Sandra Hoffman has lived in Phnom Penh with her husband, Philipp, and their two children for three years now. The family previously lived in Dubai for eleven years.
Sandra is very well travelled and has visited more than 80 countries during her life so far. So what made Sandra and her family choose Phnom Penh as their home town? The answer was definitely surprising to hear, it was all because of an excel spreadsheet.
Sandra explains that after 11 years in Dubai the family was ready to move on to a new country, but they didn’t know where they wanted to go. They listed all the 80 countries they had visited in an excel spreadsheet. She says ‘we made it mathematical, we used the UN safety index, the cost of living and French school for the kids, the top three countries according to our list were Nicaragua, Argentina and Cambodia. Sandra and her husband then lived in each of these three countries for a month to see which one would fit their family the best. In the end the couple decided to settle down in Phnom Penh, as they thought it would be a good place to open a business.
At the time, Sandra and Philip, felt it was hard to find a quiet and cosy place to stay in Phnom Penh so they decided to open a boutique hotel. Today their boutique hotel, Villa Paradiso, is one of the most popular boutique hotels in Phnom Penh, located on a quiet street in the centre of Phnom Penh.
Sandra really enjoys her life in Phnom Penh but it was not love at first sight. In the beginning the children found it tough to see the Cambodian kids in the street, much more than Sandra thought they would. But as they started to get more connected with the Cambodians and get Cambodian friends they started to like it more. Now they love to play football with our Cambodian night guard. ’Cambodia is a place that grows on you, and it grew on us’. For Sandra it’s the Cambodian people that make the place special.