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Living in Vietnam as an Expat: A comprehensive guide to life in Vietnam

23/06/2023 16.507

Living in Vietnam as an expat provides a fascinating glimpse into a charming country. Thanks to its famous landscapes, friendly people, attractive job opportunities, and low cost of living, Vietnam is a promising land for expats.

Living in Vietnam as an expat

According to Ministry of Labor data, the number of foreigners currently living in Vietnam is over 100,000. Living in Vietnam as an expat is relatively comfortable and safe thanks to the pleasant climate, amazing natural landscapes, friendly locals, low living costs, etc. Thus, if you are wondering, "Can foreigners live in Vietnam?", the answer to this question is a resounding yes. Numerous foreigners have even made Vietnam their home.

1. What is it like to live in Vietnam as an Expat?

When moving to a new place, it is natural to encounter some unique challenges, and Vietnam is no exception. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you adapt to local life, navigate job opportunities, and make the most of your expat life in Vietnam.

1.1. Benefits of residing in Vietnam

  • Pleasant weather: Vietnam has a tropical climate with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine throughout the year. It is a great condition for those living in Vietnam as an expat.
  • Safety: Vietnam is generally safe for expats, with low crime rates and a welcoming culture that prioritizes community well-being.
  • Breathtaking landscapes: Vietnam’s stunning natural beauty, from picturesque beaches and lush mountains to serene countryside, offers endless exploration opportunities.
  • Friendly Vietnamese people: You will be touched by the warmth and hospitality of locals. Vietnamese are well-known for their friendliness and welcoming nature towards expats.
  • Diverse food options: From traditional dishes to vibrant street food culture, Vietnam is home to diverse food options that cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences.
  • Coffee haven: You will be amazed by Vietnam's coffee culture, with a plethora of cozy cafes offering rich and flavorful coffee blends that can be found around every corner.
  • Affordable costs of living: Vietnam features a low cost of living compared to many Western countries, allowing expats to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.
  • Latin Alphabet: The Latin alphabet is widely used in signage and communication in Vietnam, making it easier for expats to navigate and understand.
  • Lively expat community: Vibrant communities of expats offer social activities, support networks, and help you feel like you belong while living in Vietnam.
Living in Vietnam as an expat

1.2. Drawbacks of residing in Vietnam

  • Chaotic traffic: When living in Vietnam as an expat, you should prepare for the bustling and chaotic traffic conditions that can be overwhelming and require extra caution.
  • Pollution level: You may encounter issues related to air and environmental pollution, especially in urban areas, which can impact the overall quality of life.
  • Language barrier: Communicating in Vietnamese can be challenging for expats, as Vietnamese is one of the most difficult languages in the world and may affect daily communication.
  • Noisy construction: You can encounter construction projects wherever you go in Vietnam, especially in urban areas. Noise can affect your life. 

>>> Discover the Vietnam weather and the best time to visit the S-shaped country! 

2. What languages are used in Vietnam?

The primary language used in Vietnam is Vietnamese. Those living in Vietnam as an expat may encounter a few challenges as many locals predominantly speak and use the Vietnamese language for daily communication. However, due to the increasing number of expats and tourists in the country, English is also widely spoken, especially in urban areas and popular tourist destinations. 

In larger cities, you may also encounter a mix of languages, such as French, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. To make your living in Vietnam as a foreigner more convenient and easier, you should learn some basic Vietnamese phrases that can be useful for day-to-day interactions. 

Living in Vietnam as an expat

3. Is the cost of living in Vietnam suitable for Expats?

Vietnam stands out as a country that offers a high standard of living at an affordable price. According to the latest 2022 data, living expenses in Vietnam are around 63.5% lower than in the US and 42.8% lower than in the UK. This calculation considers various monthly living expenses and the average cost of apartments in Vietnam.

In essence, Vietnam proves to be an economical place to reside compared to Western nations. Moreover, those living in Vietnam as an expat can anticipate earning a generous salary, particularly in the burgeoning technology and services sectors. The average expat salary in Vietnam reaches around US$78,000/£55,000. Coupled with the low cost of living in Vietnam, this allows expats to enjoy a comfortable and fulfilled lifestyle.

>>> Explore nightlife in Vietnam in 10+ MOST vibrant places

4. Key considerations for Expats living in Vietnam

4.1. The main mode of transportation in Vietnam is motorbikes

Motorbikes, taxis, and buses are the primary modes of Vietnam transport. When you opt to live in Vietnam as an expat, you will quickly notice the bustling streets filled with motorbikes weaving through traffic. If you stay in Vietnam for a short time, you can use taxis or rent motorbikes from rental shops, hotels, and guesthouses for convenience. The rental price typically ranges from 150,000 to 200,000 VND per day.

Living in Vietnam as an expat

4.2. Expats are required to have a work permit if they come to work in Vietnam

When living as an expat in Vietnam and intending to work here, foreigners need a work permit in Vietnam sponsored by their employers, whose company/organization is registered and recognized in Vietnam. A granted work permit would be valid for 2 years. When working in Vietnam without a permit, expats shall be deported from Vietnam.

4.3. Purchasing real estate in Vietnam

According to Vietnamese laws, foreigners are allowed to purchase residential properties in Vietnam. However, they are not permitted to buy land, as it is considered national property. Simply put, one living in Vietnam as an expat can buy houses but not land. Instead, they can lease land for a maximum period of 50 years. 

Living in Vietnam as an expat

4.4. It is mandatory to register temporary residence with the authorities within 12 hours of arrival

This registration process is mandatory and serves as an essential part of immigration procedures. Despite living in Vietnam as an American, a British, or a German, you must register for temporary residence and provide important information to the authorities regarding your stay in the country. Failure to register within the designated timeframe may result in penalties.

5. How to find accommodation in Vietnam?

5.1. Popular areas for Expats working and living in Vietnam

If you are planning to reside in Vietnam and are researching "Where do most expats live in Vietnam", here is an overview. First-time expats usually choose to stay near the major metropolitan areas: Hanoi - Vietnam capital and Ho Chi Minh City. These cities offer a lifestyle akin to that of large Western cities, with abundant amenities like food, entertainment, and transportation. Tay Ho in Hanoi and Binh Thanh in Ho Chi Minh City are popular neighborhoods for English-speaking expats.

Living in Vietnam as an expat

As you settle in, you might be drawn to other cities, especially those on Vietnam's stunning coastline. Da Nang and Nha Trang are two examples of places that offer a more tranquil way of life. Adjusting to life in Vietnam may take expats some time, as it is a lively country, quite different from the atmosphere in your home.

>>>  Explore the TOP 13 Vietnam cities that offer unique cultures and experiences

5.2. Apartment rental prices in Vietnam

Apartment rental prices in Vietnam vary depending on the location, size, and quality of the property. In major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, rental prices tend to be higher compared to smaller towns or rural areas. 

  • On average, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can range from $600 to $900 per month, while a similar apartment outside the city center may cost around $400 to $600 per month.
  • For larger apartments with two or three bedrooms, the prices rarely cost more than $1,000 to $2000 per month, even in the centers of big cities.

Living in Vietnam as an expat is affordable and convenient, with a wide range of reasonably priced properties. Additionally, the majority of apartments available for rent in major cities are fully furnished, which helps reduce additional expenses when relocating.

For an exceptional workation or memorable stay in Vietnam, expats can opt to stay at hotels and resorts across the country. Vinpearl, the premier hotel and resort chain in Vietnam, provides opulent accommodations and exceptional amenities. From indulgent spa experiences to exquisite dining and exciting recreational activities, Vinpearl offers a complete range of conveniences. Elevate your life in Vietnam with a touch of luxury from Vinpearl, ensuring an unforgettable stay and cherished memories.

Living in Vietnam as an expat


Living in Vietnam as an expat

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6. Visa requirements for Expats and Foreigners in Vietnam

Living in Vietnam as an expat requires obtaining the appropriate Vietnam visa. The type of visa needed depends on the intended duration and purpose of the stay. Depending on what business or work foreigners intend to engage in, there are several visa options available. LD visa is the most common form of work visa, specifically designed for foreign employees working for organizations in Vietnam.

It is advisable to consult with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your home country to determine the specific visa requirements and guides on how to get a Vietnamese visa. Planning and familiarizing yourself with the visa process are essential for a smooth transition to living in Vietnam.

Living in Vietnam as an expat

Last but not least, if you are wondering how to live in Vietnam as an expat permanently, you have to undergo 3 levels of application:

  • A work permit: A work permit, usually valid for 2 years, must be obtained at least 2 weeks before the intended employment start date.
  • Temporary residence card: A temporary residence card in Vietnam is a multi-entry visa that remains valid for a duration of 2 to 5 years, enabling expats to live in the country for a specified period. Requirements and duration vary based on individual circumstances.
  • Permanent residence card: The permanent residency permit is available to foreigners residing in Vietnam for 3 years, holding a prior temporary residency permit, and demonstrating stable income. Renewal is required every 10 years.

For details, expats should work with a local law firm to follow the right process and procedures.

7. Job opportunities for Expats living in Vietnam

There are various job opportunities in Vietnam for English speakers, whether you are seeking a side gig, a part-time job, career advancement, or exploring new career paths: 

  • Language teaching: One of the most popular jobs for people living in Vietnam as an expat is being an ESL teacher. In Vietnam, there is a constant demand for native English language speakers in schools, tutoring centers, and even among individual parents. Qualified teachers can earn substantial salaries.
  • Online Freelancer: Being a digital nomad requires possessing marketable skills and maintaining a flexible schedule. There is a wide range of freelance jobs here, including copywriting, proofreading, transcription, translation, data entry, website design, and more.
  • Creative work: Many creative tasks in Vietnam can be done remotely or on a freelance basis. If you have skills in graphic design, Photoshop, NFT creation, Canva, or video editing, you will find plenty of job opportunities.
  • Sales & Representatives: Real estate in Vietnam is a thriving sector, attracting foreign investors and driving growth. Offices and hotels have also seen impressive value growth, resulting in high demand for the positions of sales representatives and property managers, especially in urban and tourist areas. 
Living in Vietnam as an expat

Job opportunities in sectors like business, finance, and marketing may be limited in Vietnam. Currently, there are a few multinational companies with offices in Vietnam. However, more companies are starting to move to Vietnam, particularly those relocating from China. Thus, if the question “Is Vietnam a good place for expats?” is raised, the answer is a resounding yes.

Overall, living in Vietnam as an expat offers a vibrant and culturally rich experience. The low cost of living, coupled with pleasant weather, stunning landscapes, diverse food options, and various job opportunities, make Vietnam an attractive destination. Additionally, the warm hospitality of the locals contributes to a fulfilling expat life. Vietnam is undeniably a good place for expats seeking adventure, growth, and a unique cultural experience. 

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>>> Reduce your expenses by booking voucher, combo, tour to Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang now!

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