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Update  August, 2019

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August 16, 2019 - August 22, 2019

This week we look at some of the issues of retiring to Cambodia rather than to Thailand.

Where to Go

There are three main locations in Cambodia for expats: the capital Phnom Penh, the town of Siem Reap close to the Angkor Wat temple complex and the beach resort of Sihanoukville. They are all very different. Phnom Penh is undergoing a massive building and refurbishment orientation with infrastructure, particularly roads, changing the skyline and image as we speak. Siem Reap is much quieter and has managed to keep its small town image in spite of the tourist surge in recent years. Sihanoukville is a much newer venue, has more casinos than it needs and is very popular with Chinese and South Korean tourists.

The Visa Situation

Much easier than Thailand. You can obtain a 30 day tourist visa on arrival at a Cambodian airport or border post for 30 days at a cost of $US30. There is also an electronic visa online. This tourist visa can be renewed only once for another month. Expats who don’t want to keep leaving the country obtain a business visa (actually called an ordinary visa) at the airport for $US35. This lasts for 30 days but can be converted into a one-year, multiple entry visa quite easily. There are different options including searching for a job, a work permit and, of course, retirement. There are agents in Cambodia who know the ropes and can arrange these visas. Personal attendance at immigration police stations is not encouraged and is not necessary.

The Retirement Option

The one year retirement visa automatically has multiple entries contained in it. The visa agent can obtain it for you at a cost of around $300, a little more if you need it within a day or two. Applicants under 70 years will likely be required to show proof of their pension in their home country, but those over 70 do not need any financial documentation. At the time of writing, it is not even necessary to show proof of address in Cambodia. The retirement visa does not allow to work, but work-related visas are much easier to obtain than in Thailand. There is no 90 days reporting nor anything similar. One year visas are obtainable only in Cambodia and not at embassies or consulates worldwide.

Cost of Living

In a word, living in Cambodia is cheaper than in Thailand. Note that the US dollar is the currency in major use and the Cambodian riel is really a small-change currency except in rural areas where expats seldom venture. Cigarettes, alcohol and eating out are certainly cheaper than in Thailand though a few items - such as electricity and petrol - are more expensive. But inflation and taxes are eating away at the former bonus of cheap living in Cambodia. Many expats say that it is about 10 percent cheaper to live in Siem Reap than in Pattaya. But it’s just a rough guide. It should be noted that there is very little/zero public transport in Cambodia and you will likely need to use motorbike taxis or tuk-tuks to get around.

Accommodation Options

Most retirees in Cambodia elect to rent their house, condo unit or flat. One reason is that land titles are not always reliable as the Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge rule (1975-1979) destroyed many. In the main expat areas there is a broad choice of accommodation as there is in Thailand. Prices are obviously higher near city centres or beaches. Prices are similar to Thailand, maybe slightly higher, and utility charges are certainly not cheaper than in the Land of Smiles.

Bread and Butter Issues

Cambodia’s infrastructure is behind that of Thailand. Thus there are no postal deliveries to most private addresses and you may have to rent or share a post office box number. The main roads are fine, but country roads tend to be very rough. There is nightlife though less choice than in Thailand. Cambodia does not yet boast expat clubs as found in Pattaya, apart from online advice services, and clubs and societies can be thin on the ground. Golf courses are expensive. There are far fewer retirees than in Thailand and most Europeans and Australians are working. Hospitals in general are not up to Thai standards and clinics are more expensive than here. It is possible to obtain a driving licence without too much hassle. Internet and wi-fi services have improved a lot.


The big attraction for many expats is the visa situation, much less bureaucratic and burdensome than in Thailand. But remember that could change! As in Thailand, the majority of tourists are Chinese, especially in beach resorts. Unless you have employment, you will likely discover there are fewer choices what to do with your time. English is widely spoken and understood and Cambodians are in general friendly and kind-hearted. With care, you will likely find that monthly financial outgoings are less than in Thailand, although the differential is becoming less. Check it out and best of luck.

August 2, 2019 - August 8, 2019

Mortified by 90 Days

A naughty lady in tears walked into the family bank in Thailand clutching her husband’s will which specified she would inherit a great deal of cash on his expiry. She explained her beloved had died in a terrible car accident two weeks ago and thus she needed access to his cash to dispose humanly of the remains. But the authorities, on checking local immigration police records, discovered he had completed his 90 days report in person only the day before.

Cry for Mama and Papa

Hundreds more 24-hour convenience stores will be opening in Thailand over the next couple of years. When they were first mooted 20-odd years ago, critics said they should be banned as they would bankrupt the many corner shops and stores run by local families. You never hear those arguments put forward these days. Time waits for no man, not even a Papa or Mama.

Record Overstay

News that a Syrian guy was arrested with a five years’ overstay last month prompted a lot of discussion to find the longest-known example of this particular crime. Apparently, that honour belongs to an American guy who was finally discovered with an overstay of 14 years in the 1990s. The surprise is that when he was deported, he did not have to pay any fine or suffer any jail time. Mind you, he was in a pine box.

Flood Defences

Pattaya needs government help to solve the city’s annual struggle to prevent flash flooding. A comprehensive project would involve dredging, new pipes, many more pumps and a large reservoir downtown to store 11 cubic meters of water. The cost would be a miserly 665 million baht. Cynics rule out such a grant, but others argue that the government’s flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) is being seriously compromised by Pattaya’s inability to keep the water bursts at bay during the rainy season. Money talks, as they say.

Fish and Chips

They are gonna be off the menu real soon if a group of scientists are to be believed. They say that rising sea temperatures and global warming are reducing the amount of oxygen in the water, thus threatening the bigger fish such as cod and haddock. Incidentally a reader asks what was the first fish and chip shop in Pattaya. It was called Toby’s and opened in Soi Yamoto, next to Soi Post Office, in 1995. Lasted about a year.

Points and Prizes

It was announced last year that driving offences - including drunken driving, illegal parking and speeding - would carry specified penalty points which would potentially mean the loss of your licence or refusal by insurers to carry your risk any more. But, to date, the nitty-gritty detail of such a scheme has not been sorted out. One of the problems is that foreign drivers in Thailand often spend only short periods of time here before leaving. This can make it difficult to contact them.

Inadequate Cover

One year visas issued by Thai embassies abroad now require health insurance. But one reader points out that the floor limit of 400,000 baht for in-patient treatment won’t cover any serious operations or invasive surgery. So, if the total, bill is 2 million baht, who pays the outstanding 1,600,000 baht? One assumes the answer is the hospital patient. There is a host of unresolved issues about medical cover which need addressing if Thai authorities ever contemplate compulsory insurance for the bulk of the expat population.

Scrabble Scramble

A leading Scrabble player in Thailand has been discovered cheating. Apparently he hid a “P” up his sleeve and had a high-scoring letter concealed under his foot on the floor. But the good news is that the word “farang” is now officially acceptable when you are scratching your head for a six letter word. 15 years ago, Scrabble was popular in the English-speaking bars in South Pattaya but you would be hard-pressed these days to find a game. Sign of the times.

Trusting Stranger

Here’s the latest scam, or one of them. A guy sits down for a drink and another guy joins him, claiming to be the manager or the owner of the club or whatever establishment. They engage in chat with several more drinks and the first guy prepares to leave. So the second guy says he will take the first guy’s credit card and process it “to save you the trouble” as a customer service. Of course, the victim may never see his card again or, if he does, it will have been cloned.

Thoughts for the Week

The theme today is War. “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography,” (Mrs Barbara Bush). “Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least, they can find Baghdad,” (Pentagon official). “War is delightful to those who have no experience of it,” (Erasmus).

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

August 16, 2019 - August 22, 2019

August 2, 2019 - August 8, 2019


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