It’s Official…I Live in Phnom Penh!

Moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Travel Lush

I’m officially living in Phnom Penh!  Can you believe it?  Because I can’t.

After roughly 24 hours in transit – from the US to Asia – I finally touched down in Phnom Penh early last week.  During the past couple weeks I’ve basically fought a losing battle against jet lag, moved into my apartment, gone on a job interview, tried my best to master the art of crossing the street, and eaten all the Khmer food I could get my hands on.

Moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Travel Lush
All this for a little over $1!

So far it’s been pretty good.  True to form, I have experienced a wide range of emotions. From “oh my god I can’t believe I get to live here” to “oh shit, I need to get a real job.”

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was (and still am) pretty anxious about this move.  There are a lot of reasons for my nerves – it’s a new city, a new work situation, a new life.  And while all of this is incredibly exciting, it’s also slightly terrifying.

But, oddly enough, one of the main reasons I am a bit apprehensive about my big move is because my expectations for life in Phnom Penh are really high.

We all know that Jakarta wasn’t the easiest place, for me personally, to live.  Considering my ambivalence toward living in Jakarta, and just how much I fell in love with Phnom Penh during my visit earlier this year, I simply really, really don’t want to be disappointed.

What if Phnom Penh doesn’t live up to my high expectations?

Moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Travel Lush

Moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Travel Lush

Well, clearly I can’t predict the future.  But a week in and I can still officially say that I love Phnom Penh.  The people, food, culture and architecture blow my mind each and every day.  So far I’ve had a blast people watching in the city’s bustling parks, sampling some amazing restaurants and gawking at all the beautiful temples that are peppered around the city.  I am still just as enamored with Phnom Penh as ever.

But in an effort to keep it real around here I will say that the past week has brought with it a few challenges.  The heat is far more brutal than in Jakarta.  I seriously let out an audible gasp when I looked at my phone the other day and it read “current temperature 91°F, feels like 107°F.”  It’s intense!  The mosquitoes have also been relentless.  And I kind of have a love-hate relationship with my new apartment, but I’ll leave that for another post!

Moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Travel Lush

Ups and downs aside, I am just really excited about what the future will bring.  One thing is for sure…this is going to be an adventure.  And I’m all about living a life that’s unpredictable and full of adventure.

Life in Phnom Penh will have its challenges but I wholeheartedly believe that with those challenges will also come great rewards and experiences. All in all, I’m so excited to call this city home for the next two years.

Obviously I’ll have a lot more Phnom Penh goodness coming your way as I start to explore this crazy and beautiful city a little more.  But for now, it’s good to be home!

Moving to Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Travel Lush

Does Phnom Penh look like the type of city you’d be interested in living in?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

33 thoughts on “It’s Official…I Live in Phnom Penh!

    1. Most people I’ve met who have traveled to Phnom Penh didn’t like it. That’s always surprised me because it has always been one of my favorite cities in Southeast Asia! I can understand why people would be turned off of it, but I love it 🙂

  1. I spent 8 days in Phnom Penh in 2013 and loved it. Friendly people and lots to see. One thing I was disappointed in was the street food. I eat it in Singapore and Thailand but I did not try any in Phnom Penh. Seemed much less clean. I am headed to Chiang Mai on Sept 3rd and then Siem Reap to see Angor Wat. I may stop in Phnom Penh again. I have a friend in Jakarta and was thinking of visiting for a week. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Warren 🙂 Singapore and Thailand have such amazing street food and I’m not really sure that Cambodia can compete. Although I am enjoying the food here regardless! You are going to love Angkor Wat…at least I think you will. It is still one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen. I really want to go back at some point this year. I definitely recommend heading to Jakarta, especially if you have a friend living there who can show you the ropes. A week is kind of a long time, but if you’re there visiting someone I’m sure you’ll have a blast! Let me know if you need any more info about Jakarta.

  2. Welcome to Cambodia! You’re so right about the heat in this country – here in Siem Reap we’ve been sweltering these last couple of days!! Hope you settle in well, we’re popping to PP in a couple of weeks but only there for about a day – still VERY excited to visit, like you I have high hopes for falling in love with the city! Btw – not sure if you do FB but I set up a Vegan Cambodia group – join and share your posts with others to help them when they travel or live here if you like.

    Anyway – happy ‘moving to Cambodia’ 🙂
    caryl recently posted…Vegan Cambodian Street Food

    1. Thanks Caryl. I can’t believe I’m actually here! Ugh, I just looked at my phone. It’s 95 degrees but feels like 115! Yup, it’s really hot here. I hope you enjoy PP. Too bad you’re visit is going to be so brief. Well, if you have time let me know and we can meet up 🙂 And I just joined the group. Thanks for the heads up! I’m actually in the process of writing a post on the veg restaurants in Phnom Penh (most of which are vegan) so I’ll definitely be sharing 🙂

  3. You made it!! I’m so excited for you. One of my best friends lived in Phnom Penh for a year and he really loved it too. He was my tour guide when I visited and for that reason I really enjoyed it when I may not have otherwise. I feel like it’s one of those places some travelers just do NOT click with, but it’s great to hear that you do. Here’s hoping the love affair continues!
    Leah recently posted…The Wonders of Mainland Greece: Ancient Olympia

    1. I did make it! It’s always special to get an insider’s perspective of a city. Especially one like Phnom Penh (or even Jakarta!). I’m hoping the love affair continues too, but I’m very aware that living here will come with its challenges. But that’s just Southeast Asia living.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying the photos Jade. This is a pretty great city to take photos in 🙂 I feel really lucky (and slightly petrified!) that I get to live here. I highly recommend visiting. Cambodia really does offer so much. I actually haven’t done tons of traveling here (aside from the beaches and Angkor Wat), so I am very excited to explore more of the countryside! Kampot and Kep are really calling my name!

  4. Ahh, so exciting! Can’t wait for more food pics! And I can’t believe those prices – that’s so awesome! I’m leaving to travel in the fall and my emotions go from “oh my gosh I cannot wait to quit my job and leave” to “um what the hell am I doing?” Good luck settling in and I can’t wait to read more – and see more food pics (please)!
    Rachel recently posted…Strolling and Snacks in Old San Juan with Spoon Food Tours

    1. You’re in luck Rachel because a few of my next posts are going to be solely about food! I feel like I’ve done an absurd amount of eating during the past two months…

      That’s so exciting you’re going to be taking off on your travels soon 🙂 I quit my job and left for my travels exactly two years ago and I’m still have those “what the hell am I doing” moments! In fact, I experienced that today. That probably didn’t make you feel any better. But if it helps, I don’t regret my decision in the least. Adventure most definitely awaits you 🙂 I can’t wait to follow along on your adventures!!

    1. Thanks 🙂 So far I’m enjoying living here but it’s definitely an adjustment. It’s very different than living in Jakarta! But I think it’ll be a much more rewarding experience!

  5. Justine,
    I am glad to see you made it! It looks like a very lovely city and I hope it’s every thing you dream of and more! I love the photos of this place and I can’t wait to see more. For me, this city seems like a place I would visit as opposed to live – with my soy allergy I have an aversion to the idea of living in Asia, but of course if the opportunity came I am sure I would try it.
    Katie
    Katie @worldwidevegetarian.com recently posted…Healthy Travel: Fasolakia, Greek Style Green Beans

    1. So far Phnom Penh has been pretty good. I’ve definitely had my “oh shit, what am I doing?” moments. But all in all, I’ve been enjoying the food and culture. Yeah, I can understand not having the drive to live here. It seems most people feel the same way. It’s going to be a really interesting place to live for a couple years, but I can almost guarantee that I’m going to experience a lot of challenges. And a soy allergy would definitely pose a challenge! I’m the same way though, if the opportunity presents itself I tend to just go with it!

  6. I’ve only just discovered your blog but I’m super excited to read about how life in Cambodia is. I see so many people talk about living in Thailand or Vietnam but Cambodia’s always been the country I’ve wanted to visit and learn more about. 😀 I can’t wait to see how you feel about it.
    Ceri recently posted…Tour of my Korean Apartment

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