Expat rental guide to Phnom Penh

So you’ve landed in the “Kingdom of Wonder.” Now you’re ready to find a place to live. Don’t be scared! This process might be difficult in other parts of the world. Here, however, finding expat rentals is simple.

First, this guide will outline what choices you have. Do you want to live in an apartment? A villa? A shophouse maybe?

We will take you through all of these things. Also, we will let you know how much it costs to rent in Phnom Penh. In the end, we will tell you the secret of getting the best deal on rent.

But first, here’s a few key facts you need to know about accommodation in Phnom Penh:

  • Keep transportation in mind. Will you be riding a motorbike? Taking Grab? Most people choose to live close to where they work because the city tends to get heavily congested during rush hour
  • Meet the landlord. Since they will be your contact on everything to do with the house, make sure the landlord is friendly. Most even speak English.
  • Pick your area. Different neighbourhoods of Phnom Penh are very different. Make sure your place is close to everything you need.
  • Agents are great. Rather than searching on your own, it’s usually easiest to get an agent. They can usually find you the perfect place in a matter of hours. Luckily, we have a list of the best agents in Phnom Penh.
Types of accommodation in PP

Compared to other cities in the world, Phnom Penh places tend to be straightforward. In fact, they fall into a few basic categories. For the most part, places in the same category will be almost identical.

Shophouses

These are called shophouses because people often use the ground floor as a place for their business. Not always, though. These places are often rented out on each floor (they are usually three to four storeys high).

Expats looking for affordability usually live in a shophouse. You can usually rent them out with one or two other roommates. Or sometimes you can find groups that are already looking for another roommate to fill one of their rooms.

Either way, these places usually have bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, full kitchens and at least one balcony. Shophouses in Phnom Penh are great places to live while on a budget.

Apartment

Western-style apartments are becoming more and more popular in Phnom Penh these days. These are usually fully furnished. They can be found in a range of sizes.

Different buildings will have different amenities. Smaller ones will just have parking and wifi. Bigger ones often have pools, gyms, security and weekly cleaning. We call these serviced apartments.

If you’re an on-the-go kind of person this can often be the best option. Since everything is already there for you moving in is simple.

For apartments, you can find anything from one to four bedrooms. 

Villas

Freestanding houses in Phnom Penh are called villas. They can vary in size, but usually, they have at least three or four bedrooms. Some are furnished, some aren’t. Most have dedicated parking and surrounded by fencing or walls, however.

These can be a great option if you have a large group and you all want to live together. Villas in Phnom Penh are becoming rarer with every passing day. So, snatch them up while you can!

Neighbourhoods of Phnom Penh

Choosing where you want to live might be the most important decision you make. If you want to be in the centre of the city consider:

  1. Tonle Bassac
  2. BKK1, BKK2 or 
  3. Russian Market (aka Toul Tum Poung)
  4. Daun Penh

Otherwise, if you want more of a quiet feel, try out:

  1. Toul Kork
  2. BKK3, or even
  3. Chroy Changvar

We have profiles of all these areas and more. So check those out if you need more details.

Price

Lastly, we have the million-dollar question: How much does it cost to rent a place in Phnom Penh?

In short, you can find really affordable places and really expensive places. It all depends on what and where.

  • On the low end, you can find rooms in shophouses for as little as $200 per month. This rate might be higher if you’re closer to the centre. 
  • Apartments will start at around $350 per month and go up from there. Look to pay around $500 for a well-furnished place in one of the central districts. 
  • Apartments with more than one bedroom can go for $700 to $2,000
  • Villas usually start at around $1,000 per month. They can be as much as $5,000 per month in the centre of town. (Hint: If you opt for a villa it is wise to look in outer areas for the best deal)

The official rate for electricity is 720 riel per kWh. However, many landlords will round this up to $0.25 for large buildings. The city's official water rate for residential spaces is between 550 and 1,270 riel per cubic metre. You should be paying between $20 to $60 per month for internet. If you pay for cleaning, you should look to spend from $30 to $100 a month, depending on the frequency.

The secret to getting a deal

So, you know where you want to live. You know what kind of housing you want. What now?

Well here’s the secret. Most landlords are open to negotiating rent rates. True, for newer places this might be harder. After taking a few tours, however, you will notice that there is no shortage of places to live.

Because of this, you can often get them to knock down the monthly rent by $20 or so if you want to move in immediately. Heck, many agents will even negotiate on your behalf. To become a master negotiator, check out our five tips for negotiating in our other article.

There you have it. Now get out there and find your new home in Phnom Penh.