Buying an Apartment

The dynamics of selecting an apartment are very similar to those discussed in the Renting an Apartment section, except of course that you will be buying one instead of renting. Under the present law, a non-citizen must pay a 100 per cent tax on the value of the property purchased; however, if the apartment in above the fourth floor of a Urban Development Authority (UDA) approved condominium, they are exempt from this tax. Several other restrictions have been imposed on non-citizens buying land and these will be discussed in the section on buying a house.

Renting an Apartment

With increasing population and limited space, Colombo and its suburbs are continuing to see more  condominiums properties entering the market. A spectrum of options ranging from low end budget apartments to luxurious condominiums are available in the greater Colombo area.

Location is the first determinant of cost. The most expensive apartments can be found in the heart of Colombo, e.g.  Colombo 3 onwards along Galle Road, Colombo 7 and Colombo 5.  Generally, the suburbs offer cheaper options – the downside is a longer daily commute if you are working in Colombo, but with the new traffic flow and understanding of peak traffic times, the hassle can be lessened.

Living in an apartment in Colombo would be similar to living in an apartment in most cities in the world. You will have to see if your lifestyle matches that of your neighbours.

Colombo is multi-ethnic and you will find that certain areas have a higher concentration of certain ethnic groups and so do condominiums in those areas. If you are an expat, you may find apartments blocks that are more popular among expats and find a lifestyle built on common needs and values. If you like to mingle with the locals, there is nothing to stop you from doing so and chances are you will be welcome, regardless of your ethnicity or nationality.

Apart from which you will need to consider options such as  furnished vs unfurnished, studios vs regular, number of bedrooms, parking facilities, permission to keep pets etc., when renting an apartment. For these reasons, we recommend prior contact with the relevant parties and insist you come down and have a look at the place in person before choosing one.