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What Does It Cost to Live in Cambodia?

Living in CambodiaLike most countries, the cost of living in Cambodia varies considerably between cities such as Phnom Penh and regions like the popular coastal town of Sihanoukville. Regardless of where you live in Cambodia, Cambodia is a reasonably priced place to live when compared to other popular tourist destinations in Asia such as Thailand and Bali. It is worth remembering, that costs aside, the quality of life in Cambodia is also quite different than many other countries, so you may not find some things being of the same standard as you can find in other Asian countries. Here is an idea of how much it will cost you to live in Cambodia. 

Accommodation:

If you are looking for somewhere to rent until you purchase your dream home, the cost of rentals can vary significantly between Phnom Penh and other towns. A long-term rental in Phnom Penh can be quite expensive at over US$800 per month in the city centre, although these prices can half if you look outside of the city. A long-term rental for a 3 bedroom house in Sihanoukville will cost about US$400, with more inexpensive places able to be found further out of the city centre. It is of course also possible to rent a lavish place in Cambodia, the price of which can go well past US$3,000 in a city like Phnom Penh.

It is not uncommon to find a rental place that includes utilities and internet, so it may be worthwhile finding somewhere that is all inclusive.

Food and Beverages:

Groceries are relatively inexpensive, with a monthly bill for two people possible to achieve at around US$100 if you stick to purchasing only fresh local produce and grocery items. It is also possible to purchase some imported items, but that will increase the bill considerably and depends upon what your preferences and budget are.

If you enjoy eating out, the cost of this can vary considerably in Cambodia.  A meal at a local eatery may cost just US$2.50 almost anywhere in Cambodia, but to eat at a mid range restaurant it could be upwards of US$12 in Phnom Penh or US$20 in Sihanoukville.

The cost of alcohol is relatively low in Cambodia generally. A 500ml bottle of local beer can be purchased for about US$1, and an imported beer for about 50% more. It is also common to purchase a bottle of mid-range wine for less than US$10. If you purchase from the store and take your drinks home it is about 25% cheaper. For those who like cocktails, at a local bar you can purchase a Mojito for about US$3.

Transportation:

If you want to rent a car for a day, you can find a second hand vehicle and driver for as low as US$30 per day. If you would prefer a newer vehicle, then the costs do increase and can be over US$100 per day depending upon the type of vehicle. Filling the tank can also be expensive with gas prices varying but usually around US$1.20 a liter.

Taxis are also quite expensive in Cambodia with it not uncommon for a short 5km taxi ride costing over US$6.

A cheap and convenient way to get around towns is by Tuk Tuks. Tuk Tuk rides are usually negotiated, but generally a ride around town will cost between US$1.50 to US$3.  It is also possible to book a tuk tuk in advance for convenience.

Utilities:

Internet and other communication (such as telephone rental) are fast becoming a necessity in this day and age. You can pay over US$50 for unlimited high speed internet in your home and a minimum of US$15 per month for a mobile phone connection.

Utilities vary again depending upon location but are still relatively reasonable with an average 2 bedroom house costing about US$60 for water, electricity and waste management in Sihanoukville. Prices in most parts of Phnom Penh can be half of this, except for in some specific parts of the city which tend to be where many of the expats and wealthy live. Here the price of electricity can be over US$100 per month, depending upon usage of household appliances such as air conditioners.

Staff:

Whilst Cambodia does have a minimum wage scheme, there does not appear to be a specific set rate for domestic staff.  In 2012 the minimum wage in Cambodia was US$66 per month. This would therefore be the minimum starting point with adjustments made for skill, the amount of tasks performed, the hours worked or if the person speaks English for example.

Other costs:

Medical care in Cambodia may be relatively inexpensive, but it is not as developed as in other parts of Asia. So for serious conditions you may need to actually travel to another country for treatment, such as Thailand. This may be at a considerable cost, so it is always worth having something aside just in case.

To see a movie at the cinema in Phnom Penh will set you back about US$5 or slightly less in Sihanoukville (although the quality of the cinema is likely to be lower).

Clothing is also relatively inexpensive in Cambodia, however your choice of items may be quite limited. If you have children, things like toys and books can be very expensive, with most imported. A small Lego item can cost from US$4 and a basic children’s book being almost US$10, these are luxury items in Cambodia. 

Generally Cambodia is a reasonably priced place to live or stay long-term, with the major costs being transport and luxury items. It really is worthwhile spending some time in the area you are looking at purchasing to get a feel of the costs, particularly with significant price variations between towns and within the urban centers or slightly out of town regions.