While any international move can be challenging, moving into Cambodia requires a few lifestyle adjustments. Nowadays, with proper planning, most foreigners settle in comfortably and quickly come to appreciate the unique cultural and social opportunities in this fast-growing capital afford.
It is very important to engineering a convenient and rewarding lifestyle for all members of your family. For that purpose, the following section is designed to give you the information necessary to:
- Choose the right neighborhood for you.
- Decide which type of housing best suits your needs.
- Work with your agent to quickly locate and secure a quality property.
Types of House
90% of expatriates reside in apartments/condos. Fortunately, many apartments/condos have been developed to accommodate the taste and lifestyle of expatriate residents. These include large living and dining rooms, spacious master bedrooms (with children's bedrooms possibly on the small side), Western appliances, ample storage, and, in most cases, parking space. Apartments are available mostly in a prime area of Phnom Penh such as Khan Boeung Keng Kang, Khan Tuol Khan Kork, Khan Toul Tompoung, and Khan Chamkar Mon, Khan 7 Markara, and Khan Daun Penh. Apartments may be located in small, intimate compounds of just a few units clustered around a central garden or by the riverside or within touristic areas. Mid-sized buildings contain 10 to 30 units with a common recreation area. Or the ultra-modern, mammoth high-rise structures now dot the Phnom Penh skyline. Zillionhome.com-listed agent features such apartments/condos ranging in size from one-room studios of about 35 sq. meters to four-plus bedroom units of 300 sq. meters and larger.
Duplex properties are often spacious, may contain a yard and are appropriate for families who do not mind living next door to their landlord. The greatest percentage of duplex units can be found in Borey, suburbs and some areas in the city center.
Single Family Home
Difficult to find in central Phnom Penh due to space limitations, the single-family homes in central areas are often cramped, old and pricey. The suburban areas of Khan Mean Chey, Khan Sen Sok, Khan Chroy Changvar, Khan Russey Keo, Khan Pur Sen Chey, Khan Praek Pnov, Khan Kamboul, Khan Dangkao, Khan Chbar Ampov offer many more options: homes that are larger, newer and comparatively well-priced. The Zillionhome.com-listed agent has access to many quality properties in these areas. Most single-family homes in Phnom Penh contain some semblance of a yard or garden. But you should not envision your Golden Retriever bounding across the yard to you.
Generally, this type of housing is made of a cluster of single-family homes, duplexes or four-plexes sharing common grounds and recreational facilities. Usually enclosed, excellent for families with children and the security conscious, compounds are somewhat rare in Phnom Penh. But the Zillionhome.com-listed agent can introduce you to the best of such properties. They boast each two stories high, with three to four bedrooms, and may run between 150 sq. meters to nearly 600 sq. meters. The larger properties may include a maid's room.
The vast majority of expatriate housing in Phnom Penh is "unfurnished". Unfurnished expatriate housing generally includes major appliances: stove, oven, refrigerator, washer/dryer, dishwashers, and air conditioning/heating. Some fixtures such as blinds, curtains, or light fixtures, may also be included or may be negotiated into your rent. The Zillionhome.com-listed agent will assist you with the negotiation process.
Analyzing Your Needs
Prior to meeting with the Zillionhome.com-listed agent, you and your family should sit down and define your priorities. Create a 'wish list' and divide the features as those being ‘absolutely necessary’ or ‘desirable’.
The following is what we suggest you consider:
- Your maximum acceptable commute: work and school,
- The relative advantages of living in central vs. somewhat outlying areas,
- Your minimum space requirement (tables, chairs, sofas),
- The number of bedrooms (guest rooms, a maid's room),
- Your drive in Phnom Penh: One or two vehicles?
- Your required space for large items, if you are bringing your furniture such as pianos, and whether your landlord may accept these pieces or waterbeds,
- Lifestyle, proximity to shopping and recreation, the general environment of your housing,
- Pet-friendly accommodation,
- Other preferences.
Understanding and Working with Your Real Estate Agent
Real Estate is a highly competitive, yet loosely regulated industry in Cambodia, and only half of real estate agents are well-trained and very conscientious. Still, this support may entail the handling of maintenance issues, landlord/tenant disputes and a host of general lifestyle concerns. Reputable real estate web portal such as Zillionhome.com-listed agent accepts only agents known to be highly responsive to your needs, to provide unbiased answers to questions you may have about a given property or neighborhood. You should feel confident that your agent wants to see you happy and content in your new home - for the long term. His/her reputation and future livelihood are heavily dependent upon your satisfaction.
Understanding Your Lease Agreement
For most expatriate-grade properties, the lease agreement will be drafted in Khmer and English, with the Khmer version prevailing. You should familiarize yourself with the following lease terms:
Paid monthly in advance to the owner. A late fee maybe exacted if rent is overdue.
The payment of the first-month advance rents are generally required upon initiation of the lease.
All properties in Cambodia require a deposit. The size of the deposit may vary from the rent of one month's rent to four to six months for expatriate grade properties. The deposit is "technically" refundable. In some cases, a portion of the deposit is deducted to pay for the restoration of the property when the tenant leaves. Restoration costs can be greatly minimized by careful maintenance of the property.
Agent Fee / Commission
The industrial standard provides for one-month rent to be paid to the real estate agent as their commission. Note: In Cambodia, the agent fee/commission should be covered by the property owner or landlord.
A monthly management fee for general building maintenance and, possibly to defer the cost of an on-site building manager.
Time Frame and Steps Involved in Securing a Home
You should generally begin your home search at least one or two weeks before your desired move-in date, although beginning one-week to four-weeks before allows ample time for the owner to complete any necessary renovations. It is difficult to secure a suitable property more than four weeks before the move-in date, except where the property is newly constructed or well prepared or, that the existing tenant will cooperate in its showing. You should plan to spend as least one-day viewing various properties, and up to a week, if special needs are indicated. Once you have located a property you are interested in, make the following schedules to obtain:
Basically, a document stating intent to contract a lease. (Applications are not legally binding, but they should not be submitted casually - let the agent listed in Zillionhome.com-listed agent guide you in this process.) Any requests related to the property must be submitted at this time and will be considered by the owner. Requests typically include minor maintenance or renovation work, the addition of various fixtures, cable or satellite TV. Once again, it is best to let your agent guide you in making these requests as negotiability vary from property to property.
Usually within 48 hours. If "accepted", move on to the draft lease. If declined, continue your housing search. Note: Landlords may "accept" some contracts under certain conditions, meaning the elimination or reduction of requests. The Zillionhome.com-listed agent -listed agent stands on your behalf in these negotiations.
Generally prepared in Khmer and English. A copy will be sent to you or your corporate HR for negotiation, review, and approval. Your real estate agent will also review the lease terms.
Final Original Contract
Once all parties agree, an 'original' contract is made. There can be no further negotiation at this stage. The original is taken to you or your company for execution, and all related fees become due and payable before the lease start date. A Cambodian landlord will rarely turn over a property before receiving their payment in full.
Prior to move-in day
The Zillionhome.com-listed agent will see that all utilities, amenities, telephone, internet or cable TV are arranged and double-check all the agreed-upon terms with the landlord". before you move in. Your agent will provide you with detailed information as to your many options and inform you of any pertinent building policies. Please be very specific about your needs in this area. Your real estate agent will also coordinate with your moving company and the building manager to see that the move is smooth and trouble-free.
Your agent property manager will conduct a thorough inspection of your new property and will guide you in the use of all appliances.
Locating Pet-Friendly Housing
Until recently, the intent to keep a cat or dog, greatly reduced one's access to available properties. Those landlords who did allow pets would invariably do so under limited conditions. Then, they would require that a special damage clause be attached to the housing lease that holds the lessee liable for any and all pet-related damage. They may also require that an additional deposit be advanced to cover the expense of sanitation and restoration when the tenant vacates.
We recommend that you inform the Zillionhome.com-listed agent -listed agent of your intention to keep a pet. If you have a dog, please describe the breed and size. Your agent can direct you to properties that are pet-friendly and assist you with any additional clauses that may be required in the lease agreement.
Taking Care of Your New Home
Now that you have settled into your new home, we would like to give you a few tips on caring for your property. These simple recommendations can significantly reduce damage claims when you vacate. You may or may not be responsible for paying these claims (according to the building policy), but a little care can ensure that claims are kept to a minimum.
Some allowance will be made for the natural aging of carpets, wallpaper, and fixtures. However, stains, scratches, holes, 'dings', and any matter of child or pet damage will require 'restoration' at your or your company's expense. Your Cambodian landlord will be most concerned about: holes in walls or woodwork (defined as anything larger than a small tack mark); stains, marks or abrasions on wall surfaces; stains to carpeting or mildew damage; scratches or abrasions on counter services in kitchen and bathroom(s), damage to kitchen appliances, plumbing or A/C systems. A little care can avert such damage.
- Use picture hooks to hang small and medium-sized pictures. (The Zillionhome.com-listed agent will advise you where to buy these.) Large pictures may require picture rails for proper support, and you will need the owner's consent to install these.
- Make sure you keep the drains on balconies and terraces open to prevent water from backing into your home or apartment.
- Vacuum carpets regularly to prevent the development of mildew stains (pay particular attention to baseboards and inside closets).
- Use gentle scouring agents on stainless steel and ceramic surfaces in the kitchen and bath.
- Do your best to restrict your children's use of magic markers, crayons, and paints to 'approved surfaces'.
- Immediately report any plumbing, electrical or air/con malfunctions to your property manager or landlord so that repairs can be made before serious damage results.
Note: The Zillionhome.com-listed agent will make a thorough inspection of your property just before you move in and will note any pre-existing damage. This report will ensure that you are not charged for someone else's damage when you vacate your property.