In this comprehensive guide, we explore the cost of living in Cambodia. As an in-market business advisory, we believe it is imperative to delve into the intricacies of the cost of living in Cambodia, a subject of profound significance for prospective investors and businesses contemplating establishment within this dynamic landscape. This guide is important for both living in Cambodia personally, as an investor, or for setting up a business and knowing associated costs for employees.
Find out everything you need to know about the cost of living in Cambodia in this guide, or get in touch with our expert team for any specific question you may have.
What is the state of the cost of living in Cambodia?
The cost of living in Cambodia has risen significantly over the past 5-10 years. This is due to a number of factors, including the country’s rapid economic growth, urbanization, and rising incomes.
According to the National Institute of Statistics, the consumer price index (CPI) in Cambodia increased by an average of 5.2% per year from 2013 to 2022. This means that the overall price of goods and services increased by more than half over this period.
Some specific examples of the rise in living costs in Cambodia include:
- Food: The price of food has increased significantly in recent years. For example, the price of rice has increased by more than 50% over the past 10 years.
- Housing: The price of housing has also increased significantly in recent years. For example, the price of a one-bedroom apartment in Phnom Penh has increased by more than 100% over the past 10 years.
- Transportation: The cost of transportation has also increased in recent years. For example, the price of a bus ticket from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap has increased by more than 50% over the past 10 years.
The cost of living in Cambodia is expected to continue to rise in the coming years. This is due to the country’s continued economic growth and urbanization.
According to the World Bank, Cambodia’s economy is expected to grow at an average rate of 5.3% per year from 2023 to 2027. This economic growth is expected to lead to rising incomes and increased demand for goods and services.
Urbanization is also expected to drive up the cost of living in Cambodia. According to the United Nations, Cambodia’s urban population is expected to increase from 30% to 50% by 2030. This increase in urbanization is expected to lead to higher demand for housing, transportation, and other services.
Are the living costs in Cambodia still attractive for expats and businesses?
Despite the rise in living costs in recent years, Cambodia is still a good country for living costs in general. The cost of living in Cambodia is significantly lower than in many other countries, including developed countries and other Southeast Asian countries.
For example, the cost of living in Cambodia is about 50% lower than in Thailand and about 75% lower than in the United States.
The low cost of living in Cambodia is attractive to businesses, employers, and employees alike, because:
- For businesses, the low cost of living means that they can operate with lower costs. This can make them more competitive and profitable.
- For employers, the low cost of living means that they can pay their employees lower salaries. This can make them more competitive in the global marketplace.
- For employees, the low cost of living means that they can live a good life without having to earn a high salary. This can make them more satisfied with their jobs and more likely to stay with their employers.
Overall, the low cost of living in Cambodia is a major attraction for businesses, employers, and employees alike.
What should businesses or investors take into account about the cost of living in Cambodia?
Overall, the cost of living in Cambodia is very affordable. Businesses expanding into the country can expect to save a significant amount of money on employee salaries and other costs.
Here are some additional tips for businesses expanding into Cambodia:
- Negotiate salaries with employees. Salaries in Cambodia are relatively low, but it is important to negotiate salaries with employees to ensure that they are fair and competitive.
- Offer benefits to employees. In addition to salaries, businesses should also offer benefits to employees, such as health insurance and paid time off. This will help to attract and retain the best employees.
- Take advantage of government incentives. The Cambodian government offers a number of incentives to businesses expanding into the country. These incentives can include tax breaks and investment grants.
- Work with a local consultant. Working with a local consultant can help businesses to navigate the Cambodian business landscape and to avoid costly mistakes.
Overall, Cambodia is a great place to expand a business. The cost of living is low, the government is supportive of foreign investment, and there is a growing pool of skilled workers.
How easy is it to open a bank account in Cambodia?
In Cambodia, like in many other countries, there is a diverse array of banking options available to meet your financial needs. Each bank offers unique advantages to its customers, making it essential to select one that aligns with your specific requirements. Before making your choice, consider the following factors:
- Local vs. International Bank:
Local Bank: Opting for a local bank is ideal for daily transactions within Cambodia, offering convenience and accessibility for residents or long-term visitors.
International Bank: Choosing an international bank provides the convenience of easy money transfers with individuals outside of Cambodia. However, it comes with associated fees, such as convenience fees, automatic currency conversion charges for foreign transactions, and potential taxes on funds sent or received.
- Accessibility of Bank and ATMs:
Verify whether your chosen bank has an extensive network of ATMs across Cambodia. This accessibility ensures you can access your funds conveniently while traveling within the country.
Ensure that the bank has branches and ATMs in major cities like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville for seamless financial management.
- High Interest USD Savings Account:
To prevent your funds from remaining idle, consider opening a high-interest USD savings account with a bank in Cambodia.
Be mindful of tax withholdings by the bank, which might be deducted from your income. While residents may benefit from tax-exempt dividends, non-residents might incur a 14% advance tax on dividend distributions. Consult your employer or the official government tax agency in Cambodia if you are unsure about tax obligations.
- Withdrawal Using Foreign or Local Bank:
When withdrawing money from your bank account, you generally won’t face convenience fees. However, if you use an international card to withdraw from a local bank, expect transaction fees averaging between $4 to $5.
- Requirements for Opening an Account:
Opening a bank account in Cambodia as an expatriate is a straightforward process. You typically need to prepare the following documents:
- A valid passport with a minimum of six months’ validity remaining.
- A one-year extended Cambodian visa.
- The required deposit amount for the chosen account.
Some banks may request additional documents such as:
- A certificate of employment.
- Proof of residency or a copy of your lease agreement.
- Business registration if you are self-employed in Cambodia.
- A passport-sized photo with a white background.
Aquarii recommends Phillip Bank, the only Singaporean owned bank in Cambodia, for both personal and business banking. They have favorable rates, regular special offers and give-aways and a strong and trusted presence within the market. Find out more about how Phillip Bank can meet your needs here.
How much are phone contracts in Cambodia?
Cambodia boasts a highly competitive mobile telecommunications landscape, featuring seven prominent service providers serving a population of approximately 16 million, down from nine carriers in previous years.
This dynamic market, while intricate, presents a favorable scenario for consumers and businesses when it comes to managing the cost of living in Cambodia, as they can capitalize on an array of specialized promotions and offerings as these companies vie for a larger customer base.
The key players in the Cambodian mobile communication sector include Cellcard, Metfone and SMART.
It’s worth noting that each brand offers varying degrees of network coverage across the country, albeit functioning admirably in major urban centers like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Furthermore, each operator features distinct pricing packages. The intricacy deepens when considering the potential cost and complexity of cross-network calls, leading many Cambodians to carry multiple mobile devices.
For most expatriates, pre-paid plans from Cellcard are the preferred choice, primarily due to their English-speaking customer service and cost-effective data plans. Smart is also a viable option for international long-distance calls, boasting competitive rates as low as 7 cents per minute and promotional offerings for overseas calls starting at a mere 4 cents per minute.
While SIM cards are available at various phone retailers in Cambodia, it is advisable to obtain them directly from the mobile network operators. It is mandatory for carriers to maintain a record of your passport information, although many smaller retailers may not adhere to this requirement. Registering your passport with the mobile operator is crucial, as it facilitates the replacement of your SIM card in the event of loss or theft. Additionally, it’s important to note that phone shops often impose a substantial markup on SIM cards, with prices sometimes inflated to $10 for cards that cost only $2 at official carrier outlets.
To acquire a SIM card, simply visit a Cellcard store with a valid passport and visa. SIM cards are available at various price points. The higher-priced options offer no additional value but may include supposedly auspicious combinations of digits in the phone number. At Cellcard, for instance, SIM cards are priced at $2, and a minimum credit top-up of $1 is required for activation. In-network calls typically incur charges ranging from 5 to 7 cents per minute, while cross-network calls are priced at 8 cents per minute. International calls are billed at 20 cents per minute. (This may vary depending on current pricing and promotions, check with Cellcard for full details).
The leading telecommunications provider in Cambodia is Cellcard, which offers one-stop personal and business solutions and is the Kingdom’s only homegrown and Khmer owned company. Find out more about their businesses services here.
What is the cost of living in Cambodia for lifestyle related events?
The average cost of living in Cambodia spans a wide spectrum of lifestyle opportunities, ranging from local events that encapsulate the essence of community engagement to high-end business networking occasions that facilitate strategic alliances. This diversity of experiences caters to a range of preferences and financial considerations.
Engaging in local events in the city, often imbued with cultural richness and community spirit, offers an economical yet enriching aspect to the cost of living in Cambodia. These events, which include traditional festivals, street markets, and local gatherings, present an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture and connect with residents. The cost associated with participating in these events is relatively modest, with expenses primarily covering food, transportation, and minor entrance fees. On average, a day at a local event may require around $10 to $20, making it accessible to a broad demographic.
A popular relaxed social and networking event is InterNations, which is open for anyone to join and usually brings together a diverse range of people from the social and business community every month for drinks and free prizes gifted by local businesses. You can find more about this event here.
High-End Business Networking Events:
For individuals seeking to establish high-level connections within Cambodia’s business landscape, attending exclusive networking events offers a platform for strategic partnerships and professional growth. These events, often hosted in upscale venues and accompanied by refined culinary offerings, elevate the networking experience to a sophisticated level. Costs associated with attending such events, including entrance fees and socializing expenses, tend to be higher. On average, participation in high-end business networking events may incur expenditures ranging from $50 to $150 or more, depending on the event’s stature and exclusivity.
Aquarii has organized a number of high-profile events, the latest being the SBF delegation to Cambodia to introduce business and investors to the latest in-market opportunities. Read more here.
Note: Financial outlay for either category of lifestyle opportunity can be influenced by factors such as the frequency of attendance, personal preferences, and individual spending patterns. Cambodia’s cost of living ensures that individuals can tailor their experiences according to their financial capacities and aspirations, thus fostering a dynamic and inclusive lifestyle environment.
How much are sports facilities in Cambodia?
Fitness, such as gyms with aircon and swimming facilities are still fairly expensive in Cambodia. Although you can get cheaper roadside alternatives that boast a few fans and some dated equipment, the majority of gyms are high-end. There are also lots of sports facilities in Phnom Penh, from squash, tennis, and badminton courts, to volleyball and football. These can be expensive to hire individually but usually work out affordable for groups. We recommend joining some of the many sports groups in Cambodia to get a regular team together and make some new friends. The average prices for sports facilities in Cambodia are below.
- Fitness Clubs: A typical monthly fee for a single adult will be between $40 and $120. The more facilities (and better the location) the higher the cost, so if you live in the city center and want the most equipment, be prepared to pay the price.
- Tennis, Badminton, Squash Court Rental = $15 per hour
- Football pitch prices vary. We would recommend group bookings.
- Volleyball courts and be free, especially if you get involved in local matches. Otherwise, prices vary from $4 per person to $10 for an hour on the court (depending on the quality).
It is worth noting that before you go purchasing a gym membership, you might want to look into investing in accommodation that includes a gym or swimming pool. If you are a frequent goer this could save you cash and the journey, and reduce the cost of living in Cambodia for yourself or your employees.
How much is public transportation in Cambodia?
The cost of transport in Cambodia, comparative to other regional countries, is cheap. Tuk-tuks are commonly used and you can get across the city for around $1 to $2. Local buses are even cheaper, but only run specific routes. Thanks to Cambodia’s digitalisation, you can download Grab or PassApp applications on your Apple or Android device and you can order straight away, similarly to other apps such as Uber.
Payments can be made in cash (we recommend carrying Riel as drivers will not have change for large USD notes) or you can link it to your Cambodian bank (depending on the bank). Most local bank cards can be linked. If you want to know more about setting up a bank account in Cambodia, find out more from our trusted banking partner Phillip Bank.
The same costs roughly apply to transportation across Cambodia, with the provinces being slightly cheaper, but not by a noticeable difference. Cross country buses range from around $10 to $20 for foreigners, and taxis from anywhere between $40 to $120 depending on the luxury level of the vehicle and the time it takes to reach the destination. Again, the cost of living in Cambodia depends on your personal and business budgets.
How much is private transportation in Cambodia?
Motorbikes are the preferred and among the cheapest forms of powered transport and are considered by most as the best for cost of living in Cambodia.
You can buy motorbikes in Phnom Penh for $300 or less if you are willing to settle for older models and take the risk with them breaking down. However, the cost of buying a motorbike in Phnom Penh which will last you the distance is between $800 and $1,500 for lower range models. We recommend Honda and Suzuki bikes, such as the Honda Zoomer X or Honda PSX or the Suzuki click. These are good standard city bikes that are cheaper to fix and can handle the sometimes-bumpy roads and heavy traffic associated with city life.
The cost of petrol in Phnom Penh varies, but it is usually around $1 to $1.50 per liter (this figure is subject to change with geopolitical events). This means it will be relatively cheap for you to fill and ride your motorbike around the city center, but maybe less so for larger cars.
New cars are expensive in Cambodia because there is a high import tax involved. The cheap way to buy a car is to purchase one which is already in the country and had a previous owner. For example, a Volkswagen Golf 1.4 will cost around $50,000 USD or more, with a Toyota Corolla around $45,000.
E-transport is a hugely increasing market in Cambodia and a lot cheaper to run than petrol bikes. According to the government, the number of registered electric vehicles (EVs) in Cambodia increased by 1,000 percent last year, reflecting the growing awareness of their benefits.
“There are now more than 700 registered electric vehicles in the country,” said Sun Chanthol, the Minister of Public Works and Transport, adding that the year 2022 opened a new page in the use of electric vehicles. The government also supported the private sector in building charging stations. Read more here.
How much is rent in Cambodia property and apartments?
The cost of an apartment varies hugely depending on what part of the country or city you live in, rent or buy, and the size. Generally, the cost of an inner-city apartment in Cambodia’s major cities, such as Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap is around $400 to $800 (USD), which will get you one bedroom, a kitchen and/or dining area, and possibly a balcony. Usually, these types of Phnom Penh apartments come with the appliances and furniture included, such as electric or gas hobs, fridge, washing machine, aircon, sofa, chairs, bed, fan, and so on. This can increase depending on added extras, including gym, rooftop swimming pools, saunas and other luxuries depending on budget and preference.
The cost of living regarding rental of residential or commercial properties outside of the major cities is usually less. The cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment can be between $250 and $450, with the average price of a one-bedroom rental in the outskirts of major cities being $350+. This will usually come with the same basic home comforts.
Premium apartments with 2 bedrooms in Phnom Penh will cost anywhere from $700 up to $2,000 and more. On average, a 3-bedroom apartment in Phnom Penh will cost around $1,500+, however, this again depends on the features, size, and what’s included in the price.
Many people who choose to rent 2- or 3-bedroom apartments in Phnom Penh pick locations outside of the city. This is because not only is it cheaper, but some people prefer to live outside of the hustle and bustle of a busy city center.
If you want to find a rental or commercial property in Cambodia, Aquarii works with our very own in-country real estate partners to find the best value rental and commercial properties for you in your preferred location. If you don’t know which location would best suit you, we are on hand to help you decide.
For more information about properties in Cambodia, we recommend our expert partners – Knight Frank Cambodia and IPS – who can help guide you through residential and commercial property options. Get in touch with our team to find out more.
What will increase my rent when living in Cambodia?
Features that will increase your rent are if utilities and perks are included, such as free electricity or water, and free WIFI. Also, building features, such as an in-house gym or rooftop pool and restaurant will also increase your bills. Make sure that you ask about these features and decide for yourself how likely you are to get to use them, to make sure you don’t pay for something you don’t need!
How much does it cost to buy an apartment in Phnom Penh?
The average cost of apartments in Cambodia’s capital sits at around $2,400 per square meter, with the full price range between $1,650 to $3,000. Phnom Penh has some very premium property options including rooftop presidential suites which reach the millions. But there are also some more cost-effective options too. If you want to get more for your money, we recommend purchasing outside of the city center, where the cost of buying an apartment in Phnom Penh outside of the city center is around $1,500 per square meter, with the full range being $1,000 flat to $2,300 and above. Again, find out more at Knight Frank Cambodia and IPS – who can help guide you through residential and commercial property options.
How much does clothing cost in Cambodia?
Considering Cambodia produces a lot of the world’s fast fashion, particularly in Europe, prices for such pieces are not cheaper here and outlets are actually relatively expensive. However, the overspill of the sheer amount of clothing produced means that factory rejects, and fake goods are insanely cheap in some markets, with shorts and t-shirts costing as little as 50 cents. However, don’t expect these pieces to last very long despite the quality looking quite good on first inspection.
Assuming you are going to buy good quality, official brands, here are some clothing prices in Cambodia. 1 Pair of Jeans will be anywhere from $30 to $150, with some leather business shoes coming in at $50 upwards and office and polo shirts costing $40 upwards.
For ladies, summer dresses in chain stores range from $10 if one of the many sales is on, up to $35. Branded trainers are between $65 and $200 in the bigger stores, flip flops are $10, and sandals are around $25.
How much does grocery shopping cost in Cambodia?
Understanding the cost of living in Cambodia is pivotal for businesses and investors considering entry into this vibrant market. The prices of essential goods, such as groceries and daily commodities, play a significant role in assessing the economic landscape. Here’s a comprehensive overview of the cost of living in Cambodia and its importance for prospective stakeholders:
The cost of living in Cambodia can be very cheap when it comes to food, with the cheapest option being shopping in the many Cambodian markets dotted around cities and provinces alike (if you are able to source goods at the right places).
Below is an average between the bigger chain supermarkets, such as Lucky supermarket, Aeon Mall, Makro and Home Top to smaller shops like Circle K and C mart, E mart and 711.
Grocery Shopping Costs: The cost of groceries in Cambodia can be notably economical, particularly when shopping at local markets. Bargaining skills and familiarity with meat and vegetable prices can lead to substantial savings. However, larger chain supermarkets, including Lucky Supermarket, Aeon Mall, and Hometop, offer a benchmark for assessing living costs.
- 1 Liter of milk typically costs around $2, often with promotions available.
- A 500g loaf of bread ranges from $1 to $3, with premium bread options at the higher end.
- 1kg of white/standard rice varies from 70 cents to $2, with options to support local rice producers.
- A dozen regular-sized eggs range from $1.40 to $2.30.
- 1kg of locally made cheese can span from less than $10 to $50.
Meat Prices: The cost of meat varies depending on the location and the source. Here are some price ranges for meat in Phnom Penh:
- Chicken fillet: Approximately $4 to $5 per 1kg.
- Red meat (e.g., beef): Ranges from $7 to $10 per 1kg.
Fruit and Vegetables: The prices of fruits and vegetables in Phnom Penh are as follows:
- 1kg of apples: Around $4.
- 1kg of bananas: Approximately $1.50.
- 1kg of oranges: About $3.50.
- 1kg of tomatoes, potatoes, and onions: Each around $1.50.
- A head of lettuce: Priced between $1 and $1.20.
- A 1.5-liter bottle of water starts at 80 cents.
- A 0.33-liter bottle of water is about 40 cents.
- A bottle of Coca-Cola or Pepsi costs 85 cents.
Alcohol: Supermarket prices for alcohol are notably low due to the absence of import taxes. However, quality assurance is essential when purchasing imported spirits.
Wine: Mid-range wine is priced around $12. Boxed wine containing 3 to 5 bottles ranges from $20 to $50, with a variety of selections available.
- Domestic beer: As low as 50 cents per can/bottle, up to $2.
- Imported beer: Approximately $1.50 to $3.50, with higher prices in upscale establishments.
Coffee: Cambodia offers diverse coffee options, from street-side stalls to upscale cafes. A regular cappuccino at higher-end cafes costs approximately $2.70.
Cigarettes: Cigarettes in Cambodia are notably inexpensive, with some packs costing less than $1.80. Quality assurance can be a concern, so spending a bit more is advisable for better quality.
Understanding the cost of living, particularly in terms of essential commodities, is critical for businesses and investors. It provides valuable insights into the local market’s purchasing power, consumer preferences, and potential opportunities for various industries. Monitoring these costs allows for better financial planning and a deeper understanding of the economic environment, which is essential for successful market entry and business growth in Cambodia. Find out more about the cost of living and any other queries with our expert in-market team here.