UK Natives Open Hostel In Sri Lanka - An Expat Interview
Packing up everything and leaving behind the comforts of a well-paying job in a developed country to live simply on an island in the Indian Ocean certainly isn't for everyone, but that is just what friends Chris Loxley and Ross Goodman-Brown have done.
Chris, from Australia, and Ross, from the U.K, have been living in Sri Lanka since January 2017 and haven't looked back. The two friends, who met while backpacking in Malaysia, run a laid-back hostel called The Dutch. They live and work in Unawatuna, a small, palm tree fringed town on the South West Coast of the island. I interviewed the pair to get to know some of the ins and outs of living as an expat in sunny Sri Lanka.
1.) Q: What do you think Western countries/people can learn from a place like Sri Lanka?
Chris: I think one of the coolest things about Sri Lanka is the community spirit and the respect locals have for each other. It seems like nearly everyone knows each other and are always helping one another. It feels like there is no need for police as the community deals with any issues amongst themselves.
2.) Q: What has been the most striking differences between living in Sri Lanka as opposed to living in the U.K?
Ross: Well, the weather for sure, the time you have on your hands too. Everything in the U.K is happening at 100 miles an hour whereas here there is no rush to get anything done.
3.) Q: What appeals to you most about your lifestyle in Sri Lanka?
Chris: The lifestyle is so relaxed, everything happens in its own time, and nobody is in a rush (other than the bus drivers). The weather- it's hot everyday and even when it rains it's beautiful. The beaches are picture perfect with palm trees hanging over the ocean like a postcard. The food, the locals, the travelers, the list goes on.
4.) Q: Have you found it easier to make friends with fellow expats or Sri Lankan locals?
Ross: Definitely expats, but that is mostly because of the language. Sinhalese is an extremely difficult language to learn. I like a lot of the locals and get along with them but it is hard to call someone your friend when you don’t know too much about them.
5.) Q: How long did it take you to really settle down and feel comfortable in Sri Lanka?
Chris: For me it took only a few days to feel comfortable here in Sri Lanka. I was lucky enough to have friends here already but after only a couple of weeks I made plenty of local friends I would see nearly every time I go out. It didn’t take long to find all the best places to eat and drink.
6.) Q: As a hostel manager you meet people from all over the world daily. Do you have a favorite nationality?
Ross: This is a hard one. It’s going to have to be the Dutch. They’re crazy and weird in equal measure. Out of all the fun people we have coming through the hostel, the majority of them are Dutch.
7.) Q: What does it take to be an expat in Sri Lanka?
Chris: I think to be a successful expat in Sri Lanka the first thing you need to do is slow down. At first it can be frustrating when 20 minutes means an hour or 5pm turns into 11am the next day but once you learn to live on Sri Lankan time the stresses of Western life fade away. Find a good roti shop, get a tan and let everything happen around you.
8.) Q: What’s the thing you miss about home the most?
Ross: The pub. For sure. Alcohol here is expensive and the beer sucks.
9.) Q: How welcoming were your neighboring locals?
Chris: So welcoming! We are lucky enough to have neighbors who help with our laundry and even make us clothes. Everyone in the neighborhood is happy to help with any problems we have and we are never short on offers for dinner or drinks. Every time I ride down the street I am smiling and waving to all of the kids and neighbors.
10.) Q: Do you have any tips for those looking to work and live in Sri Lanka?
Ross: You’ve got to assimilate the culture quickly and learn that nothing here is reliable. You’ve got to be super chill and flexible otherwise you will just get angry. But eventually the chaos will be one of the reasons why you love it here.