International Living Postcards—Australian Edition
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Rob wanted white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and beachfront cafes. And all for an affordable price.
What he found was a Southeast Asian country where—for $1,500 a month—you can take your pick of beaches, savour a legacy of good food left by the French, and explore grand temples like Angkor Wat, which have lured travellers for centuries.
Rob reveals all about his life in Cambodia below…
Managing Editor, International Living Postcards (Australian Edition)
P.S. Discover how to live better in Cambodia and other affordable destinations overseas for half of what it would cost you to stay at home. To receive a free copy of How to Retire in Paradise from $40 a Day, click here.
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You Don’t Need to Be Rich
to Enjoy Life in Cambodia
By Rob Schneider
My Saturday mornings usually begin with a short cycle down a quiet back road to my favourite French pâtisserie. Over a breakfast of a delicious omelette, croissant and cappuccino, I plan my day. Picture-perfect balmy weather and a fresh, southerly breeze? Looks like I’m going sailing. Or, if I need to do some freelance writing work, I may toss my laptop into my backpack and take a short bicycle or motorbike ride to a nearby beach.
There are four in my area alone and dozens farther along the coast.
You don’t need to be rich to enjoy life in Cambodia. My Saturday breakfast costs just $3.80 and, last Saturday—between breakfast, renting a catamaran, and dinner for two—I came away with change out of the $32 I had in my pocket that morning. I can easily afford to indulge myself whenever I want.
I call the beach town of Sihanoukville home. Located in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand, it’s Cambodia’s largest seaside town. It was a popular holiday spot when the French first arrived here in 1939. They left their mark here in the form of excellent French cuisine.
It’s turned out to be the best move I’ve ever made. I can’t afford a private villa on the luxury resort islands off the coast, such as Song Saa or Morakot, but I can live a lot better than I could back home.
What would I have back home? The best I can imagine is a small apartment far from the beach and a nine-to-five job or—now that I’m 65—a pension that would barely cover my basic expenses. Maybe I could scrape enough money together to take a bus to the beach on weekends, but I certainly couldn’t afford to go sailing.
A great quality of life is incredibly affordable here. I know one expat who lives on $385 a month. That may be cutting it a bit fine, but he prefers pottering around his garden to going out, so he’s perfectly content with the money he receives from back home each month.
An upper-middle-class salary in Cambodia is around $1,500 a month, and you can live that kind of lifestyle if your pension, salary or investments earn you that much.
Eating out in Sihanoukville is incredibly cheap…and there’s lots of choice: French…Mexican…Italian…Indian…fresh seafood…and more.
Life here wasn’t always this easy. There were few Western amenities when I first arrived. But in recent years, the area has really blossomed. Following its official declaration as a province in 2009, land titles were quickly issued and development took off at a dizzying pace.
When I went sailing at Otres Beach recently, I made the almost 10-kilometre journey on a newly paved road. Closer to home, Serendipity Road, the main tourist drag, was paved and given street lights in late 2011. It’s now filled with restaurants, nightspots, stores and accommodation.
In the midst of all the growth, though, the best parts of traditional Cambodian life remain. We still buy our sugar, soap and other daily necessities at a little stall outside a neighbour’s house. Once or twice a day, a vendor walks past with homemade goodies or fresh fruit. Little things like these make living here special. The modern conveniences just make life a little easier. I have the best of both worlds here in my little corner of Sihanoukville.
Progress usually comes at a price to the average person, but in Sihanoukville the price has been negligible. In fact, all the modern new apartment complexes that have been springing up in town have resulted in rent decreases, not increases.
Editor’s note: Rob found his perfect retirement haven in Cambodia—and you can find yours too, no matter what your perfect retirement looks like. Find out how to enjoy a relaxed, luxurious retirement in beautiful destinations all over the world for much less than you’d pay back home. For more information, click here.
About the author: Rob Schneider was born in the U.S. but moved to Australia in 1985. While travelling in Asia, he took a side trip to Cambodia and found his diamond in the rough. In 2006, he made Sihanoukville, Cambodia his new home.