Owning a Home in Phnom Penh

I’m going to talk real estate here. So I can’t guarantee its going to be interesting. Hahaha. I personally find finance, real estate blah blah boring. But since I’m a wife and a mom with a family to think of, such things I have to deal with. A little disclaimer, I’m not an expert in real estate nor am I a broker. I also have no knowledge about foreign ownership of real estate in Cambodia and its legalities.  So what I’ll be discussing is our own personal experience in owning a home in Cambodia.

We have our own lot and a small house here in Phnom Penh. It’s within the city limits and very accessible to the markets, and other conveniences. We love the place coz its quiet, safe but very accessible. We’re not moneyed folks and a billion trillion light years away from being an ohkna (equivalent to tycoon), so owning a house and lot was a big hurdle for us.

 Thoughts on Buying A Home in Phnom Penh Cambodia

If you’re just like us, regular working folks, then buying a lot and a house is almost impossible here. For several reasons: (1) Prices are so steep-really crazy steep and unregulated! (our neighbor’s lot 6×20 m is priced at $80,000! I find this amount obscene! It’s not even a commercial area!) (2) Home financing is not widely available nor is it popular, and its not a very practical option either as loan interest are sky high.

Before we decided to settle here, I was full of complaints about how real estate in the Philippines was so expensive and how lame was the government backed home financing – Pag-ibig, was. BUT when we got here and was faced with the realities of how we can own and not rent our own place, I had to appreciate that the real estate prices back home was regulated and people could at least have some access to home financing without being buried in debt and interest.

I could only thank my lucky stars that my husband has some financial genius tucked in there somewhere in his brains. Early on in our marriage, when prices are not so high here in Phnom Penh, and instead of spending a lot on a lavish wedding, we decided to just invest in a piece of  land. That time, this lot was pitiful looking. With a smelly creek at the back, not much neighbors/houses around, pot holed streets, and I lamented that this place can’t possibly get any internet connection (ha!) and it ‘seemed’ far from the city. But hubby argued that the city is expanding rapidly, and we won’t have to wait long till the area is developed. So we shelled out a couple of thousand dollars and got ourselves that lot. I was consoling myself that at least we won’t have to rent a place when we moved here.

After purchasing the lot, we also built a small 1 bedroom house just enough for the three of us. That time budget was really tight and we really had to scrape to build the place. Constructing it was a hardship too coz here if you want something done with passable quality, you have to be involved. Construction skills/services at that time were mediocre at best. But since it was going to be a temporary home, we made do.

Fast forward to eight years later, our neighborhood is now crowded. Were surrounded by houses, the smelly creek at the back a thing of the past since a neighbor decided he wanted to build a house on top of the creek so he filled the area up. And I have internet, unlimited, not expensive and a wifi at home. Wahahaha. And I hail hubby as a genius coz now that we think about it considering how much our neighbors lot’s are worth now, our place is a very good buy.

Some things I have noticed:

  • Prices of houses and lots in the city centre and within its immediate vicinity is astronomical. Seriously astronomical, perhaps a lot more expensive that other more developed cities. You just have to check out various real estate classified ads to know what I mean.
  • Rental prices on the other hand I consider to be fair. Perhaps because of the fierce competition so you can have a variety of options for a temporary stay. I think furnished apartments are a really good deal here in Phnom Penh.
  • It’s good to see that there are some home financing offers already cropping up. They are still considerably expensive but at least its a start. I’m hoping this will improve in time, so housing would be more readily available to most Cambodians.
  • If you’re considering purchasing a lot, then it wouldn’t hurt to look at the available places on the suburbs. In fact I would recommend this. As I’ve mentioned the city is expanding so fast, I’m sure in a few years time those places that used to be ‘far’ would be near enough. And the prices aren’t as dear as those within the city.

As for us, right now were saving up to build a proper house in our current lot and we also have our sights on another place in the outskirts of the city. For sure, when were older we want somewhere with a little less noise, fresher air and  little more space for greens.

Image: Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1 Comment

  1. casey

    August 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Property prices in Phnom Penh are more expensive than other developed cities is a fact. Bubble behaviour happens when fundamental supply and demand determinants are unbalanced and one method to measure the degree of the bubble is the price to income ratio. As in bubbles everywhere throughout history without exception, prices will eventually collapse. However in illiquid markets, especially with both country and asset class risks, the decline tends to be extremely violent and sharp. These are repeating footprints that people involved deeply in the speculative trades often ignore. cheers.

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