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  • Wandering Soup

Living Abroad- Cambodia

Our plans are simple. Move abroad. Live happily and relatively cheaply. And by cheaply I mean to a country or countries that are cheap. We've honed in on South East Asia because..well it's cheap and it appears to be the "hot spot."

Hot doesn't necessarily mean easy, especially since most of SE Asia requires a Visa to enter and to stay. We've focused on four countries and decided to share with you what we've found.

Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. All because they are cheap. And by cheap I mean the cost of living to include rent and food by American standards, add to that the ease of getting a visa, terms and cost.

Below is a beginners break down of what we've found so far regarding passport/visa's, cost of living rent/food.


First thing we thought about when looking at all is how long can we stay with ease and by ease I mean length of stay and requirments. We'll start with the obvious for all.

Passport. You need one and it needs to be valid for at least six months after departure/arrival. The Visa requirements are really the interesting factors for each country.

Visa process for Cambodia

There are two types of Visa's for Cambodia with the second one (Ordinary Visa E Class) have four sub categories under it.

Tourist (T) - This one is generally best if you are planning on staying 60 days or less. A tourist visa can be extended only once for up to one month (single entry) and a one-month tourist visa costs $30 on arrival and requires one passport-sized photo.

Ordinary(E) - There are 4 types: (EB) Visa: Business, (EG) Visa for those searching for employment, (ER) Visa for Retirement, and (ES) Visa for Students. Extendable business visas are available for $35. The business visa can be extended for a maximum of twelve months, and then renewed as often as necessary. Each renewal will cost you so go for the longer 6 to 12 month option if you are planning on staying. Also this one allows you to leave to visit other countries without getting another visa. Here's a great site for visa info in detail. Also if you are self-employed it appears you can apply for your Work Permit online at this website: and enter “freelance” as both your employer and occupation, and your salary as 0.

In order to apply for a Cambodian visa, you need to submit the following paperwork:

  • one passport-sized photo

  • your passport, which must be valid for at least another six months

Work Permit applications

If you've decided to do the work permit from jump a work permit/employment card, which are two separate documents but can be applied for at the same time and considered as one application, costs $100 per year. Applications must be made online via the Ministry of Labour’s Foreign Workers Centralized Management System. The fee to E-Solutions for the visa application process is $33. Applicants must have also undertaken a straight-forward health check at the Ministry, which costs $25. You can pay $60 to an agent to get your health certificate without going to the Ministry.

On the surface all of this appears pretty straight forward but it appears the rules for visa's change with the flow of the sea. Keep an eye on rules before you depart because they will change. Last thing, both visas types can be gotten on arrival or beforehand.

Cost of Living- Lodging/Food

This was a major factor for us with the main question beinge, can we live in a decent home or apartment We found that it's similar to the rest of the world in that location counts. Living in the middle of it all will cost you as much you are willing to pay, fortunately that cost can be lower than living in the U.S., again depending on which end of the spectrum you want to live.

According to Numbeo rent in Cambodia is 64.94% lower than in United States, this translates to a 2 to 3 bedroom apartment/home in the "popular" area running anywhere from $500 to $1000 (Or more but why?) and $250 to $600 in the regular sections of town. One bedrooms are considerable less and can be as low as $150 to as high as...well however high you want to go. Rent can include electricity, maid service and whatever amenities are available on site. If not electricity and maid service are way cheaper than in the states and can be less than $75 a month combined. As an aside, typically credit isn't ran when renting a home/apartment but you do need to have a deposit and one or two months of rent to put down. We're leaning toward a minimum of 6 months in rental savings before we move, which is around $5000. You can certainly go cheaper than that but we have the kids and need a bedroom or more.

Food is generally cheap and from what I've researched most expats eat out quite a bit. A meal tends to run as low as a $1 for a simple Cambodian dish with rice, $3 to $5 for what you would consider a better than decent restaurant and upwards of $20 for an upscale place to include drinks. And there is always lovely street food, make sure to watch them cook it in front of you and you should be good. Don't drink the tap water.

Of course you can buy your own groceries and cook for next to nothing with the basics costing $1 a pound or so on standard items like fruit, vegetables, and rice. More for imported goods.

So what's the bad side of Cambodia? This is one of the world’s poorest countries, it's hot and mosquito's are abundant. Infrastructure is going to be lacking to include Medical not being that great. Go with those limitations in mind and you should be good.

*Disclaimer, this is just "my" research. It will be updated with true to life details once we live there.*


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