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Living in Colombo?

Join InterNations to meet other expats where you live and read more articles like Living in Colombo with relevant information for expats.

Sandro Pedace

Living in Sri Lanka, from Switzerland

"On coming to Colombo, I was dreading the culture shock. However, expats and local contacts gave me some great advice. "

Isabelle Jacobs

Living in Sri Lanka, from Belgium

"It was fun to find other cricket fans among the expats around here and watch some matches at a Colombo club together. "

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Colombo at a Glance

Living in Colombo

Colombo has a beautiful waterfront, interesting colonial architecture and lush gardens, but still some typical downsides of developing cities, such us pollution and traffic jams, which should be considered when moving to the city. Find out more about living in Colombo in our expat guide!

Healthcare in Colombo 

Throughout the past century, healthcare has been a major public priority in Colombo and as a result, the city boasts one of the most sophisticated free healthcare systems in Asia. Thanks to the high quality care which is provided free of charge to all residents, the people of Colombo have a much higher life expectancy than neighboring cities and nations. High standard teaching hospitals are freely available throughout the city, the vast majority of which have excellent radiology and laboratory facilities and are well equipped to treat long term inpatients. However, most emergency health cases will be directed to and treated at one of the city’s general hospitals. The general hospitals are fully equipped with highly qualified doctors and nurses working in emergency units. In case of a medical emergency, the number to call is 110. In addition to this, there are also an increasing number of private medical centers emerging in Colombo. These institutes provide a more luxurious and personal service, but are much more expensive. Expats intending on seeking private medical care should opt for an international health insurance policy which covers the cost of these hospitals. 

Culture and Leisure

Explore the crowded streets of Sri Lanka’s largest city to discover rustic colonial buildings dating back centuries standing next to high rise commercial skyscrapers, and modern shopping malls side by side with traditional bazaars. One of the most popular places to visit in the city is the National Museum. Established in 1877, this impressive gallery is home to some of the most fascinating artefacts and monuments from Sri Lanka’s vast history. A ninth century stone carving of Buddha greets guests in the doorway, and inside a range of art and statues are displayed. The museum also exhibits ancient antiques such as demon masks, swords and tribal carvings along with displays from the days of British colonial rule. Another famous sight in Colombo is Viharamahadevi Park. This expansive stretch of urban greenery is home to the throne of 17th century King Wimaladharma and is the perfect place to relax in the shade of banyan trees.

Safety and Security

Violent crime in Colombo is exceptionally rare, and violence against foreigners is almost unheard of. Security is ever present, with police and security forces remaining visible in many parts of the city. There are security checkpoints along many roads. The police are also easy to reach and fast to respond when the emergency number, 119, is called. Petty theft occurs frequently in the city and people from overseas are especially at risk. It is essential to take extra caution over belongings, especially in crowded spaces. The most common type of theft is credit card fraud. It is advisable to use cash wherever possible. When using a credit card it is important to keep an eye on the card at all times. Although muggings and other forms of violent crime are rare, expats (particularly women) should avoid dark, downtown areas of the city such as Rajagiriya.

InterNations Expat Magazine