Family sold everything to move from UK to Bali to become financially free - now their rent is £2,000 a year
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A British couple sold their home and possessions before moving to Bali to become “financially free” - and now their rent is just £2,000 a year. Matt Dearing, 36, and his partner, Carlie Donnelley, 35, say building their home there will also save them £236,000 overall.
The family from Denton in Manchester, wanted to “escape the rat race” and were sick of “living to work”. They felt they were constantly chasing bills and not spending as much time as they wanted with children Lincoln, seven, Delilah, four and Adelaide, one.
So the couple started researching Bali, due to the year-round tourism and hot weather, and sold their three-bedroom property for £365k. They then booked one-way tickets in November 2022 even though 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 £2k a year, as well as a nearby 1,200 square-foot plot of land for £100k. They now plan to build their dream home which will cost them around £263k less than in the UK.
Matt, a joiner and now living in Ubud, said: “This was something we have wanted to do for years. A couple of times we would go over to Spain, and I was looking for cave houses as I wanted to go off grid.
“In the UK it got to the point where I wasn’t spending much time with my kids, I would spend about an hour with them before bedtime. I was constantly chasing bills and working.
“I did a lot of research into Bali as it has all-year-round tourism, and the weather is great. The return on your investment here is amazing.
“We sold the house we were living in and doing up for £365k. With that money, we were able to buy a 1,200 square foot plot of land to build two villas on. We have struck gold - this is everything we want.
“For us, being financially free is literally freedom to do whatever we want with ther 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, he slowly started to realise it would not be possible in the UK - despite working 10 hours a day six days a week.
Matt said: “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”. Matt added: “We told everyone we were going to book a one-way ticket to Bali, and everyone was calling us mad.
“For me, the world is so big, and life is so short, I hate the fact kids are indoors so much. 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.”
In March 2023, the family arrived in Bali and spent three months travelling around the country, visiting Canggu and Lovina Beach, before settling down in Ubud. The pair used their savings to buy a plot of land for £100k where they are building two four or five-bedroom villas and they have a three-bedroom house on separate land for the family to live in while the building is underway.
Matt said: “Another reason we left when we did is my oldest is seven and then I have a four and one-year-old. I thought if leave it any longer, I was worried they would develop a relationship with friends, and we wouldn’t be able to take them away in the future.
“We really have got lucky here - the people are amazing - my children are enjoying school and we are making a lot of good friends here. 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.
“The only thing about being out in Bali is you don’t have that support network anymore. We are hoping we get to the point where we can fly our family here and we are planning on coming back to the UK for two to three months at a time.”
The couple are sharing their journey on their TikTok @serenitylivingbali in the hope that they will inspire other people to take the same leap. Carlie Donnelley, a beautician, said: “It has been exciting, it is a different life.
“I spent more time with the kids while he was at work, we were missing out on having Matt with us. It is great, I am loving life, the weather and just exploring different things - we are outdoorsy.”