Cost-of-Living in Vietnam: It's Really Cheap

Submitted by tomo on October 4, 2010 - 3:26am

UPDATE April 29, 2012! If you have a question about moving to Vietnam, working in Vietnam, or otherwise related to being a Vietnamese expat, please write your question on the forum instead.

UPDATE July 17, 2012! Follow-up article Finding affordable housing in Vietnam - How much should it cost? has been posted
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So there's been a lot of chatter in the Saigon twitter community lately about the average income of Ho Chi Minh City and whether $600/month can get you a decent middle-class lifestyle here.

This is what it costs to live in Saigon, Vietnam's (and all of French Indochina's) largest, busiest city and commercial center:

Housing

For about $200 a month I get a two-story house split into four rooms (plus bathroom) where I live and work. It's not downtown but I can get there in five minutes flat (I've timed it). I've paid less for accommodations but most foreigners pay more, while getting less. Any newcomer to Vietnam should first stay in temporary housing until they can find housing that isn't targeted/price/marketed at foreigners, unless you're an ex-pat whose company pays for housing (this is another reason why ex-pat housing prices are inflated).

On the other hand, many local Vietnamese would consider my house extravagant and expensive. But Vietnamese, like their American counterparts, seem to think that homeownership is a God-given right and normally buy instead of rent anyways. Families that establish themselves here will buy a home even if it means living in the suburbs. For me, given how cheap it is to rent versus buy property in the inner city, it makes no sense to buy. In the US it makes more sense because rent is higher compared to house prices. My rent here wouldn't make a dent in a mortgage payment, but then again most Vietnamese don't take out mortgages. They buy their houses in cash, or gold.

Transportation

Like many developed countries like Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, or most of Europe, car ownership is low here. The government is partly to thank for this because they tax imported cars 100%. Unfortunately, Vietnam's entrance into the WTO will change all that in a few years.

The way to get around in Vietnam is by motorbike. For $800 you can get a brand new Honda that will cost you three dollars to fill up once or twice a week. The streets of Saigon are jampacked with people who can not only afford motorbikes but who can afford fancy ones costing several times as much, up to $10000 after the government made high CC bikes street legal. To get a feel for how large the Vietnamese middle class is, one need only stand by the street and count how many automatic scooters go by.

Alternatively, one can flag one of the numerous taxis clogging the streets for about 50 cents (flag fall) or take a motorbike taxi costing 25 cents for short trips. Bus rides are 10 cents. The city bus takes you as far as the Cambodian border.

So for the price of insurance on a car in the states you can get around pretty economically here.

Food

This is a land where food grows in abundance. So much so that we export to neighboring countries like the Philippines which are in shortage. Food is cheap here.

For $1 you can get a bowl of phở which many people in the North eat for breakfast every day. A set lunch for office workers consisting of a rice dish with meat, some veggies, soup, and some fresh fruit and iced tea will set you back from $1 to $2. Getting a coke or coffee outside could cost you less than 50 cents, the same price as a Vietnamese sandwich. The bread alone, a Frenchi-ie sub-sandwich roll is only 10 cents. Still, many families prefer to save money by cooking at home and shopping at local markets instead of supermarkets. Every person in this city is within walking distance of a market.

A feast with friends outside with a few beers, maybe some seafood, may cost each of you $5. A Heineken is $1. Local beers are cheaper. Homebrewed is even cheaper still, perhaps 10 cents a glass. It's no wonder many foreigners come here and instantly become alcoholics.

P.S. You aren't expected to tip at restaurants.

Cigarettes are not food but they're also cheap. A pack of Marlboros is $1 unless you're the idiot coming up with numbers for Numbeo.com. Local brands are cheaper. You can also buy a single cigarette for a nickel.

Entertainment

Just sitting on the street in Vietnam is entertainment enough. But if you want to escape to the cinema in the afternoon it will cost you $1.50, more if you want to watch Avatar in 3D. A DVD at the shop is 50 cents. And I've always had HBO, Cinemax, and Star Movies at home for free, included in rent.

Taking the bus to the beach will cost you $3. Staying overnight will cost you $10.

Taking a bus into the highlands will cost a few bucks. A bus to Cambodia costs $10. And flights to places like Singapore or Bangkok are about $50 each way.

The End

I'm not a parent but I could easily fit a family of four in my house. I already have maid and laundry service ($36/mo) but in this hypothetical Vietnamese family the mother would stay at home whereas the hypothetical middle-class American mother would be put to work. The kids could go to public school or private school. Private high school in Vietnam averages $90/year and university tuition ranges from $100-$250 or much more for the dumb but wealthy kids.

The middle-class family in Vietnam has choices when getting around, whether by public transportation, private transportation, or hired transportation. They can live in a big city while living in a big home and can spend more time with their children and less time on household duties. They eat well, despite basically starving not many years ago, and have many choices when it comes to protein. And they can choose to send their children to private school, while many of their children even go study abroad. It's not a bad life, really, for $600/month.

And in the smaller cities in Vietnam, life's even cheaper.

UPDATE: Global oil prices have gone up and although the state subsidizes gas prices, they are still higher at the pump compared to before. Still, bus rides on the Saigon Bus are 3000 VND when you buy a 30-ticket book. That means for less than $5 you could ride the bus somewhere every day of the month. Think of it another way: You can ride the bus 7 times for a dollar. So if you take bus transportation into consideration when choosing a place to live you can save considerably.

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UPDATE April 29, 2012! If you have a question about moving to Vietnam, working in Vietnam, or otherwise related to being a Vietnamese expat, please write your question on the forum instead. Link to forum: Living and Working in Vietnam

Read the rest of this article...
Vietkieu expat from Boston! (not verified)

Yes, costs of living in VN are indeed relatively cheap, unless you are hanged out around the expat watering holes of Dong Khoi or Phu My Hung( which costs even more than in the West--I've traveled over 40 countries and lived/worked in a half dozens in Us, Europe, Mideast!) These are some average prices for some every day services and/or items in central District1: all indoor w or even better than Western standards: $1.30 for chicken baggette or basic iced coffee@ Highland coffee franchise(0.50$ for street vendor while $$3+@Starbuck), $2.50 delicious bow of Pho, $2 liter of milk, (0.$50 first Km legit Vinasun or Mailinh taxi, $200/month ($270 with modern Euro furnitures!) brand spanking new 85m2 2 br, 2ba apartment w marble floor, ac, cable, wifi equipped 24/7 security, from realtor who can't find buyers:) feel almost guilty as I am single and can't figure outcries to do w extra room and spaces. As an entrepreneur with several active consulting businesses, I prefer simple living as I have tremendous respect for the hardworking locals (strangely, those from well-to-do families tend to in contrast be lazy, spoiled, arrogant and incompetence!). Yes, petty.crimes do occurre --mostly thief and bags kidnappings:) especially if you're one of those aloof Asian tourists who flaunt their wealth w the latest gizmos at touristy PNL corners! Violent armed muggings w bodily harms are much more prevalent in Qestwrn countries than here as firearms are rare. What ARE dangerous are the suicidal trafficks: are mire like getting creamed crossing the streets than any would be robbers. Districts 1 and 7 are quite safe aside from the cowboys on motorbikes as there are tons of cops from federal provincial to city cops to local safety patrol; police informants nearly at very damn street corners! Hope theseinfos help!

Anonymous (not verified)

As a resource worker from Perth Australia, my fellow college’s and I for some time, spent time in Bali and I asked myself why? Saigon has everything you need on your fortnight down the fares aren’t that more expensive, but is off set by the lower cost living, may be a little further to travel, but offers more than any place to date.

Camilla (not verified)

Hi! I have head it is not possible to rent a house for a for foreigner for 1 year without working permission, is that true? I can get a visa for maximum 3 month, then I have to fly to Bangkok to renew it. Can I then rent a house for 3 month x 4 (renew the contract every 3th month) Hope you want to help me.
Best Camilla Hedetoft

Phat pham (not verified)

If you need a place to stay i will with you I also live in United States but I have I house here if you want please contact Me at 0995611524 don't worry I'm very happy to helping you I definitely not a scam artists

tomo

That's not true. But some places may say they need some paperwork for registering with the police. Usually they just need to make a copy of your passport. If one landlord is giving you trouble, don't bother with them.

Eric (not verified)

I rent a five bedroom house with 3 baths in Go Vap district which is about 20 minutes from district 1. It is a nice new full house. It only cost me 7 million dong or about 350usd.

Eric (not verified)

I rent a five bedroom house with 3 baths in Go Vap district which is about 20 minutes from district 1. It is a nice new full house. It only cost me 7 million dong or about 350usd.

johnfrommelbourne

So are you saying that you are renting a big house as described for around $350 a month. I understand the Go Vap district is some distance away from busy tourist dominated District One but still it sounds very cheap/inexpensive to me. Just like you to confirm again please.

Thankyou

Jan (not verified)

Hi, i came across your page and found that you are really helpful with your advice. Do you know a place where i can rent a apartment fully furnished for price about 350-450 usd in Ho Chi minh district 1 or 2. for 1 bedroom is fine for 2 people living. I will be staying for 3 month not sure where to stay hotel is too expensive. Thanks for your help and i will be waiting for your response.

Thompson (not verified)

Good day, how are you and your day? Please I am planning to visit Vietnam very soon possibly May or June this year and I need so information to prepare for my trip.
I work here in Qatar and i do travel to Asia to get clothing materials (skirts, shirts, polo, jeans, trousers, t-shirts) every six months to send to my country as part time business. I do go to Thailand and India but I was told I will get good material and great price in Vietnam.

Firstly concerning accommodation, is there any place close to where I can get wholesales price for my goods and pay $100 to $150 for a room monthly. I don't wants local place , want where I can enjoy my self and at the same time do business.

Secondly, what is cost of living Incan prepared for 2months, that is Internet, food and transportation( going out 3 times a week to catch fun). Please I will be happy to read from you soon. Thanks

Anonymous (not verified)

Hello,
My family is moving to Vietnam from the United States. My husband will be leaving here Nov 25 2012. We have to school age children, and I am wondering what the monthly costs is for the american schools there. Also, what is the best area to live. We were looking at Vung Tau. My husband will be working for the Ho Tram MGM casino. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Terry

tomo

I'll write deeper about schools for expat children in Vietnam. But expect to pay about $1000 USD/month for each child for the more expensive schools. You can also send your schools to other foreign schools for less, $500/month.

Vung Tau is an oil/gas town, while being a vacation/tourism industry spot for Vietnamese. Otherwise, expats don't generally have much reason to live there rather than the big cities or the better beach areas. But if you're working at Ho Tram then you are limited. Saigon is a 90 minute boat ride away from central Vung Tau though so it's also possible to commute daily (which would suck) or on weekends.

Anonymous (not verified)

What is the average salary of a Software Engineer in Saigon and Medical Insurance etc for foreigner?

Anonymous (not verified)

£13.45. Hope it helps.

Anonymous (not verified)

Hey There. I found your blog using Yahoo. This is a very well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

Jane (not verified)

I left Vietnam 3 decades ago and hesitate to come back because of all the stories that I've heard. I decided to see for myself and discovered south of Saigon is great and saw the amazing face lift of Vietnam. I forgot what it was like back then, but I love the scenery and already want to semi-retire when the time is due. You're very informative and you mentioned that "VIet Kieu" by virtue of being a child of former Vietnamese citizens, but without all the same rights as a Vietnamese citizen. I would like to buy land and I have no closed relatives. As You mentioned it's impractical to get dual citizenship, What would you recommend so I can somehow buy land under my name.

overdragelse bolig skilsmisse (not verified)

Hey! Do you knоω if thеy mаκe anу рlugins to ѕafeguard аgainst hасkers?
I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worκеd
hard οn. Any tips?

Anonymous (not verified)

Hi:
I'm in the process of applying for a Fulbright. I'm looking for a Vietnamese University that has an Art department. Needs to be Vietnamese, so RMIT etc won't work. Any ideas or contacts??

tomo

I know several Vietnamese universities in Saigon with art departments or which are basically art/design schools.

tomo

You should ask on the expat forum: http://www.saigonist.com/forums/living-and-working-vietnam

tomo

You should ask on the expat forum: http://www.saigonist.com/forums/living-and-working-vietnam

Anonymous (not verified)

Hi:
I'm in the process of applying for a Fulbright. I'm looking for a Vietnamese University that has an Art department. Needs to be Vietnamese, so RMIT etc won't work. Any ideas or contacts??

Anonymous (not verified)

Hi:
I'm in the process of applying for a Fulbright. I'm looking for a Vietnamese University that has an Art department. Needs to be Vietnamese, so RMIT etc won't work. Any ideas?

Binh (not verified)

Cheap MY ASS! That's because you White people eat only street foods, so that's why you call it cheap. You White people only order "beers" when you're in dancing halls, so that's why you call it cheap. You White people only stay in hostels in Vietnam, so that's why you call it cheap. We Vietnam order wine and spirits in dancing halls. We Vietnamese only stay in hotels when we travel.

Anonymous (not verified)

you are not only Vietnamese, but you are the only stupid Vietnamese who talked like shit to the White. I am not the White, but I am young Vietnamese with White hair. I love USA, that means I love most of what USA has, including the White...the Black and...Vietnamese, but not and will not include stupid like your discrimmination. I protect USA, protect myself and my love ones...keep that in mind, little brain...

dennis (not verified)

Your talking Bull shit and stop referring to people as white men as it's raciest and it's considered white is good in Vietnam that's why most girls keep themselves covered up to stay as white as they can it's upmarket lol.

Phat pham (not verified)

Ok are you American so we can can be friends my phone number is 0995611524 if you need help I'll be there I'm from Orlando Florida I'm very serious not bullshit or asshole

tomo

You think all the "5 star" hotels in Vietnam are full of non-white people?

And all the fancy French or Japanese or Mexican or Thai or whatever restaurants too?

You think white people fill up "dancing halls"?

You think all thousands of cheap (under $10) hotels in Vietnam are full of white people?

Then you have no idea what you are talking about.

gordon (not verified)

I retired to Costa Rica 7 yrs ago. Fed up with the laws lies and thieves. I have had 3 guys move to HCMC area and lost contact . They moved 4 yrs ago. They said they loved it there compared to this place IE Costa Rica.
Question1. Visa and how long can one stay?
2. Being retired where is the best place as far as medical hospitals and such??
In two months I am traveling there to search look around and hopefully find a place to live. My concerns are safety, medical and keeping as active as I can for as long as I can

any info thank you
gordon.

QUYNH REED (not verified)

I left Viet Nam 21years ago, I think DaNang My Khe Beach is a good place for you to live, it is very peaceful, nice people and not to busy, expensive and crowed people like in HCMC. I like HCMC before 30 years ago, but now it is too much for me. You can live comefortable in DaNang with a presentable price medical and doctor there are very cheap, my brother moved there after living in US for 35 years, he said it doesn't cost much to go to see dr. there. Maybe $10 to $20 buck, he decided to come back there for retirement, he is loved there. Now he is decided to bill a mini hotel in My Khe beach to make some income for living, he said that it is cost him $5 for foods a day for him to live there. He names his hotel is Cali Hotel, coz he miss California so much,if you come there any questions or you need help, I think he won't mind to give you some tips. good luck with your trip, hope you find good place to live and meet good people.

chris (not verified)

marry a VN then apply for PR, its takes forever, then you only need to renew your Visa, ( 90 days ), 753,000 VND, without having to leave VN. I've been doing it for 21 months now.

rak (not verified)

ok am ready do contact me

tomo

You can extend your tourist visa indefinitely although you may need to do visa runs to Cambodia or elsewhere once a year.

For the best hospitals you should be in Saigon, maybe Hanoi.

Please check the forum for more.

esie (not verified)

Hi... Thanks for this site... I'm wondering if I could get a job in vietnam??? and you think how many months will I need to wait to have a job and what kind of job are in demand there???

Quan Phi (not verified)

Hi Esie,
About the job for foreigners, I think the English teacher are very easy, suitable and popular in Vietnam. Vietnam need a lot of English teachers, other one can be Teachers in some international schools, colleages or universities. If you have major in technical or marketing, business management, there are more oppotunities for you.

If you have any question about live, job, culture in Vietnam, contact me directly via yahoo: dongquan1812 or skype: quan1812, or phone: +84 126 468 7799.

About the room for rent, please take a look at my mini hotel website: http://baongochotel.net so you can have one more option to live.

Quan Phi,
Bao Ngoc Hotel.

Anonymous (not verified)

hi.....what job do you want to find...my company from Indonesia need marketing.

'tayo Dada (not verified)

I'm a marketer by profession but needs to knw the product ur company produced to knw if I will be able to market it

Anonymous (not verified)

Please let me know if you still need marketing people. I have a business there and want to relocate my son who has a VERY extensive marketing background.

Thanks

Anonymous (not verified)

Please let me know if you still need marketing people. I have a business there and want to relocate my son who has a VERY extensive marketing background.

Thanks

Anonymous (not verified)

Hi, i am Italian, i speak English, French, Spanish and Mandarin fluently (apart from Italian..of course).
Also a little Indonesian because i lived there for 6months.

I have been in sales to European countries/US and outsourcing manager in China for 15 years (i am now 38).

I am just tired of living in Italy, it's become unbearable.
If you have a serious and interesting job offer, DO contact me, i am open and willing to relocate in most of the countries in S.E. Asia.

Hope to read from you soon.
Thanks in advance,
Fo

tomo

Hi Fo, if you post in http://www.saigonist.com/forums/living-and-working-vietnam maybe some people will see it. There are Italians living and working in Vietnam. Experience working in China will be a big plus for certain large corporations. I also know an outsourcing company that had operations in China and is now growing in Vietnam and they are looking for managers.

tomo

You can post on the forum and I also created a Jobs/Work forum (job board): http://www.saigonist.com/forums/vietnam-job-board

Sabrina (not verified)

Yellowstone is beautiful, and I hope to find the same beauty in Vietnam Once I arrive later this year. I have not tried to secure a position in Vietnam because I will not leave for another 6 months. I'm looking forward to meeting new people and really enjoying the lifestyles of Vietnamese people. I mentioned earlier about securing a job in vietnam but I don't want to secure something so far in advance that the opportunity changes by the time I depart. Should I start applying 3 months or more?

Quan Phi (not verified)

Hi Sabrina,
As my opinion, you can start apply your job in 2month. However, you can find the temporary job such as English teaching or Translator.... when you finding the suitable job with proper salary.

For more infomation, please feel free to contact me or post in this forum to share with other.

Quan Phi,
Skype: quan1812
Yahoo: dongquan1812
Mobile: +84 126 468 7799.
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://baongochotel.net

tomo

Also, you can test out my new job board! http://www.saigonist.com/forums/vietnam-job-board

tomo

You don't need to. http://www.saigonist.com/forums/living-and-working-vietnam

tomo

Hi everyone, because I might not be able to respond to each person's comment and email personally, I have opened up a forum where you can ask questions about anything related to life in Vietnam. I will try to answer the questions but it will be open to anyone.

Notice: If you have a question about moving to Vietnam, working in Vietnam, or otherwise related to being a Vietnamese expat, please write your question on the forum instead. Link to forum: Living and Working in Vietnam

david (not verified)

I am david,i live in united kingdom (manchester city),a single man with a daugther, i
am a Petro-Chemical Engineer...i need a caring, romantic,discipline,
and focus lady who live in any of this countries..(malaysia,hong kong or singapore)from the
ages of (30yrs to 50yrs)..pls any sincere person with these qualities should reach david...on
( [email protected] )...hope to read from you soon....
warm regards...
David.

Jack Canada (not verified)

Hi Tomo,

I'm a Canadian VK who just relocated back to Saigon for work with my wife and two young kids. Obviously the thing on top of my mind is to provide as close to a lifestyle for my two kids as they get in Canada, in terms of education, recreation, sports, etc...

Having said that, is there an organized sports for expat children? and where can I get some info. Also, which international school do you recommend (not necessary Tier 1 but affordable Tier 2 international school). My oldest boy is 4 yrs old, fyi.

thanks

pichan (not verified)

Hi Jack
I'm Bao Chau. I dont know where you come in Vietnam, but if you need to find house, apartment, villa or office in Saigon, please contact with me, i will provide to you many nice properties with best price from the owner. It's free!
Service apartment, apartment: 450$-3000$/month
Villa: 1000$-6000$/month
Office: 10$-40$/month
Please feel free to let's me know if you have any request.
hand phone (084)0908 606 998
mail [email protected]
or [email protected]
Thanks

Quan Phi (not verified)

Hi Jack,
As Tomo said, there is some sports are popular in Vietnam: football, basketball, swimming, volleyball... About the international school, there are more and more international shools are open in Vietnam. You can apply in advance or register when you arrive in Vietnam.

If you need more infomation, please feel free to contact me or post in this forum.

Glad to help you,
Quan Phi,
Skype: quan1812
Yahoo: dongquan1812
Mobile: +84 126 468 7799.
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://baongochotel.net

tomo

Hi Jack,

There are organized sports in Vietnam. The most common and popular sport here of course is football (soccer). Basketball is just now becoming known (see my recent blog post about the Saigon Heat).

As for international schools, there are schools for expats from many countries - Japanese, German, French, and of course English. I really recommend you come here and visit the schools because they can be very different in both curriculum and cost.

I do know at least one expat who sends his son to public school, being taught in Vietnamese (his second language).

Shahrul (not verified)

hey tomo,

how is life at the Quang Ngai province....
can i live decently on a USD$800 budget per mth.

my accom n transport to work is being taken care of.
is it safe for a newbie to buy a motorbike there n ride around the area??
Also, is there any islamic community in that area?? (Dung Quat Refinery)

how about banking?? any international bank???

NgocBao (not verified)

Hi Shahrul
Where are you now? Are you living in Quang Ngai? I am in Quang Ngai now.
Ngoc Bao

NgocBao (not verified)

Hi Shahrul
Where are you now? Are you living in Quang Ngai? I am in Quang Ngai now.
Ngoc Bao

tomo

I don't know any expats living in Quang Ngai province. I think the closest large city would be Da Nang. There may be some small community associated with the work site, but I don't know for sure. There should be branches of Vietnamese banks but I doubt there will be international banks. Once you're there you can ask around for Halal restaurants which may lead to an Islamic community.

Jinri (not verified)

Thank you very much. I'm planning to relocate for few months in HCMC and so I really need a head's up on how to go about my finances.

Quan Phi (not verified)

Hi Jinri,
There are lots of infomation about Vietnamese cost, culture, room, house for rent and job oppoturnities in this site, but if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or post the question in this forum.

Quan Phi,
Skype: quan1812
Yahoo: dongquan1812
Mobile: +84 126 468 7799.
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://baongochotel.net

Khoan Cat (not verified)

Please do not spam! Do you think you a boy scout ? I hate you at this site. You should take care you guest at your hotel.

Sabrina (not verified)

Hi,
I will travel to Vietnam the last of October to look for a job, and I was wondering what I can do to secure a position before I leave. Also, I would like information about how to find a position once I arrive in Vietnam if I have not yet secured a position. I currently have a BA in Fashion Design, but I am willing to teach first and then look for work in my field or administration departments which I have many years of experience. In addition to this, I'm 36 and a black woman from the US. What are some of the obstacles I may face as a single black woman trying to find work in Vietnam. Also, I will have my teaching certificate by this date.

Quan Phi (not verified)

Hi Sabrina,
Glad to hearing that you're going to live in Vietnam.
As your infomation, I thinks your plans is rather good: Teaching in Vietnam first, get familiar with Vietnamese culture and people, after that, you can find other job which suite for your major and have higher salary. Your certificates, degree and experiences can help you get the high salary in VN.

About the obstacles, I think there will be some problem, but not so serious because Vietnammese is friendly, peaceful and open-minded.

You can contact add me over skype: quan1812, or yahoo: dongquan1812 so I can give you more infomation about Vietnam.

Regards,
Quan Phi
[email protected]
Website: http://baongochotel.net

huynh (not verified)

Hi Sabrian,
I am a Vietnamese woman. I'm 29 and working in a securities company, which isn't the same industry with you, but I can help you when once you come to Vietnam such as looking up a cheap hotel or a stable place of resident for long time, showing you the way to integration Vietnam's life... If you would love to make friend with me, please contact me by [email protected] and we will communicate more.
I'm always ready to help any foreigner travel to my country.
See you sooner.

Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Huynh,

Thank you for your offer, I will keep in touch with you as my date gets closer. I will make my move at the end of October, so I'm looking forward to a different way of doing things and enjoying life in another country.

tomo

Hi Sabrina,

I'm not aware of a huge demand for fashion designers beyond the local ones. You can still try to network using LinkedIn to see if any suitable jobs are available with your background.

Teaching English is always an easy option and may be your best bet.

There should be very few problems finding a job specific to being single, black, or a foreign woman in Vietnam if you compare to a married white male. White people might get preference in English language centers though.

If you have your teaching certificate before you come you can try to secure a teaching job before you come.

Sabrina Chatman (not verified)

Thank you for the response. I'm looking for teaching positions now, but I will leave for Vietnam until October, so I hope I'm able to secure something this far in advance.

Dude (not verified)

Hi Sabrina,

As Tomo refer to Linked for finding the jobs, if you come over Vietnam for your right job I guess you should find jobs on local networking career like craigslist in Vietnam. You could go to vietnamworks.com where most of biggest placement in Vietnam for jobs. So, welcome to Vietnam.

Lez (not verified)

Hi, I am a British National and have g/f in HCMC and thinking of moving there to live with her.
I am in my 50's, have many qualifications in Electrical work and also qualified fitness trainer. Is HCMC a safe place to live in and can i find work or get into my own business?
I have read a lot of your comments (appreciate them) and believe accommodation would be readily available, is this true?
I have good knowledge of English language and could, if needed to get by, teach it to VN's for extra income.
Where do i start?
Thank you

Quan Phi (not verified)

Hi Lez,
About the accommodation, You can rent a house, a room or an apartment to live permanently in Vietnam, the price is vary. Refer to my mini hotel for an option: http://baongochotel.net.

About your job, I think you can apply a job in Electrical field but firstable, you must discover the electrical field in Vietnam and adapt your knowledge. However, you can find the teaching English job easily at first.

You should discover the Vietnamese people, food and culture, I think it's easy because you have gf in VN.

Hope you enjoy your living,
Quan Phi,
Skype: quan1812
Yahoo: dongquan1812
Mobile: +84 126 468 7799.
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://baongochotel.net

tomo

1st: Is Ho Chi Minh City safe? Overwhelmingly yes, although you must be very aware of petty theft. But gun crime is nearly unheard of.

2nd: Can you find work in your chosen field? It depends. For electrical work, you would need to have special skills that could be used by Vietnamese contractors building here. Nothing low level. You can always teach English. For retirees from English-speaking countries, Vietnam is an ideal destination because they can enjoy the low cost of living while making decent income teaching English.

3rd: Accommodations are more than readily available. Some 10 million people live in Saigon and most of them aren't from Saigon. There is a significant expat community with many companies vying for their business. If you have a Vietnamese girlfriend, you can cut out the middle man and find housing at Vietnamese prices rather than foreigner prices.

Lez (not verified)

Hi, I am a British National and have g/f in HCMC and thinking of moving there to live with her.
I am in my 50's, have many qualifications in Electrical work and also qualified fitness trainer. Is HCMC a safe place to live in and can i find work or get into my own business?
I have read a lot of your comments (appreciate them) and believe accommodation would be readily available, is this true?
I have good knowledge of English language and could, if needed to get by, teach it to VN's for extra income.
Where do i start?
Thank you

tomo

HCMC is definitely a safe place to live. Just be aware of petty thieves on motorbikes.

You can get into your own business but, as anywhere, success is not guaranteed. You will want to talk to other small business owners (you might go to networking events like AmCham) and find out how to go about it and if it's even a good idea.

You can definitely teach English and make enough to get by even without working full-time.

There's a lot of FDI going into the property sector in Vietnam and they are always looking for people who can help manage their development projects.

Jenny (not verified)

Hi Tomo,
I was born in Vietnam and still do speak the language, but I have been living in the US for over 30 years. I have been back to Vietnam a couple of times to vacation. At this time, my husband is working full time in Vietnam and would like me and our two sons, age 8 and 11 to move there. I have some reservations when I think about the boys' educations. I understand that there are international schools available. How affordable is it and what about the qualify of education? Is is comparable or surpasses the US's. Also I am a Resource Teacher/Vice Principal at an elementary school here and hope to attain a principalship in a year or two. I am torn between giving up my career and moving there to keep our family together. I've seen many listings for teachers online, but I really don't want to go back into the classroom. The economy is booming there, but is there room for a career minded person such as myself, especially in the field of education?

Tony Hung (not verified)

Hi, I am also born in Vietnam and been live in the US for 37 years and come back visit Vietnam a few time. What you should consider are:a/Do you and husband & kids will happy to be there in the first 2 year.b/ do compare a budget (salary income) here and there.c/ health care and education services here and there. d/ food and transportation around city in daily basic. and the last please consideration carefully before move to Vietnam because since you move there and do not like it then take alot of time to adjust to move back to the US. Good luck to you & family.

tomo

Hi Jenny,
To answer your question, yes, there are so-called international schools here. They can range from Vietnamese institutions with 'international' names to schools which were set up in affiliation with schools overseas. The students who study there are often a mix of Vietnamese and children of expats.

The international schools also include Japanese schools, German schools, etc. which will teach in those languages and have curriculums based on those nations' public schools.

Costs can be quite high, similar to state-funded universities in the US. There are a lot of schools and the curriculums and quality would vary a lot.

On careers, there are those here who have great careers. But for people who already have a career, it can be hard to continue your career here right where you left off. Then again, education is a huge and growing industry here.

Good luck.

Jenny (not verified)

Hi Tomo,
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I have been doing research since I wrote to you. I wrote to a few schools and found out there are 38 international schools in Ho Chi Minh City alone. That's incredible! I was offered an interview in Hanoi, but it's not feasible since my husband's job is in the south. I still debate the decision every day.

Adam Nguyen (not verified)

Hello, my name Adam Nguyen..any one can ask me about vietnam, just email me([email protected]) i can answer for you. Live in vietnam is fun, healthy, nice beaches, cheap...food, most of the time people are more outside than inside, not like in america always stay home..Old people live in vietnam is number one to choose..more fun. more beaches, buy a house in country side on my place around less than 10,000us dollars, people cook fresh food for you alldays..a lot people around you..it is a good life to live in vietnam if you are getting old..

Mike (not verified)

I am retired from the US Army and am now receive Social Security. I was in Vietnam in 68-70 and always thought it was such a beautiful country, as was the people. I am now able to travel back there and stay as long as i am permitted. Where do you suggest I stay? Being retired military, how would I be treated? What about health care there. I am interested in the rural areas and taking photographs. Thanks for any info.

Mike

Quan Phi (not verified)

Hi Mike,
I would suggest you to live in southern of Vietnam because the cultural of those are a little bit different.
There are many people like you have permanently living in Vietnam so you should not worry about that.
About your photograph hobby, I'm guarantee that you will wonder if you have time enough to take photos of all beautiful places of VN, not wonder if there is enough beautiful place in VN for you to take photos :)
Average health care quality in VN is not good, because of overload issue, there are a lot more patients than hospital quantity, however, you can have the best services in some internaltional hospital such as FV (like Tomo mentioned)

Hope this can help you some way.

Quan Phi,
Skype: quan1812
Yahoo: dongquan1812
Mobile: +84 126 468 7799.
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://baongochotel.net

tomo

As you know, Vietnam's a long country. Where you stay depends on whether you prefer countryside and open space or living in a city with access to services or maybe a beach. Generally, you might be better off in the southern half of the country which has more options. For rice country, there's the whole Mekong Delta. For something different, the central highlands. In the south, you won't have any problems being retired military and you'll likely meet others such as yourself and get a chance to befriend some people you might have considered the enemy in a previous lifetime.

Healthcare is most advanced in Saigon. You can look up some of the international hospitals such as FV (French Viet).

Hope that helps.
-Tomo

Mike (not verified)

Thanks Tomo, I appreciate your help and look forward to my stay in Vietnam.

Vinny from Canada (not verified)

Hi Tomo,
I was born in Vietnam but came to Canada since 1978 and went back to Vietnam 12 years ago for visit, recently my wife and I thinking about moving back to Ho Chi Minh City in year 2016 to stay there the rest of our lives. I personally think because of the low cost of living and the culture, these two wow factors just fit in our retirement plan. We have a budget of $2,000 CAD per month by the time we move, hope this amount will be enough for us in year 2016 to 2031, any advice? Thanks, Vinny

tomo

Hi Vinny,
I think more Vietnamese overseas should consider retiring in Vietnam. You get far more value for your retirement income here compared to Canada or the US. It only makes sense to live in Canada if you work in Canada and get a proportionately higher salary. But when you are getting paid the same every month no matter what you do or where you live, then Vietnam is a great choice, isn't it?

Right now, $2000 CAD is more or less the same as $2000 USD. If the last time you visited was 12 years ago, then things have developed rapidly in Vietnam and especially in the most modern city of Saigon. I am sure things will continue to change, hopefully improve, for the next few decades. This might also mean that the cost of living will also rise in Vietnam, but it will still be far lower than in Canada.

It's always possible to supplement your retirement income by doing consulting work, teaching, or running a small shop or restaurant. Since you plan on staying for a long time, you may consider buying a house or condo. Either way, your housing costs are shared among you and your wife. You can definitely create a budget that fits well within your $2000/month.

Vinny from Toronto, Canada (not verified)

It was a pleasure to chat with you! You definitely contributed a great deal to my retirement plan; I enjoyed having the chance to learn more about Vietnam and to read in your blog. It seems like you know quite a lot. In particular, you advice on how to live a decent retirement life in Vietnam, I am excited about the challenges of my upcoming move and I really enjoy every second of this process.

Thank you for your time again. Take care! Vinny

Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Tomo,

I came across your blog and it seems like you know quite a lot on how to find a decent, cheap apartment in Ho Chi Minh. My name is Mimi and I'm from Denmark. My boyfriend and I will visit Vietnam for three months, from February to May. We haven't decided how long we want to stay in Ho Chi Minh but since most of family lives in the city, we might spend a month there to start with. However, we would like our own place. 200-300 dollars is our budget. Do you have any advice where to look or who to contact?

Anonymous (not verified)

Dear Mimi;

I read your message and would like to offer a rent of some USD 200/ month for my whole cottage in the suburb of the highland city of Dalat; you can come around Feb.; March of 2012 no problem...Of course, your idea of getting start with a big city like Saigon / Hanoi for one month is understandable and you just start to know Vietnam staying in either city just mentioned. Nevertheless, my advice is to visit Dalat and stay there for 1 or 2 months to feel a bit at home as you are coming from Denmark, a cold country in Northern Europe.
My name is Thoi, I am the humble owner of the cottage and am very interested in helping foreign tourists to get rid of the fear of being ripped-off...
Please write me ( to my email address ) if you are interested in my offer; I will give you more information about the cottage and its photos...
Thanks for reading

Nguyen Huu Thoi ( Vietnam )
[email protected]

Anonymous (not verified)

Dear Mimi;

I read your message and would like to offer a rent of some USD 200/ month for my whole cottage in the suburb of the highland city of Dalat; you can come around Feb.; March of 2012 no problem...Of course, your idea of getting start with a big city like Saigon / Hanoi for one month is understandable and you just start to know Vietnam staying in either city just mentioned. Nevertheless, my advice is to visit Dalat and stay there for 1 or 2 months to feel a bit at home as you are coming from Denmark, a cold country in Northern Europe.
My name is Thoi, I am the humble owner of the cottage and am very interested in helping foreign tourists to get rid of the fear of being ripped-off...
Please write me ( to my email address ) if you are interested in my offer; I will give you more information about the cottage and its photos...
Thanks for reading

Nguyen Huu Thoi ( Vietnam )

tomo

Hi Mimi,

You can always start out in a room-for-rent. This is much like a guesthouse. The alleys of Bui Vien in the backpacker area have them, as well as the quieter areas of Co Bac/Co Giang Streets across Tran Hung Dao. They should be $200/mo for a room, including utilities... it's like a hotel room. From there, you can look for longer term housing.

I will follow this up with a full post on finding housing in Vietnam soon.

Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks Tomo!

Looking forward to read your post on finding housing.

I can see that you do Drupal consulting. One of the reasons why we are going to Vietnam is to look for potential, talented (and cheap) web developers than those in Denmark. Any suggestions where to look? Do you maybe know someone?

Mimi

Quan Phi (not verified)

Hi Mimi,
About the web developer, the quality is rather good and the price is reasonably low, as Vietnam's famous in outsourcing. If you want, I can introduce you to my friends which work in this field..

About the housing, I can suggest you one option: my grand-new mini hotel: htttp://baongochotel.net. The room is fully furnished, clean and tidy; Facilities is new; the location is idea: in the center of Saigon, in the quiet and safety alley and the price is reasonable. Moreover, we're having promotion for Grand Opening and long-staying guest. Please contact me directly to have more detail.

Hope this will help,
Quan Phi,
Skype: quan1812
Yahoo: dongquan1812
Mobile: +84 126 468 7799.
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://baongochotel.net

tomo

Hi Mimi,

Vietnam is a good source for software developers at many different levels of skill and salaries. The government of Vietnam strives to promote outsourcing to Vietnam as a way to really bring in money, as it isn't dependent on import costs like the other industries (manufacturing, textiles, etc.). One major problem with Vietnamese developers is language. I cover this more in my post about the challenges of outsourcing to Vietnam: http://www.saigonist.com/b/software-outsourcing-vietnam-major-challenge

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