I swapped a £40,000 salary for £150 a month so I could live in Sri Lanka

    A few months ago, my wife and I left our teaching jobs in London to live and work in Sri Lanka. We met at university and both ended up teaching Maths at the same school. Luckily, we were able to stay with her parents and avoid paying high London rents. In my final year as a teacher, I earned a pre-tax salary of around £40,000, which included extra pay for running extracurricular activities. My wife earned slightly less but still took home nearly £2,000 per month after taxes. Despite the ongoing discussions about teacher salaries, we were able to save quite a bit by not having housing costs. This was financially liberating, and while we were conscious of saving as much as possible, we still treated ourselves to things like Pret subscriptions, holidays, and dining out. However, the stress of our public sector jobs took a toll on us, and after five years of teaching, I was ready for a new adventure. We decided to take a leap and move to Sri Lanka.

    Our original plan was to start our own educational initiative, but instead, we agreed to help launch a new charitable center for young people. As part of this agreement, we accepted the salary of a typical Sri Lankan teacher, which is just 60,000lkr (£150) per month each. This was a significant pay cut for us, but it allowed us greater personal and professional freedom while aligning with our moral objectives. Plus, the cost of living in Sri Lanka is much lower, so our pounds go a long way. We also set aside around £3,000 in savings as a safety net.

    Currently, we are adjusting to our new low wages while living in Sri Lanka, where everything seems cheap compared to London. Our savings won’t last forever, but we are making the most of our situation.

    Here’s a breakdown of our spending for the week:

    Day 1: We started the day by buying a cream bun from a mobile bakery for 90lkr. Then we had tea for 180lkr. I gave 40lkr to a disabled beggar. In the afternoon, we met one of my wife’s friends and spent 800lkr on tea at a fancy cafe. I also bought homemade cassava chips for 150lkr and took a tuk-tuk home for 500lkr. Lastly, I splurged on a slice of roast paan, a coconut, and some chili for 200lkr. Total: 2,170lkr (£5.22).

    Day 2: We stayed home and spent 2,000lkr on groceries. Total: 2,000lkr (£4.81).

    Day 3: This was a big day as we went out with friends for a night out. We spent 24,000lkr on food and drinks at three different places. Total: 24,000lkr (£57.73).

    Day 4: We had sweet baked goods for breakfast (280lkr) and went to a bougie cafe to work (1,100lkr). We tried to be thrifty at a restaurant but may have been charged extra (2,500lkr). We also bought gifts for my wife’s family (3,000lkr) and spent 1,250lkr on tuk-tuks. Total: 8,130lkr (£19.55).

    Day 5: We had another sweet treat for breakfast (280lkr) and bought biscuits to bring as gifts (700lkr). We spent 600lkr on transportation and had a quiet evening at home. Total: 1,580lkr (£3.76).

    Day 6: We traveled to Galle and stayed at an Airbnb for two nights. We had free breakfast and spent 250lkr on drinks. Lunch cost us 300lkr each. In the evening, we had dinner at a family restaurant for 4,000lkr. Total: 6,290lkr (£15.14).

    Day 7: We had breakfast at a tourist cafe (4,000lkr) and donated money to guides (1,300lkr). We had lunch at a local place (1,250lkr) and paid for museum entry (600lkr). We also bought ice creams (350lkr), had a beer and fried fish (1,050lkr), and bought local hoppas (540lkr). Total: 9,090lkr (£21.87).

    Weekly Total: 53,350lkr (£133 – for the two of us), excluding the big night out.

    Overall, we managed to stay within our budget for the week.