Cost Of Living in Vietnam
The location and the food are just some of the reasons why many choose to relocate and work in Vietnam. Location-wise, Vietnam is home to numerous natural landscapes which are just a few hours away from the city. You can easily de-stress to a nearby beach, river, mountain, cave, and many more. Phở, bánh mì, cà phê sữa đá, bún thịt nướng, and bún chả are some of the well-known delicious food and drinks that make people stay in Vietnam longer. Aside from these two, the cost of living in Vietnam pulls in more digital nomads, businessmen, and educators to relocate and build or continue their careers in this country.
Living in Vietnam costs a lot less than living in the West. You pay almost just half for food, accommodation, relaxation, shopping, and entertainment. Compared to other neighboring Asian countries, Vietnam still offers a more affordable life.
Prices vary depending on where you choose to live. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are two of the most expensive cities to live in in Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh, a two-bedroom apartment can set you back $400 to $2,000 per month for long-term contracts. The cheaper the rent, the fewer facilities you can enjoy. A $400 rent per month only offers the necessities: an apartment, a parking space, and perhaps a small garden you can walk around in. Consider yourself lucky if you get an apartment at this price with a lift as most do not offer one if the rent isn’t about $500 or so; while a $1000-2000 per month worth of rent offers free usage of the gym, swimming pool, a parking space, a lift, and a much bigger park. The prices also differ depending on which district you opt to stay. Many expats choose to live in either District 2, District 7, or District 1. Each district offers different comfort. If you wish to live near international schools, District 2 is the best place. If you prefer a bit quieter, then best to stay in District 7. If you wish to be near all the happenings, tourist places, and the likes, stay in District 1 where rent can be a bit more affordable compared to the other two districts.
In Hanoi, you can rent a fully-furnished studio apartment right in the city center for $300, which also includes the bills; while a two-bedroom apartment that’s far from the city (about 20-30minutes far by car) can set you back $450, bills excluded. The rent in Hanoi differs depending on the ward as well as the type of building you’ll be living in. A room can get expensive in a newly built apartment or if you are staying in the Tay Ho, Dong Da, Ba Dinh districts, and Hai Ba Trung Ward.
Rent in Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Can Tho are a lot cheaper compared to the two big cities. An apartment at the center of Da Nang city can cost about $400 per month or less. These apartments are the ones near the beach or the riverfront. Luxury apartments in this city usually include a good view of the city, the beach, or the dragon bridge, and can be rented from $500 per month. Almost similar in price, in Nha Trang you can rent an apartment for $400-500 that is about 50m away from the beach and is inclusive of a pool and gym. The farther you are from the beach, the cheaper the rent gets. Go up north and you can rent an apartment for $280-300, but you would need a motorcycle to drive you around.
In Can Tho, $210 is enough to rent a fully furnished two-bedroom apartment. Choose a place in Ninh Kieu district; the location is quite good as it is the city center; you can easily walk to a nearby wet market or supermarket. Some schools or language centers in Can Tho also offer free accommodation or shoulder, if not whole, a percentage of the rent of their teachers.
Lifestyle (Food/night out/gym memberships)
The amount of money you spend per month depends on how you live your life in each city. You can choose to live extravagantly and easily spend $1500 or more per month, or you can choose to live frugally and live a comfortable life spending about only $500 a month. Similar to rent, prices in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are a lot expensive compared to the other aforementioned cities.
In Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, you can spend about $100-200 on groceries per month if you choose to cook at home. However, if you tend to dine out more, be prepared to cash out about $250-300 per month. A typical meal at a local eatery would set you back $1.5-2, fast food meal prices start from $3.5, and meals from Western restaurants start from $10. Whether it’s cooking at home or eating out, prices in Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Can Tho can be about 5 to 10% less.
Friday nights out or weekends around the city, the beach, or the mountains are also cheaper in Vietnam. You can enjoy bia hoi or a mug of beer for just $1.5 on a streetside bar, while high-end bars can charge you at least $5 for a single drink.
If you live in an apartment without a gym, you can buy a membership for a month, three months, six months, or a year. The longer membership you buy, the cheaper it gets. Newly opened and exclusive gym memberships can be availed from $200 per month, while local gyms will ask you about $5-$30 per month.
Vietnam is known not only for its numerous mouth-watering dishes but for its copious motorcycles on the road as well. Driving around on a motorcycle is the norm in Vietnam, but if you aren’t into driving worry, not as public transportation is quite accessible too. Buying motorcycles would seem the easiest route. Buying motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi costs about $400-500 depending on the brand and model, while in Da Nang and other neighboring cities it costs about $100 cheaper. You can also rent motorcycles per day or per month; a typical per day rent costs about $7 to 10, while a per month rent can set you back $40 to $60. Depending on the distance, bus fares start from $0.22 in Ho Chi Minh. In Hanoi, you can also buy a bus pass for $10 per month for all bus lines. Car or motorcycle hailing apps like Grab, Gojek, Be, Vinasun, and Mai Linh are also available around the country which makes transportation a lot easier. Do note that when using these apps, prices vary depending on the time and distance. Peak hours during the day are about 8-9 AM, in the late afternoon 6-8 PM, and late night from 10 PM.
Overall, living in any city in Vietnam is a lot cheaper compared to the cities in the West. Whether you choose to live in Vietnam to retire, to save, to work, or to study, there is a city suitable for your needs and wants. Each city offers different prices for each good and service. You have to remember that you pay higher prices if you wish to buy western products/services, but embracing locally produced goods/services will help you save more, and spend less no matter which city you stay in.
Ho Chi Minh