CEO & Founder Soaring Falcon
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Alex Falcon in Bali
Me, working at my villa in Bali.

An accountant’s journey to becoming a digital nomad

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Alex Falcon Huerta shares her experience moving to Bali to become a fully digital accounting nomad and offers advice to anyone thinking of running their practice from anywhere around the world.

12th Apr 2021
CEO & Founder Soaring Falcon
Columnist
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I’ve always travelled. It’s always been important to me. That is why I based my business on current technology – so I could travel and run my business from anywhere.

The pandemic prevented me from living my dream – but I had the right processes and systems in place to create an entirely new base somewhere else in the world. And I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and think “I’ve only lived in one town my whole life.” I wanted to see the world, meet new people, learn, grow and develop.

You learn different things from different people, countries and cultures, and often staying in one place limits your pool of experiences to draw from. Exploring different cultures teaches you how to adapt and accommodate for a vast array of different people and customs. 

In Indonesia, at meetings, they have an opening and closing prayer. To allow for that, you must adjust and step outside of your comfort zone. Being impolite or aggressive in any way is unacceptable because the culture is built on gentleness and kindness.

Starting to plan

My ambition was to build a global team. I already had a team in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, so I needed a base nearby. I looked for a country with a strong community of entrepreneurs and a place that matched my ambitions and goals, with warm people and warm weather: Bali.

Once I’d found Bali, I researched into Visas, added myself into multiple Facebook groups, researched on Linkedin for people to connect with. Just type in your destination and groups to research will appear. I searched ‘digital nomad Bali’, ‘villas Bali’, ‘ex-pats Bali’, ‘entrepreneurs Bali’ etc etc. Think about what your needs and ambitions are, then tailor your research to accommodate. All this research connected me with people prior to going, so I wasn’t alone when I arrived.

I also got in touch with ACCA Indonesia to continue with the webinars and ACCA advocacy. 

Preparing for Bali

Abide by the countries rules and regulations. If you have a Visa, use it in the correct manner. Make sure you have the correct travel insurance and medical insurance. Ask Uncle Google – he has all the answers. 

Read blogs about moving and the issues they’ve come across. Research security, staying safe and try to understand what it’s like being there before going. Connecting with people will give you reliable answers to most questions. There’s lots of information available so make the most of all the resources at your fingertips.

Accommodation

I needed flexibility, so I booked a hotel for three days on the basis I could work it out as I went along – but this only works if you aren’t risk-averse (outside of accounting). I booked three days knowing I could stay longer if I couldn’t find somewhere better. But I would advise against a hotel long-term when a villa or Airbnb would be more cost-effective.

It’s easier to look at the villa in person before you commit yourself. In Bali, you rent a villa for a month at a time so you have the flexibility to change each month if you want.

The travelling accountant’s app stack

Start with essential apps:

Lonely Planet: travel guide including maps and local information to visit local tourist places and temples

Booking.com: finding hotels

Gojeck: taxi -bike/car, food delivery, shopping (this is an essential app in Bali )

tokopedia: Indonesian version of Amazon

Monzo: cashcard to keep track of spending - although many places require cash

Expedia: book hotels/flights

Xe.com: currency exchange checker 

360bali: A guide for Bali experiences

Air bnb- booking villas

EhaC: an Indonesian e-health card mandatory for flying to Indonesia (to connect to Bali). The Indonesian government obligates you to fill out eHAC as an effort to detect, prevent, and control public health emergencies through official point of entries. The app has a QR code that has to be updated before you go, which is scanned on arrival.

Once in Bali, I joined Gyms, entrepreneur circles, a bank. I then expanded my tech stack:

F45 training: gym

Bigtribe Bali: entrepreneurs circle

Dojo: Bali co-working 

ThriveIn: creative network

Bali tech stack

Wifi

When I did my research, I found Bali had a multitude of co-working spaces with wifi and, because Bali is well known for digital nomads, there’s wifi pretty much everywhere.

When travelling around during working hours, it’s better to stick to places where you are certain of wifi. I save my trips to places with poor wifi at the weekend and out of office hours. 

Important: Make sure your villa has wifi before you go and then test it out when you go to view the place and ensure your laptop is registering the wifi as secure. Co-working spaces are designed for this and are usually secure.

Bali work out space

Tech and security

I’d recommend a laptop with good battery life, I always go for MacBooks. But there are repair shops so most issues can be fixed in the normal manner.

I’d recommend a good laptop with all the security built-in. Here is my security tech stack:

NordVPN: Virtual private network (VPN)  offers online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection

Yubico: Two-step authentication

Google authenticator: implements two-step verification services for authenticating users of software applications.

Privacy filter for laptop: Prevents others from seeing your screen.

A high priority is Practice Protect, an accounting-specific cybersecurity platform that protects data and client information. Using strong passwords isn’t enough.

I would still face away from people and choose coworking spaces geared up for high-end security. 

The Start-up Practice

The Start-up Practice is the inner circle for the next tribe of digital accountants. It’s an exclusive membership for open-minded travelling accountants with a work-life balance.

I created a membership for digital accountants that want to travel. We help and support each other, digitally, with setting up in other countries, who, in turn, then help others. We help with advice on their digital tech stacks as a digital nomad and support and offer exclusive discounts with app partners.

The Start-up Practice offers networking and events in different countries, workshops and collaboration. We’ve agreed that different time zones won’t be an issue and so we can have the Q&A from whichever country we are in.

The Start-up Practice

Replies (14)

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ghm
By TaxTeddy
14th Apr 2021 16:24

Thank goodness.

I have been meaning to relocate to Bali for ages and the only thing holding me back was waiting to see that someone else had done it first. Nothing to stop me now.

Thanks (3)
Replying to TaxTeddy:
Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA , Soaring Falcon
By Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA
14th Apr 2021 17:04

Yes I mean , it’s crazy to think I’m the first to ever become a digital nomad! Haha.
On a serious note, there are really awesome links to other countries with cost of living budgets also which I forgot to mention :)

https://nomadlist.com/

https://wifitribe.co/blog/the-7-best-countries-for-expats-and-digital-no...

Thanks (1)
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By meadowsaw227
15th Apr 2021 09:58

How will the subbies & small companies get their bag of records to you in time to do their cis/vat/accounts !

Thanks (2)
Replying to meadowsaw227:
Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA , Soaring Falcon
By Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA
16th Apr 2021 14:36

my client base are all in the cloud and we use tech to ensure clients utilise this so we can do the work remotely. We niche with tech and creatives. We don't have any clients who use the paper method. Here is where the traditional/local firm can be of help.

Thanks (0)
Nichola Ross Martin
By Nichola Ross Martin
15th Apr 2021 10:41

Just one thing to add: being a digital nomad whilst running a business requires quite a lot of research on the tax front and you need to keep a very careful diary for tax.
Don't forget to read up on the Statutory Residence Tests and double tax treaties, and of course, you need to know your VAT and sales taxes. You will need to register for tax according to the law of each country.
Virtual Tax Partner support: www.rossmartin.co.uk

Thanks (5)
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By North East Accountant
15th Apr 2021 17:30

And miss scrapping the frost off the car windscreen like this morning in mid April for goodness sake..........very tempting.

Thanks (1)
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By Richard Grant
15th Apr 2021 19:34

With the technology now it's relatively easy to relocate, one consideration is time zone for someone as far away as Bali. I've got the easier option, London based website, address and phone while sitting in southern France.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Richard Grant:
Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA , Soaring Falcon
By Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA
16th Apr 2021 14:37

Or just create an awesome team !

Thanks (0)
FirstTab
By FirstTab
15th Apr 2021 22:01

I am very happy where I am. I have no intentions taking up the grass the greener on the other side option.

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Profile
By indomitable
16th Apr 2021 10:12

You cannot build a successful practice if you are overseas. Been there got the teeshirt!

I had a property in Thailand and used to spend many months there per year trying to manage my UK practice and grow it.

And this article is not about accounting and tax, its more about how to live in Bali!

Accountingweb really the quality of articles is seriously going downhill

Thanks (3)
Replying to indomitable:
Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA , Soaring Falcon
By Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA
16th Apr 2021 16:58

It depends on your client base. Mine are mostly global with a UK subsidiary.
Why wouldn't it work? Ive been travelling for the last 6 years whilst growing the business.
I would imagine lots of people would want to work remotely after COVID and its quite nice to share a story of remote working and being a digital nomad accountant.
This article is in the 'tech' section. My blogs/content are more tech focused not tax and technical accounting issues.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Alex Falcon Huerta FCCA:
Profile
By indomitable
19th Apr 2021 11:03

Alex, I find articles like this inappropriate on this site. The quality and content of articles has seriously gone downhill on accountingweb

I really totally disagree that you can grow your business sitting overseas and I would think that you will find most people that have tried it would agree with me, no matter what your client base.

The article appears to be self promoting on how to live in Bali (with a picture of you sitting in your villa on the beach)

Thanks (3)
Replying to indomitable:
FirstTab
By FirstTab
20th Apr 2021 23:34

Self promotion is the objective. To be fair to the writer, she has grabbed the chance since it is available.

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By agar
02nd Dec 2021 17:24

Interesting article. How do you deal with physical correspondence like letters and parcels? For example Fred is a UK based accountant, and he decides to locate to Bali, Indonesia. Would mail forwarding services and virtual sectary support be used in this case?

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