Cambodia has for the first time made it onto the Global Retirement Index, a yearly list of the world’s top retirement locations.
The list, compiled annually for the past 30 years by International Living Magazine, compares countries throughout the world across a range of categories including cost of living, ease and cost of purchasing real estate, entertainment and amenities, climate, health care and ease of integration.
Panama, which offers an attractive pensioner residence program and pensioner visas, topped the rankings. Cambodia, which sneaks onto the list at last place out of 24, scores variably across the categories, earning full marks and topping the rankings on cost of living, but scoring lowest by a significant margin in the health-care category.
Cambodia’s comparatively low scores in the table, including the lowest scores in both real estate and “special benefits offered to foreign retirees,” should not put off those dreaming of a better life abroad.
“Remember, we measure here only the very best havens. So the country last on our list—newcomer to the index Cambodia—is still one of the best in the world,” says the report.
David Murphy, director of Independent Property Services in Phnom Penh, said that though there is a definite market here for retirees, it is usually a specific type of retired person who chooses to come to Cambodia—younger and more transient.
“The market in Cambodia is for active retirees, those who come for a year or two and are self-funded and generally wealthy that work in development projects around the country, usually just renting properties in Phnom Penh,” he said.
A new law enacted in 2010 allows foreigners to own apartments and condominiums, but not land, a restriction that might still put off some pensioners looking for a place to settle down.
“I wouldn’t say the property law is prohibitive, but I would like to see the laws on land ownership for foreigners relaxed,” he said.
Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Working Group on Tourism, said that as yet there are no official figures on the number of foreigners who had retired to Cambodia, as it is a relatively new phenomenon.
“We are now more open to foreigners, and after the regional integration of the Asean community in 2015 there will be more development and more investment, and Cambodia will increasingly become more attractive to all kinds of tourists,” he added.