Why these Aussies are banking on Bali now

Emma Sweeny (pictured inset) is among Gold Coasters with designs on Bali.
GOLD Coasters are taking their luxury property designs to Bali, cashing in on cheaper construction costs, better returns, and the popularity of the booming holiday destination.
Since the pandemic, a string of Glitter Strip developers have added the international travel destination to their real estate portfolios.
Designer Emma Sweeny, who runs Project E, has taken her creative prowess from Burleigh to Bali after the whirlwind renovation and sale of Ruin X, an all-rendered house that attracted national headlines for its quirkiness.
Ms Sweeny has taken her design expertise from Burleigh Heads to Bali.
Ms Sweeny, with two business partners, is about to build four luxury three-storey villas in Bali’s Padang Hills, complete with their own pools and rooftop terraces.
“I knew I could do so much more in Bali with the building prices being cheaper than in Australia, so I jumped on the bandwagon and haven’t looked back since,” she said.
“It is becoming such a hot spot and the construction and development world is booming.
“Doing a project in another country is a whole new ball game but as crazy as it sounds, I like challenges.
“Of course, there is risk but for me, the risk is worth the reward because I am doing what I love.”
An artist’s render of furnishings in one of the four villas Ms Sweeny has designed.
Each villa will have a different theme.
Ms Sweeny has designed the villas to have different themes from Moroccan and island vibes through to Spanish and futuristic influences.
“I wanted to make sure I kept to my brand morals and guidelines, which is creating one-off homes that have never been seen before,” she said.
“I wanted people from around the world to feel that they entered a new realm while enjoying the island life and its surroundings. I also purely love designing and being super creative so four villas all looking the same just didn’t feel right.”
She said she hadn’t decided if she would sell them or rent them out.
“The land lease will just be transferred if we choose to sell,” she said.
Gold Coast building designer Jayson Pate. Picture: Richard Gosling
Gold Coast designer Jayson Pate has several clients including Ms Sweeny who are building in Bali.
“With land and construction costs being so incredibly high, it’s probably pushing some people to look to invest elsewhere,” he said.
“There are now enough Aussies there getting land in Bali that it’s giving other Aussies comfort that they can do it too.”
“Other reasons people are looking into doing it is the incredible return on investment.”
But he said it wasn’t without risk.
“I think it is becoming safer to invest there but it is still high risk compared to here (in Australia).
Bali offers ‘incredible return on investment’, Mr Pate says.
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Rae Underhill and Adriel Lack are behind luxury residential design firm Raven and Lack, with Bali the latest project destination for the business owners.
“For us it’s all about lifestyle – it’s such an easy flight and we are drawn to Bali’s natural beauty, vibrant culture, and relaxed lifestyle, making it super appealing to own property,” Ms Underhill said.
“We think the trend for Aussies developing in Bali is definitely set to continue – its proximity, climate, beaches, and cultural appeal will always remain of great interest.
“Then overlaid with high levels of design and luxury offerings which are then in turn delivering impressive ROI (return on investments), the lifestyle and investment opportunity combination becomes particularly compelling.”
Raven and Lack designers Rae Underhill and Adriel Lack.
Ms Lack said property development costs were often lower in Bali compared to Australia, making it an attractive option for those seeking affordable investments.
“Plus investing in Bali property can be a way to diversify a real estate portfolio and reduce risk,” Ms Lack said.
“Bali’s property market, like many others, faced uncertainties during the pandemic.
“However now with price and interest rate rises in the Australian market — especially in Queensland — investing smaller amounts of money into Bali to offset indecision on big purchases in Australia feels easier (and) less risky.”
However navigating the legal and regulatory environment in Indonesia can be a challenge for foreign investors, Ms Lack said.
“Foreigners cannot own land outright in Bali so they often use long-term leases or work with local partners, which can involve risks — so you need to know you are working with the right team of people.”

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