Retire Early in Galle Sri Lanka

In this report, I will share the cost to Retire Early in Galle Sri Lanka including rents, utilities, groceries, restaurants, transportation, and other expenses for low to middle-range living costs.

Galle was already the main port of Sri Lanka when the Portuguese showed up in the 16th century. So the Portuguese began the development of the stone walls of Fort Galle.

The city walls were extensively fortified by the Dutch when they showed up in 1649. Gale Fort is now a World Heritage Site and the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers.

The Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Romans, Malays, Indians, and Chinese all traded with Galle more than one thousand years before 16th-century Europeans showed up and built this fort.

In 1640, the Portuguese surrendered the fort to the Dutch, and the British took over from the Dutch in 1796, until Sri Lankans sent the British packing in 1948.

The Sri Lankan people are some of the kindest people in the world and seem to hold no grudge against Europeans. But if you are curious how an educated Sri Lankan historian perceived local conditions during European rule, here is a link.

We spent a month traveling around Sri Lanka looking for our favorite places to retire there and estimating how much we would need per month for the two of us to retire early.

We first investigated the Southern Beaches of Sri Lanka and decided that Weligama is where we would retire if we wanted to live on the beaches of Sri Lanka. Here is a link to that report if you are curious.

Next, we came to Galle in Sri Lanka, to see if we would love to retire at this ancient fortress or nearby. That is what we discuss in this report.

After this, we will head up into the hills of Sri Lanka and see if there is a hill station with cooler mountain weather where we could retire. Subscribe now if you would like to be notified when that report comes out.

In this report, I show you the food we ate, the things we did for fun, the costs of living, and our conclusion about the overall retirement desirability of Galle, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is 55 kilometers off the southern coast of India,

Google Map


In this report, we cover Galle, the Galle Fort, and the Unawatuna Beach area. If we retired in Galle area, we would probably live outside the Galle Fort walls in a more modest neighborhood and visit the Galle Fort and Unawatuna Beach for entertainment.

Google Map


I will now share my Galle, Sri Lanka retirement 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 my cost of living estimates ranging from low to middle for Galle Sri Lanka.

You should know that our estimated living costs for Sri Lanka are more than double what this Australian shared with us in this interview. I will include a link to that interview.

Estimated Cost to Retire in Galle Sri Lanka

Here are my estimated costs of living converted into US dollars if the two of us moved to Galle, Sri Lanka 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 1-bedroom 1-bath apartment for rent for 100k SLR ($331 USD) per month on a 12-month rental rate in the city of Galle. 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 $600 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 $331 per month for our lower rent estimate and $600 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 $4 to $5 USD per meal but also in tourist or expat-style restaurants for about $10 USD per meal per person. If you add that up, we would spend around $60 per week or $240 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 $320 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 ex-pats 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 $3.31 USD during happy hour. So, we would spend about $140 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 $260 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

Galle City

Sri Lanka

















Cell Data






Drinking Water


















Optional Total









Optional Total



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

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 Galle Instead of Unawatuna

We really enjoyed spending time in the Galle Fortress and the surrounding areas. The shopping was great and there was much more to do in that area.

Unawatuna is one of the most beautiful beaches in southern Sri Lanka, but there is not much to do there other than enjoy a beautiful beach. The restaurants there were priced for tourism rather than everyday local life.

And for anything other than a beach, we would have to head into Galle anyway. Since we only go to the beach a few times per month, it would make more sense for us to live in Galle and just visit the beach when the desire arises.

The bus to and from the Unawatuna from alle is just 70 SLR ($0.23 USD) so it is cheap and easy to go back and forth between them. So we will discuss the following livability factors based upon living in Galle as our base.

Galle 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 Galle Sri Lanka.

Walkability: High. We would walk everywhere in Galle. 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 $4 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. The Western-style restaurants inside Galle Fort are extremely expensive, so we would only visit those once or twice per month. But there are great grass areas where you can bring a picnic basket.

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. Galle and the Galle Fort area have more things to do than you will generally find on the southern beaches of Sri Lanka. Of course, there are beaches around Galle so 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 Galle beaches will also be a nice fit for you. Just understand that the better surf beaches are further east of Galle, like in Weligama and Mirissa. But the bus there takes about 35 minutes and runs every 5 or 10 minutes.

Social Considerations: Sri Lanka was a former English colony and no matter where you go people seem to be 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 vacationing here.

Expat Community: You will see ex-pats from all over the world here. But 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. I have read that public healthcare is free to 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 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 $15000 USD or the equivalent in a fixed deposit account in any approved Sri Lanka bank. And mist show a monthly remittance of US$ 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 Bank Statement and Police clearance from the country of domicile and a Marriage certificate if Visa 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 that has no conflict of interest with you. For example, do not use a lawyer recommended by your real estate broker or local lover.

Galle Sri Lanka Overall Desirability Score: High. 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. But we are all different so I bet many of you would be very happy living in Galle permanently.

What would it cost you to live in Galle 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 Galle 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 Galle Sri Lanka

We stayed at this apartment just 3 blocks outside the Galle Forte walls. When we stayed here it was $21.00 USD per night.

Galle Area: Bars, Restaurants, Services

Galle Restaurants

Aravinda Food Cabin: Chicken rice 450, Vegetarian rice 280

Chambers: Hummus 1050, Tabbouleh 860, Falafel 850

National Tea Rooms: Since 1932 – Dhal Roti 400, Shashuka 2 eggs 1500, Masala Tea 350

Puppets Restaurant & Cafe by Le Jardin Du Fort: French press coffee 5 cups 950, passion fruit curd 1550, Sri Lankan vegan curry 1700

Galle Bars

1710: Thali Fish 3080, Gotukola & Pomegranate salad 2530, beer 1700

Sydney Hotel – Galle: Dive bar- big bottle beer 840, apple Somersby 680

Secret Garden Fort: Beer 1000+10% service

TAP HOUSE BY TRIO: Lion pint 1300, Carlsberg 950, Ice tea 550


Sky Breeze: Cappucino 600, Shakshuka 2280, Vegan burger 2580

Ray Snorkeling Tour: Sri Lanka Mobile #0762600101 (Call or SMS only): US$25/person for jungle beach & Unawatuna rock site

Galle Services

Galle Bus Terminal

Supreme Wine Stores

Keells – Galle: Grocery Store

Cargills Food City – Galle: Groceries, Beer and Wine

Fern Water World – Galle: R/O Water Delivery

Must See in Fort Galle

Google Map

Galle Fort Main Gate: The land entrance to the Dutch Fort Built in 1649. The oldest remaining fortress in Asia built by the Europeans.

Galle Fort Clock Tower: Built in 1883 with views of the fort and town.

National Museum of Galle: A Dutch period museum including ornaments, masks, and wooden carvings.

Point de Galle: Just a point on the map to direct you down Church Street to the Ocean side of the fort.

Galle Lighthouse: Built in 1848.

Amangalla Historic Hotel: Parts of the hotel date back to 1684, and the larger sections were completed in 1715. It was the New Oriental Hotel for 140 years until it was renamed the Amangalla in 2005.

This walking tour is just a brief introduction to this amazing fortress. We walked around and enjoyed every inch of the place and not a moment felt waisted. It is a magical place.

Thanks for watching our video Retire Early in Galle 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.