Moving to Cambodia

Cambodia, officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a Southeast Asian country, entrenched in historical sights and beautiful scenery. Previously a French colony, the country still has remnants of its Francophile past. Temples abound, the dominant religion in the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’ is Buddhism.

Cambodia is the 70th most populous country in the world. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic, and cultural centre of Cambodia. Despite the images of rolling hills and ancient fortresses that often come to mind when mentioning Cambodia, the capital is urbanised and relatively fast-paced.

Most expats who move to Cambodia settle in Phnom Penh. The capital has a large expatriate population, making it easy to meet other expats and make friends.

The capital is home to delicious cuisine served in an array of restaurants – both local and international – as well as a thriving music and nightlife scene. Expats will be pleased to know that it is possible to buy Western products in specialised grocery stores in Phnom Penh. Stray outside of the capital, and one finds that amenities are rather lacking.

Cambodia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, showing a significant increase over the last decade. Agriculture is the most dominant economic sector. Other booming sectors include textiles, construction, garments, and tourism leading to increased foreign investment and international trade.

Despite its advancing growth, the country faces numerous challenges and sociopolitical issues, including widespread poverty and a lack of political freedom.

The cost of living in Cambodia is relatively cheap, depending on one’s budget and income. Many expats report that it is possible to live without a modest budget, and still have money to save. The currency is the Cambodian Riel, however the US Dollar and Thai Baht are also widely used.

Accommodation varies in price, depending if one chooses to live in the capital. There are noticeable discrepancies in rental prices, therefore it is best to shop around. 

The education system in Cambodia has faced numerous challenges, although there have been improvements over the years. The standard of state education might be significantly lower than what expats from Western countries are used to. To offset this, here are a number of good international schools, mostly located in the capital.

Despite the challenges the country continues to face, expats report that the lifestyle in Cambodia is easy and affordable. With incredible sightseeing opportunities and close proximity to other tourist destinations, Cambodia is an attractive country for expats.


Fast facts

Population: 15,4 million

Capital city: Phnom Penh (also largest city)

Neighbouring countries: Vietnam, Thailand, Laos

Geography: Cambodia lies entirely within the tropics, with a long western coastline along the Gulf of Thailand. The landscape is characterised by a low-lying central plain surrounded by mountains. Phnom Aural, Cambodia's highest peak, is in southwestern Cambodia and rises to an elevation of 5,949 feet (1,813 metres). The central Tonle Sap (Great Lake) is densely populated plain devoted to rice paddies. 

Political system: Constitutional monarchy

Major religion: Theravada Buddhism. Other religions include Islam and Christianity.

Main languages: Khmer is the official language. French is spoken by many older Cambodians, but English is becoming more prevalent thanks to an influx of tourists over recent years.

Money: The riel (KHR) is divided into 100 sen.

Tipping: Tipping isn’t common practice in Cambodia, but a small gratuity for excellent service is effusively appreciated. 

Time: GMT+7

Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz. Three-pin rectangular blade plugs are common, but two-pin plugs are also used.

Internet domain: .kh

International dialling code: +855

Emergency contacts: 117 (police), 118 (fire), ambulance (119)

Transport and driving: Drive on the right-hand side.

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