Sri Lanka

Living in Sri Lanka?

Connect with fellow expats in Sri Lanka
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Sri Lanka guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Sri Lanka

Living in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka provides free public education to the local population and for expats but there are also private schools available. The road network is the main way of transport on the island, while crime and safety rates can vary significantly depending on location. Read on to learn more about life in Sri Lanka!

Transportation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka relies heavily on its road systems for transportation, which accounts for approximately 93% of travel on the island. 

As the main transport in Sri Lanka revolves around the road network, there is a national bus service that has become the principal mode of transport. Bus routes are serviced by the state owned bus service, the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB), as well as private companies and provide a wide range of services and routes for both urban and rural transportation needs. Buses are the transportation of choice for commuters and major cities benefit from dedicated bus routes to add efficiency through peak commuting hours. 

The country does have three airports; the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport and Bandaranaike International Airport, which both offer international flight schedules, and Ratmalana Airport for domestic flights.

There is also a basic railway infrastructure, originating from British colonial era, however, this is only able to accommodate a very small fraction of the transportation needs of modern Sri Lanka but does offer some of the most scenic miles of railway in the world.

Safety and Security in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka comprises 25 districts, governed by three different types of local authority: Municipal Councils; Urban Councils; and Pradeshiya Sabha. The local authorities of Sri Lanka do not all inherit their powers from a single source, meaning each has slightly different remits and authority. 

Local authorities deal with anything publicly owned, for example parks, roads, refuse collections, and markets. There is one police service that operates throughout all the local authority areas, known as the Sri Lankan Police, who are responsible for enforcing traffic and criminal laws, maintaining order and protecting public safety. 

In the case of emergency, the police can be contacted by calling 119. This number can also be used to contact the fire department or emergency medical services, which the police department assists in coordinating.

The crime and safety rates between neighborhoods can vary significantly, even from street to street, particularly in the larger cities. So before renting or purchasing accommodation, it is strongly advised that you visit the location yourself rather than relying on advertisements or websites to guide you.

Education in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is classed as having one of the highest literacy rates in the developing world, at approximately 93%. Sri Lanka’s state funded education provides compulsory free education for children aged over nine years. The educational structures and institutions have vastly improved over the past decade and Sri Lanka offers a variety of educational systems for students to choose from.

There are many good schools in Sri Lanka for your child, dependent on what you want for them and your budget. Most Sri Lankan public (free) schools admit students from any area or country, which offers a diverse population and usually a rich history, steeped in tradition. On the other end of the scale are international schools, which tend to be very exclusive and costly. The happy medium lies with the private schools, which tend to attract more upper middle-class students.

Advice on choosing a school, how to apply and the costs associated can be found on websites such as WorkInSriLanka.

Sandro Pedace

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

Isabelle Jacobs

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

Global Expat Guide