April 28 - 2024 2:05 am

Living in Vietnam – An Expat’s Guide


Vietnam is a promising land with famous landscapes, friendly people, a lot of attractive job opportunities and not-too-high cost of living, therefore, it has become increasingly popular as an expat destination in recent years. Up to 8 levels higher than last year, Vietnam has entered the top 10 best countries for foreigners to live and work for the first time, according to the recently released HSBC Expat 2019 report. Today, in this post, we will show you what you need to prepare before moving to Vietnam.

Living in Vietnam as an expat – What you should know

Is Vietnam safe for Living?

Yes, living in Vietnam is relatively safe. The country rarely experiences horrible natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. The security, especially in large cities, is acceptable. Some local people are very friendly and willing to help when you need. Besides, some social evils such as theft or pickpocketing are still taking place, but not too terrible.

In case you have any problems while living in Vietnam and need the intervention of the authorities, you can go to the nearest police station or contact the hotline 113.

Key Facts Every Expat Should Know About Living in Vietnam

1. Transportation

The first thing to be kept in mind of every expat to Vietnam is transportation. It is not only the obsession of foreigners but also the locals and the local government as well.

Typical Traffic of Vietnam

Traffic in major cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city is often congested, especially during rush hours, and it takes several hours to travel from your residence to your working place and vice versa. The Vietnamese mostly travel by motorbike as it is the most mobile means of transport which can reach every corner of Vietnam. Many foreigners feel unsafe when traveling by this vehicle, but don’t worry, many expats after some years in Vietnam have also become masters of motorbike driving in Vietnam.

In remote areas of the city, transport infrastructure is difficult and not yet invested. This is a big challenge for foreigners to explore in Vietnam.

2. Language

Vietnamese has identified many foreigners as a difficult language to learn. Therefore, it is still a long time for foreigners to communicate with Vietnamese people. Very few Vietnamese know foreign languages ​​including international languages ​​such as “English”. This makes it very difficult for travelers and people who want to live and work in Vietnam.

3. Weather

The climate of Vietnam is tropical with monsoon. It has rainy season, very hot summers, and cold winters. Despite not too harsh, it is not easy to adapt, especially the time of changing seasons. Many foreigners living in Vietnam feel unable to adapt to the weather here.

4. Buying a house in Vietnam

For those who intend to work for a long time or live in Vietnam, buying a house is not a simple matter because the procedures are quite complicated and limited as prescribed by the Law for foreigners to buy houses here. The Vietnam housing prices also differ depending on the place you wish to have your house and also the investor as well.

5. Polluted environment

Vietnam is an industrialized and modernized economy. In large cities, the speed of urbanization is too rapid, resulting in a devastating environment. Garbage is everywhere in the sea, streets, and rivers… The smoke from factories and domestic wastewater have not been well treated. Moreover, the people’s awareness of environmental protection, so for foreigners coming to Vietnam, this is not a small difficulty.

6. The family life in Vietnam

Traditional family in Vietnam consists of many generations living in the same house. Currently, this is also changing. Many young people buy or rent private houses. However, on special occasions, family members will gather together.

Cost of Living in Vietnam

Average cost of living in Vietnam – How much you need to prepare

According to Numbeo’s ranking, the largest website in the global price data field, Vietnam ranks 86th in the world and 6th in Southeast Asia in terms of cost of living. Survey results given in the report called Expat Insider show that Vietnam ranks in the position with the lowest cost of living for foreigners. 93% of foreigners living and working in Vietnam said they have enough or more money than they need to cover their lives.

So, “How much does it cost to live in Vietnam?” As shared by several expats, the average cost of living in Vietnam ranges from US $700 to US $1,400 per month, including:

  • Average apartment/house rent and bills: US $200 – 600 (shared)
  • Meals: US $100 – 300
  • Transportation (renting a motorbike plus gasoline): US $60. This cost may be lower if you use public buses. You can also buy a second hand motorbike at around US $250 – 250 to save monthly motorbike rent.
  • Grocery: US $100
  • Leisure: go out and/or eating out once a week: US $100
  • Mobile phone bill: US $5 (use Wi-Fi for chat apps for communication needs to save your money).

Those prices are only estimates shared by our interviewed expats in Vietnam. Your cost of living in Vietnam, of course, might be lower or higher depending on how you one to enjoy your life and your own lifestyle.

So we guess you now can imagine “How expensive is Vietnam?” or “Is Vietnam cheap?”, it depends on your personal needs.

Best Places to Live in Vietnam

The Vietnam living conditions are quite good, and when you plan a move to Vietnam, you perhaps ask yourself where to spend your time. The following best places to live in Vietnam are voted for by travelers because they converge all the necessary elements of the beautiful natural landscape, good infrastructure, mild climate, etc. They are the busy cities but still have peaceful beauty and the population is not too crowded.

1. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City – one of the best places to live in Vietnam for expats

Despite being overwhelmed by traffic jams, Ho Chi Minh City is actually the best place to live in Vietnam for those visiting there for working, as it presents a lot of work opportunities, in teaching, technology, manufacturing, tourism, etc. The expat community is large and diverse, making it easy for you to find new friends.

In addition, there are several accommodation levels matching any budget, the facilities here are also great for an enjoyable life.

2. Hanoi

Hanoi – An attractive place to live in Vietnam for foreigners

Although Hanoi has less cosmopolitan atmosphere than Ho Chi Minh City, has fewer job opportunities for foreigners than in HCMC and those doing the same job in Hanoi may get less pay than in Ho Chi Minh City, many expats still prefer the capital city for its culture and unique feel.

There are also several accommodation levels matching any budget and rich facilities to ensure you enjoy living here.

3. Da Lat

Da lat – A cool place to live in Vietnam

Although the job opportunities are not as many as those in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city, but blessed with great atmosphere and landscape, Da Lat is also among the best places to live in Vietnam.

Da Lat is known as the miniature Paris, the city in the fog, the city of love, the valley of thousands of flowers, and the city of pine forests… With a cool climate all year round, poetic space as well as many romantic and interesting places, Da Lat is a destination that attracts domestic and foreign tourists to visit or relax.

When arriving here, visitors will feel many unforgettable impressions. Located on Lam Vien plateau, Da Lat has long become an attractive tourist paradise for domestic and foreign tourists. This place is like a giant air conditioner running all year round with moderate heat. The annual average temperature fluctuates around 20 degrees Celsius, so it is very suitable as a resort.

Besides natural beauty, this city is also famous for works imbued with luxurious and noble French architecture. Up to now, Da Lat has preserved and maintained hundreds of old villas.

4. Da Nang

Da Nang – Vietnam

Da Nang is located in the South Central region, which is the center of three world cultural heritages, including the ancient capital of Hue, the ancient town of Hoi An and the My Son Sanctuary. This city has been praised by many domestic and international tourists for its impressive natural scenery and clean living environment.

Da Nang is a city that has created its own brand and identity in many areas during the past years. Many people think that Da Nang is a place worth living for because of a clean environment, low pollution, diverse service models, abundant living standards and stable infrastructure. In 2011, Da Nang won the ASEAN award for “Environmentally Sustainable City”. This is a proud title of the people in Da Nang.

Referring to Da Nang, there is a series of famous tourist destinations that you can not ignore. Visitors will have the opportunity to visit Son Tra peninsula – about 10 km from the city center; Ba Na mountain with rich ecological area about 1500m from the sea level or ancient craft villages such as Cam Ne mat village, Tuy Loan ancient village, Non Nuoc fine art stone village…

5. Nha Trang

Nha Trang – A paradise for expats to live in Vietnam

Nha Trang is known as a paradise with famous tourist attractions and cool climate. Located in the center of Khanh Hoa province, Nha Trang city is also known as “the pearl of the far east” with the bestowed nature gifts such as many beautiful beaches with clear blue water, long stretches of sand, sweet sunshine, as well as spacious and airy roads, no traffic jams, and well-invested infrastructure.

There are many attractive tourist destinations in Nha Trang that visitors should not miss such as the Hon Chong, Vinpearl tourism paradise, and Hon Mun island…

6. Vung Tau

Vung Tau – Beautiful place to live in Vietnam as an expat

Located in the Southeast region, Vung Tau city of Ba Ria – Vung Tau province is a major economic, political and cultural center. Located on the peninsula of the same name, it is 125 km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City with 42 km of coastline. There are primeval forests, rivers and lakes, creating a mild climate and an ideal tourist destination of the southern region.

With a long coastline, Vung Tau owns many beautiful beaches and creates a tourism source for the city. Some famous tourist attractions here should not be missed such as Thich Ca Phat Dai Pagoda, statues of Christ, White Palace, Linh Son Temple or lighthouse located on the top of Nho Mountain.

Job and Career Opportunities for Foreigners to Vietnam

The top three reasons why foreigners move to Vietnam are career advancement, finding new challenges and improving their quality of life, according to HSBC.

Many experts find the working environment in Vietnam to be very favorable. The average annual salary for a foreign expert moving to Vietnam is US $78,750, higher than the global average of US $75,966.

After India, China and Indonesia, Vietnam is the fourth place chosen by many experienced foreign experts as a place to live and work.

Thanks to the colorful culture and friendliness of the Vietnamese people, this place is a great choice for young professionals and people with work experience from around the world. They come here to enjoy their life and get many rewards.

Foreigners who come to live in Vietnam can undertake many jobs, including:

  • Researcher,
  • businessman,
  • chef,
  • teacher,
  • etc.

The income from these jobs is enough for them to have a comfortable life. In general, employment opportunities for foreigners in Vietnam are extremely attractive.

Living in Vietnam will be a great experience if you are well prepared. Hope the above information in the article will be useful for you. Good luck to you!

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