comfortably for life.
When he turned 36, Matt slowly started to realise it would not be possible in the UK – despite working 10 hours a day six days a week.
“At the time I owned five houses in Manchester, and I realised that in order for me to be financially free I would need 10 of those but I wanted to do it quicker.
“I was working so hard at home – I didn’t have much of a social life.
“I didn’t really go out partying – my main goal was that I wanted to be financially free. It was something I have been pushing for the last 10 years, because of the cost of living in Bali, it is something we will achieve quicker.”
When Matt and Carlie told their family about the move, he says they thought they were “mad” and told them to “stop being silly”.
“For me, the world is so big, and life is so short, I hate the fact kids are indoors so much,” Matt explained.
“When I was a kid, I would be out all the time, you don’t get much of that in the UK.
“Every weekend is now a family weekend – we go to a different beach or waterfall, and we feel like we have struck gold.
“Back in Manchester I would not let my kids out of the garden, now they are out all the time, they are playing in rice fields – they had never experienced that before.”
After arriving in Bali in March, the family spent three months travelling around the country, visiting Canggu and Lovina Beach, before settling down in Ubud.
Matt admitted while the relocation was great, the family do feel isolated from their support networks, but hope they can get to the point where they can fly family members out to visit, and can also afford to return to the UK for several months at a time.
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