Friday, 20 July 2012

How to Find an Apartment in Phnom Penh

It's been a bit of a crazy week trying to track down an apartment for the year ahead... Reckon we were pretty spoiled after just showing up and being given apartments in Korea, and then having our friends sort everything out in Oz!

I'm sure I just haven't found the right sites yet, but it seems like Phnom Penh really doesn't have the expat resources that also spoiled us in Seoul. Either way, reckon it wouldn't hurt to add another one into the mix.


THUS, a little word on our apartment hunting process.

1. Figured out what we wanted/needed in an apartment.
Our demands really weren't too over-the-top: 
    • A nice balcony to hang out on most everyday 
    • More than one room - I like that Partner In Crime kid, but after three years of one room apartments, I'm excited to have a bit of twirling room! 
    • Not on the open-sewer street (105)
    • jacuzzi bath
2. Found some real estate sites by asking friends and googling obvious keywords. 

3. Got in touch about the apartments we had our eye on/ what we were looking for. 

4. The agents took us around and showed us the different apartments. 

Rundown of 4 Phnom Penh Real Estate Agencies:

Dragon Realty

This one is tops in our book. The agent got back to our initial inquiry quickly and really listened to what we were looking for. It should tell you something that we signed on the first apartment they showed us! I really liked that they seem to have lots of options for lower budgets. Hooray Dragon Realty!

Rooftop Asia 

I'm a big fan of a lot of properties currently listed on this site. They have a nice range of properties and prices, and I got a very quick reply when I emailed them saying I was interested. When our lease is up, I think Partner In Crime and I will be looking at mainly Dragon Realty or Rooftop Asia for our next homebase.

Cambodia Angkor Real Estate Co.

Their website also seems to feature lots of options for lower-budget apartments. I'm heavily not impressed, though, that the only descriptor for location is "In Town". Districts are clearly divided in the Penh, and it shouldn't be too much to ask to know where all your apartments of interest are without having to email about each one. Also not stoked that they never called us back.

Independent Property Services

This company seems to specialize more in apartments for people with a much higher budget than we've got rocking. If you've got the funds to spare, though, you could definitely find a beautiful apartment through this company. Unfortunately, we felt like the agent really didn't even listen to our few standards, seeing as how she showed us an apartment with the most rubbish balcony in the entire world (attached to an apartment someone must have designed while drunk, i.e. stairways to nowhere), and then followed that up with a studio apartment just off street 105. Aka poo street. BAH. I got the feeling that we just weren't such a high priority, given our meagre budget.

In addition to these sites and others, you can definitely also root around in classifieds (like Bong Thom), or on forums (like on Expat Blog).

So finally, the fruit of all this labour...

Welcome to our home for the next year!!

Home, oh-oh-oh ho-o-ome... Home is wherever I'm with you...

Not un-excited about the massive balcony!
And remember, kids: say no to street 105*!

*open-sewer ahoy - gah.

xx Lady Expatriate


  1. Great resource on finding an apartment in Cambodia. Was wondering how people would go about renting an apartment there and was a little curious how much it might cost. Your apartment looks spacious and fab! Congrats on that. Any weird tricks or way of dealing with real estate folk or is it easy?

    1. G'day delayed response... sorry to have missed the comment and kept you hanging so long, especially when these are such great prompts.
      First off, thanks for the congrats and the kind comments! Partner In Crime and I are really loving our apartment, quirks and all.
      In regards to your question - at first, we had a bit of a tough time dealing with the real estate agents because we were referred to a company that was suited for people with MUCH larger housing budgets than ourselves - they didn't really have that much to offer us. Once we found a real estate agency that specialized in lower budget rentals (Dragon Realty), it was a breeze. We fell in love with the first place we saw, which of course you're not supposed to do, and an hour later we had 6 copies (1 Khmer, 1 English for us, landlord and Dragon Realty)of the lease printed up and signed!
      One problem one will probably encounter when searching for apartments in Phnom Penh is how rubbish most of the listings on websites are. This is where perseverance comes in, and the acceptance of the fact that you may have to just go see a couple in person to find out more.
      Thanks so much for the comment, Grrrl Traveler! You asked a great question :)

  2. Yes, also very curious. About to move there in a week and would appreciate the advice! What is considered a lower budget?

    1. Wow - you must be getting so excited!
      For me, I knew that a teacher's salary wouldn't give me a lot of free money to work with, so I was very interested in apartments ranging from $300 - $400 monthly, which I split with my partner. You can definitely find some lower priced than that, but I was happy to pay a bit more for a big balcony and to live in this neighborhood.
      Good luck with the move! Hit me back with more questions, if you'd like.

  3. Its nice to know that you found a quiet street to live. Could you share the street numbers since for many, reasonably quiet living is a must. Thank You

  4. Well If no reply by now, then this site is not what I expected. Whats the big deal of sharing the quiet area where you live. No one asked for your specific address. Anyway Thanks. I'm out of here!

    1. Wow Carlos, that's quite the message. I'm sorry that I offended you. As you know, I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm constantly trying to juggle many things. I'm sorry that you found my 3 day gap to be excessive.

      In response to your original question, I live in the Boeung Keng Kang Mouy area, a little south of Sihanouk and to the east of Monivong. I find it a very relaxing place to live, and - if I were to have the disposable income to do so - there are many cafes to visit within a short walking distance.

      I apologize again for offending you. All the best.

  5. Thanks heaps for this useful run down of various agents - appreciate it : )

    1. Cheers! Looking back, I'm still really happy with Dragon Realty. And I promise they're not paying me to say that! Best of luck with your apartment search :)

  6. Me again (the anonymous one). Could I ask, what sort of agent fees do Dragon Realty charge? Is it worked out as a percentage of the rent? In addition, some expat resources say you can negotiate $50 a month off your rent if you sign a longer lease (3 months +) you know if this is possible when dealing with the agencies? Or is it only possible if dealing directly with a landlord? Thanks for your time : )
    Kiwi lady moving to Cambodia

    1. Hiya Kiwi Lady!
      When are you arriving? If you're in the process of getting ready to go, you must be getting pretty excited - and for good reason! Every day I love it here more and more. :)

      PIC and I actually weren't charged any fees. I believe they received a payment from our landlady who advertised through them. We simply paid two months rent as a damage deposit, and our first month's rent, and boom - too easy! We were all moved in by the next day.

      I have actually never heard of the $50 off deal... but of course it sounds awesome. Please do let me know if you hear more about it - would come in handy for my apt renewal next summer, and it would be great to post about on the site.

      Good luck with the last of your prep! Feel free to shoot me a message via my facebook page if you have other q's that I might be able to help you out with.

      Cheers :)

  7. Thanks so much for your warm and detailed reply. Glad I found your blog. I'm arriving in April - the hottest month of the year, eek!

    Will certainly message you on FB at some point, I have Qs about a couple of things (getting Internet set up, stuff like that...) and would appreciate hearing your views/experiences.

    Kind regards, thanks again : )

    1. April is definitely a little warm...!!! If you arrive in the hottest month, though, the heat throughout the rest of the year will be a breeze :)

      For sure give a shout about any questions. One resource that might help you... have you checked out the blog and the e-book Move to Cambodia? The e-book has a charge, but it's supposed to be amazing (I haven't read it myself). It's written by a longterm journalist expat who's really well known around these parts, and general consensus says it's quite helpful. I wish it had been out when I had moved here!

      Here's the link to the blog (so good!), and you can find the e-book on the site too, if you're interested.

      Good luck with wrapping stuff up in NZ!

  8. Hi again, yes, I bought the MTC e-book a little while ago and it has been handy.

    I've sent you a message via your FB page : )


  9. Hi there, my name is David Murphy i am the principle of Independent Property Services and i wanted to comment on your piece above. Firstly it's disappointing to hear your experience with our firm was not what you were hoping for - for that i apologise. However what you say in your article is very true. At IPS we are focussed at the premium end of the market and as such we find it difficult to commit resources to clients who have smaller budgets.

    I hope you are enjoying your stay in Cambodia and wish you all the best.

    Kind regards,
    David Murphy

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