Expat Life In Vietnam


Vietnam is continually named one of the top destinations worldwide for expats and is it little wonder why? As a country Vietnam has plenty to offer: a higher quality life for expats and better value for money when it comes to just about everything from food to accommodation.

Learning the Lingo

Vietnamese girlBut moving to a country – especially one as unique as Vietnam – is not without its challenges. Despite the fact that most Vietnamese people are willing to try their best to speak English, a little Vietnamese is essential in order to get by. For anyone coming from the west, learning Vietnamese is always going to be difficult. Like Chinese the language is tonal, which for anyone coming from the Western World is always going to be a stumbling block. That said, plenty of expats learn Vietnamese all the time – as with any language practice makes perfect.


In Vietnam, foreigners are not allowed to own land but are allowed to own property if they are residents (see more about becoming a resident). As with learning the language, buying a property in Vietnam can be challenging, especially when it comes to getting your head around what you are and aren’t allowed to own.

It’s worth spending a little time in the area you hope to buy your property in before delving into any paperwork. Rental prices in Vietnam vary, especially depending on whether you rent independently or through an agency. With an agency, rental prices can be as much as three or four times the price as renting directly from the owner.

Another option is to look after someone else’s home while they’re away. Websites like Trusted Housesitters list people who need house minders to look after their home and pets while they’re away. For someone wanting to settle in Vietnam this can be a great way to get a taste of what life would be like in Vietnam without having to go through all the red tape of buying or renting a place.

Meeting People

As an expat, who you meet in Vietnam will depend a lot on your grasp of the language. If you have mastered the language you will have a world of opportunities to meet Vietnamese people, however if you’re still learning the ropes you’ll find this more difficult.

Birds of a feather flock together as the saying goes and most expats tend to socialise with other expats. Meetup.org is a good place to start looking for expat meetup groups. Larger cities like Hanoi will already have their own meetups and if a meetup group doesn’t exist in the area you’re moving to already then you will need to start it up yourself. A good place to start when it comes to meeting other expats, is on forums such as Expat-Blog which are a daily hangout for most expats living in Vietnam.

David is an expat features writer writing about life in Vietnam, Thailand and throughout Asia.