Cambodia Vs. Laos For Expats part 1 – Pros and Cons of Living in Laos

Cambodia Vs Laos For Expats part 1 – that will be the topic of today’s article.

Before introducing this article, if you are interested in our core services which are expat financial, insurance and mortgages, you can contact me here

The best time to consider your financial situation is when you are moving to a new country.


Cambodia and Laos may be neighbors, but they are different in more ways than their proximity would lead you to believe. Both countries have a long history of political unrest and foreign intervention, which has led to a unique coexistence within the cultures.

Cambodia Vs Laos For Expats

However, when expats compare Cambodia vs. Laos for moving or retiring abroad from either country, Cambodia usually wins out. The decision to move or retire abroad can be difficult, especially when moving to a developing country.

If expats compare Cambodia vs. Laos, they will see that both countries have pros and cons. Without further ado, here’s our comparison of Cambodia vs. Laos for expats.

Cambodia Offers a Low Cost of Living

Cambodia is much more affordable than its neighbor, Laos. The lagging economy in Laos makes everything more expensive, including imported goods that are subject to high tariffs instead of the cheaper local products.

This means that it’s harder to find basic amenities like toilet paper or eggs for sale in Laos. Even something as simple as rice is more expensive in Laos. In Cambodia, you can find many of these amenities at a reasonable price.

In addition to cheaper basic items, everything from restaurants to housing is less expensive in Cambodia. Expats set up shop in Cambodia because it’s a great place to stretch their dollars and live well for less. This makes the country ideal for expats on a budget.

Laos Is Still Recovering From Its War-Torn Past

Cambodia has had political unrest in the past, but it’s nothing compared to Laos’ turbulent history. The Vietnam War spilled over into Laos, turning parts into battlegrounds or strategic strongholds by opposing forces.

This created an atmosphere of political instability that rocked the country until 1991. Even today, Laos is still recovering from the years it spent dealing with civil war.

However, this fact about Cambodia vs. Laos can benefit some expats. The lack of development in Laos leaves it much more like the unspoiled beauty that attracted expats to the country in the first place.

Cambodia Vs Laos For Expats

Understanding the Concept of Relocating

This is where things get interesting. If you are looking for a Southeast Asian experience, you may want to consider moving or retiring abroad in Thailand instead of Cambodia or Laos. The beaches are great, the food is delicious, and it’s an amazing place to retire.

Or you can talk to a trusted advisor who will discuss the different countries with you. They know what your financial and personal needs are, so they know where you should go. This saves time and helps you plan an upcoming relocation to a developing country that’s safe and affordable, just like Cambodia.

Pros and Cons of Living in Laos

The pros and cons of living in Laos are a topic of hot debate. Some people feel that the country is a perfect fit, while others lament that it is nothing but a third-world hellhole. The consensus seems to be that the positives of life in Laos outweigh the negatives by such a large margin. However, it makes the country a very desirable place to live.

Cambodia Vs Laos For Expats


  • The cost of living in Laos is extremely low. This means that you will have more disposable income on a month-by-month basis than you would in another country.
  • You can get paid from your home country, meaning that there is no need for an office space or coworkers around you.
  • Laos is not crowded, yet it has all of the benefits of modern society. It’s easier to get things done here than in most other countries.
  • The weather in Laos is generally quite agreeable. There are a few extremes, so you won’t have to deal with the scorching heat or bitter cold.
  • You’ll be able to get high-speed internet access at a very low cost.
  • Many expats in Laos are retired or semi-retired, meaning they have all of the free time they want to use however they please.
Cambodia Vs Laos For Expats


  • The Asian diet can be difficult for some people to adjust to. It is full of fish sauce and other flavors that may not appeal to everyone.
  • There are some cultural differences in Laos that you might find difficult to adjust to. This can be somewhat assuaged by hiring an assistant familiar with the culture.
  • Traffic accidents frequently happen, especially among foreign drivers. You should be very careful on the roads here, as the other drivers are extremely reckless.
  • Laos is not particularly safe, especially at night. You should take precautions against theft by locking up your valuables when you aren’t using them and hiring a security guard in the evenings after leaving work.
  • The internet access in Laos can be spotty in some parts of the country – most notably, there is a real lack of fiber optic cables in the north. Getting set up with the internet can be difficult if your neighborhood doesn’t have any service.
  • There are few restaurants that serve Western food, which means you’ll have to learn to cook Laotian food or eat out at an Asian restaurant. Neither option is very healthy for you, so you’ll have to find ways around that problem.
  • The weather in Laos can be somewhat oppressive in the summer, particularly if you aren’t used to it. Many people experience severe heatstroke when they first arrive here, especially if they are unaccustomed to 100 degree plus temperatures.

Interesting Facts about Living in Cambodia

It’s a well-known fact that Cambodia is a beautiful country full of happy, smiling people.  It is also a cheap place to live compared to other countries in our region. There are so many wonderful things about living and working in Cambodia, and today we wanted to share with you five of them:

Beautiful Scenery and Natural Attractions

One of the best things about living in Cambodia is that there are many beautiful and natural attractions to visit. If you just want a nice beach day out, then look at our article on five great beaches to visit in and around Phnom Penh for some ideas.

Once you get away from the city center, you will be amazed by the amount of natural beauty, and you will find it hard to resist taking lots and lots of pictures.


There is no sales tax, value-added tax (VAT), or goods and service tax (GST) in Cambodia. This means that everything stays cheap as we buy items without paying extra. There is also no income tax, and we only have to pay social security when we earn more than $500 per month.

Not Too Hot or Too Cold

Cambodia generally has a tropical climate, so it’s quite humid throughout the year. It never gets too hot in the summer months (December-February) and doesn’t get too cold in the winter months (June-August). Most people find Cambodia has a comfortable temperature because it is always 25 degrees or more.

Amazing Local Food and Drink

The local Cambodian food and drink are so delicious and cheap! There are many restaurants to choose from, lots of street food stalls, and many local drink options. The best local food and drink options are fried noodles, spring rolls, coconut juice, and Cambodian iced coffee (we will do another article on these sometime soon).

Speaking Khmer Is Not Too Difficult

We have mentioned on this blog before that English isn’t spoken very well in Cambodia. However, speaking Khmer is actually not that difficult if you know how to speak a little bit of it. There are many words and phrases in Khmer that sound like they are straight from English, such as: “chomreap suor” (thank you), “Sabai dei” (please), and “sa ma ney” (excuse me).

Delicious and Cheap Fruit

Fruit in Cambodia is plentiful, delicious, and very cheap! We get to eat many different types of fruit from a number of different countries. Some of our favorite fruits are guava, mango, durian, lychee, and jackfruit. It probably doesn’t help that we drink a lot of fresh coconut juice.

Great Customer Service

Customer service in Cambodia is a little bit slow compared to other countries, but the quality of service we get from Cambodian people is great. They know how to treat their customers well, and they often go the extra mile just to make us happy. Most Cambodians are very humble and will not say no to anything. Compared to the people in other countries that we have visited (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos), Cambodian customer service is much better.

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