Discovering Cambodia as an expat retirement hub

Published:  24 Jul at 6 PM
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Cambodia is becoming increasingly popular with would-be expats from Western countries who’ve turned their backs on the chaos, confusion and political problems back home.

Starting a new life in Cambodia is an adventure that’s proving more and more attractive to expats looking for a total change of scene. At the present time, visa requirements are straightforward and expats can work or volunteer without risking being deported. The country itself is a fascinating mix of modern amenities in its capital Phnom Penh and more traditional lifestyles in its smaller cities.

Due to its popularity with Western tourists, many Cambodians speak some English and are genuinely friendly to new arrivals. Cambodia’s cost of living is, on average, similar to that in neighbouring Thailand, with some necessities such as electricity costing more and others such as food and alcoholic drinks costing less. Rentals and house prices are cheaper, and retirees on less than generous pensions can live well, especially in the provinces.

One advantage is that Cambodia banks give good interest rates on fixed term investments, and American expats will be pleased to find the currency for all but the cheapest purchases is the US dollar. Once you’re settled in, there’s a great choice of things to do and see, with joining several of the many clubs, chambers and embassy-supported associations a good way to make friends in your chosen locality.

Alternatives include local groups into specific interests such as photography and IT, and amateur sports leagues based in various country clubs cover everything from golf to swimming, horse riding, tennis and more. One absolute must for new arrivals is a visit to world-famous Angkor Wat, the vast temple city complex built between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries.

Lost in the jungle for centuries, its 72 Buddhist temples attest to its importance not just as a religious centre but as a representation of the power held by the rulers of the day. The vast complex, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was devoted entirely to worship and royal ceremonies. I

f city life in its entirety isn’t for you, heading for the country’s southern coastal cities is the answer. The largest, beachside Sihanoukville, is fast becoming a hub for tourism, but still keeps its culture and charm intact. For those needing a quieter, more traditional lifestyle, Kep and Kampot are the places to chill out amongst friendly locals and established expat communities.
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