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How to Retire in Cambodia: Costs, Visas and More


Rice fields in CambodiaCambodia is known for its stunning landscapes, vast temples, and low cost of living. Cambodian people are often noted as being some of the friendliest people in the world. From its rich culture to unique ecosystem, there are plenty of things that entice people to retire in Cambodia. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering retiring in the southeast Asian nation.

Getting a Cambodian Visa

When you arrive in Cambodia, you can apply for a Cambodian E-class visa at the airport. You can apply for this visa at the Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, or Sihanoukville airports. You must have the following documents:

  • A passport valid for at least six months
  • At least one blank page in your passport
  • A passport photo or you can pay $2 to have one taken at the airport

This visa is only good for 30 days and costs $35. However, people over the age of 55 can get an ER visa extension. You must have documentation of retirement in the United States and proof of funds to sustain your stay in Cambodia. You must also be 55 or older and may no longer be employed to qualify for this visa. This visa can last one, three, six, or 12 months. The six- and 12-month visas allow multiple entries.

While this visa is only good for one year, it can be renewed annually with a local travel agent. The ER visa extension costs $285 per year. Applicants must continue to prove that they have enough money to sustain their stay each time they extend. The travel agency you work with will handle all the paperwork and can typically get your visa extension within three days.

Once you have your visa extension of either six or 12 months, you will be able to live wherever you choose in Cambodia. You will be able to leave and re-enter the country as many times as you choose and will not have to file any additional paperwork. At the end of your visa period, you must simply revisit your travel agent and repeat the visa extension process.

Housing Costs in Cambodia

The cost of living is significantly lower in Cambodia than in the United States. Consumer prices, including food, utilities, entertainment, and other consumer goods, are 34% lower than in the United States. Therefore, the overall cost of living including rent and consumer goods is significantly lower than in the United States.

Rent costs in Cambodia are 64% lower than in the United States, according to Numbeo data.  The national average for a one-bedroom apartment in a city center in the United States costs $1,359.43. In Cambodia, the national average for a one-bedroom apartment in a city center costs $405.11. Outside of the city center, the same apartments would cost $1,090 and $269, respectively.

Sihanoukville is a popular retirement destination in Cambodia. If you were to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Sihanoukville, you would pay $433 per month on average. You can compare this to an apartment in the center of New York City where rent for a one-bedroom apartment costs $3,269 on average.

Taxes in Cambodia

In Cambodia, your worldwide salary will be subject to Cambodian Tax on Salary of 20%. You will be considered a resident if you spend more than 182 days per year in Cambodia. If you only receive retirement pensions such as payments from your 401(k) or social security, you will continue to pay taxes in the United States.

As a U.S. resident, you will be expected to file taxes in the United States each year. You will have to report any foreign bank accounts as well. If you earn any money outside of the U.S., you can use a few different provisions to reduce your U.S. taxable income. These provisions include the foreign earned income exclusion, the foreign tax credit and the foreign housing exclusion, among others. If you’d like to forecast your tax burden more specifically, you may want to consult with a tax expert who is familiar with both U.S. and Cambodian tax laws.

Healthcare in Cambodia

Good health in retirement is essential to enjoying your golden years. The healthcare system in Cambodia is not as efficient or developed as the American healthcare system. Therefore, it is strongly recommended for retirees to have health insurance in Cambodia, even if you only plan to spend a few months a year there. There are several private health insurance companies in Cambodia that retirees can purchase from.

The private medical facilities are better developed and more expensive. Major cities have plenty of pharmacies that cater to westerners so that they can get the same medications as at home. Additionally, there are plenty of medical specialists in large cities. Nevertheless, many expatriates living in Cambodia travel to Thailand, Vietnam, China, or Singapore for surgeries and other treatments.

Safety in Cambodia

Aspara Dancers, Angkor Wat, CambodiaAmericans in Cambodia typically note that the biggest threat to personal safety is the possibility of endemic disease from mosquito-borne illnesses such as Dengue fever. It is recommended that individuals get vaccinations before visiting. Recommended vaccines include tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, and Pertussis. Speak with a health care professional before choosing which vaccinations you should  receive.

Cambodians are known for their hospitality, but that is not to say that it is a place without crime against foreigners. Be aware of your surroundings while in public areas, just as you would in other parts of the world. Theft is relatively common in big cities.

The Bottom Line

Cambodia offers a low cost of living. While the lack of medical infrastructure might be off-putting for some, it can be compensated for by visa laws that allow long-term visitors and retirees to travel freely between Cambodia and other countries. Cambodia’s weather is as warm as its residents, making Cambodia an attractive place to retire.

Tips for Achieving Your Retirement Goals

  • A financial advisor can help you plan for an overseas retirement. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool can match you with up to three local financial advisors, and you can choose the one who is best for you. If you’re ready, get started now.
  • It’s tough to plan for your retirement if you aren’t sure what kind of costs you’ll have when you retire. To get an idea of what to expect, stop by our retirement calculator. To use this, you’ll need a few details about where you want to retire, when you want to retire and how much you have in savings.

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