living in cambodia phnom penh

Moving to Cambodia

Cambodia Score
Shithole Paradise

What is Cambodia?

moving to cambodia flag

Cambodia is a developing nation in Southeast Asia which offers a lot of opportunities for expats.

The Kingdom of Cambodia lies at the southern end of continental Southeast Asia and borders Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Roughly 17 million people live in this country, of which 97% are Buddhists.

Phnom Penh is its capital and largest city.

Cambodia was a colony of France until 1953, and is currently an elective constitutional monarchy – in theory.

In practice, its level of democracy is very low.

The nation has suffered much in the 20th century, most notably at the hands of mass-murderer Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who ruled until 1979.

Cambodia’s marked by widespread poverty, corruption, lack of political freedom, low human development, high rate of hunger and deforestation.

It scores poorly on water resource management, air quality, sanitation and education.

It’d fit right in with most African countries, in fact.

On the other side of the coin, there is the fact that all of these factors are steadily improving, and in fact Cambodia’s one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, with its economy growing over 7% per year.

Cannabis is technically illegal but this policy is often not enforced – unless corrupt police officers see a foreigner smoking it up and decide they want a bribe, or said foreigner will spend some time in jail.

moving to cambodia map
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Requirements for moving to Cambodia

Moving to Cambodia is really easy.

Not only can you easily get a visa, you can also extend this indefinitely.

This makes getting Permanent Residence not really necessary, although it is possible through investment.

You can even attain citizenship after 7 years in the country.

In addition, the cost of living in Cambodia is pretty low, which means you do not need to make a lot of money.

Take heed though, because if you spend over half a year per year here, you will be considered a tax resident and you’ll have to pay taxes of up to 22%.

This is still considerably less than what you’d pay in your former Western nation, so it’s definitely an upgrade.

The only real requirement for moving to Cambodia, as always, is having your own business which grants you location independent, international income.

That being said, you do have to take into account that Cambodia is most definitely a third world country, and although it is growing and improving rapidly every year, you will certainly have to “rough” it if you move here, even compared to neighboring nations such as Vietnam and Thailand.

Thus, we can say that another additional requirement for moving to Cambodia is your resilience and ability to abide without all the modern comforts.

What is the cost of living in Cambodia?

The cost of living in Cambodia, as is the case with almost all Southeast Asian countries, is very low.

A single person can expect to get by easily with less than $1,000 a month.

The minimum annual wage is slightly over $2,000 so it’s really dirt cheap to live there.

If you earn a decent location independent income of, say, $1,500 to $2,000, you will probably never want for anything – within the constraints of this third tier country, of course.

Benefits of living in Cambodia

  • Rapidly growing economy

    Cambodia is one of the fastest growing countries in the region economically (and the world) and is expected to continue expanding at this pace for many years to come. Moving and/or investing here will allow you to reap the fruits of riding this economic growth

  • Low cost of living

    Cambodia is very cheap and if you earn $1,000 to $2,000 per month, you will be able to live like a king

  • Pretty safe

    Cambodia has pretty low crime rates, and even internationally speaking nobody is likely to invade them anytime soon

  • Good visa system

    Cambodia has probably one of the best visa systems in the region. You can get a visa and extend it indefinitely. There’s no need for citizenship or residence, although both are also possible

  • Real estate opportunities

    Most Asian countries prohibit foreigners from owning land, but Cambodia has no such restrictions, which – combined with its currently low prices and growing economy – makes it ideal for investing in real estate

  • Rich cultural heritage

    Cambodia’s a great country to visit as a tourist, because it has many ancient sites such as Ankor Wat. These aren’t likely to go anywhere, and thus will probably continue to draw tourists and their money to Cambodia, which will keep fueling its growth

living in cambodia

Downsides of living in Cambodia

  • Hot and humid

    Cambodia’s a Southeast Asian country, and that of course means it’s pretty damn hot and humid

  • Poor

    This country’s dirt cheap to live in, and for good reason. It’s considered one of the poorest countries in the region, and its infrastructure, rule of law, and general level of prosperity is behind many of its neighbors

  • Low English proficiency

    Although English is slowly replacing French as the nation’s second language, currently the average level of English is very low

Moving to Cambodia - by the numbers

Cambodia Score
Shithole Paradise

Climate: 7/10

Hours of sunshine (7/10) Temperature (7/10) Rainy days (9/10) Humidity (5/10)
31 C – 88 F

Level of English: 2/10

Very Low Proficiency

Cost of Living: 9/10

Minimum Annual Wage Average monthly cost single person

Taxes on international income: 8/10

Between 0 and 20%.

For tax purposes, you are considered a resident if you have your principal place of abode there, or are present for more than 182 days during a 12 month period.

Residents are liable for taxes on worldwide income and profits, while non-residents are only taxed on Cambodia-sourced income.

Don’t be a resident here, don’t get your income from the country, and you do not have to pay international income tax.

Economic growth: 9/10

Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 5%, yet before that it was at a very healthy 7.7%.

This country is making rapid economic progress, Cambodia will almost certainly keep growing strongly in the next few decades.

Safety: 8/10

Global Terrorism Index (10/10) Intentional homicide rate (9/10) Rape rate (5/10)

Visa: 8.5/10

  • Visa (10/10)

    Relatively easy to get, with the ability to extend it indefinitely

  • Permanent Residence (8/10)

    Possible through investment, familial bond, or other requirements, but it’s really not needed

  • Citizenship (8/10)

    Possible through investment, with many requirements, or through naturalization by living there for at least 7 years

living in cambodia

How is life for expats in Cambodia?

Life in Cambodia as an expat can be pretty great or extremely depressing, depending on your priorities and tolerance for subpar living.

You won’t have to spend much money in Cambodia, because it’s so cheap to live there.

Getting into Cambodia and staying there isn’t much of a hassle either, thanks to its great visa system.

The poor infrastructure and general low level of development might hinder your happiness, if you’re used to comforts as can be found in Dubai and Singapore.

This does provide you with many opportunities for making money, such as starting a business or investing in real estate.

Now, you might wonder why it scores 74% if it has so many problems.

That’s because while today it isn’t very awesome to live in (although cheap and easy to arrange), the booming economy virtually guarantees that in a few decades time, Cambodia will be very different from today.

Would I move to Cambodia? As it stands, I would not, because I have a family to raise and the educational system doesn’t seem very impressive.

If I weren’t so burdened, however, I would definitely consider Cambodia to live in for awhile, and plant some of my flags in.

Permanent Residence is pretty easy to get, and the fact that you can own rapidly appraising land and real estate makes this a prime candidate for your Assets flag.

In addition, Cambodia has a great central location, and from its capital you can easily hop between other interesting nations in the area, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

An interesting option for sure, and if you don’t mind living without much luxury, you can do very well in Cambodia.

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2 thoughts on “Moving to Cambodia

  1. C

    What are the modern comforts you refer to that can be found in Dubai and Singapore and not in Cambodia?

    1. Stephen

      For example, an efficient public transportation network like Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) subway system. And in general, I’d say the level of infrastructure (both on the macro and the micro) in Cambodia is way lower than in those countries.

      Sure, you can find high quality living in some parts of Cambodia, but that is certainly an exception and not the rule.

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