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Expat Guide Moving And Living In Vietnam

  • 6 months ago
  • Blog
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1.    Is Vietnam affordable for expats and foreigners?

Absolutely. In fact, Vietnam is easily one of the most affordable countries in the world. Expats in Vietnam can expect to earn a staggering salary – averaging $78,000/£55,000 – especially if they are employed in a high-growth industry or multinational company. Furthermore, the cost of living in Vietnam is very low. Even in the cities of Hanoi and Saigon, the average expenses for a small family won’t exceed $1,500/£1,100 per month, including rent and eating out at restaurants. Expat families earning a good salary can therefore expect to live a luxurious, metropolitan lifestyle, with cash left over.

2.    How many expats and foreigners live in Vietnam?

There are about 83,500 expats in Vietnam, according to the Ministry of Labour (2019 data). Total population is 97,040,334.

3.    Where do most expats live in Vietnam?

As a first time expat in Vietnam, you will probably want to stay close to the two major metropolitan areas – Hanoi (pop. 5 million) in the North, and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon; pop. 9 million) in the South. You will probably find life in the major cities fairly similar to that in large Western cities, with plenty of access to food, leisure, entertainment, transport and so on. Two of the most popular neighbourhoods with English-speaking expats include Tay Ho in Hanoi and Binh Thanh in Ho Chi Minh City. Once you are a bit more settled, you might find life in other cities appealing, especially those on Vietnam’s beautiful coast. Da Nang and Nha Trang are popular locations for expats looking for a quieter way of life. However, Vietnam is a noisy place, and you are probably going to face much more noise than back home.

4.    How much does it cost to rent in Vietnam?

As an expat in Vietnam, you will find a fantastic selection of luxurious but reasonably-priced properties. Even in the centre of big cities, spacious two-bedroom apartments rarely cost more than USD1,500 per month to rent. (To put that in perspective, a two-bedroom apartment in downtown San Francisco typically costs around USD5,000 per month. And, if you are willing to live a little further out, you could find rents as low as USD400–600 per month for one-bedroom apartments. Also, many of the apartments for rent in Vietnam’s major cities come fully-furnished, so you won’t need to worry about adding the cost of new furniture to your moving bill. 

5.    How do I get a Vietnamese residency card?

Vietnamese immigration laws are quite strict and there a number of hurdles you will need to clear before you can apply for residency. There are three levels of application you will need to make:

  • A working visa
  • Temporary residency permit
  • Permanent residency permit

To get a working visa, you must first be able to prove that you’re:

  • over 18 years old
    • have a job offer in Vietnam
    • are in good health
    • have no criminal record.

You must also be able to prove that you have the necessary professional experience – either an undergraduate degree or equivalent professional training, or five years’ employment in your industry. A work permit is typically valid for up to 2 years and must be secured at least 2 weeks before the date you are expected to start employment.

To get temporary residency permit. There are many categories of temporary residency permit, some lasting up to five years, but they are much harder to get hold of. In order to get one, you will need to be approved to work in any type of business or be the owner of your own business, or be a professional with government approval to work/study in Vietnam. There is a lot of paperwork, so it’s best to work with a local law firm to make sure you have everything you need for the application.

Finally, the permanent residency permit is for foreigners who have lived in Vietnam for at least 3 years, who previously had a temporary residency permit and who can prove they have had a stable income during their time in Vietnam. Permanent residency cards need to be renewed every 10 years.

How do I find expat jobs in Vietnam?

One of the most popular jobs for expats in Vietnam is language teaching. Many English language schools provide on-the-job training and qualified teachers can make substantial salaries.

If you’re looking to continue a career you’ve started in your home country, in a sector such as business, finance or marketing, you may find job opportunities thin on the ground. There are currently only a handful of multinational companies with offices in Vietnam, although many more companies are starting to move to Vietnam, especially those looking to relocate from China. You may therefore want to see whether your current employer will allow you to transfer to their office in Vietnam, if they have one. However, nothing stops you from trying to find a job abroad using our tips on finding an employment in Vietnam.

Real estate is another up-and-coming sector in Vietnam. The Vietnamese property market has seen exponential growth in recent years – property prices in Saigon increased by 90% between 2017 and 2020 as foreign investors poured into the market. Offices and hotels have also witnessed staggering value growth – meaning there is now huge demand for such jobs as sales representatives and property managers, especially in urban and tourist areas. 

How do I open a bank account as an expat in Vietnam?

Before you apply for a credit card or bank account in Vietnam, you will first need proof that you have the right to settle in Vietnam for longer than 12 months. This means you will probably need at least a temporary residency card and proof of employment, such as a contract of employment. You may also need proof of an address in Vietnam.

Once you have all that, the application is fairly simple – you must follow the bank’s application process, and you should be prepared to pay a small deposit.

If you want to open a business bank account, there are a few extra steps you must follow. You will need to hire a legal representative to counter-sign your application, and you may also need to provide evidence of your business’s legitimacy, such as a registered address in Vietnam, operations licences and evidence of tax returns.

Can expats buy land in Vietnam?

While actual land ownership is not possible at this time for non-Vietnamese, expats living in Vietnam can gain a 50-year lease for land and then build a house upon that land.

Can expats drive a car in Vietnam?

Foreigners are currently not allowed to rent or drive a car in Vietnam without a Vietnamese driver’s license. Motorbikes can be used.

Expat insurance in Vietnam

Expats typically choose to visit private hospitals in Hanoi or Saigon, as these are more likely to be staffed with doctors who speak English or French. For this reason, it is highly recommended you take out private medical insurance, especially if you live outside the urban centres. You may also want to look into adding medical evacuation cover, as you could find certain specialist treatments require you to travel to Bangkok, Singapore or Seoul. Remember, if you are moving from Britain or the EU, your GHIC or EHIC can’t be used in Vietnam.

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