living in cambodia pros and cons

13 Top Living in Cambodia Pros and Cons

Cambodia is a safe country to live, visit, and retire. Despite its cons, there are also pros of living in Cambodia.

Cambodia is in Mainland Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

In 2023, the population was estimated to be over 17,000,794. The majority of the population is the Khmer ethnic group who speaks the Khmer language, which is the official language in Cambodia. 

Cambodia is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change, with two seasons. The rainy season begins from May to October, and temperatures drop to 22 °C (72 °F) and are generally accompanied by high humidity. The dry season runs from November to April, and the temperatures can rise to 40 °C (104 °F) around April.

Ninety-five percent of the population practice Buddhism, which is the official religion with vast monastery temples throughout the country, and there is a high rate of literacy in the country, with 85% recorded.

Textiles, construction, garments, agriculture, and tourism increase foreign investment and international trade in Cambodia, with textile and tourism leading.

Cambodia is endowed with natural beauty. Examples include waterfalls with lush jungles, lakes, beaches, and islands such as Koh Rong and Sihanoukville. There are industrial breweries, cuisines, bars, restaurants, art theaters, museums, and nature parks in Cambodia.

Cambodians are also known for their unique Khmer classical dance, folk dance, and social dance.

This article will take us through living in Cambodia pros and cons, which might interest you if you are planning on relocating to Cambodia or planning a vacation.

Let us dive in.

Pros of Living in Cambodia

  • Lots of Opportunity
  • Cheap Housing
  • Cheap HealthCare
  • Low Cost of Food
  • Simple Weather Systems with Constant Temperature
  • Availability of English Teaching Jobs
  • Easy Access To all of the Asian Countries
  • Enjoy Lots of Entertainment and NightLife
  • Accessible Internet
  • The People are Friendly
  • Enjoy Good Shopping
  • Less Populated
  • Abundance of Street Stalls

Lots of Opportunity

Cambodia is known as a developing country and presents the best opportunities in the Southeast Asian region. With a favorable environment and low taxes, Cambodia offers an attractive proposition for entrepreneurs seeking to expand their operations. 

Many foreigners have come to Cambodia in recent years and opened up  cafes, restaurants, and stores. 

The speed at which the economy is growing is truly remarkable in these sectors, which include agriculture, tourism, real estate, Textile, food and beverage, IT and technology, health, education services, transport and logistics, manufacturing, environmental services, financial services, mining and natural resources account for the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Hence providing long-term economic stability, strong economic growth, a stable political landscape, and a wide array of investment opportunities in these sectors.

Cheap Housing

The cost of housing in Cambodia is still relatively cheap compared to many Asian countries, but it depends on the house quality and lifestyle you are looking for. International Living, in a 2022 data-driven survey, has recorded Cambodia as one of the most affordable places for expats to live and even retire comfortably.

Buying a house with a brand new one-bed unit costs less than 50,000 USD with all the amenities. second-hand units are gotten for $30k to $40k in town or a 2 to 3-bedroom goes out for 50k. 

A house for Rent can be gotten for $250 to $500 per month for a 1-bed modern unit in the capital. Studio Apartment $250, single Unit Apartment 1 Bedroom $650, single Unit Apartment 3 Bedroom $1,200, Villa for Rent 3 Bedrooms $1,500, serviced Apartment 1 Bedroom $1,000.

A foreigner living alone in the city can easily get by on $800 – $1,000 per month if he cooks his food and indulges in minimal luxuries. 

Although Cambodian law prohibits foreigners from owning land, they can legally own properties, apartments, condominiums, or offices, as long as it is not located on the ground floor of a building, and a Cambodian should own at least 30% of the other properties in the building.

Cheap HealthCare

Over the years, there have been continuous improvements in the healthcare system in Cambodia.

The Cambodian Ministry of Health (MOH) has introduced several health financing innovations designed to provide fair and equitable access to health care.

Examples include the Cambodian Health Equity Fund, which has increased access to free health care for around 3 million poor people in the country who otherwise could not afford medical care.

In 2012, it was estimated that the Cambodian Ministry of Health reimbursed subsidies to around 25,000 inpatients and outpatients, with a total expenditure of US$285,000.

Health Insurance also covers the full or average cost of a treatment. Emergency Evacuation and Emergency Repatriation options should be on your medical insurance. This is in case you become severely ill and want to go home or to a country with better medical care in an emergency. 

Low Cost of Food

Food in Cambodia is very cheap, ranging from street food to a cheap restaurant and an expensive restaurant. Meal prices in Cambodia can vary, and costs will vary based on your eating style.

A meal in a cheap restaurant will cost $2.50, Street food will cost you between $0.5 to $1, and an expensive restaurant can cost $10 to $20.

The average cost of food in Cambodia is 64 USD per day. When dining out, an average meal in Cambodia should cost around 25 USD per person. Breakfast prices are cheaper than lunch or dinner.

When living in Cambodia, you can try out new dishes. Some of the country’s national dishes include amok, Bai sach chrouk, or Pork and rice; Kari sach moan, or Chicken red curry; Bok trop pinon, or Pounded eggplant dip; Nom banh chok, or Khmer noodles.

Simple Weather Systems with Constant Temperature

Cambodia is blessed with one of Asia’s simplest weather systems. Two distinct weather seasons with the same patterns are experienced in Cambodia, mainly due to the relatively uniform altitude and latitude throughout the country.

The climate is tropical hot all year round, with a rainy season from May to mid-November and a dry season from mid-November to April. December is the coldest month of the year. From mid-February, the temperature rises to May, but the hottest months are April and May, when the heat is oppressive.

The mountainous areas are also along the coldest, and the rainiest in Cambodia, and the southwestern area is the wettest region of Cambodia.

The temperature in Cambodia is fairly constant in the range of 22 deg C to 34 deg C / 72 deg F to 95 deg F. The average temperatures range from 24°C in the cooler months of October, November, and December to 35°C at the hottest time from March until June.

The best time to visit Cambodia is during the dry season since it is great weather for anyone. 

Availability of English Teaching Jobs

Some people may not even have a college degree yet, and it may seems difficult to find a well-paying job in Cambodia. Still, there are no restrictions on needing to have a university diploma to gain a job and even a work permit. 

You can always teach English if there are fewer jobs to do or you need something to top up your income. You can share this knowledge of English with the residents who love native speakers. 

Though there are other jobs available, not just teaching, and English isn’t the only subject available.Although, at the very least, an accredited TEFL certificate is highly recommended if you decide to teach English

Easy Access To all of the Asian Countries

There are numerous land borders in Cambodia open to foreigners from neighboring Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.

The prices on flights are really low, so you can always use Cambodia as a route once you are in Southeast Asia.

Cambodia has three international airports, which are Phnom Penh International Airport, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville. Phnom Penh is very well connected to almost all Asia countries.

You will have the opportunity to enjoy lots of activities from neighboring countries, which include shopping in Thailand and tourist attractions like beaches in Vietnam. 

Enjoy Lots of Entertainment and NightLife

There are many bars and restaurants ranging from cheap and cheerful beer bars to smart cocktail lounges and impressive sky bars in the cities of Cambodia. Cambodia also has a sophisticated nightclub. 

Some bars and restaurants are situated in popular riverfront areas as they offer a laid-back charm with cooling breezes. Most major hotels and bars are good at hosting 

traditional dance performances.

Accessible Internet

People in every major town and city across Cambodia can access the internet as it is widely available. 

Free Wi-Fi and mobile data coverage are offered by almost all restaurants, cafes, bars, and hotels, so using Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook is often the best way to communicate.

You can use your mobile phone to make local or international calls if you have a mobile phone with worldwide coverage. 

The People are Friendly

The Cambodian people are known for their welcoming smiles. Their optimistic nature attracts tourists from different parts of the world despite the tragedy and war in the past.

Tourism offers new opportunities, and people are eager to play their part by showcasing their accommodating and kind nature by always smiling happily.

Enjoy Good Shopping

Cambodia is a great place to buy unique items such as silks, woodcarvings, rattan weavings, and the traditional krama, Cambodian scarf. 

You could also shop for souvenirs; an example is the krama, one of the most popular Cambodian souvenirs. You can also explore the local markets in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap that offer great souvenirs. 

There are also supermarkets and gift shops, a huge, glitzy shopping mall that is one of the attractions of a country that offers something different.

Less Populated

Cambodia has a population of 17,000,794, much less populated than its neighboring countries. The slow population growth results from a decreased fertility rate, as 2.52 births per woman drive its population growth rate.

In 2010, the total fertility rate in Cambodia was 3.0 children per woman. The fertility rate was 4.0 children in 2000.

The Khmers comprise approximately 90% of the total population, making them the largest of the ethnic groups in Cambodia.

The low population in the country makes way for good and easy living as there will be less traffic.   

Abundance of Street Stalls

Street stalls occupy the main streets with everything from street food to T-shirts and DVDs for sale. Bartering is a way of life, as you can always barter when buying anything on the street.

Start at a third of the asking price and work your way up. 

Cons of Living in Cambodia

  • High Humidity
  • Language Barrier
  • High Rate of Fraudsters/Scammers
  • Natural Disasters
  • Political instability

High Humidity

The humidity in Cambodia is always up around 80%. If you are not used to this climate, it will be challenging to live here. 

High humidity can negatively impact your health as disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, thrive in highly hot and humid environments.

Humidity can cause loss of water in the body, leaving your body dehydrated and causing fatigue. High humidity can also lead to excessive sweating as reddish pimples develop mainly on the neck, elbow, or even other parts of the body.

However, you can still acclimatize to the weather after some time, and then you will not feel it so much.

Language Barrier

Khmer is the official language in Cambodia as most Cambodians, even those who are not ethnic Khmer, speak Khmer.

Though you can live in Cambodia without speaking Khmer, there will be a limit to how you interact.

 If you spend most of your time at restaurants and bars/ clubs whose focus is foreigners, there are usually people who can speak English to some degree. However, living in remote areas gives more problems than living in the big city of Phnom Penh. 

Visiting the local market and trying to bargain will be difficult as there are more older people who speak Khmer. Communication can still be a challenge to older people in the rural areas.

If you plan on a long-term stay, then learning Khmer is important.

High Rate of Fraudsters/Scammers

Cambodia has a history of Scammers and fraudsters. While living there, you have to be aware of common scams and protect yourself by taking precautions.

You will likely be scammed before crossing the border as various officials may be approached before and even after you get to the visa issuing desk.

These fake officials may even direct you to get your visa at a higher price elsewhere.

Only engage with people once you get to the visa desk.

However, theft and bag snatches do occur in Cambodia. Be careful when riding motorcycles, 

as bags are easily snatched from front baskets. Always keep your expensive valuables in safety boxes or in-room safes. 

The traffic police in Cambodia are corrupt. They will pull you over and devise reasons you should be fined.

Some of the fines may be for legitimate law-breaking, but the money you pay will go into their pockets. If you are innocent, tell them to take you to the police station. 

Natural Disasters

Cambodia is greatly affected by natural disasters such as floods, lightning, storms, and drought. Flooding is more common each year in the wet season, approximately between May–October.

The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) 2013 estimated that flooding caused more than $355 million in damage across people’s homes., agriculture, and infrastructure, as 377,354 households and 1.8 million individuals living in 20 provinces were affected. The floods killed 168 people, of which the majority were children.

In 2016, storms destroyed 1,997 people’s homes, and There were 21 deaths from home collapses, falling trees, and sinking boats, and 193 injuries. 

Lightning strikes killed 108 people and injured 105 in 2016. Cambodia’s rate of death by lightning average across years has been estimated at 7.8 deaths per million people, one of the highest lightning death rates in the world.

You should be prepared for these events.

Political instability

The politics in Cambodia could be more stable as they possess a one-party system and corruption. This is a great concern to the people of Cambodia.


Is Cambodia a cheap place to live?

Cambodia is one of the most affordable places to live in terms of housing, daily utilities, groceries, transportation, and even unexpected costs, as recorded by the Kingdom’s third in a 2022 data-driven survey. 

Which are the best cities to live in Cambodia?

Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are the most popular cities; Sihanoukville has beaches, and Battambang is charming.

3. What Kinds of Jobs are available in Cambodia?

The main economic sectors in Cambodia are tourism and garment-making, but skilled professionals are also highly sought after. Online portals are the best place to start your job search if you want to teach English or work in a multinational company.

Is Cambodia a good place to live?

It is one of the best places in Asia to live. Over 16 million people reside in Cambodia, and life is good.

How much money do I need on average to live in Cambodia?

If you are living in a city, plan on spending about $200 a week on food, transportation, and entertainment. If you’re willing to live quite frugally (and you aren’t planning on getting sauced every night), you can live on $600 or $700 a month in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, but it will be less fun.

Conclusion on Living in Cambodia Pros and Cons

Cambodia is an excellent place to live as there are lots of attractions and opportunities ranging from the cheap accommodation rate, low cost of food, low cost of medical care, lot of entertainment and nightlife from bars, restaurants, hotels, easy access to some of the Asia counties and lot more.

Natural disasters, scams, unstable politics, crimes, and language barriers still affect foreigners living in the country, but measures have been taken to improve these changes.

Plan your trip today and enjoy the natural beauty of Cambodia.

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