Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sri Lanka as a Viable Retirement Haven - Part 2

Eva Stone photo, view of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, from Kandalama
Welcome back to Part 2 of my blog post on "Sri Lanka as a Viable Retirement Haven". In Part 1 we took a glimpse at the idea of retirement, early retirement and sea-change; retirement considerations; retirement abroad; and an idea of taking a test drive of Sri Lanka as an option.  In this installment I'll delve into more detail on some of the main considerations  for retirement in Sri Lanka. Hopefully, this will offer some insight if you're interested in retiring here.

Some of the areas I'll cover in this installment include - visa entry options, medical insurance and healthcare services.

Visa Entry Options

A big part of being able to retire abroad is about visa options for a foreign national. At the time of writing, Sri Lanka still offers a retirement visa called "My Dream Home Visa Programme", which is valid for two year and renewable. This is similar to other countries (though with different conditions) - like Australia's "Investor retirement visa" or Malaysia's "Malaysia My Second Home Programme" or Peru's "Rentista visa" to name a few.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Travel Monday: Scenic day tripping through Knuckles to Sembuwaththa Lake

If you're in search of a unique day trip experience, then look no further than a  scenic drive through Knuckles and a visit to Sembuwaththa Lake in Elkaduwa. Sembuwaththa Lake offers a unique blend of tea estate coupled with a gorgeous lake surrounded by forest with picnic and swimming areas and boat rides. The longer journey to this destination is definitely part of the fun and offers glimpses of the undulating  hills of the Knuckles Mountain Range (a.k.a. Dumbara Kanduvetiya). 

Knuckles was inscribed onto UNESCO's World Heritage List as a natural site in July 2010 due to its extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including endangered species such as the western-purple-faced langur and Sri Lankan leopard.

Most travelers take one of two shorter routes to Elkaduwa from Kandy, which take about two hours:
  1. Traveling the Kandy-Matale Road then taking the turn at Ukuwela Junction towards the Elkaduwa Road (B180). And then when you reach Elkaduwa Junction take the Hunugala Road and continue till you reach the turn off for Sembuwaththa Lake OR
  2. Traveling the Madawala Road towards Wattegama. From Wattegama you take the road towards Kandenuwara (B461) which comes to Elkaduwa Junction where you then take the Hunugala Road to reach the turn off for Sembuwaththa Lake.
A good friend of mine suggested a totally different route for this day trip, which would take a lot longer, involve some dare-devil driving, cover a larger expanse of the Knuckles, and offer up some unexpected experiences... It was all that and so much more wink

Monday, March 16, 2015

Travel Monday: Exploring Sri Lanka's 1,340km coastline and beaches

Eva Stone photo, Unawatuna Beach, sunset, Sri Lanka
A recent email from a fellow expat residing in India highlighted that I haven't written a blog post about Sri Lanka's gorgeous beaches. Shock horror... but it's true eek. How could this be? I guess it just fell between the cracks, which is a little strange seeing as I'm a true beach lover! Well, I've decided to rectify this oversight immediately as I've indeed visited and stayed at quite a few lovely places along its 1,340 kms long coastline of this beautiful island. And, truth be told, there's more to picking your beach holiday than just simply choosing a popular spot. Some areas are super touristy while others still have an untouched quality; some offer cultural experiences, local delicacies while others have more nature-based attractions and recreational sports. And then there's the accommodation factor...

Many who fly over for a beach holiday in Sri Lanka tend to pick this island for the friendliness of locals, value for money, warm tropical waters all year round, delicious local cuisine and a unique travel experience (i.e. you can combine your beach holiday with cultural experiences, visit the Central Highlands and more).

It is important to know when to visit the different coastlines around Sri Lanka. The western coastline of beaches through to the southern coast are at their best from November to April while the eastern coastline of beaches peak during the months of May through to October.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sri Lanka as a Viable Retirement Haven - Part 1

Eva Stone photo, retirement, Sri Lanka
Retirement is commonly defined as the point where a person stops employment completely. We generally associate retirement with a certain age group, like over 60 years old (or over 70 years depending on the official retirement age prescribed by governments). However, retirement (or semi-retirement) is possible at any age depending on your outlook and goals, finances, courage and wisdom. Just ask Google's CFO Patrick Pichette who announced his retirement at 52 years old in a post shared publicly. It makes for an interesting read.

My mother recently took Sri Lanka for a "test drive" to see if it was a place where she could eventually retire. She's not of retirement age yet, but I'd like to think she could consider retiring early if a place like Sri Lanka was a real option. When I say taking a "test drive", it's different from taking a holiday, which she has done a few times now. The intent with a "test drive" is to see what it's like to actually live and make a home here i.e. cost of living, weather, infrastructure, access to necessary facilities, medical care, local culture, safety etc. More on this to come.