Cambodia is one of the cheapest places on Earth to live well.
While affordable luxury is available, you have the option to live on a very modest budget… thanks to US$1 Baguette & Egg breakfasts, US$1 Noodle Soup lunches, US$0.50c happy hour draft beers, and US$10-a-night hotels.
There is no Retirement Visa in Cambodia; not yet, anyway. Instead, you have to get a Business (Ordinary) Visa and extend it to 1 Year each year (at a cost of US$289).
The saving grace is that you don’t have to do Visa Runs (which can be expensive once you take travel and accommodation costs into account)… you can renew you visa whilst remaining in the country… just go through one of many of the Visa Agents.
The downside is that there are no guarantees, and you can find yourself forced to do a Visa Run when you weren’t expecting to. Again, the good side of this is that Thailand is only a few US$s away by bus.
The average wage in Cambodia is US$60 / month but that includes rural workers.
Frontline staff in tourist places like Siem Reap, Kampot, and Snooky can earn up to US$120-150 / month (upto US$5 / day).
Kitchen works and cleaners earn up to US$100 / month (upto US$3.30 / day).
Keep these figures in mind whilst negotiating prices.
A Tuk Tuk driver in Siem Reap who earns US$20 to take you on a Big Tour day trip around Angkor Wat is earning good money (even with the cost of his petrol taken into account). Don’t pay more.
Someone renting out a basket bicycle for US$2 / day is over-charging.
A masseur on the beach is doing well earning US$5 / hour (even with the cost of their oils taken into account). Don’t pay more.
Alas, Cambodia attracts its fair share of ‘senior single men’ who are only here to take advantage of the cheap booze, cheap marijuana, cheap living, sex tourism… and beautiful yet poor and desperate young Cambodian girls.
In contrast, you can also find a more normal expat. These expats may still enjoy popping in and out of the under-culture (for a bit of fun now and again) but they don’t get ‘lost’ in it.
Then you have the tourists… most of whom are here to get their annual dose of hedonism… in a place where they are not so likely to get arrested.
In places like Cambodia, these types co-exist. So, choose your friends wisely.
If you are going to get squeamish about finding a frog in your ensuite, a lizard on your wall, or a big spider on your laundry basket… don’t come to Cambodia.
Cambodia isn’t for everyone. Cambodia is likely to appeal to more liberal minded GRANDPAckers who still have a bit of ‘hippy’ left in them.
WHERE TO GO:
I would suggest that the best places to go are the places where you have a reasonable amount of tourist traffic. These places benefit hugely from such traffic and their infrastructures are being developed quickly and accordingly.
These places attract a lot of expats as well as tourists. These expats are setting up businesses to ‘tap into’ the tourism $s. Expat businesses have upped the offerings and the standards… and the prices. Kep is a prime example.
Expats are living in luxury in Siem Reap and paying US$700 / month for a large, ground floor, 3 bedroom apartment with large patio.
Get out to somewhere like Kampot and you are paying US$250-$350 for a western quality, furnished 2-3 bedroom house.
If you are prepared to live like a Khmer you can more than halve those figures.
I met an expat who has been living in Siem Reap for 10 years with his Cambodian wife and their children. He pays US$90 / month for a Khymer quality 3 bedroom house about 2kms out from the centre of town.
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