Why You Should Move To Cambodia Immediately

30th April 2017

Cambodia, the Kingdom, Kampuchea. The adopted second home of many digital nomads, creatives, retired travellers, and backpackers who just never left.

Often a quick stopover on the infamous ‘banana pancake’ trail, Cambodia is becoming a top destination to stay, settle and become part of the scenery. With the rise of world connectivity, freelancing and ‘digital nomadism’, many people are interested in finding locations that allow them to work remotely for a lower price of living and other added benefits (who wouldn’t want to live by the beach?)

Here are the top reasons why a move to Cambodia should be your destination of choice. 


Move to Cambodia Living in Cambodia

Who wouldn’t want this to be their office and home

Cost has got to be the number one factor when considering a move. Will this be feasible with my wages? A move to Cambodia should lower your overall expenses, no matter where you’re coming from.

Living expenses are particularly low in Cambodia compared to the western world. A simple apartment can cost as little as $100 USD a month, up to $500 for something high-end. All manners of comfort can be accommodated here, and there are many western style options for those unwilling to leave behind the trappings of their previous life.

Eating and drinking out is extremely cheap. Local Khmer meals can be found for as little as a dollar, and meals in Western restaurants are $3-5. Local beer is served at $0.50-1.50 a glass and wine/cocktails from $2-5. Coeliacs, Vegetarians and those with allergies can comfortably eat here, especially after learning a little of the local language.

Supermarkets in Cambodia offer a variety of European and North American products, particularly compared to neighbouring countries. Many restauranteurs in Vietnam nip across the border for the much wider range of food products available. Whatever your penchant; cheese, sausages, cured meats, wine, bread or dairy, it is easily available during your move to Cambodia. 

Transportation is usually by bicycle, Tuk-Tuk or moped – enviable for those usually stuck in rush hour on the way to the office each morning. The laid-back pace of life here, even in the capital, is what draws many people to move to Cambodia.

Outside of Phnom Penh, the pace slows further – Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampot, Kep or the local islands offers a lifestyle that would be utterly unheard of back home. Everything runs on ‘Khmer time’ which is basically any point within an hour or so window of the scheduled time. This can be a blessing and a curse, but certainly, makes you take life a bit slower!

Related article – Check out our costs of living in Chaing Mai, Thailand


Move to Cambodia Living in Cambodia

Beautiful beaches

For those specifically looking to relocate in order to freelance or live this digital nomad lifestyle, a move to Cambodia offers many enviable benefits.

Wi-fi is widely available across most towns & cities in Cambodia, and mobile internet can be purchased very cheaply. There are myriad locations to work remotely, watching people go about their day in an air-conditioned cafe or sat in a leafy courtyard sipping excellent local coffee. The internet connections are fast enough to do most types of work, stream videos and upload files, but there are occasional power cuts which can be navigated by living somewhere with a generator in the apartment block. There are little to no restrictions on the websites you can visit and you do not need a proxy to access common sites like in neighbouring China.

Western wages, even from intermittent freelance work, can go a long way here. With a move to Cambodia, you can comfortably live on $600 per month, and $1000 per month would allow some savings, vacations to neighbouring countries and eating out two-three times a day. With such a wide range of options for living, eating and travel, a variable income could easily be accommodated if necessary.

One of the biggest draws of a move to Cambodia is the ease of staying long term. For citizens of most countries, getting a visa for Cambodia to live permanently is painless. You can easily buy a business visa on arrival for $35, and then extend indefinitely from any travel agent. This is far less complicated than Laos, Vietnam or Thailand where visa border runs are necessary unless you have an official local employment.

Related articles – Check out our Digital Nomad Desires series


Move to Cambodia Living in Cambodia

Meeting the locals

People in Cambodia are enormously welcoming. The Khmer language is easy to learn (containing no tenses or grammar) and English is widely spoken in the major towns. Integration into Khmer society is entirely possible and making friends here is for life! We were adopted by a Khmer family that we visited every day. When we eventually moved away they borrowed a Tuk Tuk and drove us to the airport to the tune of many, many tears from both sides.

Feeling included in local society here is such an important factor in choosing a country to move to. Despite their tragic past, Khmer people are so unbelievably warm and generous and make you feel like you’re completely at home. This alone makes a move to Cambodia so much easier. 

The expat/nomad community thrives in Cambodia, with most towns having a disproportionate number of writers, photographers, artists, journalists and academics. With such diverse and creative communities & small town laid-back vibes, there is frequent collaboration, friendship and business opportunities. This also means there are a number of great events and festivals in each town throughout the year to participate and network. 


Move to Cambodia Living in Cambodia

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Cambodia as a destination gets over 5 million visitors a year, and for good reason! The culture and history rich Angkor ruins are an incredible site to behold. Spread over 1000 sq km the UNESCO World Heritage site can’t possibly be seen thoroughly over a few days or weeks. Making a move to Cambodia gives you the time and knowledge to plan trips to far away and lesser known gems, and visit without all the other tourists!

Anywhere you live in the Kingdom, you are only a short flight or a bus to local attractions. Perhaps you want to visit the capital, escape to a paradise island, disappear into the countryside or hike up a mountain. The up and coming towns of Sihanoukville & Koh Rong on the South coast are definitely a trip worth making, and Kampot & Kep are fast becoming digital nomad hot spots. Cambodia is also near to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia or the Philippines for trips further afield.

Even if you never leave the country, the warm weather, great food and lifestyle can feel like around the clock vacation. Cambodia has three distinct seasons: hot and dry, hot and rainy & slightly cooler and dry. Once acclimatised you are comfortable all year round, we were even there in the “hottest hot season in history” and were sunbathing by the pool and cycling around town as usual. 


Move to Cambodia Living in Cambodia

Leafy Siem Reap

It wouldn’t be fair to describe all the reasons to become a digital nomad in Cambodia without mentioning the negatives too. We all have them!

The healthcare in Cambodia is pretty limited. There are Western hospitals but if seriously ill or injured, it’s recommended to travel to Bangkok or Saigon for more comprehensive healthcare. This is a great reason to purchase good medical insurance, but shouldn’t hold you back. This is something to consider though with a move to Cambodia, for those with long-term health problems.

While there are still landmines in Cambodia and off-piste hiking is not recommended, you are very unlikely to come across any unexploded ordinance. All tourist areas have been completely cleared and if you follow paths and trails it is completely safe.

The poverty in Cambodia can be overwhelming at times. Seeing first hand the quality of life for the poorest in society is eye-opening and many find it uncomfortable. This for me is a reason TO be here and move to Cambodia. Putting my dollars into local businesses and getting involved in projects that nurture and regenerate the local landscape and community has brought a new perspective to my life and work. The cliché “it changed me” really is a fact here. You can’t possibly return with the same mindset that you arrived here with.

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Thinking of a move to Cambodia? Then check out this post for information on what it's like to live in the SE Asian country by someone who's done it.

About The Author

This guest post was written by Elise who is a blogger at Travel Work & Play. She is an intrepid adventurer, having travelled extensively in Asia and made her own move to Cambodia by living in Siem Reap for two years. She loves exploring new places, but also going back to old ones and seeing the changes. You can follow Elise on Instagram and Twitter.

9 thoughts on "Why You Should Move To Cambodia Immediately"

  • Jamie says:

    Ughhhhh now I wanna move to Cambodia! Ha! I’ve always thought about it, honestly. Maybe when I finish school! The local people I just have got to meet! And I want to try the food so bad!

  • Courtney says:

    I was thinking about moving to Cambodia and now I really want to!! 🙂

  • stephanie says:

    Great article to read. I have went to Siem reap in 2015 and 2016 and really liked this town.
    I can imagine that you liked living there.
    I hope I can visit SR again in the future.

  • Fantastic post! We’ve only been in Cambodia for a few days so far (planning to spend a month exploring various parts of the country), but already we can see a lot of the reasons people visit & then never leave!

  • Ben K. says:

    I just left Siem Reap after being there a week and loved it. Some other facts not mentioned that I investigated is that a foreigner can not own a house there… even if he or she marries a Cambodian and you become a citizen the house will always be in your spouses name not yours, also traffic and crossing the street can be a challenge.and the tuktuk drivers can be annoying.
    That being said, the people are amazingly honest and welcoming and the countryside is beautiful. I highly recommend the butterfly farm called banteay srey. Stay away from the canned tours, rent a powerful scooter 8-10 dollars a day and you can see some amazing things. I concur that the wifi was excellent, and that includes the cellular internet. Also excellent is the food, clothing prices and pharmaceuticals.

  • Anna says:

    Cambodia is a place worth living in the world not too noisy, gentle life.

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