February 29, 2012

So I was going to write about finding somewhere to live in Phnom Penh. We spent our first working day calling and driving around and seeing a variety of fairly crappy flats. I was quite blasé, and in no particular hurry, but Blossom (I’m trying out nicknames) had some definite priorities (a view, a gym, free internet) was quite driven. So we spent Monday looking. And ended Monday a little deflated.

Apartments fell into two categories: wildly expensive but beautiful, or amazingly cheap and vile. Either you got super-clean expat hellholes, meant for diplomats and the NGO crowd. They ran at about $1,500 per bedroom. Or it was questionable Khmer apartment subdivisions, up reeking staircases inhabited by nippy Pekinese dogs, where you might just be a bit close to reality.

There is a lot of new building going on, and we saw a couple of monstrously huge places, quite far out of town: $500 would get you a living room the size of a tennis court, and two or three bedrooms, but they weren’t all that appealing. And they all came furnished. And we may as well be honest: me and the general Khmer population have slightly different ideas about interior design. We could probably leave it at that. So I had envisaged a short article on ruched gold lamé curtains, crystal chandeliers and tiled everything.

But then I went off to a job interview, and came back to find that Kitten had put down a deposit on a place. And she was right. So, we now have a flat, which we move in to next week. It has two bedrooms, a large kitchen and a generous terrace. It’s on the sixth floor of a brand new building: they’re taking the bamboo scaffolding off right now. There is a lovely breeze. Internet and cable TV is free. The view covers the west, north and east of Phnom Penh. It looks over the Royal Palace, with the river in the distance.

Oh, and we’re paying about £350 a month. Which is pretty much what our sock in Shepherds Bush brings in per week. I’m sitting here adding it up on my fingers, and I’m still not seeing the downside.


3 Responses to “Apartmentalised”

  1. Georgie M said

    When can we stay?

  2. Tina said

    Hi Rupert –
    Great to follow your progress! I like “Blossom”. Anything else risks veering into the distressingly AA Gill/Michael Winner-ish… x

  3. Catherine Klingel said

    Rupert your writing is amazing but I have to say I gagged at the pic of the big spiders!

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