Cambodia shaping up as the next dream retirement destination

Published:  10 Aug at 6 PM
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As Thailand falls ever deeper into the dictatorship trap, its next door neighbour Cambodia is set fair to become the next Southeast Asian retirement hub.

Despite the country’s tragic 20th century history, or perhaps because of it, Cambodia is now welcoming expats from across the Western world to its tropical beaches, charming towns and ultra-friendly people. One recent arrival from Thailand said his welcome by locals reminded him of another Southeast Asian country’s advertising soundbite - ‘Where the Smiles are Still Genuine’. So far, thousands of older expats have arrived and are settling themselves in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kep.

Although a good number have made the move from ever more restrictive Thailand, most are retirees who’ve come, seen, loved and decided to stay. Australia, Europe and the USA have all lost citizens to the charm of this fast-growing little country. Cambodia has all the obvious attractions with which to lure new arrivals, from straightforward visa requirements covering not only residence but also the right to work and volunteer, a right denied to retirees in Thailand.

The low cost of living, inexpensive housing and the sheer beauty of the coastline are siren calls for retirees with fixed incomes and a longing for more laid-back and natural surroundings. Rumours of a high level of violence aren’t supported by objective expat reports, and Cambodians seem not to have any prejudice against Westerners.

Interestingly, and possibly originated during the Vietnam War, the majority of Cambodians speak at least some English and seem eager to learn more. Unsurprisingly, many recently-arrived expats in the country are US draft veterans of that tragic conflict who lived through the haze of smoke and bullets and saw the potential of the country in spite of the horrors.

Today’s Cambodians are proud of their country’s progress despite the Khmer Rouge years, and are determined to make their country the region’s next Asian tiger, helped along by expats from the USA and many other countries.
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