moving to vietnam

Moving to Vietnam

Vietnam Score
0%
Shithole Paradise

What is Vietnam?

moving to vietnam from usa

Vietnam is a sunny, cheap, socialist republic in Southeast Asia

Vietnam lies in Southeast Asia, and is with its massive population of nearly a hundred million the 15th most populous country in the world.

It shares borders with China, Laos and Cambodia. The capital Hanoi lies in the north of the country, while the largest city Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) lies in the south.

Vietnam is probably most known for the prolonged and ill-fated war the United States waged there.

While Vietnam has been an economic shit show for many decades in the 20th century, by the end of the 1980’s economic and political reforms took place which turned Vietnam into a developing country with a bright future.

In fact, it is one of the fastest growing economies of the 21st century and is expected to continue on this trail for years to come.

If you want to take advantage of the rise of a local economic giant, moving to Vietnam is a good option.

Keep in mind that it is a Southeast-Asian developing country, so at the moment local infrastructure is still subpar, and petty crime and corruption are pretty common.

Vietnam is pretty comparable to Thailand and the Philippines in Southeast Asia, and Paraguay in Latin America, regarding the low cost of living and climate.

how is living in vietnam

Requirements for moving to Vietnam

If you look at moving to Vietnam from a visa perspective, you definitely need to apply for a visa.

You can then extend it, but there are certain limits.

Getting residence is technically possible, but you do need to have a familial bond to a Vietnamese citizen, so for most of us, that isn’t an option.

Sadly, if you want to stay in Vietnam long-term, in most cases you’ll need to do “visa-hopping”, leaving the country every few months and then coming back.

Other than that, as is the case with every other nation you can move to if you want to escape the West, the only real requirement for moving to Vietnam is being self-employed with a location independent income.

If you can make money wherever and whenever you want, you are good to go and living in Vietnam becomes an option – provided you can deal with the visa situation.

What is the cost of living in Vietnam?

The cost of living in Vietnam is pretty low, as you can imagine if you’re at all aware of the realities of Southeast Asia.

Apart from Singapore, every country in this region offers a lower cost of living than the West, and if you want to live a good life, you can certainly do so here.

Based on real numbers and personal experience, you can certainly live decently in Vietnam on roughly $1000 per month.

You won’t be living like a king, but if you increase that number to, say, $2000 per month, your will be able to experience a comfortable lifestyle, and you won’t lack anything.

Benefits of living in Vietnam

  • Rising nation

    Vietnam is on the rise, and has been for several decades. This is one of the strongest growing economies in the world, and by living (and possibly investing) there, you can enjoy the rise of a local juggernaut up close

  • Decent climate

    Vietnam doesn’t have the best climate in the world (too humid), but it certainly is pretty sunny and warm. If you’re tired of being cold and miserable in your Western nation, this would certainly be an improvement

  • Reasonably safe

    Vietnam certainly has problems with petty crime and corruption, but “big” crimes like murders or terrorism are very uncommon

  • Low cost of living

    Vietnam is a cheap Southeast-Asian country, so your dollar or euro will go very far. With just an average salary, you can live a very good life here

  • Beautiful nature

    Vietnam is often associated with the thick, dangerous jungles you can see in movies about the Vietnam war (which were often actually shot in the Philippines), but this country has so much more to offer. Great beaches, mountains, rice-fields, ancient heritage sites, and so on

living in vietnam as an expat

downsides of living in vietnam

  • Annoying and lacking visa process

    Apart from the need to get a visa before you travel there, you can also only extend this a few times at best. Visa-hopping will be needed if you want to stay there long-term, unless you marry a Vietnamese girl (which I would advise against, marriage in general is a bad idea)

  • Low English proficiency

    The average Vietnamese citizen does not speak English well, so you’ll often have to get by with sign-language, or just use your phone to translate. However, Vietnam is a rising nation, and more and more emphasis is being placed on education, so in the future this factor will likely improve

  • Corruption and petty crime

    Many layers of government are corrupt, and this could affect you in the form of police offers expecting bribes, and taking advantage of you as a foreigner. Petty crime also occurs, so beware of pick-pockets and other low-life scumbags, such as taxi drivers taking unnecessarily long routes. While you cannot easily avoid the latter, most of these issues can be averted by, basically, not being an idiot. Stay humble, don’t flash your cash, phone or other valuables around, and avoid antagonizing or getting the attention of the local authorities

  • Developing country

    Vietnam is in full development, which is certainly a good thing, but this also means that there are plenty of under-developed aspects here, such as the aforementioned corruption, poor infrastructure, and low level of English proficiency

  • Anti-American sentiments

    If you’re an American, you might encounter some overtly hostile Vietnamese citizens. While this is very stupid on their part (you personally didn’t kill any of their ancestors, I assume?), this is something you’ll have to take into account and take in stride. This isn’t common, but I’ve seen American tourists get dirty looks or subpar treatment from, usually, older Vietnamese people

  • Humid

    Vietnam has a decent climate, but not a great one. It’s way too humid, and combined with a high average temperature this means you’ll be sweating often if you’re out during the day. This gets even worse if you live in the middle of a city like Saigon

moving to Vietnam - by the numbers

Vietnam Score
0%
Shithole Paradise

Climate: 7.1/10

Hours of sunshine (7/10) Temperature (9.5/10) Rainy days (6/10) Humidity (6/10)
6
26 C – 79 F
13
72%

Level of English: 4/10

Low Proficiency

Cost of Living: 9/10

Minimum Annual Wage Average monthly cost single person
$1,437

Taxes on international income: 7/10

Progressive tax system, up to 35% if you are a resident.

If you stay more than 182 days per year, you are considered a tax resident and will get taxed on your worldwide income.

If you are not a tax-resident, you only get taxed 20% on your Vietnam-sourced employment income (which you probably will not have).

This is a better situation than in Western countries, but certainly not ideal.

Economic growth: 9/10

Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 6.5%

Vietnam is a rising power in this region, and many consider it to be one of the most likely nations to be a massive success story in the years to come.

Safety: 8.5/10

Global Terrorism Index (10/10) Intentional homicide rate (9/10) Rape rate (5/10)
0.4
1.5
Probably high, but barely reported, so no accurate numbers

Visa: 6/10

  • Visa (8/10)

    You need one to enter the country, with the possibility for a visa exemption or e-Visa, but only up to a few months. After that, you can renew it, but it costs some money

  • Permanent Residence (5/10)

    Possible, but you need some familial bond to a Vietnamese citizen

  • Citizenship (5/10)

    Possible, but you need to renounce your existing citizenship

how is living in vietnam

How is life for expats in Vietnam?

Life for expats in Vietnam is reasonably good to great.

Even with a moderate income, you can live a relaxed, sunny and usually stress-free life here.

Vietnamese girls are often pretty and interested in foreigners, so that’s certainly a plus.

The visa-situation is far from ideal, but definitely not unmanageable.

It’s quite humid, but not as much as the Philippines. At least it’s sunny and warm nearly every day.

For me personally, the low proficiency in English and the visa-situation put this country lower on my “I want to live there” list, but the fact that Vietnam is a booming economy with currently cheap options to invest should alert you to the possibilities.

Investing in real estate here can net you up to 6.5% of rental yield, with real estate prices increasing every year.

In short, I would use Vietnam as one of your flags, to put an asset in.

And then visit it every so often, to enjoy the fruits this country has to offer.

I would advise against living here full-time, because then you’d also have to pay taxes, and you’d be faced with many of the downsides of the country that you can avoid if you only use it as one of your bases.

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