Sri Lanka is living a post-war, post-colonial era, the culture is rich, complex and full of nuance. Four religions sharing a country, each with their own stories and realities, makes for an interesting day-to-day experience for any foreigner looking to settle for a while on the island.
It has been quite a few years since the war ended and many visitors have come to get to know the island. Every year more and more expats find jobs in Sri Lanka, and thankfully the country is evolving into a place that is comfortable enough for expats.
The 30-something generation are the children of the people who left the country during the civil war. Their international educations have given them the tools to come back to Sri Lanka and make their city better. New and modern restaurants, coffee shops, and delis are popping up all around the city. This was not so only a few years back.
There are at least three different internet providers. It’s true that Sri Lanka’s internet is not one of the best in the world, but it’s also not the worst. Getting a router for your home isn’t too difficult and, depending on your data package, you can either have minimal internet capacity or enough for plenty of torrent downloads.
If living in the city isn’t your preference, living on the beach or very close to it is pretty easy. Colombo is on the coast as well, but there are nicer places for beachy living. The coastal area of preference for expats is Galle and Unawatuna. This area is full of great places to stay and also places to work remotely. Digital nomads and expats who love the coast will feel right at home in Galle and Unawatuna. Other beach areas to live in are Negombo, Tangalle and Bentota.
Living on an island that, according to lots of travelers, has “everything”, is the best place for weekend getaways. If living in the city, the weekend can take you to the beach, to the mountains, to the jungle, or historical and religious temples. Leaving on a Friday after work will give you a full two days’ break from the hustle and bustle.
Sri Lankan food is similar to south Indian food. If you love Indian food, you will love Sri Lankan food. The flavors in the curries is so varied that every rice and curry you try will be different. The best meal in Sri Lanka is breakfast—especially the egg hoppers with seeni sambol and dahl. The best way to really appreciate Sri Lankan food is in one of the weekend getaways to places like Horatapola Estate.
Getting around the city or the small towns is very easy with all the available tuk tuks everywhere. Going from one place to another on the island can be done by train or by bus, or even with a rented car and driver. It is really not hard to get around anywhere and that is a definite plus, especially when you have lived in places where if you don’t have a car you are pretty much stranded.
A large part of the expat charm is living in places that will challenge you. Even if things are getting better for expats in Sri Lanka, there are still challenges to be faced. Culture shock is not something expats can easily steer clear of, but it’s also part of the magic of living in a different place.