Why Vietnam ranked among best countries for expats?

As Vietnam has recently been listed among the world’s ten best countries for expatriates in a survey by HSBC, several expats and local experts have shared their thoughts to explain why the Southeast Asian country deserves its spot.

HSBC’s Expat 2019 Global Report, which was released on Thursday, showed that Vietnam is the tenth-best country for expats to live, work and raise a family, while Switzerland, Singapore, and Canada took the top three spots.

The annual survey gathered data from 18,059 overseas workers in 163 locations, and broke the findings into three sub-categories, namely living, career opportunity, and family life.

The respondents considered that the Southeast Asian country offers living fulfillment, ease of settling in, economic stability, and work/life balance better than 157 other locations.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters have interviewed some expats in the country to share their opinions on this topic.

A startup-friendly country

Two Russian expats (R) work in a jewelry shop in Nha Trang City, located in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa. Photo: Dinh Cuong / Tuoi Tre

Micka Chu, a French actress and screenwriter who has lived in Vietnam for three and a half years, said she was not surprised by the news, as she has noticed the country’s rapid development during her stay.

Vietnam is a great place for startup businesses, Chu remarked, adding that establishing one’s own company is not so difficult.

There are a lot of opportunities for young people, she added.

“The weather is nice and the people are very kind and hospitable. They love learning English and working with foreigners,” the expat elaborated.

In order to attract more foreigners, the Vietnamese government should mull over policies that allow expats to purchase and have life-long ownership of local real estate, instead of 50 years according to current regulations, Chu continued.

This move would further provide stability for foreigners to build their lives and businesses in the country.

Vietnam is my destiny’

According Ben Mawdsley, a Canadian national, he first came to Ho Chi Minh City about three and a half years ago.

Mawdsley was working a job in Japan at the time and he just planned to stay in the Vietnamese metropolis for six week to teach English and obtain the TEFT certification, before returning to Japan.

His stay eventually helped him realize that Vietnam is a place where he would live and work for a long time.

The Canadian expat said he was not a fan of fancy places as he is fond of living in a small alley, having a taste of street food, and drinking beer along the sidewalk.

Mawdsley is running his own business and tutoring for some local families, while spending his free time on charitable activities. He offers free English lessons every Sunday and a class on first aid skills every month.

“Vietnam is my destiny,” Mawdsley said, adding that he loves the country and plans to stay here for a long time

An unknown treasure

“I fell in love with Vietnam in 2005 and settled here in 2007,” said Stivi Cooke, who is living in Hoi An City in the central province of Quang Nam.

It is fairly easy to live and work here, Cooke stated, adding that English is widely spoken and there is a huge variety of eateries serving foods from around the world.

“It can take a while to get to know the people and make friends but that is no different to other countries I have lived in,” he elaborated.

“Yet the locals are quite friendly and there’s no obvious xenophobia towards foreigners.”

The cost of living is far better than many places in the world for the comparable standard of living, while the best part is the reduced stress, as there are not too many rules about living and few problems with either the culture or neighbors, the expat continued.

“I think Vietnam is still a relatively unknown treasure,” he remarked.

Friendly and hospitable

According to Phung Anh Tuan, a Ho Chi Minh City-based lawyer, most of his foreign clients said they are happy to receive a lot of job opportunities as well as benefits and assistance to build a convenient and stable life, while the cost of living is relatively low.

Vietnam’s legal system and economic stability over the past years have also made it friendlier and safer for foreigners, Tuan stated.

The most important thing is the hospitality of local people, which wins the hearts of many expats.

Huynh Duc Truong, director of the Department of External Relations in Da Nang City, aired a similar opinion, as many expats in the city believed it is very easy to integrate with the local culture and community.

Meanwhile, Trinh Hoa Binh, a former official at the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, stated that local authorities should also focus on adjusting policies and dealing with existing drawbacks to turn the country into an even more liveable place.

Problems related to traffic safety, food hygiene, social order and security still require to be promptly solved, Binh elaborated.

The business environment still has some “minus points” because of complicated administrative procedures, while the attraction of skilled workers from other countries is rather limited, he added.

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