I am a city girl, I grew up in the city. I lived in an apartment, next to a big and noisy road. An apartment is something I used to live in. My experience with houses not so intense. I am not from an entirely safe country, so I just don’t feel safe in houses. I think apartments have more security. I have mentioned before how we found our first apartment in Phnom Penh, so let’s talk about an actual apartment and our experience living in a condo here, in Cambodia.
Our apartment was in Dimond de Castle condominium, located in a quiet and very clean area of Phnom Penh, Toul Kouk. We had a supermarket within walking distance and very nice shopping area “TK Avenue”. When you live in this part of the city you can forget for a moment that you are in Asia, in South East Asia. A lot of beautiful modern villas, condos, coffee shops, pavement (which is definitely not available everywhere).
It was one bedroom apartment, about 80 sq.m. on the 10th floor. We have had paid two months deposit and one month in advance, took our suitcases and just moved in there, expecting to visit gym three times a week and swim in the pool every morning.
First disappointment met us at the first day. It turned out that gym is not included in the rental price, we just have a discount for monthly attendance and price after discount is $40 per month. At least we could use a pool for free, better than nothing.
Rule #1: Always check details before renting a place. Check with everyone, with an agent, with the owner, with building management, and make sure they will write down this info in the contract. Even contract means nothing in SEA you will have rights to argue and you will have proof of your words
Another problem that we faced was the internet. Mostly it was a problem for me. I used to work remotely and I required very good connection 24/7, unfortunately, the condo has an agreement with the extrimely expensive provider and didn’t let tenants have a provider of their choice. By extremely expensive, I mean about $200 per month for 4 Mb internet. Isn’t it ridiculous? I was in a panic, I haven’t seen this coming. I had to start my work in a couple of days and I didn’t have internet access. Our only decision was to buy mobile internet modem and just top up it every week, or whatever it will run out. It saved me for awhile, but have very limited access to the internet was a big disaster for me.
Rule #2: Always make sure that Internet and Cable TV already connected, or will be connected by the time you move in. It is an extra charge for the “white” people to connect anything in Cambodia, plus it could be a freakinly expensive company.
One of the advantages of living in the condo is that you have your bills delivered in time, and you have an office where you can take you bill and complain because it is exactly what we did after receiving a bill. Mostly everywhere in Cambodia, you have free water, and mostly everywhere you pay 19 cents per kW for electricity usage.When you live in a condo, you will pay for water, and electricity will cost 25 cents per kW, as for me, it didn’t make much difference at the first. Cambodia is a very hot country with very high humidity level, which is make you feel like in sauna almost all the time, you have to use air con, just fan will not save you. So, we received our first bill. Our bill includes rent, water, power, and Cable TV. everything was acceptable apart from power section. We had to pay $170 for electricity! $170 dollars for using air con at night, fridge, tv, laptop, and lightning. Next bill was $120, then we went for a holiday for a week and still got a bill aver $150. It just didn’t make sense for us. In May we didn’t use air-con, we had been away for 2 weeks and or bill was $167. We didn’t have a meter in our apartment and we just couldn’t predict what will happen to us next month, we figured out that a lot of people moved out from the building because of construction nearby, but we still have to pay for the general power usage of the building. Because it was not enough tenants, people who still stay in the building have to pay more to cover the same amount of power usage as if all apartments had been occupied. After counting all our expenses in this accommodation plus quite high rent till the end of our contract we decided that it will be cheaper to loose two months deposite and move out than stay for another 7 months.
Rule #3: Make sure that you have your own meter and that you have access to it all the time.
Another thing that worth to mention is lies. Lies from everyone. Before we moved in we knew that it is ongoing construction just under our balcony, we asked how many levels new building will be, and the answer was no more than 5. We were on 10th floor and even with an extra floor of communications and roof building should not block the view from our balcony. After we sign contract we met our landlord, an American guy in his 50th who is an asshole, we received new information that new building will be about 7 floors. At some point, this construction reached the 7th floor level, but they didn’t stop to build up, I could almost shake their hands from our balcony. As we found out new building supposed to have 15 floors. And it was an official information, obviously, no one told us this because we would not rent an apartment, especially for this price. It was a very good lesson for us, that people her only care about money, and nothing else.
Rule #4: Never ever rent anything near construction, for many reasons.