Cambodia: The Kingdom of Wonder
Over the past decade more and more expats of all ages from the U.S. have been moving to Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonder.
Without a doubt the attraction of the world famous temples of Angkor Wat has made Cambodia a must see destination in Southeast Asia, but what is it about the country that turns tourists into expats?
Some are attracted by the nation’s rich history, traditions and culture while others have realized the economic benefits of relocating to one of the most open economies in the region for foreign investors and professionals.
One reason expats and tourists often give for their love of Cambodia is the positive attitude of the local population towards foreigners, who are regularly greeted with a friendly “Khmer smile” and treated as special guests wherever they go.
English is the second language of choice for many Cambodians, especially in major cities and destinations, thanks to the growth of tourism and increasing number of international companies entering the market.
Cambodia is also unique as it is one of the few countries in the world to use the U.S. dollar as the defacto currency, which provides economic stability and makes life easier for those who run businesses or rely on overseas incomes.
Select Your Scenery: Colonial Cities, Beautiful Beaches, Pristine Islands and Ancient Temples
For many people their first taste of the “Pearl of Southeast Asia” begins in the capital city of Phnom Penh which offers an enticing mixture of colonial-era buildings, Royal palaces, Buddhist pagodas, and local markets which are complemented by the city’s expanding skyline of skyscrapers and condominiums.
While Phnom Penh is popular with investors and professionals, the city of Siem Reap is the key driver behind the booming tourism industry, with visitors flocking to “Temple Town” to see the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple Complex–the largest religious monument in the world covering an impressive 17,609,757 square feet.
For those with a love for beaches and the ocean, the country’s main coastal destination is Sihanoukville, which is popular with Cambodians, expats, and tourists alike. Offering something for every budget, it is possible to live like a backpacker in a bamboo hut or spend your time in a five-star hotel with its own private beach.
Other favored expat destinations include the colonial city of Battambang, the relaxed riverside town of Kampot, and the chilled out coastal resort town of Kep.
Cambodia: The Heart of Southeast Asia
Cambodia’s geographic location literally places it at the heart of Southeast Asia and it has quickly become a hub for regional travelers with three international airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville, catering for millions of visitors each year.
Many expats and retirees move to Cambodia to enjoy the laidback tropical lifestyle, while others relocate for professional reasons or to set up their own businesses.
It is estimated there are now more than 100,000 expats that are permanent residents in the country and whose presence explains the large variety of international restaurants on offer, with cuisine from almost every country in the world being well-represented.
There is also a proliferation of associations and chambers of commerce such as Amcham, Britcham, Auscham, and Eurocham which are all popular with the business community as well as for expats who like to network.
Another indicator of the country’s potential is that its economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, with foreign investment pouring into the manufacturing, agriculture, telecoms, banking, and tourism industries that is creating business and job opportunities for locals and expats alike.
Convenient Living in Cambodia
Without question Cambodia offers the most flexible and accessible long term residence visa of any country in Asia, with a one-month business, or “E”, visa available on arrival, which can be annually extended with a minimum of paperwork for just a few hundred dollars.
When it comes to costs, Cambodia ranked first in the Cost of Living category in International Living’s 2016 Annual Global Retirement Index, making it an enticing proposition for those on limited incomes or pensions seeking an affordable place to relocate overseas and enjoy relative luxury.
A single person can live in comfort for $1,250 per month while a couple could spend as little as $2,000.
If you are dreaming about moving to Southeast Asia to experience a higher quality of life, whatever your budget, then Cambodia may well be the country for you.