Sri Lanka is an island nation in the Indian Ocean with a unique culture and heritage. The country, being very close to India, has many customs, traditions and food habits resembling South India.
Well coming to the question, what is it like to live in Sri Lanka? It takes a while for a foreigner to adjust and settle down, like moving to any other country. The level of similarity too would depend on from where you are migrating. Persons from the South Asian regions would draw similarities while Westerners might take longer to adapt.
So let us see what to expect for expats in Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka is multicultural with Sinhalese , Tamils, Moors and small minorities of Burghers residing in the island nation. The country has a fairly good literacy in English compared to places like Cambodia, but is more restricted to the cities such as Colombo, Galle and Kandy . The areas frequented by foreigners at tourist spots too have English speaking individuals. Thus it is most advisable for expats to reside in the main cities than in the rural areas. Rural areas have low literacy in English and would be difficult for an expat to settle in.
Main cities and suburbs have plenty of places which rent rooms, apartments , houses etc. The cost of the accommodation would depend on where you stay. Right at the heart of Colombo, a room for accommodation would cost about 15,000 Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) per month and one has to be prepared to place a security deposit of at least 3 months. Many landlords do generally expect for 6 months at least.
The city of Colombo has a wide variety of restaurants which serve the traditional Sri Lankan cuisine and also food from other nationalities, such as Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean and the European style. Food is easy to find in the cities, but taking into consideration that rice and curry are the staples. Be prepared for very hot curries which use a lot of chilly powder. You would find road side stalls which sell parceled rice and curry packets for just 100LKR. The restaurants have higher charges and would depend on where you are visiting.
Transportation and Health Services
There is no difficulty is getting about through the whole of Sri Lanka as the country has a good road network. There is also a railway system, but it happens to be very crowded especially during the office hours.
Buses ply to different areas and you can connect easily, though you might have to stay in heavy traffic jams which bring delays especially during office hours and evenings. If you are not comfortable using public transport, you might rent a car during your stay or opt for cab services.
‘Pick me’ cab services have become very popular and is a safe option. One does not get over charged and you pay by the meter.
Expats should avoid dealing with Three Wheel drivers as they might exploit you and generally don’t speak English.
Public Health services are free and you can walk into any government hospital for free medication. The country has endemic diseases like Dengue and one needs to be cautious and take preventive measures from mosquito bites.
As recommendations, expats should consider only residing in main cities such and the capital Colombo would be the best.