Expat Lifestyle in Sri Lanka
A Quick Start Guide to Getting Started in Galle. Sri Lanka and Your Tropical Adventure.
So you decided to pack up your city life and head for the tropics. Welcome to Galle. Ok so the fact is that we live in Asia and simple things like popping to the shops to do your weekly shop and posting a letter are a nightmare, if you try to do it yourself that is. But life in the tropics definitely has its perks when you learn how to make it work. To get you started, we?ve pulled together a few handy tips to help you get started in Galle.
1. Get on Social and Find Out What?s What!
Join living in Galle Facebook page to connect with and get advice from
other expats living in the South. View page
2. Where to Meet Expats and People With Kids
You may have been to Galle on holiday but coming here to live can be quite different. There?s a few ?cool places to go? that we would like to recommend you check out. These are also great places to meet like minded locals, expats and travellers who are passing through. Wijaya Beach & Pizza Bar (Unawatuna/Delawala), Bedspace (Unawatuna), The Kingfisher (Unawatuna), The Shack (Dewata Beach), The Closenberg Hotel (Dewata viewpoint), Pooney?s Kitchen (Galle Fort), The Heritage Cafe (Galle Fort), Cafe Ceylon (Ahangama), W15 (Weligama), The Doctor’s House (Madiha).
3. Finding Safe Beaches for Swimming
Finding a beach is not something you?ll find hard in Sri Lanka, but finding a beach you can take the kids for a swim is another story. Sri Lanka?s South Coast is world renowned for Surfing and unfortunately, that means you need to be careful when selecting a beach to take the kids for a safe swim. The best beaches near Galle to take kids for a swim are as follow.
- Wijaya Beach (protected reef bay)
- White Jungle Beach
- Jungle Beach
- Unawatuna (either end of the beach)
- Why Beach House (protected reef bay)
Warning: always be careful in the Sea off Sri Lanka?s coast. Tides are dangerous and unpredictable. Kids and adults alike can easily be swept out to sea and there are no lifeguards
Essentials for a Successful Expat Life Sri Lanka
4. Mobile Phones
Pretty much everyone just uses cheap and cheerful Pay-as-you go for both calls/texts and internet. Dialog is the most popular choice and you can buy recharge cards and data pretty much everywhere. You can also topup at Arpico Super Centres, select Food City stores and Keels supermarkets. The best options are to recharge with 1000LKR data and 1000LKR credit. Be sure to change your plan to reflect the best usage. In Sri Lanka they charge data by day and night so if you buy 20gb data you will likely have 10gb day time and 10gb night time? It?s just how it is and you?ll have to deal with it. If you?re here for longer or have started a company, you?ll want to reach out to Dialog for a corporate package. From around 200LKR per month, per chip you can get three sim cards and you?re not charged for calls between those numbers.
5. The Internet in Sri Lanka
This is a big issue if you don?t get it right early and remember we get power cuts at random without any warning. The best option is hands down to get a Dialog broadband box as you can take it with you wherever you go. The SLT wifi has not been great and although they advertise that they ?fibre optic? broadband, it?s not really that good as the wifi boxes provided are such poor quality that at best you get around 10m range (in our experience).
The next thing you?ll need to ensure you get as little uninterrupted service as possible get yourself a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply), they cost around 5000 LKR from the local computer shop by Galle Bus Station, by the canal.
6. Invest in a Generator
The reality is that living in Sri Lanka means you will be exposed to power cuts at random, often without notice. But there are solutions for this if you?re prepared to invest a little money. We would recommend you invest in a generator ASAP! Don?t stress about getting a generator that will set you back thousands of dollars. Get yourself to UKG or the old Matara Road (behind Damro and LG) and you?ll find a few hardware shops. There are some good Japanese and Chinese models that will not break the bank and will keep you from melting if the power goes out in the middle of the night or while you?re trying to work during the day.
A good option to start with will cost you around 28,000 LKR for a 1000W, 6L Generator which easily powers a 3 -bed house/office when wired into the mains. For 45,000LKR you can get a push start version which we definitely recommend. Once you have the generator, call an electrician and ask them to bring 30+ meters (or more, you want this thing far away from the house/office as possible) of cable and a plug attachment for a 15 AMP socket. Now when you have a power cut, switch off the mains power and plug in your generator, kick start and you?ll have power.
(Warning: SPEAK TO AN ELECTRICIAN BEFORE YOU DO THIS OR YOU WILL BLOW UP YOUR MAINS POWER)
Related post: Finding an Electrician in Galle (coming soon)
7. Finding a Hospital
It?s not somewhere you ant to visit but the best option for a local Hospital in Galle is Hemmas private hospital. For a fee, you will get a private room if you need to be admitted. However keep in mind that all of the specialist doctors have to work at the Government Karapitiya hospital before doing any private work, so you will need to wait for them to turn up from Karapitiya to see you. In case of an emergency or if you get bitten by a snake or dog to go Karapitiya. For any urgent care get to Karapitiya or you may want to consider heading to Colombo for less serious incidents but better care. Check back soon for our full feature on Hospitals in Sri Lanka.
Related post: Best Hospitals in Sri Lanka (coming soon)
8. Finding Schools in Galle, South Sri Lanka
The only true international school in the South is Galle International College. You will need to get in touch with them asap to get on the list as it is very popular. They follow the Oxford syllabus and the school starts from Kindergarten (age 2) and goes all the way to secondary school. For younger children, there are some others; Le Petit Fleur and one in Ahangama, but they only cover up to 3.
Related post: Best Schools in Sri Lanka (coming soon)
9. Resident Visas, Investor Visas and Work?Visas for Sri Lanka
If you or your partner (or both) aren’t planning on working in Sri Lanka and will have a child or more at the school then your children can get Student Visas and one adult per child can get Guardian Visas. You will need to organize this with the school a few weeks before you leave your home country. The school can apply for this for you while you are still at home and then you and your children will enter the country on Entry Visas. Then within a month you can apply for your residency visas. (THIS SECTION HAS TO BE APPROVED BY THE SCHOOL)
Residence Visas and how to apply? Check out our guide on applying for residents visas (coming soon)
10. Investing in Properties and Renting Long Term Villas and Accommodation in South Sri Lanka
The process of buying properties in Sri Lanka can be complicated but for those who get it right, it offers great return on investment, possibility for a steady second income and it will open the door to new opportunities in a fast developing tropical paradise. There?s no doubt buying in Sri Lanka has its share of complications but with the right team behind you and taking the time to do your checks on local land ownership, structural issues you could be pleasantly surprised and what you?ll find. Developing property in Sri Lanka is another option and can often be the most profitable in the long run. The key to maximising your investment is to have a long term game plan as the idea of quickly flipping properties for quick profits may not always work out.
If you?re planning on investing in Sri Lanka property you may well want to visit the Island and rent a traditional Colonial Villa in Galle and surrounding areas before you invest into a property. In some cases, you may be able to ?try before you buy? so you can really get a feel for the property and local area before you invest your hard earned money and buy property in Sri Lanka.