Living and working remotely – known as the ‘digital nomad life’ – is becoming an increasingly popular option for those looking for a way to explore the world, avoid the routine ‘nine to five’, and still make some money at the same time. Digital nomads live anywhere and everywhere, but if you’re looking for the best experience as a digital nomad, head to Sri Lanka. The small island nation just south of India is home to golden sand beaches, unique habitats, and buzzing cities making any site in the country a great option for any digital nomad to settle. While the country is still emerging as a digital nomad city, meaning it’s not as built up as some other areas, it’s a hidden gem begging to be discovered before it becomes too popular.
The busy, bustling Sri Lankan capital city may not be the tropical beaches you imagined when you envisioned Sri Lanka, but Colombo is centrally located and constantly growing — two huge perks for a digital nomadic lifestyle. In Colombo, you can live a comfortable lifestyle while not worrying about things like spotty wifi or spending all your cash on public transport. Colombo has plenty of cafes and spots in the city where you can pick up wifi, or pick up your own plan and use data from the comfort of an apartment or cafe. The city’s cultural scene has been picking up in the past five years, giving you plenty of ways to explore the city and meet other people while there.
Dikwella, the small beach town south of Colombo is the emerging digital nomad dream. The beachy haven is full of surfing and yoga, making it a place that has always been popular on the tourist trail. As a top spot, the town is already home to dozens of hotels and hostels, but the number is only growing. Check out places like Verse Collective for the popular new coworking space, or Salt, a popular vegan/vegetarian cafe, and yoga studio. Plus with the Hiriketiya Beach just walking distance away, you’ll never get bored.
Sri Lanka is easy to get around, whether you’re traveling from city to city or just from your house to the cafe in the same city. If you’re in the beachside hamlets, the easiest way to get from point A to point B is walking. In bigger areas like Colombo, the cabs, or tuk-tuks, are the best way to get around. Local public transport is cheap, only costing the equivalent of a few dollars at most, and you can find cabs and tuk-tuks all around the city, making them affordable and practical.
If you’re trying to get from one site to another, the best way to do so is by bus, air, or rail travel. Due to the small size of Sri Lanka, trips aren’t time-consuming. Deccan Aviation Lanka offers cheap charter flights throughout the country, letting you travel in luxury. Another fast, affordable way to travel through Sri Lanka is by train. The trains are old British locomotives, giving you not only transport but a unique, fun journey. Sri Lanka Central Transport Board offers bus routes throughout the country at an affordable price.
Data and Internet
If you’re planning to be in Sri Lanka for an extended period of time, consider purchasing a data plan. Prepaid sim cards are easy to come by, and a good option for those in the country temporarily or not necessarily looking for a long-term contract. Popular plans include Mobitel for the cheap 2GB plans and data packages. Once you use that up, it’s easy to keep the prepaid plan and simply buy more data each month, or whenever you run out. Plans with 28GB of 4G data cost roughly under $15 USD.
Internet connections in the country vary from city to city, but generally speaking, the internet can be very reliable in most hotels, hostels, cafes, and coworking spaces across the country. However, the best bet for constant internet is a data package with 4G data.
Cost of Living
Don’t worry about living paycheck to paycheck in Sri Lanka. The standard of living is much lower compared to many cities across the US as the cost of groceries, restaurant prices, gas, clothing, and rent are more than 50% cheaper than many major cities in the US, giving you more money to travel around and see as most of the country as you can.