Change of life : In Sri Lanka it’s possible!
Some of you may have said to yourselves but why not go and live abroad? Why not make this dream come true, a dream that has been mentioned so many times by family and friends during those moments of sharing when we like to rethink our lives.
Why not take advantage of your vacations abroad to “prospect” new places, continents, countries and cultures, to see if the grass might not be a little greener elsewhere 😉
This is what I did 10 years ago!
In these times of health crisis, many of us have been led to review our lifestyle, to reconsider our priorities, as a proof, those who after the first confinement made the choice to move (finally!) to offer themselves this little piece of garden that the children (and parents too) missed so much. It is when our freedoms are restricted, when we lose some of our free will, that we become aware of what is really important to us. Some of you may have said to yourselves but why not go and live abroad?
Deeply attracted by the Asian continent for its mix of ancestral cultures and modernism, I visited several countries during my vacations to refine my choice. I took into account several criteria: the living conditions in the country, a well-established democracy, the country’s majority religion, the place of women in society and the economy, the presence of structures and schooling for children, the possibility of finding a job for foreigners and finally, for me a last important criterion, the possibility of contributing to the development of the country.
I was ready to move to Thailand, to Ko Samui to be exact, when my husband said to me “What if we went to visit Sri Lanka this summer? “You still want to visit a country when we agreed on Thailand? “I answered him, “Come on, it will be the last one! “And he was right in many ways. After this trip, I did not visit any foreign country, I had found my home, I just had to build my new life project. 😉
“Sri Lanka” is already an evocative name when you want to change your life because it means “the fortunate island” or “the island where you get happiness“, but you must admit that it is already a good omen.
This island, 10 times smaller than France, is a concentrate of happiness, of plenitude, where everyone and everything finds its place. 70% Buddhist, the veneration of the gods is very present, the openness to life and to what it brings you favors encounters and the welcoming of foreigners.
The island has been invaded or colonized many times in its history and despite this the Sinhalese gained their independence in 1948 and their country became a Republic in 1972. This is probably why the “Lions” are not afraid of foreigners, they see in each of them a beautiful encounter that the Gods have put on their path and that will make them grow. For many of them, the stranger is synonymous with enrichment in every sense of the word.
Easy to work and live!
As a woman, it was easy for me to find my place. Indeed, the family unit is matriarchal, the women manage the family and the finances, the men having to work a lot and sometimes far from home. The woman has an important place in the education and in the family life choices.
For a Sinhalese, working with a foreigner is an honor, a pride, they feel honored. And being managed by a woman, whether she is Sinhalese or foreign, is not a problem for them.
Be careful not to act like a 21st century settler who knows everything about everything, because if there is one thing I learned while working there, it is that our skills in organization, planning, anticipation are not assets and that you don’t master anything. I am exaggerating a little so that you understand that Sri Lanka is THE country of “letting go” for a European. That the encounters and events that you will experience on a daily basis are there to make you appreciate the present moment and that they bring with them their share of opportunities that you cannot seize if you go too fast.
Leave your watches when you leave, there we live to the rhythm of the sun, the trips and the encounters we make. We get up early because it is cooler in the morning and we go to bed late for the same reasons. The Sri Lankan sleeps little, works 6 days out of 7 and has one day off per month (full moon day “Poya”). This is an average because in Sri Lanka there are the equivalent of our public holidays in France: national holiday, May 1st and religious holidays. And as in France, the Sinhalese who work in the administration particularly appreciate when these holidays fall close to a weekend, everything is closed for 3 to 4 days. They know very well the principle of the viaduct… Ah these civil servants!
To make yourself accepted, you will first have to assimilate their habits and customs, take the time to understand them, learn their way of life and accept to learn from them to find yourself.
Anecdote 😅 In France, a fast food company uses the slogan “come as you are”, in Sri Lanka this is not really possible especially when it comes to the dress code for work, for going to the temple or even in all administrations. Our first moment of solitude took place during our first appointment at the Investment Office to create our company…it was hot and my husband was dressed like a foreigner on vacation (T-shirt and long shorts), a mistake that made us apologize to the head of the department who received us. After this adventure, we had taken the habit of asking our Sinhalese friend the question: “how should we dress? “
If you are going to live in Sri Lanka as an expatriate…
… this is not the case I will discuss in this blog.
The company that employs you will take care of all the formalities for you and your family. If your spouse wishes to work, it will be possible and opportunities were present before the crisis in the tourism sector.
The average salary is 300€ per month, so of course it is not the personal enrichment that you will gain as an employee, but rather the fact that you will be integrated into the local economy.
The two languages of reference in business are Sinhalese and English, very few speak French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, etc…so it is possible to find a job as an interpreter, translator or private teacher. You will be based in the economic capital of Colombo, it is the city where you will find the best schools for foreigners. And you will live like rich people with staff at home for cleaning, cooking, childcare, driver, etc…but you will only rub shoulders with expats like you 🤷🏻♀️
In the following articles, I will share with you my experience of living and working in Sri Lanka: living conditions, administrative procedures, opening a bank account, visa, renting, buying, building and a special investor section, but also lifestyle, integration, encounters, religious festivals and festive moments.
I will also be transparent about the difficulties I have encountered, my moments of solitude and my moments of joy. Maybe one day you too will want to adopt a new way of life and create a business in this country!
You will see life in Sri Lanka never disappoints because it is rich with everything: everything you are able to give and accept to receive.
Sādarayen piḷiganimu! (Welcome!)