As you sit back in the airplane seat and your mind whirls in anticipation of the adventures to come suddenly you hear music playing in the background which couldn’t better describe that new expat feeling.
The dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra’s voice call out to you with perhaps one of the most seductive songs for potential expats, “Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away…”
This is more a siren call for expats seeking a new life than the love song it was intended to be. Its lyrics sum up exactly why I left my old life to head to a place somewhere far more exotic.
“Pack up, let’s fly away…” The simple act of leaving behind your mundane and expensive existence to enjoy something new and amazing in whichever country takes your fancy is actually an easily achievable thing to do if you want.
I know because that’s just what I did back in 2005 when I got fed up with the drab existence of working for a pittance with little remaining after paying the bills at the end of the month. A friend who was living in Thailand told me how good things were overseas for him and encouraged me to expand my horizons and not restrict myself to being stuck in one place for the rest of my life.
There was an entire world waiting to be discovered… I just needed to open my mind to the almost endless opportunities available to me. Deciding to do that changed my life forever. Within a month or so I started my overseas adventures. Once I discovered Southeast Asia, I quickly fell for its many charms and as soon as I set foot in Cambodia, back in 2006, I knew it was the spot for me.
What convinced me that I was in the right place were the friendly, warm and welcoming Cambodian people who greeted me and generously offered assistance wherever I went. I fell head-over-heels for the charming nature of the Cambodian people and the “sabay” attitude they have of living life with a big Khmer smile. “Sabay” literally translates as “fun” and really it’s a state of mind that means embracing enjoyable things in life and not sweating the small stuff.
Cambodia is also much loved by expats for its sheer affordability. I live in the capital, Phnom Penh, and my first home here, a comfy little one bedroom unit, only cost $270 a month. These days home is a spacious, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment that features a large, open-plan space with a sofa, coffee table and television hooked up to Pay TV, plus a dining area with room for half a dozen friends. For all of this I pay a mere $530 a month.
Utilities such as electricity, Pay TV, water, private garbage collection and a regular cleaning service run me $130 a month and I also pay $13 a month to have my clothes washed and ironed.
With all the essentials taken care of for so little I can afford to enjoy all the little luxuries that were beyond my reach in my old life. For breakfast I’ll pop to a local cafe for a freshly blended coffee and a traditional Cambodian breakfast of bai sach chrouk (grilled pork with steamed rice and pickled vegetables) which won’t be more than $5. Dinner and drinks at my favourite Italian restaurant, Piccola Italia Da Luigi, comes to just $14 and a relaxing, hour-long massage at an upmarket spa will only set me back $13.
In Cambodia, you can do whatever your heart desires. There’s a real sense of freedom and possibility here that makes “The Kingdom of Wonder” a truly exhilarating place to live. So, whether you want to get a job or start a business or simply kick back and enjoy a relaxing retirement in fine style, then Cambodia is the place to be…
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