Wherever you are in the world, rent tends to fall into two categories; either an outrageous burden or a relative joy.
In Cambodia paying rent is definitely not a burden thanks in no small part to the reasonably priced properties that are available for expats in places like Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
A retiree friend of mine pays just $350 a month for an apartment which comes with its own balcony. It is fully furnished and air-conditioned with one bedroom, one bathroom, kitchen, and living room. It’s the perfect size for a retired person and he spends half his time happily sitting out on the balcony watching the world go by.
In Phnom Penh, the rent on a decent apartment will cost between $350 to $600 a month, plus an additional $75 to $125 for utilities including electricity, water, private garbage disposal, and cable television.
However, if you head down to the coastal resort of Sihanoukville you will spend even less. Western-style apartments range from $200 upwards while two-bedroom houses with gardens can cost about $100 or so more. This means the monthly average cost for all your property expenses can be as low as $300.
With rent as affordable, there’s money left over to do the things you enjoy. That means leading a good, yet affordable, life.
Fine dining is as inexpensive as the rent in Cambodia and there are hundreds, or even thousands, of international restaurants in the main cities (and some great local ones too). Paying $20 for a fantastic Italian or French meal for two with a glass of wine is the rule rather than the exception.
The cost of an unlimited annual gym membership at a place with good equipment, steam, sauna, fresh towels, and air-conditioning can be as little as $30 a month. You can also get an annual membership at somewhere like the Hotel Cambodiana, which for $600 includes full access to their luxurious swimming pool and tennis courts.
Some expats would be lost without a regular game of golf and luckily Phnom Penh has several world-class golf courses and driving ranges…all of which are fairly priced. The green fees to play a round of golf at the nine-hole City Golf course costs $20, while the high-end 18-hole course at Garden City Golf Club will set you back slightly more at $75 a round.
Having an active social life in Cambodia is an affordable proposition, with many expat bars having daily happy hour promotions. In Sihanoukville, for example, it is possible to buy a glass of beer for 50 cents at a beachside bar at almost any time of the day. A variety of nationalities make up the expat communities, and organize regular business and sporting events with their compatriots.
A large number of people take advantage of Cambodia’s status as a regional travel hub with an accessible geographic location to explore Asia. There are many regional flights available daily, from both low-cost carriers like AirAsia as well as global options such as Thai, Malaysia, or Singapore Air. This means that flying anywhere in Southeast Asia for a vacation can be affordable if you plan in advance.
So while Cambodia burns bright in many expats hearts it also serves as a base for people to travel and discover the rest of Asia, safe in the knowledge that they always have a home to come back to in the Kingdom of Wonder.
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