Marissa Carruthers is a freelance journalist who, less than two weeks ago, left behind life in the UK for the sun and smiles of Cambodia. In her weekly column, she will be sharing the ups and downs of settling into life in Phnom Penh as a new expat.
Renting a house back in the UK is a huge hassle, and that’s putting it mildly.
The cumbersome process usually starts with trawling through hundreds of houses on estate agents’ websites, followed by phone calls and visits to organise suitable times to view your prospective new home.
Then there’s the trudging round the properties – usually spread over several weekends because of time clashes and last-minute cancellations – the mountains of paperwork to fill in, the guarantors to find, the bond, the deposit. The list goes on.
This is probably why I was met with a faint gasp of horror whenever I told friends who asked me where I’d be living when I landed in Cambodia that I didn’t know.
“It’ll be fine,” I told them with an over-confidence tinged with a hint of desperation before explaining I’d been advised by several expats that finding somewhere to live is as easy as jumping into a tuk tuk and driving about.
But just like my friends, I was secretly unsure. I mean, there’s no way back home you can just call in on a house with a For Rent sale outside.
Then again, this is Cambodia, and sure enough on our first day we hit the road to go house-hunting. With the help of our tuk tuk driver, we drove around BKK1, the Russian Market and the Olympic Stadium areas, stopping off at the abundance of For Rent signs or street corners where there was always someone who knew of somewhere to let.
By day two, we’d stumbled across our perfect apartment: a cosy one-bedroom affair near bustling Street 278, where everything I could possibly ever need is right on my doorstep.
By day three, we were lugging our luggage across the city ready to seal the deal. And after photocopying our passports, negotiating the rent, paying up front, and signing a contract, we were moved in.
So it really was as easy as that.