Colombo - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

I live in an apartment building relatively close to the mission. The vast majority of diplomatic staff live in apartments of varying quality. Commute times to work are not bad, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes, though commuting in Colombo in general can take a very long time depending on traffic. - Mar 2021

We live in a colonial-era home, as do some others in the community. Many more are now living in modern apartments with good amenities (swimming pools, attached malls, restaurants, etc.). The old homes are charming and usually have big yards. But they also come with common problems like leaky roofs, inadequate power outlets, etc. Most homes and apartments are located near the embassy, but not walking distance. Walking to the embassy is possible but not ideal because of heat and confusing traffic crossings. Traffic is bad here, so commutes can take a long time (20-30 minutes) for a short distance if it's rush hour. - Sep 2020

People can often choose between a house or an apartment. The houses tend to be roomy and have some green space, but they are often older and require a lots of maintenance. The apartments are new and modern, with excellent amenities (pool, gym, etc.). Commute time between the apartments and the US Embassy is about five minutes by tuk-tuk. It's longer from most of the houses in the housing pool, but still probably fewer than 30 minutes. - Apr 2020

We live in a home that is surrounded by a wall and bars on all windows. That being said, I have never felt unsafe in the city. We live about 3 km from the embassy so we walk often. Traffic in the city makes travel times very long sometimes. Our house is large and comfortable. Many expats also live in apartments that are a nice size but often lack storage. - Sep 2017

Typical houses in Colombo are great. You usually have a choice of living in a high-rise apartment building within 10 minutes walking distance to the Embassy or USAID (located on Galle Road), or a stand alone large home, that often doesn't have a lot of outdoor space, although most have some. The majority of apartments are located in Colombo 3 (near shopping, tourist hotels and the ocean), whereas stand alone homes are in Colombo 7 and 5 - both great neighborhoods, with 7 being a little more posh, but also located in the vicinity of lots of local schools so traffic at pick-up time becomes hectic. - Mar 2017

Within the embassy, singles and couples generally get assigned apartments within walking distance to the Embassy. Houses are large and usually given to families with more than one child. Commute to Embassy can range from a few minutes to 1/2 hour. All houses/apartments are far from the Overseas School of Colombo. - Sep 2013

I live in a rented house in Colombo centre, 10 minutes to the office. Avoid school leaving time at 1.30pm Utter chaos! - Sep 2012

U.S. government employees live in large old houses and in two or three newer condomimiums. Most of the condos are within a 10-15 minute walk to the U.S. Embassy. The houses are 20-40 minutes (depending on traffic). - Dec 2011

Large beautiful houses with yards and some with swimming pools. Apartments also available in the city center. - Feb 2010

US Embassy personnel have single family homes, Long term TDY generally stay at Hilton apartments or Crescat Towers. - Sep 2008

There is a good housing standard. Many expat families with children prefer to live outside of the city, close to the International School of Colombo in Battaramulla - commuting to and from the city can be slow (about 30-40 minutes in rush hour). - Feb 2008

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