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Is Sri Lanka for us? Any insight into Negombo and Galle ?

Kuala Lumpur...
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Is Sri Lanka for us? Any insight into Negombo and Galle ?

We are busy planning our visit to Sri Lanka. One purpose of our trip is to figure out if we could relocate to Sri Lanka. We are originally from Northern Europe but have been living for the last 6 years in Malaysia.

What we are looking for is simple, easy life with as little chaos (I know this is relative) as possible. We would like to have a house with a big yard, possibly with a swimming pool. Is it still relatively safe to live in a house in Sri Lanka?

Our son is turning 4 and one thing we need to consider is his preschool/school opportunities. We don’t need anything “posh” but still want to provide him an access to decent education. We can work from home so that is not an issue.

We are not big socialisers, but having a few drinks with other expats every now and then would be nice. We are happy to mix with locals as well.

So far Negombo and Galle has come into my mind. Am I on the right track at all?

With Negombo I like the idea of being close to the airport, but have no idea how bad the traffic can be there? Do they have quiet residential areas close to the city? Can you survive there (at least for some time) without your own transportation?

How about Galle? How far from the city we can go to be close enough (up to 30mins drive) to schools. How about Unawatuna or Hikkaduwa? Are they too far or are they too “touristy”. How about going inlands? Is there any nice hill areas close to Galle (or Negombo) where you can get a feeling of living in a countryside, but are not totally isolated or too far from schools and some facilities. We can live without lively cultural scene but do like hiking and other outdoor activities.

I know we have to go and see ourselves and we will. Nevertheless, any comments, ideas would be more than welcome to help us planning our trip.

Thanks in advance for your response!

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
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53,033 posts
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1. Re: Is Sri Lanka for us? Any insight into Negombo and Galle ?

Hi there,

Well the first question is whether you want to rent or buy. Rent is not cheap, buying used to be a problem for tourists (100% extra land/property taxes) but now new laws have made it almost impossible. Next to that you don't get a visa for more than 6 months a year unless you bring BIG money into the country, invest in a business, employ 5+ people etc. (or if you're 55+ the rules are less strict).

So really cannot see how it would technically work for you. But just to answer your questions:

* Negombo has quite a big expat community due to the free trade zone, which employs quite a few expat managers. The back areas, like Katana, are relatively quiet and buses work well.

* Galle also has enough back areas, in the direction of e.g. Baddegama and Imaduwa-Akuressa. Property prices near Hikka and U'tuna are a lot higher than inland due to the tourists.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya] / owners of a house there but then Sandya is a native...

Antarctica
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508 posts
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2. Re: Is Sri Lanka for us? Any insight into Negombo and Galle ?

I can help you with just one question.

"Is there any nice hill areas close to Galle (or Negombo) where you can get a feeling of living in a countryside, but are not totally isolated or too far from schools and some facilities?"

The interior of Galle is hilly. Even a few kms inland will feel totally different to the coast with a rural feel to it. Regarding Negombo, not really. There aren't any hills around, and the nearby areas are more densely populated due to the presence of industries, and being closer to the capital/airport.

Galle, Sri Lanka
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3. Re: Is Sri Lanka for us? Any insight into Negombo and Galle ?

Hi Peppi123.

Am pleased to read you have chosen Sri Lanka as a holiday destination. There is plenty to see and do.

We recently relocated our mother to Sri Lanka from New Zealand. She brought a property before the law changed.

When we investigating accommodation options for her we looked at a few rental places around Galle. There were a couple of nice two bedroom places with a swimming pool that were about $500 US a month. Am not sure whether they stick around on the market long but if you are planning on looking at a couple of places when on holiday then there are several 'real estate' agents who could show you around. I put real estate agents in inverted comments because many 'real estate' agents don't have to hold a licence to call themselves an agent.

It also depends on what time of year you wanted to relocate as during the low season many expats go back to Europe or their place of birth and it is possible to get a nice villa on a one to two month extended lease arrangement.

Erik is right in terms of needing to secure the right visa for your cicumstances. If you buy a certain property over a certain dollar value it entitles you to a certain class of visa but as has rightly been pointed out the law change has brought some uncertainty to foreign ownership and whether it is even possible for foreigners to own land without a Sri Lankan investor - too early to tell.

If you have approximately 15,000 US in an onshore account it entitles you to another type of visa etc for up to two years. Many of the visas restrict you from working because they are aimed at retirees - something similar to the Malayasian my second home program. Working visas are a little more difficult to come by, but not impossible. You might want to use the expertise of a migrant agent.

Expats have been living in the Galle and Negomobo communities for some time now so there are good infrastrutures and networks. Our Mother attends a women in business small group and various other activities in Galle and is always busy.

We have also been housing a few teachers mainly from Melbourne who have been teaching at the Thomas Galle International School. While I can't comment on the quality of the curriculum, I do know the Principal Gilly and am sure if you were wanting answers to specific questions about the quality of teaching she would be more than happy to assist. Again I am not sure of the fee structures of Sri Lankan private schools but Gilly would know.

Regards

Brent

Kuala Lumpur...
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4. Re: Is Sri Lanka for us? Any insight into Negombo and Galle ?

Hi All!

A million thanks for your prompt responses!

Erik, Thanks a lot for the tips on Katana and back areas of Galle. I will do more research on those. Regarding all the practical issues (visas, property laws etc.), I am fully aware of them but left them out here on purpose. Actually, we have been working on those with a trustworthy agent for some time already and so far it looks like it will technically work for us. Thanks anyhow for reminding :o).

When it comes to rental prices, Sri Lanka seems to be very reasonably priced compared to where we live now. Saying that I ignore those super luxurious holiday villas with an infinity pool on the beach. So again, everything is relative.

Scoobyscoobydoo, thanks for your valuable comment on Galle interior being hilly. We will definitely explore the area once we get there.

Brent, I appreciate your detailed and positive reply to my message. Thomas Galle International School could be an option for us. If/when our plans will materialize I will be in touch with Gilly to find out more.

And New Zealand, what a beautiful country indeed! I have been there on holiday and could easily imagine living there as well :o)

I wish you all happy Tuesday!

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
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5. Re: Is Sri Lanka for us? Any insight into Negombo and Galle ?

Okay, just to add that buying property, outside of the tax issues, is another hornet's nest. Over the years now we've encountered, or at least read in the papers, HUNDREDS of cases of foreigners buying land with/without a house on it, building/improving, and then being robbed of the complete land title including all that they've built. Even a somewhat well-known boutique hotel in Negombo, run and 'owned' by a local, was stolen this way from the Westerner that built it. Local land laws/registrars combined with corruption are very very hard to beat for a foreigner...

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Houston, Texas
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6. Re: Is Sri Lanka for us? Any insight into Negombo and Galle ?

Hi there - I've sent you a PM Peppi......I hope you receive it (I've missed mail messages here many times!)

Hope to hear from you,

Debbie

7. Re: Is Sri Lanka for us? Any insight into Negombo and Galle ?

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