Living expenses in Vietnam will differ depending on an individual’s lifestyle. The largest cost in an expat monthly budget will be housing renting and western foodstuffs. Travel, phone and Internet costs remain low.
If you want to move to Vietnam to save money, or simply to enjoy a high quality of life while spending less than you would back home, you’ll have no trouble finding what you’re looking for – you just may have to really look. The following cost of living in Vietnam will give you an idea of what you’ll be spending.
The majority of expats moving to Vietnam do so on a short-term basis and therefore opt to rent property rather than buy. The cost of rent will vary depending on the standard of housing a person requires as well as the location of a property.
In Hanoi, $500/month will get you a swank one bedroom apartment right in the Hoan Kiem Lake district.
Saigon is more expensive, but only if you require an apartment with lots of nice Western amenities like 24/7 security, covered parking, a pool, laundry on-site, etc. A really nice three-bedroom will probably cost around $1200 month, which could feel cheap or expensive depending on where you’re from back home. But staying outside the city center will save you hundreds of dollars
That being said, I’m a firm believer in the power of big cities for finding budget accommodation – you can find anything if you look hard enough, and it’s true in Saigon as well. A one-bedroom for $550/month shouldn’t be hard to come by, and you can find something even cheaper if you look.
On the other hand, expats will find more and more modern apartment complexes are being built in Vietnam’s bustling cities and as a result, there are more luxury accommodation options available to them. These condominiums and apartments come equipped with a range of facilities such as gyms, laundries and swimming pools. Naturally, rental prices are higher. In case you want to buy an apartment, price per square meter to buy an apartment in the city centre is around $2000 and outside of centre is around $1000.
As a rule of thumb, housing closer to the city centre comes at a premium and housing in outlying suburbs is more affordable.
There are plenty of cost-effective ways to get around Vietnam.
Quite affordable! A taxi from the airport in Ha Noi is $15, but only because the airport is about 30km from the center of town. In Saigon, taxi fare from the airport was only $7. Inner-city rides on moto taxis will range from $2 to $7, depending on how far you’re going. Taxis should start their meters at 11,000VN?/km, which is roughly 50 cents; taxi fares shouldn’t cost you more than $3-4 for an average ride. Expats can feel free to negotiate on motorcycle taxi fares in Vietnam.
Renting or buying a motorbike is another great option for getting around Vietnam. We have motorbike for lease for around 1,500,000-2,500,000 per month. Most expats do not drive in Vietnam due to the chaotic conditions on the city streets. Those that do wish to have a private vehicle will hire a driver with knowledge of the local roads.
Gas prices will always fluctuate, but you can expect to pay between $0.7 and $0,8 per litre. This is one area where Saigon is actually cheaper than Ha Noi!
FOOD AND EATING OUT
Vietnam is a food paradise. Like other Asia countries, Vietnam has a wide range of great local restaurants, food stalls and street vendors that cook up amazing fare while the customer waits.
Sticking to Western food and Western restaurants will burn a hole in an expat’s wallet as many of the food items or ingredients are imported and the government levies high taxes on these goods. Noodle soup is everywhere, and while the ingredients and flavors vary from north to south, the price remains around $2.50 or less. If you haven’t had Pho before, soup may not sound like a real “meal,” but trust me – you’ll be beyond satisfied, and in many places you can ask for a free refill.
Fruit and vegetables from supermarkets are also a lot cheaper unless you cant make a negotiation in the marketplace. Prices are incredibly cheap and we can usually buy all of your vegetables and fruit for the week for under £5. Eggs cost just £0.07, mangos are £0.50 each, carrots are as little as £0.10 and a large five-litre bottle of water is £0.60
Most street foods cost $1 and even a large sandwich will only cost you around $1.50. You would love your coffee–an expensive latte at a top establishment will cost you $2.5, and it goes down from there. A great meal at a certified TripAdvisor restaurant will cost you around $6.
As far as other types of food, I think the most you ever paid for a meal in Vietnam was $8 – and that was actually for Western food! You can certainly spend more at nice restaurants in Ha Noi or Saigon, but it’s easy to spend less than $3/meal if you’re on a budget.
ELECTRICAL GOODS AND TECHNOLOGIES
Expats will find cheap electrical goods, particularly in the markets. However, many of these are inferior copies made in China.
Shopping at department stores and malls is one way to ensure that items are genuine and come with some sort of manufacturer’s guarantee; unfortunately this also means paying a lot more than one would expect to pay in the region, especially with Bangkok a cheap flight away.
Like everywhere else in Southeast Asia, cell phone service is super cheap in Vietnam. You can get a SIM card for under $5 (80,000 VN?), and a data plan for the same amount. Local phone calls and text messages cost around $0.01 per minute or per text.
All in all, you will spend less than $10 on cell phone service – including data – for the entire month you live in Vietnam. I recommend getting Vinaphone service–for nearly $5 a month (70,000VN?) , you can get an 800MB data plan. The merchant you purchase your SIM card from may not know how to activate this, but many others do, so find a SIM card seller who knows how to set you up with the proper data plan.
Internet service for your apartment or house will cost around $14/month.
Cheap if you’re interested in tourist attractions, expensive if you want to sip cocktails on the 50th floor of the Bitexco Tower every night.
It’s difficult to live at any place without a dose of entertainment every now and then. After all, pampering yourself is a way to lead a happy life. Ask Vietnamese people and they will tell you that just sitting on the streets is good entertainment enough and guess what, it’s for free. But if you are looking for something else then you can escape to the cinema for $5 or rent a DVD for around $1.
Overall, the amount of spend on entertainment is totally dependent upon individual interest.
What follows is an estimate of the cost of living in Vietnam, created by taking the median prices from various cities. Those totals also account for what I think you’ll need to spend in order to have an awesome time in Vietnam.
Food and drink: $10/day, or $300/month
Transportation: $100 (includes a one-way flight)
Entertainment: $50 (adjust upward if you love your liquor)
Cost of Living in Vietnam–Grand total: $974
To control your cost of living in Vietnam, you could easily spend less on food if you stick to street food and don’t drink. You could spend less on transportation by walking more and only taking buses between cities.
But hey, spending less than $1000 for your a month? Not too shabby!
Vietnamese Dong; pegged roughly 1:22,400 with the US dollar (14/9/2016)