Why Siem Reap is the best place to live and retire?

Is how little you have to retire on keeping you up at night? Are you thinking of retiring somewhere cheaper where your money will go a lot further? Siem Reap Cambodia is a very popular early retirement location as it has everything you need at a fraction of the price.

Here are all the common questions people have when retiring to Siem Reap:

  • Why live and retirein Siem Reap?
  • Is Siem Reap expensive?
  • Can foreigners buy a house in Cambodia?
  • How much does it cost to live in Siem Reap?
  • What is the food like in Siem Reap?
  • What can we do at Siem Reap?
  • What is the weather like in Siem Reap?
  • Is Siem Reap cheaper than Phnom Penh?
  • Is Siem Reap safe?
  • What is healthcare like in Siem Reap?

Now that you know some of the common questions let’s dig into them and answer each one.

Why live and retire in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap is extremely cheap to live in, it has great health care, weather and many activities you can do in your retirement. It is extremely easy to get to being the second biggest international airport in the country and also has multiple bus routes to everywhere including a 6 hour bus to Phnom Penh. 

During Covid country lockdowns Siem Reap upgraded all their infrastructure including the roads around town so now has the same quality infrastructure you would expect in the US or Europe. This has levelled up the whole experience of visiting and you will now feel much more at home. 

If you would like to see the renovation as it was happening have a look at the walking tour below:

Siem Reap Renovation Part 1

Siem Reap Renovation Part 2

Is Siem Reap expensive?

Siem Reap is extremely cheap to both visit and live in and that is for quality accommodation, food, monthly bills and getting to from most places in the world. Below is a table of typical expenses that you will have per month. It will cost you $946 USD a month to live in Siem Reap. That assumes renting a 1 bed and using a moped or step through motorbike to get around town. If you choose a more expensive lifestyle this will be reflected in how much you spend per month obviously.

ExpenseCost Per Month
Rent – 1 Bedroom$200 USD
Rent – 2 Bedroom and Pool$350 USD
Electricity$100 USD (20c per kw)
Health Care$386
Internet (Metfone)$10 USD
Meal for 2 x 8 times$80 USD
Petrol$20 USD (motor bike) / $60 USD Car

Pro Tip: In Cambodia at the writing of this article there is no licence required for a motor bike under 250CC and anyone from 15yo and up can ride. They are currently looking at getting the age moved up to 18yo but you still won’t need a licence. This is the cheapest way to get around. A good entry level moped or step through will cost you brand new around 2k USD.

Is Siem Reap cheaper than Phnom Penh?

Yes, Siem Reap is much cheaper than Phnom Penh and you will expect to pay 50% less in expenses except internet and electricity.  With beer at a restaurant in Phnom Penh your local beers cost 75 cents at a cheap restaurant and in Siem Reap only 50 cents. Siem Reap and Phnom Penh have similar cheap Tuk Tuk prices to get around as well so they are roughly the same. Siam Reap is a much more walkable city so you won’t use the Tuk Tuks as much. The Tuk Tuks are prettier in Siem Reap as they have been dressed up to look like carriages for the trips to the local temples.

PRO TIP: Install the Grab app when you are in country and have your local sim card number. Don’t choose credit card payment as none of the Tuk Tuk’s have eftpos machines or like to pay the transaction fee. So choose cash as the payment method or no Tuk Tuk driver will pick you up. Never barter with them as you will loose out. Just let the app do the pricing for your and then they know exactly where you are going without having to explain it to them as well. Do however ask them for the day trip prices or at your hotel for Angkor Wat they are cheap and a cool way to see the temples at the cheapest price.

Can foreigners buy a house in Cambodia?

Yes they can buy apartments and condominiums but they are not allowed to own the land unless they are a citizen. This is similar to the laws of Thailand, its neighbour, where the same is true.  So you aren’t able to buy land or live in a ground floor apartment but you will be able to buy above that level. 

Let’s face it, not many people want to live on the ground floor unit anyway for security reasons and everything from upper levels falls into your yard. The view is also better as we go up levels as well.

What is the food like in Siem Reap?

Siem Reap being a true international tourist destination made famous by Tomb Raider the movie. This being the case they have a truly international food scene as well as all the local Cambodian dishes you have come to expect. My favourite and a local favourite by expats in the centre of town near Pub Street is a Mexican place called Viva. With great food and cheap prices as well as 50 cent beers you can understand why it is so popular.

Here are some other popular food places around town:

What can we do at Siem Reap?

The most well known thing to do at Siem Reap is Angkor Wat and the temples but there are many other things to do as well for those going to live there full time in their retirement. When settling into another country you will still be living life the same as at home, just cheaper so you will still need to go to the supermarket like Angkor Market. But other than the day to day below is a list for you.

Here is a list of some of the other things you can do:

EXTRA: There are numerous markets around town to check out as well so you can pick up your fresh produce there and sample some local cheap food like at the Old Market.

What is the weather like in Siem Reap?

Temperature: 21°C to 35°C / 70°F to 95°F

The weather in Siem Reap is constant all year round with just a few degrees difference in summer and winter.  They do have a wet season from June to September where 75% of the rain falls in the year and then it is normally nice and sunny the rest of the time. 

The wet season starts with 6 inches of rain a month and in September this averages about 9 inches of rain for the month. During this time it can be a little muggy. You will feel it in the first year and not so much in the following years after your body acclimatises.

Is Siem Reap safe?

Yes, Siem Reap is extremely safe and it has that small town feel with people that are always happy to help. The locals know tourism and agriculture are their main incomes so they literally do go out of their way to help. There is no real serious crime or violent crime there and the most that happens is a little petty theft as crimes of opportunity. 

No matter what age you are or male or female you will feel very comfortable walking around town any time of the day or night. You will be comforted by regular police patrols and their presence walking around town as well.

NOTE: Check Is Cambodia Safe To Retire In? Post Covid Review and read more about the safety in Siem Reap and Cambodia.

What is healthcare like in Siem Reap?

The health care in Siem Reap due to many foriegn tourists is quite high with multiple international hospitals like Royal Angkor International Hospital. As well as one off treatments from everything from dental to body scans and vaccinations they also have yearly or monthly health care plans you can ask them about. With multiple international hospitals you can always find a deal and an English speaking doctor.

When you are visiting for the first time to see if the place is for you then you will need travel health insurance and later your first year of international health insurance is youf don’t sign up for a plan with a local hospital.

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