Cost to Retire on Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka

In this report, I will share the cost to retire on a South Asian beach including rents, utilities, groceries, restaurants, transportation, and other expenses for low to middle-range living costs.

Last month, we put our feet on the ground on the southern beaches of Sri Lanka. I have previously lived in or visited 67 countries in my life, so Sri Lanka is my 68th country.

When I left the USA 17+ years ago, I first lived in India for almost 3 years where I was teaching.

Honestly, Sri Lanka feels like a mellow version of India. It is not as crowded and people seem to be living at a slower pace. With more wide open spaces and fewer crowds, it feels more relaxed and less competitive than India.

However, there were many similarities, such as the colorful clothing, the curries, and the laid-back atmosphere at the beaches. I found the beaches of southern Sri Lanka to be even more chill than the beaches of Goa and Palolem, India.

While in Sri Lanka, we also visited mountains at higher elevations, to investigate cooler weather, so subscribe so you won’t miss those reports.

In this report, I show you the food we ate, the things we did for fun, the costs of living here, and which beaches we visited in southern Sri Lanka.

Google Map


The shortest distance between India and Sri Lanka is only 55 km (34 miles) across the Palk Strait. But we flew to the capital of Sri Lanka called Colombo and landed after midnight.

Don’t forget to check if you need an eVisa at the official Sri Lanka government web page. The application is not complicated at all. The visa will arrive by email in less than a week. Also, don’t forget to get your arrival card a day or so before you fly.

After landing at the airport in Colombo at around 3 AM, we spent the night in a hotel near the airport for $22 USD per night at the Concey Airport Hotel.

In the morning, we took an Uber Taxi to the Mathara-Colombo Highway Bus Stop bus station where we jumped on the A/C-Express Highway Bus to Matara Expressway Bus Stand in Matara, Sri Lanka. The bus was AC-Highway Express Bus was $4 per person and included luggage.

When the bus arrived at the Matara Bus Stand, we took an Uber to our Airbnb accommodations in Mirissa. The Uber was about $5 USD but we later learned the local buses that run along the cost would have cost about 70 SRL ($0.23 USD) per person to Mirissa and they stop at the same bus stand (and pass every 5 minutes).

While visiting the southern beaches of Sri Lanka we spent time in Mirissa, Matara, Weligama, Unawatuna, and Galle.



We cover the above three beaches in this report and Galle and Unawatuna next week. So subscribe for those.

Google Map


We recommend you spend time in multiple places along the southern beaches of Sri Lanka before picking your favorite. Also, as mentioned above, a third report will cover cooler mountain highlands so watch for that also.

I will now share my Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka’s desirability factors such as Walkability, Internet, Food, Weather, Things to Do, Social Considerations, Visas, Real Estate, Expat Community, and Health Care.

But first, I will share living cost estimates ranging from low to middle for the Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka.

You should know that our below-estimated living costs are more than double what this Australian is able to live on in Sri Lanka. I will put a link to that video below in case you want to find out what his living costs are.

Estimated Cost of Living in the Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka

Here is my estimated costs of living converted into US dollars if the two of us moved to the Southern Beaches year-round on a tight budget. We will also include more typical expenses we have heard from other expats to give you another data point.

Rents: I found this furnished 2-bedroom 1-bath villa for rent for 105k SLR ($348 USD) per month on a 12-month rental rate in the city of Weligama (our favorite of the three). If you rent for a shorter period of time on Airbnb it would be much more expensive.

If you rented a larger home or townhouse the rent would be higher, about $500 USD per month.

Here is the process we use to find great apartments. So, we will show you a table of all expenses in a moment. We will use $348 per month for our lower rent estimate and $500 per month for the middle cost of living estimate for expats who want more space.

Utilities: We estimate that the year-round average for our utilities would be about $50 USD per month. The utilities would be more for expats that rent the larger space, about $70 USD per month.

Groceries: We normally shop for fresh fruits and vegetables in wet markets to save money rather than the more expensive grocery stores, but also shop in grocery stores for things like shampoo and detergents. We estimate about $250 per month for groceries. Other expats are likely to shop more often in expensive grocery stores often spending more than $400 per month on groceries.

Restaurants: We would go out to eat two or three times per week mostly in more local-style restaurants averaging about $3.50 to $5 USD per meal but also in tourist or expat-style restaurants for about $8.50 USD per meal per person. If you add that up, we would spend around $45 per week or $180 per month in restaurants for the two of us.

Other expats are likely to eat more Western-style foods in expensive expat-style restaurants and less in local-style restaurants, so they would likely spend around $300 per month for 2 people in restaurants.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to recharge our Mobitel prepaid smartphone service was about $4 USD per month. My Android phone will act as a hotspot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house together.

Other expat couples are likely to buy two prepaid SIM cards so they would send $8 per month.

Laundry: We would spend about $45 USD per month sending out our laundry.

Drinking Water: We would spend about $12 USD per month for R/O drinking water.

Internet: 80 MBPS up and down is $10 USD for in-home wifi.

Transportation: We would take local buses along the coast to visit other cities and beaches for a change of pace. The buses usually cost around 70 SLR ($0.23 USD) per person each way. We estimate about $16 USD per month for the two of us for transportation. Other expats might walk less and spend more on transportation, like Uber Taxis, so $80 per month.

Alcohol (Optional): Large local beer (Lion 500 ml) in local bars and restaurants $2.66 USD during happy hour. So, we would spend about $120 per month on alcohol for the two of us.

Many other expats would spend a higher amount for imported foreign or craft beers in expat bars, so about $240 USD per month for 2 people assuming they are not into imported whiskey or wine.

Entertainment (Optional): We would budget about $200 per month for entertainment for the two of us. We generally enjoy doing more do-it-yourself kinds of entertainment so expats would spend a little more, maybe $300 per month, for 2 of them?

Estimated Costs Living Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka

Weligama Sri Lanka

Lower (USD)

Middle (USD)













Cell Data






Drinking Water


















Optional Total









Optional Total



The above lower estimated cost of living would be if the two of us lived in Weligama Sri Lanka on a tight budget. The middle estimate is just an example of what other expats might spend if they moved here.

To understand what it would cost you to live here, you must put your feet on the ground, see how you would choose to live, eat, and entertain yourself and add it all up. It doesn’t matter what anyone else spends because we are all different.

Why We Would Live in Weligama

After spending time on the southern beaches of Sri Lanka including Mirissa, Matara, and Weligama, we have decided we would live in Weligama for the following reasons.

Mirissa is lovely but it is 60% tourists walking around. So the food and accommodations were higher. Mirissa seemed to attract international tourists who are able to pay more for food and accommodations. So it was in an inflationary spiral up.

Matara is just the opposite. It is 99% local and doesn’t seem to offer enough foreign foods. So when you feel like chilling on the beach of Matara, it doesn’t seem to have the relaxed happy hours with chill music that international tourists are looking for.

Waligama seemed to be a nice mix. There are tourists chasing foreign foods and a chill happy hour and nightlife scene. However, it was a more diverse population that also included many locals.

Just a few blocks back from the beach is a Sri Lankan village full of locals with all the great foods, cheap shopping, and everyday stuff like stores and wet markets. So we can live like a local and chill on the beach with a foreign vibe when the mood strikes.

That is why we picked a Waligama for the place to live above and will now discuss the livability factors with Weligama in mind.

Weligama Sri Lanka Livability Factors

Before you move anywhere outside your home country, make sure to create a list of things that you must have for your happy retirement. Here are my livability factors and I will rank each as high, medium, or low before assigning an overall retirement desirability score to Weligama Sri Lanka.

Walkability: High. We would walk everywhere in Weligama. When we wanted to go to another town in Sri Lanks we would just ride the local buses. Many of the other beaches in southern Sri Lanka are just 70 SLR ($0.23 USD) per person each way on the local buses.

Internet: Medium. In-home wifi alone is not as reliable in Sri Lanka as it is in Malaysia or Thailand. So I would suggest also having a smartphone that acts as a hot spot as a backup when your in-home wifi goes out of wack.

Food: Medium. You will find local places off the beaten tourist path that have veggie curries for as little as 800 SLR ($2.66 USD) per meal. But you should be prepared to buy ingredients at the wet markets and grocery stores and to make dishes at home or you will eventually get bored of eating the same dishes. Many Western-style restaurants will serve foods from home but they will not always taste as good as what you would expect at home and will be expensive as compared to local Sri Lankan dishes.

Weather: Medium. Daily highs average from 84 F (29 C) in July to 90 F (32 C) in March. Nightly lows average from 75 F (24 C) in November to 79 F (26 C) in September. It rains 7.7 inches (195 mm) in November, and 1.7 inches (43 mm) in February.

Things to Do: High. If you are interested in ocean and beach life such as surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, fishing, deep sea fishing, wave runners, scuba and snorkeling, yoga or running on the beach or swimming for exercise, or any other outdoor activity on the beach, then the southern beaches of Sri Lanka will be your cup of tea.

Social Considerations: Sri Lanka was a former English colony and no matter where you go people are able to communicate with you in English. The people are very friendly and nice. I don’t believe you will face any additional challenges because you are a foreigner. There do not seem to be as many expats from the West retired here, but there are Europeans, Australians, and Russians all over the place visiting or vacationing here.

Expat Community: You will see expats from all over the world here. However, it is still relatively undiscovered by Westerners as compared to other parts of Asia. Here are a few Facebook pages that cater explicitly to expats from overseas living in Sri Lanka: 1, 2, 3. These online expat communities are great for learning all about things that expats want to learn when they first move overseas. But do check each before asking any specific questions. You will often find that someone has answered your questions recently so don’t waste their time by asking it again before checking. That way they will be willing to answer any new questions you have that have not yet been answered.

Medical: The quality of health care services in Sri Lanka in both the private and public sectors, while better than in most developing countries, still lags behind those offered in more advanced countries. A large number of private hospitals have appeared in Sri Lanka, due to the rising income of people and demand for private healthcare services. They provide much more luxurious services than government hospitals, but they are mostly limited to Colombo and its suburbs and also have high prices. Some of the best-known private hospitals are Nawaloka Hospital, Asiri Hospital, Hemas Hospital, Lanka Hospitals, and the Durdans Hospital. We read that public healthcare is free for expats, but medicines are not. Expats may be asked to donate to medical facilities.

Tourist Visa: Tourists wishing to stay more than 30 days in Sri Lanka, may apply for an extension for a maximum of 270 days from the the date of arrival. The extensions may be awarded in 30, 60, and 90 days at a time. Then the tourist must do a visa run to another country and come back to start the process over again.

Retirement Visa: Any foreign national over 55 years of age can apply for a long-stay visa renewable in 2-year blocks. It requires $15,000 USD or the equivalent in a fixed deposit account in any approved Sri Lanka bank. And must show a monthly remittance of US$ 1500 or the equivalent in an approved foreign currency for the principal applicant and US$ 750 or the equivalent in an approved foreign currency for each spouse and dependent child. The Application must include a Bank Statement, Police clearance from the country of domicile, and a Marriage certificate if a Visa is required for your spouse.

Real Estate: Foreigners can own real estate via a corporation with a trustee owning 51%. However, I do not recommend buying real estate in a foreign country until you have lived there for at least 2 years. You should also get your own lawyer who has no conflict of interest with you. For example, do not use a lawyer recommended by your real estate broker or your local lover.

Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka Overall Desirability Score: Medium. Although Sri Lanka is a lovely place to visit, if I were going to settle down today for more than a year or two, I would more likely pick any of my top places in the world to retire as I shared in this video.

What would it cost you to live in Sri Lanka?

To get a better understanding of things you should add to our estimated cost of living watch this video: 9 Reasons You Can’t Retire on $1000 Month Overseas.

Most people will likely be unable to retire the lower range estimate above. I give example reasons why in this report. Plus, this other report explains how to avoid coming home early with your tail between your legs.

Also, if you are going to try to retire cheap offshore, make sure to read my report, the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore, which explains why you should have emergency funds available for unexpectedly large expenses.

You should also add anything to the above table that you spend money on in your home country that is not listed in the above table. Presumably, you find those things necessary in life. To do that, visit the Numbeo Weligama and add anything not mentioned in the above table.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.

Many of the expats we meet living overseas are self-insured for medical care. That means that not everyone buys health insurance when they move overseas. That probably sounds crazy to many of you.

I didn’t carry medical insurance for most of my first 17 years living overseas. But last year I bought medical insurance. If you are wondering what it costs and what it covers, watch my medical insurance video at this link. This is not an affiliate link.

More typical expat living costs in Sri Lanka range from about $1500 to $3000 per month. But people spending that much often have higher savings, incomes, or pensions. They often report spending more on accommodations, entertainment, eating out more, traveling, and alcohol. Many also have more expensive cars, houses, or apartments.

Where we stayed in the Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka

We stayed at these Airbnb accommodations in Mirissa. It was about $15 USD per night for 7 nights plus Airbnb fees.

Sri Lanka Southern Beach Bars and Restaurants


Dhana’s Curry Pot

Lost Paradise: Sri Lanka Omelette 1450, Hummus Bowl + Falafel 1800

LANKA: Buffet 800, Veg Kutto 800

Ceylon Curry House: Vege curry + rice 1200, Fish curry + rice 1300

Zouk Mirissa (on Beach): Happy hour beer 800, Mexico avocado salad 2700

Surf Bar Mirissa (on Beach): Beer 1300 with a nice live band

Sudu Weli Beach Bar and resturant (on the Beach): Happy Hour beer 700


Sri Lankan Foods Centre Hadabima Authority: Weligama Buffet 800

Dulnetha Homestay & Restaurant: Vegetarian Curry 1200 – a delicious curry

Kurumba Bay – Weligama: Great vibes, swimming pool, and beer is 1000

Markets & Snacks

Cargills Food City – Mirissa

Bun Talk: Great snacks – Egg roll 130, Fish roll 100, Vegetable roll 100

Matara Public Market:

Thanks for watching our video Cost to Retire on Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka. Click the video in the upper right-hand corner of the screen now if you would like to learn how this Australian lives on $400 USD per month in Sri Lanka.

Plus, grab a free copy of my eBook if you would like to know how I was able to retire early and start traveling the world more than 17 years ago.