1 August 2016

Karin Jansson - Expat in Galle, Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Karin Jansson - Expat in Galle, Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I was born and raised in Sweden. When I was 19 years old I emigrated by boat with my mother half way round the world to New Zealand. I spent the good part of 40 years in New Zealand raising my two sons and enjoying the New Zealand way of life. In the latter part of my time in NZ I was lucky enough to travel frequently to where my eldest son was working for Australia and New Zealand Bank which took me to Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. We also travelled to Sri Lanka together and have fallen in love with the place.

Q: In which city are you currently residing?
A: Galle, Southern Province, Sri Lanka

Q: What do you do in your new city?
A: Over a champagne brunch in Singapore in 2011 with my eldest son and his partner I decided to sell the company which I had built-up from scratch. I used some of the proceeds from the sale to become part Owner with my son and his partner in a Boutique Accommodation offering in Galle, Sri Lanka.

We spent the good part of a year searching for the right property before we discovered Templeberg Villa, an old colonial Manor home built in 1864 and perched high on a working coconut plantation. We eventually brought the property and I relocated to Sri Lanka permanently in August 2012.

In October 2012 I found myself throwing open the doors to Templeberg Villa ( www.templeberg.com) to welcome guests.

In my new adopted home of Galle, I am the proprietor of boutique accommodation. I run the property to suit the experiences of travellers to Sri Lanka.

Sometimes Templeberg Villa is a Bed and Breakfast or Guest House welcoming guests on a room by room basis where I live on site to oversee the smooth running of the property. At other times the property is a holiday rental that comes with staff but not me. I share my home with travellers from all around the world.

In October 2013 I will also add property developer to my name when together with local Sri Lankan Architect Damith Premithlake www.damithpremathilake.com we will start redeveloping Templeberg Villa into a boutique environmentally sustainable 14 room retreat.

In addition to owning and running Tourist Accommodation in Sri Lanka, I am heavily involved in the Galle community assisting in charitable work where time permits. I’ve helped out at the Thomas Galle International School, the Galle Flea Market and Galle’s first Fashion show.

Q: How is the quality of life in your new city in comparison to that of your home city?
A: I’ll have to be careful about comparisons between Galle and Auckland, New Zealand they are both lovely places for different reasons.

What I am struck by in terms of life in Sri Lanka is the vibrant multicultural community and the fact that there is no ageism. I have developed friendships with people from all over the world and at all different ages. There are expats from Europe, Canada, Australia and America who I socialise with and then there are the local Sri Lankans who have been so good to me and welcoming.

Galle is also doing a lot to invent itself as a renowned arts scene in Sri Lanka and attracts some amazing food and wine events, the Galle Literary Festival and has a handful of fashion designers and some excellent jewellers.

The city also scores highly for me in the area of healthcare (many of the medical profession actually received their training in Commonwealth countries) education (nearly everyone speaks a bit or English and is literate) and natural beauty.

Having a full time staff of 7 keeps me busy but has also meant I have been able to cut down on household chores unless I want to do something to keep me busy.

I must also single out the vegetarian food and the fact that my change of lifestyle has meant I have slimmed down– a big plus in my eyes that has probably added 10 or so years to the quality of my life.

I also love love love the weather with most days hovering between 26 and 31 degrees which is near perfect weather for a semi-retiree. I don’t miss the colder climate at all.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare system in which you are currently enrolled?

A: As noted above, Sri Lanka has an amazing healthcare system. Many of the Doctors do not have to retrain when they travel to other Commonwealth countries.

I have also had firsthand experience of a visit to the Doctor and was amazed at how quickly I was admitted – no wait times – and the caring attitude of the medical profession. Big tick from me.

Q: How does the cost of living compare to that of your home city?

A: The cost of living in Sri Lanka is a fraction of the costs in New Zealand. Food and entertainment is much cheaper as is telephone and internet charges. It is easy to get by on a modest amount and still have fun.

Luxury items that attract taxes and duties are however much more expensive such as cars and electrical goods and appliances. Alcohol such as a good bottle of wine can also be expensive and a bit harder to find.

Electricity prices are also comparative to New Zealand but I think the cost of electricity, water and gas the world over is on the increase.

By and large, Sri Lanka makes sense for anyone looking to have a great semi or full retirement.

Q: Did you use a relocation company to help you with your move?
A: My son always used the professional services of Fragomen so initially I relied on advice from their in-country representative John Wilson Partners http://www.srilankalaw.com

Once we were sure of buying property I also relied on the advice of my Property agent, accountant and lawyer.

I would recommend surrounding yourself in several professionals whenever relocating countries. It’s also important to ask other local expats about their experience and get good recommendations of service providers and advice.

I’ve changed professional services since I arrived and this has largely been through trial and error and the advice of fellow expats.

Q: How easy or difficult was the relocation process?
A: The actual move itself was relatively painless. It just involved packing a suitcase and getting on a plane – very liberating.

When in country I was able to arrange a visa to suit my personal circumstances.

The Sampath Bank in Sri Lanka has been excellent to deal with locally and I count the Bank Manager as a new personal friend. He came to our House blessing by our local Buddhist Monks from our neighbouring temple which meant a lot to me freshly arrived in the country.

I haven’t yet shipped my personal effects to Sri Lanka but it is on my to do list so would love to hear from any other expats that have shipped their personal effects and used a reliable shipping company!

Overall, like Malaysia with its My2home visa it is great to be living in a country that is actively encouraging more people in the 50s and 60s to adopt Sri Lanka as their second home.

Q: What is your favourite mobile app which you use to aid you in your expat life?
A: I have a few mobile apps which I fund really useful. The first is Skype for staying connected with people. The second is Twitter for building social networks in a new city and finally pinterest for gathering ideas of favourite places to eat and drink or for beautiful design inspiration. My sons brought me an iphone and while it has taken some getting used to I can’t live without now.

Q: What is one piece of advice you’d like to offer a new expat in your new city?
A: Be open minded. Accept invites to attend events or group meetings. Go along at least once to various events before making up your mind about whether you should attend any more. Cultivate relationships and networks from all walks of life and don’t just mix with the expat community. You live in a broader community so you should meet and support the local people around you as much as possible.