Photo Credit: Chidi Ashley | Photography by Bali Interiors Sheila Man
A Look Inside: This Black Woman Just Finished Building Her Dream Home In Bali
Chidi Ashley has built her dream home in Bali.
Earlier this year, we spoke to the then-24-year-old who told us in an interview that she was trading in her 9 to 5 corporate job for a lifetime of adventure. Chasing her dream is what eventually inspired her to build her travel company: Chidi Ashley Travels to encourage people to travel with a community of other like-minded individuals.
Ashley decided to take things up a notch with the launch of a travel investment property company, and her first property is what she calls her dream home.
It was a two-year process that started in 2019. The home, called Villa Olori, is a luxury three-bedroom villa overlooking the rice terraces in Canggu.
Ashley talks more with us about building a home abroad in Bali, as well as what she’s learned along the way.
Travel Noire: What has this experience taught you?
Ashley: I have learned so much during this journey. First and foremost, I learned how to really work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. This was one of the major challenges I faced with my build.
It challenged me to learn how to speak more Bahasa Indonesia, as most of the vendors in the building community don’t take you seriously if they feel you are too much of a foreigner. I also learned how to communicate with different types of people and adjust how I both give and receive information when dealing with people from different cultures.
This process also taught me patience. I went in thinking it would be a walk in the park. What was supposed to be a one-year journey quickly turned into two years.
On top of that, the pandemic hit as soon as we started the building process which created a new set of challenges for us as I was managing the build from halfway across the world.
One of the most important lessons from this journey is hiring people based on merit with a proven portfolio of work. Don’t base anything on relationships.
I originally hired my first contractor based on a recommendation from a close friend and he ended up taking the money I gave him for something else. This left my project at a standstill for many months as my contractor was unable to pay his workers or progress with the building. I fired him and hired someone else to complete the building process, which cost me time and money.
This is something that happens more often than most people are aware of, and I can’t stress the importance of spending time on the vetting process before hiring someone for the job.
Travel Noire: What would you say to people who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Ashley: I encourage anyone who has found a place in the world that truly brings them peace to embrace that. Bali has always been a place that brings me joy and a sense of calm in this busy world.
The most important thing to keep in mind when building abroad is to ensure you adhere strictly to the legal guidelines in the country and obtain legal guidance from the start. This will help you protect your investment and prevent headaches down the line.
Aside from the legal guidelines, understanding the culture and community is extremely important. One thing I was able to do early on was meet with the local leaders in the area I was building in, and obtain permission to build there. Building a good relationship with the local community is invaluable because you need that harmony to exist in order for you to have a positive long-term experience.
Another piece of advice, particularly for people looking to build a residence, would be to ensure you spend enough time in whatever part of the world it is you are planning to build before you make a final decision. Vacation time doesn’t count. You want to understand what it’s like to live there, how is the Wi-Fi is, the traffic and transportation system like, do you like the food, healthcare, and so much more. There are so many small details to think about before you make that long-term commitment.
For individuals looking to invest, of course, you want to look at the area you are investing in. Spending time on the ground gives you a deeper insight into what areas are up and coming and what areas are slowing down in terms of interest. You want to ensure you have the correct permits and that you have done the necessary tests such as a soil test, checking the zoning of the land and so much more. For this process, you need an honest team to guide you. Take your time to find the right team.
Travel Noire: The biggest question: How does it feel now that you’re done with your dream home?
Ashley: I feel so proud to have been able to take on a project of this magnitude. I started this journey when I was 22 and really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I threw myself into the deep end and quickly learned how construction works. I spent almost every day for an entire year at the building site and even lived on the construction site for 2 months before the house was completed. I have grown so much as an individual.
This journey has really made me feel so empowered to take on more challenges, and I’m already excited about the next one.