Phnom Penh has been declared only marginally cheaper than Bangkok and Jakarta for expats to live in.
As of current, Phnom Penh ranks 41st out of the top 50 most expensive Asian Pacific cities for expats to stay, according to the latest report released by ECA International.
Climbing up three ranks from number 44 last year and up a total of seven ranks from placing 48 in 2012, Phnom Penh’s steady pace is considered healthy.
The report by ECA International – a market leader in providing knowledge, information and technology to aid companies in gauging costs and expenses for their expatriate workers – included review charts of the 50 most expensive cities in the Asia Pacific region; one of a five-year review between 2012 and 2016, and another of a one-year review from 2015 till now.
However, according to Lee Quane, regional director of ECA International for Asia, a year-on-year analysis does not give much insight to whether a city or country will keep its place, climb or fall for the next few years.
“It is much better to look at the five-year review rather than the one-year review, as year-on-year changes are based on economic volatility,” Quane said via phone on Wednesday.
He explained that there are two reasons for Phnom Penh’s climb up the ranks; the first is due to the strengthening of the US dollar over the course of the last 12 months, which naturally leads to the increased strength of the Cambodian currency and economy thanks to its US-dollarised economy.
“Secondly, Phnom Penh has also shown a substantial increase in general inflation in terms of day-to-day expenses, services, and transportation,” he continued, adding that the data collected by ECA gives companies an estimate of how to protect the purchasing power of their expat workers.
Based on the five-year review which compares Asia Pacific cities in 2012 and 2016, Phnom Penh leads among its immediate regional counterparts at rank 41, with Laos coming in directly behind at 42 – down two ranks from 44; Hanoi at 44 – up seven ranks from 51; and Ho Chi Minh City at 46 – up eight ranks from 54.
“For Phnom Penh to climb up from the 48th to the 41st place in 5 years is relatively good news, as that means that its economic volatility is quite stable,” Quane noted.
On a year-by-year basis, Phnom Penh’s regional counterparts have been mixed when it comes to cost of living for expats. One of Vietnam’s largest cities, Ho Chi Minh City, recorded an increase in living costs, jumping from 50 on the ranking in 2015 up to 46 in 2016. Meanwhile, Bangkok’s prices cooled marginally, with Thail and’s capital city dropping from 38 in 2015 to 39 in 2016.