Vietnam has long been known for its vibrant culture, picturesque landscapes, authentic food, and exotic civet coffee. Not to mention the warm smiles and hospitality of the locals, too.
There are so many places to see in Vietnam led by Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in terms of popularity. There is however, one place not many go to, but it is worth checking out: Hoi An.
Where is Hoi An?
Hoi An sits in central Vietnam in the province of Quang Nam Province. Its name literally translates as “Peaceful Meeting Place,” and is home to 120,000 residents. It has been considered as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites since 1999.
Going to this part of the country opens you up to a simple town with nice beaches, cheap shopping, and affordable tailoring.
Insight from an Expat living in Vietnam
Guillaume from Movetoasia share with you his experience after meeting with the expat community living in Hoi An. He digests for you about the expat life, business and job opportunities for expatriates who wish to move to Hoi An.
Information about life in Hoi An
Despite my love for tropical weather, I’d say Hoi An’s dry weather condition can sometimes be unpleasant. Dry season usually starts in February, peaks in April, and continues on until August. On the other hand, wet seasons start in September and go on until January. Depending on where you are, heavy downpours can sometimes lead to unexpected flooding. When deciding a place where you could stay, it may be best to see how far you will be from the river. It also won’t hurt asking the locals since they know best which areas to avoid during heavy outpours.
Given these extreme climate conditions, I would recommend planning your trip around February or March when warm weather can still be enjoyable.
- Cost of Living
Living in Vietnam in general is very affordable. It’s a shopping haven for tourists! Hoi An in particular, is a nice place to live in because everything costs low. Most expenses account for housing, food, clothing, health insurance, transportation, and schooling (for some). All the essentials are pretty easy to attain. It will even be much better as soon as the Hoi An New Town finishes in the near future. Living in this quaint, historic town gives you access to a rich, dramatic site.
Albeit the prevalence of classic, old-school traditions, it doesn’t disregard its foreign counterparts as restaurants, housings and large supermarkets start popping here and there promoting a more convenient lifestyle for everybody. Typically, the town exudes a slow, relaxed environment. At mid-day, it’s normal for people to take their siestas, while in the evening you’d see families gather on the patio and sing karaoke.
Looking for rentals can be easy. Rates can go as low as $250. But you can actually get a brand new 2-bedroom house for $500. This is already ideal because at this rate, it already offers a modern, spacious living with patio or balcony, nice bathrooms, and comfortable rooms.
There is an abundance of fresh, affordable seafood in most Hoi An markets. Produce is also very cheap together with other basic necessities such as clothes and personal toiletries. Local restaurants offer great meals at a little over $1 dollar per dish. There are also western restaurants that charge $3 to $5 per dish. Food in general is savory and enjoyable.
Vietnam is also vegetarian-friendly. There are available vegemite products, and there are abundant vegetable offerings in the local menu.
The main transportation for locals is motorbikes. A tank refill can go from $2 to $3 depending on your motorbike. However, for ex-pats, Grab transport sharing is available, too. And you can go around town in a taxi for about $2.
- Mobile Services and Data
While mobile services including data subscriptions are quite high in Western parts of the world, Hoi An allows you to exploit it at very affordable prices. Unlimited mobile data can cost you about $4 a month for 120G data. Although it’s a quiet and laid back town, internet services are actually very good.
- Bonus Services
Since the cost of living is generally low, hourly rates of maids and drivers are very affordable. You can have a cleaner come in once a week for 4 hours and it will cost you about $6, while a private driver can cost you $15 for half a day of services.
Job opportunities in Hoi An
Hoi An is driven by tourism. Industries that thrive here are mostly in the food and hospitality business. If you’re a hotelier, restaurateur, chef, or anything similar, chances are, you’d be able to find a job suited for your profession.
Other job industries that are in demand are creatives-related such as editing, website design, graphics, social media managing, etc.
Since tourism is the main source of economic activity driven by the influx of tourists in the area, there has been an increasing demand for English tutoring as well.
Traveling to Hoi An is very easy. With a lot of accommodation options, you can choose between staying in a hotel or renting a house. If you’re in for a long stay, you can get in touch with landlords and inquire about 1 or 2-bedroom houses.
Renting here is simple with prices depending on what kind of unit you want to get. Nevertheless, it is still very cheap in general. The quality of houses is also good with the availability of many brand new houses with Western facilities in place. At one point, you might observe that landlords find it normal to drop by unannounced especially if your place contains a prominent praying area. You have to understand that it’s a cultural thing. Vietnamese are calm and religious, and it is manifested through the many altars you would find in your area. These areas are used to pay respect to the gods and to their ancestors. It is best to straighten this out at the onset and express how you feel about maintaining a sense of privacy.
It is normal for rent payments to be paid 3 to 6 months in advance. You can negotiate, but landlords find long-term rents very attractive, and you can enjoy discounts if you intend to stay long.
Is Hoi An a great city to move to ?
Back in the day, I already knew that my heart goes out to traveling and cultural enrichment. There’s just something about immersing yourself in different places with culturally different people that I find appealing and intellectually satisfying. Imagine my excitement when I started living an expatriate life. Inevitably, there are advantages and disadvantages to living this kind of life. Changing homes every now and then is not everybody’s cup of tea. This is true especially when you start raising a family with children going to school. But, truth be told, this kind of lifestyle opens doors for many opportunities. Different places bring out different perspectives. Similarly, relating to different people allows you to become highly sociable and adaptive.
Among all the places that I have been to, I’d say living in Asia is a thrilling experience. Its rich culture, laid back environment and tropical environment is like no other. Living in Vietnam has been a whirlwind of experiences. It has given me so many memories, that I think others should experience it as well. If going to Vietnam, I would recommend to stop going mainstream and head on to undiscovered paths such as Hoi An. This place has so much to offer, and you’d be surprised how you could extremely stretch out your budget and enjoy your time.