Before You Move – A Practical Guide

It would be quite obvious to state that the better you prepare, the better your move is likely to turn out for you (and your family). Here are some suggestions that could help to make your preparations and the move itself smoother.

Career/ Employment:

You can start with our Careers page to get an overall idea about what sort of work is available in Sri Lanka, what kind of work environment to expect and how our volunteers can assist you.

In addition,

  • Expand your network via websites such as Linked-in or other means, and correspond with them.
  • Re-connect with old networks you may have been part of in the past. (E.g: School, University, past jobs and community organizations)
  • If possible, visit a few months prior to your intended move with a few pre-organized interviews or meetings with potential employers.
  • (Tip: Do not stick to advertised roles. Approach companies and ask to meet for a chat. When you learn about their business and they about your background, opportunities can spring up. It also helps with networking and to understand the industry)
  • Follow Sri Lankan business news through websites such as www.LBO.lk and www.businesstoday.lk to keep abreast of what is happening in your industry and the wider business environment.
  • Seek opportunities within your employment that would help with your future work in Sri Lanka (e.g: work with products/services relevant to Sri Lanka).

Budgeting/ Finances:

Another smart move is to budget early for your move and for the first year.

  • If you are counting sale proceeds of a house, car or business you may need to make conservative estimates.
  • Consider your liquid funds, first few months’ expenses, expected salary, etc before you decide how much you can spend on vehicles, accommodation, etc.
  • If planning to rent a house/apartment in Sri Lanka, you may need to pay up to 6 months advance rent.
  • Freight costs can run in to a several of thousand dollars to ship and clear a container load.

As for finances, a key question is where you want to keep your money and in what sort of account/ investment (See ‘Banking’). You may want to consider remitting some money early to hedge yourself against an un-favourable currency fluctuation around the time of your move.

Possessions:

A few months prior you can categorize your possessions under ‘TAKE/SHIP’, ‘SELL’, ‘GIVE-AWAY’ and ‘THROW’, and take actions accordingly. Starting early will allow you to sell some items which you would have to otherwise give-away or dispose of in a rush. What and when you sea-freight will need some careful thought as you may have to endure few weeks without access to those items and the possible loss.

Wrapping Up in the Country you are Leaving:

The various wrap-up tasks (selling a car/house, renting out a house, leaving your job, banking tasks, address changes, selling/shipping your items, service cancellations, etc) prior to your move can take longer than you anticipate, and will often occur in parallel with your preparations in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, you will need time to say your good byes. It is advisable to give around 2-3 months for your final tasks, and more if you are selling a house.

Other Miscellaneous Tips:

  • Check property websites or contact property agents re: accommodation and prices.
  • Check vehicle prices or rental details online
  • Search online about your favourite activities and hobbies, and see where they are available in Sri Lanka.

For those moving with Families:

Those migrating with spouses and children will have many more factors to consider. It is best to try and identify their reservations and look at addressing them early. The timing of the migration will also have to be planned with everyone’s interests in mind.

Quite often one parent makes the move first in order to get the basic needs (house, vehicle, employment, schools, household goods, etc) organized, and is later joined by spouse and children. This approach creates the least disruption to lifestyle and comfort, as an uncomfortable living environment would be a bad start to your new life in Sri Lanka.

Language – English is widely spoken and understood in Sri Lanka and you could manage reasonably well even if that is all you speak. However, it is worth learning a little Sinhala or Tamil. Even if your kids are to study in English in Sri Lanka, some Sinhala/Tamil will help them engage better with people in a variety of situations.

Friends – An idea is to get your children/spouse to connect with like-minded children/spouses of your friends via the internet or in person during pre-move trips. Another idea is to identify activities (sports, dancing, theatre, etc) where your children could make friends.

Schools – Apart from finding a school, the other key concern is the education level. It is advisable to get hold of some text books of the parallel grade in Sri Lanka to assess if there is a gap. Getting hold of the books prior to the move would also enable the kids to get familiarized with the subject matter.
Please visit the ‘Education’ section for more information.