Expats flee Bali as virus crashes Asia's top luxury villa market

Posted by Ed 11 mths ago
Desperate owners offering tenants discounts of up to 85%
DENPASAR, Indonesia -- With a private pool, walled tropical gardens and a large terrace overlooking a lush green river valley in central Bali, Kadek Wisana's three-bedroom villa usually goes for $100 a night.

Now Wisana has slashed the rent to $400 a month, and still he can't find tenants, with over three-quarters of Bali's 100,000-strong expat population fleeing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated the Indonesian resort island's tourism industry.

"Business was good," said Wisara. "It was occupied most of the time until the coronavirus stopped tourism."

Wisara is one of scores of Bali villa owners offering discounts of up to 85% in a desperate bid to earn even a small amount of rent to help pay the bills.

The roughly 4,000 luxury villas on the island -- more than any other Asia-Pacific location, according to a 2019 report by villa-finder.com -- fetched an average of $220 per night before the onset of the pandemic.

But double-digit rental yields and astronomical capital gains may be a thing of the past.

One four-bedroom whitewashed Spanish-style villa in the beachfront enclave of Seminyak, which comes complete with housekeeping staff, is now being offered for $1,100 a month, while the owners of a two-story townhouse in Ubud are asking for $500 a month. Last year, both properties fetched more than three times as much.

Even with such generous discounts, owners are receiving few inquiries after Indonesia stopped issuing free visa-on-arrivals to tourists March 20 to slow the spread of the virus through Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

While some mathematical models have predicted a viral doomsday scenario across the archipelago nation of 270 million people, Indonesia has so far reported only 32,033 infections and 1,883 deaths.

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