One year and three months ago, Sunny Dilinger decided to change his life and move to Bali. The 32-year-old has no intention of leaving anytime soon and has found endless peace and freedom in the Southeast Asian country, unlike anything he has ever experienced in the United State. His experience as a Black ex-pat thus far has been a dream fulfilled.
Being a black, millennial male from San Diego, Dilinger has encountered many obstacles throughout his life. The anxiety from being a Black man in America weighed on him heavily. Traffic stops caused heart palpitations and racial injustices and profiling plagued his everyday thoughts. Stuck in a constant state of survival, Dilinger decided to pivot with peace of mind as his motivation.
Living the life he’d always imagined while running his company, Sun Co., remotely from the tropical terrain, Dilinger has discovered many virtues and possibilities as he dives deeper into self-mastery. During his time in Bali, he has learned more about himself and found community all the way on the other side of the world. More than anything, Dilinger has stripped away all of the things that held him back to emerge a new creature, ready and willing to inspire others to take a chance on living across the sea.
An Escape From the States
Although he grew up in sunny California, Dilinger’s upbringing wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Life’s stresses and everyday woes left his mother frustrated and Black people in his community weren’t set up for success from the beginning.
“Where I was raised, like most of us, I was in a dense, toxic environment that we all have to learn from and grow from and actually maybe liberate ourselves from,” Dilinger said.
When he grew up, he followed in his older brother’s footsteps by becoming a gang member and turning to the streets to find community. But as the years went by, his perspective changed. Instead, he began seeking after his dreams to see how far they would take him.
“As a Black man, I grew up in an environment where there were so many thresholds and hurdles that were stacked against me,” he said. “Just to be where I’m at today is a testament of life and faith. And I can recognize that it’s not easy.”
Dilinger began to practice self-mastery and discovered more and more about himself. Although he didn’t realize it was destined for him to move to Bali until his birthday trip in 2019, the young man was fully aware that his future didn’t lie in the states. He took it upon himself to explore the world and find out the true meaning of life and living for himself.
“I’m the first person in my family to actually venture into the world and look to continue to keep going to learn more about who I am as an individual,” he said.
A Never Ending Birthday Trip
In 2019, Dilinger received a call from a close friend saying they’d booked him a month-long trip to Bali for his birthday. Over the years, many people had told him he should consider relocating to Bali. They said it matched Dilinger’s entire vibe and was the perfect place for his lifestyle. It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with the island, the people there, and the natural beauty that surrounded him.
“When you go somewhere you havent been, you automatically create a story in your head like ‘this is what it’s going to be like,’” he said. “But as soon as I got here, I just started thriving. And that’s when I knew, I’ve got to get back.”
Dilinger paid 30 bucks to extend his stay to two months. He didn’t want to leave and he knew that, no matter what, he had to get back to Bali one day to reside full-time. The peace he felt in Bali was eye-opening and awakening. Manifestation and self-love engulfed him as he learned more about himself and the country. Suddenly, the stress and anxieties he’d experienced in the US dissipated.
“There’s this anxiety on us in the states where you’re just trying to play it safe just to survive,” he said. “And at the same time, juggle how to nourish yourself, learn about yourself, grow and strengthen your gifts all the while dealing with this hostile way of living.”
The longer he spent in Bali, the more the hostility began to subside. Although the COVID pandemic began to ravage the world, Dilinger did not let that dissuade him and he returned to Bali in 2021 for good to start a new life.
Dilinger’s move to Bali was smooth from beginning to end. Before making the transition, he started simplifying his work life and gradually moving all of his clientele into a virtual service-based space. He felt a lot of his belongings were dead weight so he sold a lot of his things. He would acquire new things once he arrived in Bali.
Upon arrival, he immediately found a place to live and started doing everything he needed to do to have a successful life in the Indonesian country. He acquired a KITAS, or Temporary Stay Permit Card, which allowed him to remain in the country as a resident for two years. He also had to get special documentation that allowed him to work remotely within the country.
The lush beauty of the country left Dilinger in awe. He could feel the transformation happening and things that felt broken in him began to heal. His relocation helped him to transcend the struggles that had plagued him in the US and all around him everything was beautiful.
“If you’re a foreigner here you can feel it, and that feeling is so powerful,” he said. “It will show you how much love you have and it can be a void that can be filled.”
Everlasting Peace of Mind
Dilinger says one of the best things about living full-time in Bali is the everlasting feeling of peace he feels each day. Here, amongst the lush trees and pure nature sounds, he is able to live freely and just exist in harmony with the earth.
“You strip away all the things that are not of you, and that is not for you, and you start to be able to listen to yourself and hear what you need, and what you need, you’re able to access it,” he said.
Whereas his years spent in the US were filled with hustle and ‘get money’ culture, he quickly recognized Bali was very different. He was able to breathe easy and the locals were welcoming and embraced him with respect and kindness. Everywhere he went, he was surrounded by love
“The premise of this place is really love,” he said. “People are not afraid to meet people out here; people support people out here. So there’s something about the energy of Bali, in a natural way, that actually is conducive to more harmony.”
Although he’s only resided in the country for a little over a year, Dilinger can feel the effect of living in a place fueled by love, peace, and ethereal harmony.
The Royal Treatment
Another aspect of living in Bali Dilinger found appealing was the access to luxury living opportunities at an affordable price. His loft-style apartment with a pool and several amenities only cost him $500 a month. The housekeeping staff handles his laundry and household chores for a fraction of what it costs in the US. Excessive delivery fees are a thing of the past with tools like GO-JEK, a food carrier service similar to UberEats where the delivery costs only one dollar.
Dilinger’s company has also continued to grow and expand while living overseas. Never forgetting the environment he came from in San Diego, Dilinger says he feels like royalty every day he wakes up under the Balian sun.
“You get this experience that is very privileged, like a royal feeling and that feeling is one I’d always wanted to experience,” he said.
Seeing his dreams unfold before him has been a true delight. Instead of remaining lost in the rat race back in the states, he has found his deepest desires brought to life.
“Now I’m able to create my dream and live it versus having to create my dream and compete with it,” he said.
At 32 years old, Dilinger has found freedom. No longer is he oppressed by the social injustices Black people endure in the US. His mind and body began to thrive from the moment he arrived in Bali. Since arriving in the country he has discovered a community of Black ex-pats living and thriving in Indonesia. Together they organize meet-ups and events and remain connected through their desire for more life abroad.
“We’ve all come from a long way and to see us all out here together, putting on events, creating together, making music, or doing open mics, and there’s still this feeling of like the movie Harlem Nights,” he said.
Never forgetting where he came from, Dilinger is moving into his next phase of life leaning on his background but focused on his future. All around him bells of freedom can be heard in the wind; whispering to him that he has arrived at the pivotal moment he’s waited for forever.
“Freedom at all costs,” he said. “I wish freedom for everybody in whatever that looks like.”