When I first stepped into Vietnam I decided to stay to teach English for three months to recuperate enough money to keep traveling. Fast forward 3 years, and I’m still here.
Vietnam has too much to offer. It’s certainly not for everyone, but living in a place like Saigon or Hanoi has its perks.
Here are our top 4 reasons for living in Vietnam.
The Positives of Living in Vietnam
Vietnam’s relaxed work culture and the lifestyle of the people here are a far cry from the one offered in the UK, the country where I was born and raised. Watching the people enjoy their afternoon coffee with a bowl of Pho with relative ease is a breath of fresh air compared to what is expected from people in the West.
These opportunities for mini-breaks are made possible with the low living costs here. Back in the UK, I paid 550 gbp (16.5 million VND) a month to live in a small box room which had barely enough room to fit a desk in. For half that money, my Vietnamese home has room to exercise, fit a king-sized bed, a spacious desk and two sofas for guests – with room to spare.
What can you do with all of that extra money?
You could treat yourself to a mini-break to anywhere in Asia. Cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are just a short flight away from their brilliant neighbours. Exotic trips to Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia are just two-three hours away thanks to affordable international flights and buses.
It doesn’t stop with generous rental properties. Food and outdoor activities are so much cheaper. Eating out becomes a regular activity with friends, instead of a weekly treat. And with Saigon’s colourful food culture, you’ll never be stuck for choice.
Nightlife is extremely active, as long as you know the best places (link to Ross’ article here). Bui Vien is Saigon on overdrive. There are plenty of bars that serve beer for under a dollar. Then there are the rooftop bars which are closer to European prices, but offer up fantastic views of the city which looks stunning at night. So, life in Saigon is rarely boring for anyone wanting a fun night out.
The people are what makes Vietnam special though. Few others are as welcoming as the people here. They go out of their way to help you when you need it. When I taught children at an English Centre, they were consistently better-behaved than the ones you would encounter in a British school.
There’s an infectiously positive attitude to learning which motivates you to do better. I’m often invited out by some of my adult students to take part in all sorts of events: from playing cards or going out for drinks.
The Negatives of Living in Vietnam
Living in Vietnam hasn’t always been a bed of roses. There are some downsides that can make a Saigon lifestyle a challenge at times. Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most heavily polluted cities in South East Asia. This often leaves a slight fog in the air and it can be quite detrimental to your health.
So, what can you do about it?
If you’re smart about your stay here, you’ll buy an anti-pollution mask that can filter out most of the pollutants. Pollution sometimes hits its peak in the night time while rubbish is burnt. In more problematic areas, it would be helpful to have an air filter to keep the air clean in your room clean during the night.
The main culprit of all that pollution? Those infamous Saigon/Hanoi traffic jams that will likely plague your morning commutes.
At least people aren’t moving at speeds quick enough to do you much harm. Plenty of drivers take risks on the road, weaving in and out of traffic one-handed with smartphones to their ears. You’ll see crashes which will make you second-guess whether you should even try getting on a bike yourself (though walking on the pavement is hardly safer).
Should all of that scare you away? Not at all. Living in any city has its downsides, and fortunately, most of the ones in Saigon are relatively manageable. It’s a place of opportunity which breathes life into even mundane days. Experience it for yourself with a short trip around.
Still got questions about living in Saigon? Feel free to connect with us using the social media links below or to leave a comment.