Obviously, since I’ve created a whole website all about living in Vietnam, I’m a huge fan. In fact, I’m so enthusiastic about the country that I want to share my experience with the world so that everyone out there looking for a change in their life knows what Vietnam has to offer.
Let’s start with the low cost of living because this is one thing that can really change your life. Everyone’s lifestyle and expenses vary, but most expats can live comfortably here for about $1,000 per month. And when I say “comfortably” I mean eating out as often as you like, renting a nice apartment or house, and having plenty of money to travel around the country.
So for many people who are struggling to make ends meet in their home country, a move to Vietnam can really be a life saver. It’s an especially good fit for people with jobs that allow for remote working, such as writing, graphic design, coding etc. And if you have such a job and are earning thousands of dollars a month with a decent lifestyle in your home country, then moving to Vietnam can make you rich!
In general, the purchasing power of your money will increase by approximately three-fold if you’re coming from a “rich” western nation. However, the purchasing power for services that are based on labor will increase as much as ten times, because labor here is so plentiful and cheap. Many new arrivals simply cannot believe the low cost of a hair cut (as low as $2), massage ($5 per hour), or eating out at a local restaurant, which can cost as little as $5 for three or four people to eat a full meal with drinks.
The most expensive items here are appliances and anything technological because the vast majority of it is imported. In most cases, things like computers and smart phones are even slightly more expensive than back home, but this is an exception to the general rule that 99% of all goods and services are MUCH cheaper.
Of course, if you’re thinking about moving here and you don’t have the skill set to work remotely and you aren’t retired with a pension, then you’ll have to have some way to make a living, even with the very low cost. Most expats usually end up working as a teacher in some form or another due to the very high demand for western teachers, particularly English teachers.
While many people may find the idea of teaching to be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before or have heard horror stories from your teacher friends back home, teaching in Vietnam is nothing like in the U.S. or other western countries. Firstly, the students are generally very well behaved and eager to learn. This alone makes a HUGE difference in the overall experience of being a teacher. Secondly, the pay is very good considering the low cost of living.
Most English teachers make between $15-$25 per hour and many of them have literally no teacher credentials other than being a native speaker. However, most aspiring ESL/EFL (English as a second language/English as a foreign language) teachers should have some sort of certificate, which can easily be earned online. In many cases a TEFOL (teaching English as a foreign language) certificate is not necessary if you have a bachelor’s degree either.
On the other hand, if you DO have teacher credentials and are a certified teacher, you can earn quite a lot of money working for an international school here. Salaries vary a great deal depending on your level of experience and the particular school in question, but you can expect to make between $2,000 and $4,000 per month, which is the equivalent, as I mentioned above, of making about three times as much as back home. Not bad for a teacher! Search the site for more information related to working in Vietnam as an expat.
Perhaps the next best reason for many of you to move to Vietnam is the great weather. I personally can’t stand long cold winters, so I really enjoy having been able to skip them altogether for many years now! Vietnam has two seasons, a cool dry season, and a hot rainy season. And while the rain can be a little intense at times, it usually rains hard for a short period of time, maybe around thirty minutes, and then stops. Plus, even though it’s raining outside, it’s still warm! This alone may be a good enough reason to come on over to this side of the world.
Another great reason to move to Vietnam to live is the very good food. Most people, if they are familiar with Vietnamese food at all, will immediately think of “phở” (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) and nothing else. But not only is there a much greater variety of food in Vietnam than phở, but Ho Chi Minh City is starting to show up on the rankings of best food cities in the world. In addition to excellent Vietnamese food from all parts of the country, authentic restaurants are popping up from all over the world, providing a huge range of culinary options for all tastes.
This next one may be a little controversial, but I feel it is my duty to inform the public of the realities of living in Vietnam as an expat or at least my personal experience from having lived here for many years. Another great reason for foreigners to come to Vietnam, at least for men, are the beautiful women. For whatever reason, and perhaps we’ll get into some of the cultural influences in another blog post, Vietnamese women are highly motivated to marry western men.
It’s not a mystery that part of the reason is sometimes money, because there is a perception that even a “poor” western man will be relatively well off or even considered rich compared to the average Vietnamese person (average per capita income is still less than $5,000 per year despite the rapidly developing economy). But due to the patriarchal nature of the culture, Vietnamese women consider a western man as a better spouse because they are likely to treat them better (Vietnamese men can still hit their wives without any legal repercussion). So for those of you looking to find an attractive mate, this may be the place for you!
Finally, those of you that appreciate history or architecture may enjoy Vietnam for the rich blend of French and Chinese influences that have been integrated into Vietnamese building patterns over decades of occupation, first by the Chinese for several hundred years and then by the French up until the 1950s (Vietnam was a French colony called “French Indochina” for about 90 years). While the colonization surely was not pleasant for the locals at the time, it left its mark on modern life in many forms. The largest of these influences is perhaps the markedly French style of building that is still used in addition to the thousands of beautiful buildings still standing that were actually built by the French.
The above are just a few of the many reasons to consider moving to Vietnam and making a life here. Please explore the website and read other blog posts as they come out about many topics related to living in Vietnam including traveling around the country, getting visas and work permits, buying property and investing, health care, and more.