Expat Guide: Life in Vietnam

If you are looking for a place with a fascinating culture, rich food and a good quality of life at an affordable price, Vietnam is your perfect destination . Many of the expats and digital nomads moving to Southeast Asia choose to live in Vietnam . 

Pros of living in Vietnam

From the beautiful green rice fields to the impressive Mekong River Delta, Vietnam is a country blessed by nature . Here you can enjoy long white sand beaches, street markets, mountainous regions, or small traditional villages.

The territory of Vietnam is very long, so climates vary greatly from the cold mountainous region of the north to a warm tropical climate in Hanoi, the capital. The most iconic sites are quite touristy, but there are many other cities that are just as beautiful and less exploited. Choosing which part of Vietnam you want to live in will depend on your climatic preferences , cultural nuances and the cost of living.

Depending on where you choose to live, you will find a very different environment. For example, there is a large community of digital nomads and entrepreneurs living in Ho Chi Minh City (the most populous city in the country).

Finding a house in Vietnam is quite simple . Just pick a neighborhood and go around a couple of times. You will find many buildings in which rooms or apartments are available for rent, and in the larger cities there are quite a few houses with western comforts.

One of the best things about living in Vietnam is its varied and delicious cuisine . Although you can go to restaurants, it is best to take advantage of the street stalls. In fact, it is almost impossible to avoid street food in Vietnam, especially in cities like Ho Chi Minh, where eating on the street is part of everyday life.

Cons of Living in Vietnam

But as idyllic as living in Vietnam may sound, there are some drawbacks to be aware of.

At the top of the list we find pollution , being  quite normal to see the inhabitants of Vietnam wearing masks to avoid inhalation of fumes. Another problem is the madness of the traffic. The streets are always jammed and the country has one of the highest road death rates in the world.

Foreigners cannot own any land either , but have to rent it to the government. You can buy the house, but not the land, so it is not a place to reside for the long term.

Another drawback of living in Vietnam is that the tap water is not drinkable , so you will have to have reserves of mineral water.

Cost of Living in Vietnam

The cost of living varies by area and is higher in larger cities. Still, by western standards, Vietnam is a very cheap place, even in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh. Most items cost less than half what you would pay in the West, and between 5% and 25% less than what they would cost in many other Southeast Asian countries.

The most expensive city in Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh, followed by Hanoi . 

Keep in mind that the average salary in Vietnam is over 200 USD (for locals) , so the prices of things have to be in line. Local workers with a good position can charge around 500 – 800 USD, which is still quite ridiculous for western customs.

Local food is very cheap , although if you go to more western places the prices will double.

Two people can enjoy a full local-style meal with rice or noodles, meat, vegetables and a couple of beers on tap for less than 10 USD. For comparison, ordering a burger, fries, and a bottle of imported beer at a western-style restaurant can cost around 15 USD.

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