Are you looking for a place to retire where your money will go further and the local people are friendly and welcoming? Then look no further than Cambodia. Having spent a lot of time in Asia, let me share with you my personal pros and cons.
What are the Pros and Cons of Retiring to Cambodia:
- Cheap Accommodation
- Cheap Food
- Lots Of Activities
- Great People
- Cheap Medical Care
- Easy Visa
- Laid Back Lifestyle
- Growing Expat Destination
- Easy Access To All Of Asia
- Less Populated
- Teaching English
- Constant Temperature
- Very Safe
- Very Humid
So now you know what the Pros and Cons are lets dig into them a little deeper and explain why they are.
Is Cambodia good place to live?
Cambodia is at the heart of south eastern asia and its people are a great alternative to Thailand at a much cheaper price. The country is an up and coming place to live and retire with rapidly growing infrastructure and expat community. The people are also very friendly especially compared to their neighbours in Thailand. Where most people in Thailand have an angle they are trying to play and tourists are fair game and can be very superficial in the big cities. The people in Cambodia are helpful and genuine and not as willing to take advantage of expats and tourists.
What are the Pros of retiring to Cambodia?
The accommodation to buy in Cambodia is very cheap with a brand new 1 bed unit going for less than 50,000 usd in the center of Phnom Penh with all the amenities. You can get a second hand unit for $30k to $40k in town or a 2 to 3 bedroom further out for 50k. This obviously depends on what quality of life you are looking for.
Rental prices are $350 to $500 per month for a 1 bed modern unit in Phnom Penh the capital. At the $500 mark it is a brand new unit with all the amenities. Just like with buying you can get cheaper rent if you go further out or get a lower quality unit.
NOTE: Prices above are the maximum for those styles of units in the capital city and if you move to smaller towns you will get much cheaper prices.
Here are also some local real estate websites where you can look up prices yourself:
NOTE: Check this article to know the best town to find the perfect accommodation Cambodia: 5 Best Places To Retire In Cambodia.
Which type of accommodation is the cheapest in Cambodia?
If you are looking for something really cheap then you can go to facebook marketplace. Change your filter to Cambodia and then click on Property Rentals or House Sales. Remember prices will be in local Peso.
While you will find places to buy there you will be dealing directly with the homeowner. As with buying any property in any country make sure you get the right legal advice prior to purchase to make sure the paperwork is in order.
How much does a meal cost in Cambodia?
Food in Cambodia is very cheap and we will look at street food, a cheap restaurant and an expensive restaurant. Street food will cost you between $0.5 to $1 USD. A cheap restaurant meal will cost you $2.5 USD and finally an expensive restaurant can cost you $10 to $20 USD.
When people are new to travelling, they normally choose the expensive foods due to being unsure of the quality of local foods. Generally if I am getting street food in any country I want to see it being cooked in front of me or boiled in front of me to ensure it is fresh and it has not been sitting there all day.
What activities do people do in Cambodia?
There are many things to keep you busy in Cambodia when you retire there. From the regular fresh produce markets to day trips and lots of shopping at very cheap prices. There are architectural, historical, cultural and art tours as well.
Here are some of the places you can visit in Cambodia:
- Angkor Wat
- Otres Beach
- La Plantation
- Koh Rong
- Choeung Ek Genocidal Center
- Presat Beng Mealea
- Sothy’s Pepper Farm
- Ta Prohm Temple
- Kbal Chhay Waterfall
- Long Set Beach
- Wat Leu Temple
- Phnom Kulen National Park
- Ream National Park
NOTE: There is a lot more to do in Cambodia but this just gives you an understanding of the types of activities you can do while there.
Every Asian country has a unique personality and Cambodia the people are arguably one of the nicest in all of southeast asia. 90% of the population is the ethnic Khmer people that make up 17 million of the almost 19 million people in Cambodia. They speak the Khmer language which is very similar to the languages spoken in Vietnam and Laos which are close neighbours.
Even though the people are very poor in Cambodia this does not stop them from enjoying themselves and being happy with what they have. This can not be said of some other parts of asia where there is a little resentment towards expats and the lifestyle they lead. They are peaceful and always willing to help out any tourists or expats.
Cheap Medical Care
When picking your insurance you can either go with the local health care system if on a permanent visa or get private health insurance with a global provider. If you get a global insurance cover package then prices start at around $450 USD and can get up to $770 USD per month for premium level coverage.
This is for 0% out of your pocket expense. You can knock $150 USD off the price if you pay 30% of the cost of treatment up to a maximum or $5000 USD out of pocket expense. This example was with Cigna Global for someone 65 years of age..
The free public system is slow and not up to the standard of western hospitals yet but with each year is getting better. If the prices above are too expensive there is another way you can decrease your monthly insurance. If a major medical event happens you can opt to pay a deductible that means a one off payment up front for major medical that will reduce your monthly payment.
With April International Insurance if you pay $1500 deductible for major medical you can reduce your monthly insurance in Cambodia to $315 usd per month and still get all the cover you need at 65yo. This includes dental, private hospital and the two emergency covers mentioned below.
IMPORTANT: You will always want to make sure you have two things on your medical insurance which are Emergency Evacuation and Emergency Repatriation options on your insurance. This is in case you become severely ill and want to go home or to a country with better medical care in an emergency.
How long can foreigners stay in Cambodia?
Cambodia has an electronic E visa for up to 30 days inside the country with a cost of $42 dollars for the visa and the admin fee. It takes 3 days to process and has to be used within 90 days of getting the visa.
You can get the electronic visa from the official portal here:
There is a retirement visa for Cambodia which is the ER visa that you can get if you are over 55 yo and retired and can prove you have the money to live there. This generally means a bank statement showing a monthly pension or lump sum in your account. This visa is only for 1 year at a time but you can renew it in Cambodia.
This visa type has to be applied for at a Cambodian embassy and you can find a list of them on the link below.
Laid Back Lifestyle
Due to a smaller population than its neighbours Vietnam and Thailand the pace of life is a little slower in Cambodia. While it is still busy in the centre of
Growing Expat Destination
Cambodia is a growing destination for expats as there are many people looking for a cheaper life in other countries. Being the cheapest of its neighbouring countries and the least populated it makes a great choice for your retirement.
The simplicity of the visa process with a specific retirement visa also makes it much easier than its neighbours. People in Thailand and Vietnam need to do visa runs where they leave the country for a few days and come back to renew their visas.
The natural beauty of the country plus having many things to do there is also drawing many expats from its neighbouring countries as well.
Easy Access To All Of Asia
Once you are in South East Asia the flight prices are really cheap so you can always use Cambodia as a base. You can go to Thailand for shopping and Vietnam for beaches and tourist attractions which are right next door.
As we have mentioned Cambodia is a lot less populated than its neighbours and with less people comes less rubbish, traffic and overall noise. This is a great thing if you are moving there to retire. You can live on the outskirts of a bigger city and get a tuk tuk or local bus right into town any time you like.
If you are looking for something to do in your retirement or just something to top up your retirement funds you can always teach english. This only takes a small online Tesol course and you can start sharing your knowledge of English with the locals who love native speakers.
You can complete an online course for under $300 from here:
Or you can do one face to face in Cambodia here for just under $2k:
The benefit of face to face in Cambodia is that they can answer all your local questions and help you get a job afterwards. Getting your first job is the hardest part and then you will be fine.
The temperature in Cambodia is fairly constant in the range of 22 deg C to 34 deg C / 72 deg F to 95 deg F. This is great weather for anyone with arthritis and most places have air conditioning if you need it as well.
Cambodia is a very safe country especially for expats as you will notice they get preferential treatment like in most southeast asian countries. They have special laws in place to protect them and the people are not that kind of people anyway.
Minor robberies can happen outside the metropolitan area of the cities and tourist sites, so just obey standard travel safety as you would anywhere else. Don’t go flashing heaps of cash in poor parts of town late at night.
IMPORTANT: Always remember to check your local country travel advisory for current information on how safe El Savador is.
What are the Cons of retiring to Cambodia?
Like with most of southeast asia your first trip will be an eye opener to how different countries live. There are those that lean into it and are there to experience that culture and those that don’t like it at all. This is shown in the infrastructure with how they do power lines to how the transport system works. This does not mean you won’t get similar quality to what you have in other countries but just be prepared for it not being as perfect as you are used too.
The humidity is always up around 80% so it will be a big change if you are not used to the tropics. There are some benefits to higher humidities like it being better for your skin. The temperature combined with the humidity are also great for the aches and pains that come with aging as well.
TIPS: Having lived in high humidity areas myself it normally takes your body about a year to acclimatise to the weather and then you will not feel it so much. In high humidity areas clothes on the line don’t dry as quickly in the shade but will dry in 30 mins in the sun. Also instead of an air conditioner you can use a dehumidifier instead that will make things cooler at a fraction of the electricity cost.
NOTE: Check this article if you are wondering how Cambodia is post covid. Is it worth retiring here? Find it out here Is Cambodia Safe To Retire In? Post Covid Review.