Many expats considering living in Vietnam are looking for a place with a fascinating culture, good food, and a quality lifestyle on a budget. Vietnam ticks all of those boxes. While there are benefits to living closer to home, like expat spots in Central America, Southeast Asia has a lure all its own.
Vietnam is generally safe from violent crime, with only petty crimes (like theft) an issue. The local culture and food are the two largest factors for many considering living in Vietnam. From north to south, a huge range of traditional dishes ensure you always have something new to eat. And as a primarily Buddhist nation, Vietnam offers a beautiful contrast of cultural holidays and religious rituals.
Another reason to consider Vietnam is the varied landscape. Vietnam is stunning. It’s a very long nation; the climates vary hugely from a cold, mountainous northern region to a tropical, warm southern climate in the nation’s Mekong Delta. The most iconic sites are quite touristy (think Ha Long Bay), but many other cities are just as pretty but without the huge tourist factor. The best cities for living in Vietnam come down to climate preferences, cultural nuances, and cost of living.
The last factor for many expats is the lifestyle. It’s easy to find a job teaching English, and many expats living there will tell a tale of coming for a year and staying for life. Although transportation isn’t flawless, Vietnam’s mountains, beaches, and forests ensure that expats can take weekend trips to a variety of sights and into a variety of the countries regional cultures.
Cost of Living in Vietnam: $700 to $1,400 per month
How much does it cost to live in Vietnam? $700 on the low end of the range, up to $1,400 for mid-range travelers. This is an average of living costs across many months—you may spend more getting set up, but many expats average $1,000 per month.
Here is a sample cost of living in one of the larger cities (which are expat hubs). It does not include expat health insurance, which can run about $500 a year.
Fast Facts About Living in Vietnam
Currency: Vietnamese Dong; pegged roughly 1 : 23,000 with the US dollar (VND rate here)
Expat Scene: Vietnam is a popular destination with budget backpackers, travel bloggers, digital nomads, and young entrepreneurs. While there are some older expats and families, the majority of expats in Vietnam are in the 18-35 age group.
Average Local Salary: The average monthly salary of a worker in Vietnam is about $148 per month; those in high paying jobs bring home around $500 per month.
Visas: The most common visa for Vietnam is a single-entry three-month visa. However, six-month and twelve-month visas are also available, both single entry and multi-entry. Depending on your plans, it may be worth is to get a twelve-month multi-entry visa. Always ask for the visa to be attached to your passport as there have been instances where travelers with valid visas have been denied entry to Vietnam. Visit the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam website for more information. If you’re visiting on a shorter visa, it can be easier to use an online visa agent.
Pet Friendliness: Bringing pets into Vietnam is quite easy, and while you can hire a service to help with all the paperwork, it is a lot cheaper to do it yourself.
Internet: High-speed internet is very common in large cities like Ho Chi Minh City, especially in cafes, is faster and more reliable than the high-speed internet in Thailand. Smaller towns also have internet access, but it can vary a bit more than in the two largest cities.
Safety: Relatively safe. Petty theft is common, as well as scams involving taxi cabs, charities, and visas. Traffic is intense in big cities and motorcycle accidents are also common; it’s advisable to carry expat insurance with worldwide coverage or solid travel insurance policy that covers such accidents.
Possible Issues: Regional flooding can occur during the rainy season. Foreigners cannot own land in Vietnam; for expats hoping to buy and build a legacy, this is nigh impossible. While you can purchase a dwelling house, you must lease the land from the government.
Water: Tap water is not drinkable. When you live there, you will buy reusable 19-litre jugs for about 10,000 VND. If you’re visiting on a reconnaissance trip, consider a SteriPen or LifeStraw.
Child Friendliness: Similar to Thailand, Vietnam is very child-friendly. It is quite common for restaurant workers to entertain foreign children while parents eat. Don’t be alarmed, they genuinely love children, especially those with foreign features like big blue eyes or beautiful dark skin.
So, are you contemplating moving to Vietnam? Refer to this moving to Vietnam guide now.