Expat Life in Sri Lanka, Colombo


Colombo - Sri Lanka
Colombo – Sri Lanka

I just traveled to Sri Lanka, a beautiful island, and discovered a nation full of surprises.

In the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is located just south of India. Tea plantations are widely spread over the island, which was formerly known as the Dominium of Ceylon and is frequently referred to as the tea nation. Spice gardens, and banana and coconut trees also grow haphazardly to create a forest of natural resources.

It appears that there is no hostility between people, animals, and modes of transportation as they coexist side by side. People are everywhere, whether they are walking, cycling, using a tuc-tuc, riding a motorbike with 5 astride, in a taxi, bus, car, or truck, each taking up space of the not-too-wide road. Dogs wander aimlessly across or bask in the sun at the side of roads. Cows and goats roam around everywhere, even on the beaches (which I found rather amusing). But they do coexist; there is no outrage at being stuck behind a truck; rather, there is only a brief honking of the horn to indicate that one is present and would like to pass; politeness is common, and the expressions and sounds are all ones of friendliness in a nation that has desperately needed assistance since the tsunami to rebuild itself. Despite poverty, happiness may be found anywhere. Not just for the youngster on their hip or the companion by their side, but also for foreigners and travelers.

In order to experience a quieter, less stressful vacation, some travelers venture just outside of the resort districts. All around the country, there are a few isolated communities of foreigners. There isn’t much to gripe about when you run into these people and talk about life on the island. Yes, occasionally the lights and/or water is cut off, and yes, the internet is not always as quick as they would want. In industrialized nations, isn’t that how most people feel? We want everything faster and faster. The fact that things take a little longer in this tiny slice of heaven doesn’t bother ex-pats too much because locals are patient and don’t rush through tasks. There were a lot of discussions and worry about the elections and security in the nation, and there are still road blockades and armed police and army men roaming the streets to maintain order as needed. Buddhists make up 70% of the population, therefore the way of life is peaceful and straightforward.

I was an ex-pat, therefore I had no complaints about the way of life. As was already stated, there are unquestionably things missing, and things move more slowly. It takes between 4 and 6 hours to get from Colombo to Galle and is similar to any location that is 200 kilometers away. I can’t say the roads are exceptionally well maintained, but throughout the 10 days I was there, I didn’t witness a single accident. The inability to move rapidly between areas of the island, a slow internet connection, possible human waste or trash, which may attract flies, the filth that is left lying around, and, finally, a lack of resources to reconstruct the nation to its pre-tsunami condition are all difficulties.

Having said that, I must consider all the positive aspects of the place, like the beauty of the natural resources, the efforts being made by locals and foreigners to restore the nation, as well as the beaches, wildlife parks, and mountains. This region of the planet is unquestionably lovely.

Expat Cost of living summary

The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee LKR

The Exchange rate as at 24 November 2022 was $1 = 361.85 Rupees

I am going to break the Cost of living down according to some of the basket items:

Alcohol and Tobacco: Alcohol at Bar, Beer, Cigarettes, Locally Produced Spirit, Whiskey, Wine

Cigarettes (20s) – $4.70 to $20

Domestic Beer(500ml) – $2.50+

Imported Beer (330ml) – $5.80 +

Wine at a bar – $6 + a glass 

Wine at a shop – $21+ (750ml bottle)

Since selling alcohol is the only way hotels can earn money, they frequently raise their prices. There are numerous small hotels and eateries, which gives your lodging options a competitive edge.

Clothing: Business Suits, Casual Clothing, Children’s Clothing, and footwear, Coats and hats, Evening Wear, Shoe Repairs, Underwear

Casual Long Sleeved Shirt (Men) – $12+

Casual Long-Sleeved Trousers (Men) – $20+

Shorts (Men) – $11+

T-Shirt (Men) – $6+

Casual Blouse (Women) – $7+

Casual Skirt (Women) – $12+

Children’s Jeans (Boys) – $5+

Children’s Jeans (Girls) – $3.50+

Children’s Shirt(Boys) – $5+

Children’s Shirt(Girls) – $4+

The majority of name-brand clothing can be found in Factory shops in Colombo for quite affordable costs. Clothes are incredibly cheap.

Communication: Home Telephone Rental and Call Charges, Internet Connection and service provider fees, Mobile / Cellular Phone Contract and Calls

Monthly phone rental – $4.36

Phone call rate – $0.05 for a local call

Internet line connection fee – $104 (buy all equipment with installation)

Internet service provider fee – $17 (1 geg free thereafter)

Monthly mobile contract fee – $2.18 (for the year)

Mobile / cellular call rate – 90% of phones are prepaid,

Mobile Phone 100 Minutes Call – $38

– $0.012 – $0.05 sms peak times

Due to the large number of citizens who work abroad to send money home, communication costs are incredibly low, and calls are frequently free or subject to special offers.

Education: Creche / Pre-School Fees, High School / College Fees, Primary School Fees, Tertiary Study Fees

Annual Creche fee – $4.36 per month

Annual Primary school fee – $260 – $436 per month

Annual High School fee – $260 – $436 per month

Annual 1st Year Tertiary / University fee – $260 to $436 per month (dependent on which private school they go to)

Expat children’s access to private education is the most expensive on the island, but costs are reasonable when compared to those in other nations. The expats I met were pleased with the private education their children were receiving and spoke highly of the nation’s educational system.

Furniture and Appliances: DVD Player, Fridge Freezer, Iron, Kettle, Toaster, microwave, Light Bulbs, Television, Vacuum Cleaner, Washing Machine

DVD Player – $87

Fridge / Freezer – $489 (LG / Whirlpool – 4 year guarantee)

Iron – $12 cheap to $35 top of the range

Kettle – $20 cheap to $37 top of the range

Microwave – $191

TV 21 inch – $244 (2 year guarantee)

Washing Machine LG – $570

Discounts can be negotiated with stores on all items

Groceries bought in a grocery store: Baby Consumables, Baked Goods, Baking, Canned Foods, Cheese, Cleaning Products, Dairy, Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Fruit Juices, Frozen, Meat, Oil & Vinegars, Pet Food, Pre-Prepared Meals, Sauces, Seafood, Snacks, Soft Drinks, Spices & Herbs

Powdered baby formula (400g) – $7

Plain biscuits (100g) – $0.20

Loaf white bread (200g) – $0.70

Cake Flour (1kg) – $2.80

Baked Beans (415g) – $1.92

Tuna (185g) – $2.75

Cheese: Cheddar (250g) – $6.63

Crisps: Pringles (139g) – $2.50

Autowash clothing powder (750g) – $1.57

Dishwash liquid (500g) – $0.87

Clothing Softener (2l) – $5.40

Breakfast Cereal (250g) – $2.45

Butter (227g) – $2.18

Milk (1l) – $1.40

Eggs (12) – $1.80

Orange Juice (1l) – $2.80

Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1kg) – $6.20

Cooking oil (1l) – $3.22

Olive oil (500ml) – $8.28

Can of cola (355ml) – $1.00

Local Fizzy Soft Drink (1l) – $1.30

Local Natural Mineral Water (5l) – $1.08

Tea Bags (200g) – $1.85

Instant Coffee (100g) – $6.75

Local Ground Coffee (200g) – $3.66

Salt (400g) – $0.26

Pepper (400g) – $0.35

Prices were obtained from local grocery stores, there are no big department stores to shop in.

Healthcare: General Practitioner Consultation rates, Hospital Private Ward Daily, Rate, Non-Prescription Medicine, Private Medical Insurance / Medical Aid Contributions

GP Private rate visit with meds – $3.50

Hospital Private ward rates – $28 per day

Dentistry – Tooth extraction – $4.35

Most expats use Bupa or the Sri Lankan Equivalent

Household: House / Flat Mortgage, House / Flat Rental, Household Electricity Consumption, Household Gas / Fuel Consumption, Household Water Consumption, Local Property Rates / Taxes / Levies

Rent 2 bed Apartment City Centre – $700

Rent 2 bed Apartment outside of City Centre – $600

Electricity, Gas, Water, Garbage per – $80 to $90 per month for an average

household, this is expensive when taking household

air conditioning into account

Gas / Fuel – 12 ½ kg bottle – $14

Local property Rates – 8 to 10% of value of property

Expats cannot buy a property directly, this has to be done via a Lawyer who owns the property. Mortgage for locals is 4/5%. This is where most expats find the costs creep in, running the air conditioners is extremely expensive as well as the cost of water.

Miscellaneous: Domestic Help, Dry Cleaning, Linen, Office Supplies, Newspapers and Magazines, Postage Stamps

Domestic Rates – full time per person – $80 average

1 Black inkjet printer cartridge – $14

1 Color inkjet printer cartridge – $21

500 sheets printer paper – $5.23

Local Daily Newspaper – $0.17

International Daily Newspaper – $0.45

International Magazine – $20

International Airmail Stamps – $0.22

Domestic Stamps – $0.12

Domestic help is cheap and most employees either live on the property or close by. Office supplies are reasonable, with CD’s and DVD’s freely available on the street where most locals buy them.

Personal Care: Cosmetics, Haircare, Moisturiser / Sun Block, Nappies, Pain Relief Tablets, Toilet Paper, Toothpaste, Soap / Shampoo / Conditioner

Body lotion (400ml) Vaseline Intensive car – $4.53

Toilet paper 1 ply per roll – $0.50

Toothpaste (200g) – $1.92

Shampoo (200ml) – $2.40

Some of the items that can be purchased can be expensive, like creams, sunblocks and cosmetic creams. Name brand products are the most expensive.

Recreation and Culture: Books, Camera Film, Cinema Ticket, DVD and CD’s, Sports goods, Theatre Ticket

Books paper back – $10

Cinema ticket – $0.50

DVD / CD Imported – $2

Cricket ticket – $0.50 to $8

Theatre Ticket – only in Colombo – $30

Paperback books in the country cost around the same as those in the US and the UK, while hardcover volumes are pricey. Due to the availability of inexpensive DVD duplicates that can be purchased on street corners, movie tickets are affordable. For the locals, international cricket tickets are also kept affordable.

Restaurants / Meals out / Hotels: Business Dinner, Dinner at Restaurant (non fast food), Hotel Rates, Take Away Drinks & Snacks (fast Food)

Business Dinner excl Alcohol – $22 per person

Dinner / lunch at local restaurant – $8 per person

McDonalds Big Mac – $4.10

Hotel Rates 3* – $8 to $50 pppn

Hotel Rates 4* – $80 to $120 pppn

Hotel Rates 5* – $140 pppn upwards

Take away – Can of cola x 1 – $0.70

Medium pizza – $3.50

Hamburger – $2.00

Coffee – pot x 3 cups – $1.40

While paperback books are priced similarly to those in the US and UK, hardcover books are pricey in the country. Because inexpensive DVD copies are readily available and may be purchased on street corners, movie tickets are inexpensive. Additionally, locals can purchase inexpensive international cricket tickets.

Transport: Hire Purchase / Lease of Vehicle, Petrol / Diesel, Public Transport, Service Maintenance, Tyres, Vehicle Insurance, Vehicle Purchase

Hire / Lease car – Sedan Toyota Corolla – $37.14 per day for 1 week

Hire / Lease car – Toyota RAV4 – $46.71 per day for 1 week

Petrol unleaded per litre – $1.03

Diesel per litre – $0.64

Bus Ticket (one way) – $1.00

Taxi Ride – per km – $0.50

Tuc Tuc – 10 km ride – $6.00

Train Ticket 2nd class – $1.57

If you are visiting I would suggest you use the local taxis and tuc-tucs, driving can be a headache and unpleasant experience if you are not used to the local norms. However, speeds do not go over 80km on the bigger roads, and overall a safe place to drive.

The above detail is some of the items that form the basis of the cost of living. and the cost may change where you live in different locations.

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