Living in Sri Lanka


I visited Sri Lanka recently to escape gloomy January in the UK. It wasn’t just a holiday, part of my trip’s motivation was to see if Sri Lanka is the kind of place I could spend a few months of each year. Not much gives me more pause for thought than the idea of spending time in places with a lower cost of living than the UK.

For me, it’s not just about saving money, there needs to be nice weather, beaches, and good food. Based on what I’d heard and read, Sri Lanka seems to tick those boxes.

I stayed on the South Coast in Weligama and it took a good 24 hours to adapt to the hustle and bustle of the busy roads, no pavements, beeping tuk-tuks, and general chaos compared to what I’m used to in the UK.

But after adapting, I became ever more confident that this was a place I could spend an extended amount of time in. As well as the weather and beaches it’s a joy to be somewhere that hasn’t been corrupted (yet) with smartphones. It’s like going back in time to see how people once were before becoming smartphone zombies. People actually walk down the streets without looking at a phone. Something I’m not accustomed to from the UK.

Living costs in Sri Lanka

As well as keeping track of what things cost and how much I was spending, I visited a few accommodation providers to get an idea of how far my money would go on an extended stay.

Depending on your preferences, then like anything the price will vary. If you don’t mind shared dorms then surf hostels are abundant (in what would probably be a friendly environment). Personally, I need my own space so the places I visited were all private ensuite rooms:

Other than Jayanthi Surf Dreams which was a bit rough and ready the rest were more than acceptable. It’s worth noting that these prices are for the peak season that runs from April until October. Prices outside of these months will be much cheaper and an idea worth exploring (IMO).

One thing with accommodation is you don’t (really) need a kitchen. Eating out is cheap and the supermarkets aren’t great so filling cupboards with food might be a struggle. With that being said, a place with a small fridge and kettle would be nice to have.

Food & beer

Eating curry every day isn’t for everyone, however, when you do eat curry, unsurprisingly, it’s cheap. I ate a delicious (large) curry at Miru Restaurant for £2.20. Lion beer was nearly always 500 Sri Lankan Rupees or about £1.80.

Monthly costs

It’s always hard to predict how much you’d spend when staying somewhere for a few months. Moreover, what I spend and consume will be different from someone else. With that being said, here’s my estimate on daily costs based on staying on the South Coast.

Low-end (£)High-end (£)Median (£)Median X 30 (£)
Food + entertainment82215450
Transport (tuk tuks)375150

Could you spend half this? Yes. If you don’t mind staying in a shared dormitory then accommodation costs alone would be halved.

In summary, given the opportunity, why wouldn’t you want to escape the dreary winter and save money to boot. Especially somewhere as beautiful as Sri Lanka. Based on the number of expat digital nomads I met, this isn’t an original idea.

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