Happily at Home in “The Kingdom of Wonder”

One of the many benefits to life in Cambodia is I’m perfectly placed for exploring all the delights of Southeast Asia. And the low costs here mean I can live a jet-set lifestyle even on a budget. Often on my travels I’ll end up chatting with fellow passengers who want to know more about my life in Cambodia. The idea of relocating to an overseas paradise such as this fascinates them and when they ask me about the benefits of becoming an expat here I smile, sit back and share a few reasons why moving to Cambodia was the smartest decision I ever made…

1. Low-Cost Luxury Lifestyle

Cambodia offers one of the highest standards of living at one of the lowest costs in the region. Simply put, even those on a basic pension or a part-time income can enjoy a great lifestyle without having to worry about making ends meet anymore.

In the capital, Phnom Penh—where I live—I have friends who pay less than $400 a month in rent for spacious apartments in upscale neighbourhoods. Bags of fresh fruit and vegetables can be bought from local Khmer markets for less than a dollar while my weekly trips to a modern supermarket to stock up imported meats, cheeses, ice cream and other expat luxuries rarely cost me more than $30.

Cambodia is also great for internet nowadays with telecom networks offering packages including 10GB of 4G mobile data plus unlimited local calls and SMS for the ridiculously low price of $1.25. If you like a drink, then expect to pay a mere 65 cents for a glass of ice-cold draught beer or $10 for a bottle of good French wine. Or relax with a Khmer massage at a professional spa for just $8. Whatever luxury you crave, you’ll find it here…and at a fraction of the price you’d pay back home.

2. Freedom from Bureaucracy

For me, one of the greatest attractions of Cambodia is the freedom to live your life however you want. This is a country which doesn’t enforce a bureaucratic nanny state on every aspect of your life like in so much of the Western world.

Cambodians are a welcoming, hospitable people. So long as you are respectful of local culture then you are free to live as you please. If you want to start a business or get a job then you’re free to do so. If you want to just kick back, relax and enjoy your retirement then there is no mountain of paperwork to stand in your way.

The best example of this is Cambodia’s simple visa requirements for expats. Just apply for a visa on arrival at the airport by showing a passport with a minimum of six months’ validity, fill out a small form, provide two passport sized photos and pay a US$35 (around $43) fee and you can get a one month “ordinary/business” visa issued in under 20 minutes. No complicated documents or proof of income are required. Even better, your visa can be extended for 12 months at a time by asking any travel agent to process the extension on your behalf for a very reasonable fee of US$285 (around $357).

As a long-term resident with a multiple entry visa you are free to come and go as your please. And when the 12 months is up all you need to do is go back to the travel agent and pay for another extension. No wonder tourist and expat numbers have continued to surge annually for the past 15 years!

3. Spoiled for Choice

Cambodia is best known for the world-famous Angkor Wat Temple Complex with the nearby city of Siem Reap being nicknamed “Temple Town” but this is a country which has a lot to offer in terms of great places to live.

The capital city of Phnom Penh has become a blend of modern skyscrapers, ancient pagodas and palaces, glorious colonial buildings, leafy boulevards, shopping centres, busting local markets and some of the most affordable international fine dining in Southeast Asia.

Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city yet is only a tenth the size of Phnom Penh and has a charming colonial vibe which attracts expats looking to relax and live life at their own pace. If being closer to the water is more your thing then the “Lost Riviera” of Kep, Kampot and Sihanoukville are very popular locations for long-term expats who are more into coastal living.

And if you really want to get away from it all then head out to one of the many islands off the coast of Cambodia where gorgeous, undeveloped beaches are easy enough to find for your personal enjoyment.

This is the amazing thing about Cambodia: You can live how you want, wherever you want and—with almost any level of income—enjoy a life of luxury that would be impossible in your home country.

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