The Vietnamese lifestyle maybe nothing new to Australians who grew up anywhere near the metropolitan areas of Sydney, Melbourne, or Canberra; or have been to Footscray and Cabramatta which very much resemble Hanoi on the other side of the ocean. But how is it actually like living in this Southeast Asian Country? What are the perks of life in Vietnam compared to that in Australia? Whether you have an eye on the place as your next destination or are currently in the country, this article provides a broad picture of what life in Vietnam has to offer.
Life quality in Vietnam
Vietnam is one of those rare places in Asia where you can both experience the jam-packed activities of metropolitan life while at the same time being reminiscent of the laid-back Aussie lifestyle. Most cities in Vietnam are bustled with traffic and activities, but Vietnamese people also like spending their day chatting away over a cup of artisan coffee. Coffee is a serious culture in Vietnam. If Australia has been credited with inventing lots of modern coffee types such as flat white and long macchiato, you would be overwhelmed by the Vietnamese coffee culture and its abundant coffee shops.
Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are known for their street food culture. You can grab a meal from a food truck (or rather, food-carts/bikes/motorbikes here in Vietnam) or a street food stall for as cheap as $3.79. And the food scene rivals that of Melbourne and Sydney in its variety and fusions from Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, China and Taiwan.
Bistros/Cafes are popular among office workers and students who look for the casual dining’s standard of quickness and courtesy. These are small restaurants serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting with alcohol, prices around $4-5 per meal. Fining dining or formal dining restaurants are also popular and offer an upscale setting and service while featuring unique menu options.
2. Sports and Leisure
A wide range of sports and recreational activities are available to locals and expatriates in Vietnam. If you are used to the fast-paced football and cricket bats over in Oz, you might find Vietnamese sports well, a little less than sports. Popular sports include soccer, badminton, volleyball, and martial arts. Playgrounds and recreational grounds are plentiful in major cities. You will also find gyms and sports centers in most neighborhoods that cater for a range of indoor activities and classes such as cardio, weightlifting, yoga, zumba, and squash. A typical fitness club subscription in Hanoi/HCMC costs around $21.74 If you are an outdoor person, tennis, volleyball, and badminton are country-wide favorites. And Vietnamese specialize in martial arts: you can join any classes for as low as $5 per session.
The average cost of basic utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage) for a typical household of 4 people in Hanoi and HCMC is $70 monthly. This is significantly lower compared to Australia, where the same cost would be for one person. Likewise, monthly internet subscription of unlimited data is $9.74 in Hanoi and $12 in HCMC, the equivalent of which in Australia costs an average of $52.75.
Vietnam is an attractive tourist destination with over 18 UNESCO recognized World Heritage sites, including 2 natural heritages (Ha Long Bay, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park), 5 cultural heritages (Thang Long Imperial Citadel, Hanoi Citadel, Hue Imperial Citadel, Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Temple), a mixed heritage (Trang An Complex), and other intangible cultural heritage.
If you love the sunshine on the coast of Sydney and East Melbourne, Vietnam does not pale in comparison with its 2,000 miles of coastline plus renowned island destinations. Vietnam has no shortage of stunning beaches, from the shores of the UNESCO-designated Ha Long Bay to the rolling dunes of Mui Ne and the island getaways of Con Dao and Phu Quoc. Da Nang coastal city is popular among expatriates for its high quality of life and refreshing atmosphere. Besides its sunlit coast, 40% of Vietnam is forested and home to some 1534 known species according to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, at least 10500 species of vascular plants, of which 3.4% is protected under IUCN categories I-V.
Some tourist hotspots
Ha Long Bay: The seascape of Ha Long Bay is one of the world’s most spellbinding sea views and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thousands of limestone islands sit within this bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, eroded into jagged pinnacles by wind and water action over millennia.
Ho Chi Minh City: For big city fans, no visit to Vietnam is complete without a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, the commercial hub of the country. The streets at night are buzzed with activities; the dining scene is incredibly cosmopolitan, and the shopping is the best in the country.
Ha Giang: Ha Giang is a rugged, remote, and spectacular rural area. This area features some of the best views in the country, overlooking terraced rice paddies and deep valleys that have been carved into the limestone mountains over thousands of years.
Ninh Binh: This is one of the most popular options for a day trip in Vietnam. The limestone karsts, serpentine rivers, and lush scenery make for perfect holiday photos. Most trips to this area are combined with a visit to the Trang An caves and grottoes.
Hue: This historical city has witnessed the ebbs and flows of Vietnam imperial kingdom. The centerpiece is the Citadel and the enclosed Imperial City overlooking the serene Huong river.
Hoi An: This Southeast Asian trading port that fuses indigenous and foreign cultures gets even more magical at night being lit up by lanterns. This town is also home to hundreds of professional tailors who specialize in Vietnamese traditional craft.
Phu Quoc: This island off the coast near the border with Cambodia has some of the most pristine beaches in the country. Parts of the island have big resorts, but others are secluded, with nothing but palm trees and the waves.
Nha Trang: Set against a stunning backdrop of white sandy beaches and verdant mountains, this coastal city is home to the Champa Kingdom and Buddhist temples. The nightlife is a lot of fun, and there are so many extreme activities for the adrenaline junkies among you such as jet skiing, surfing or even a fly board.
With its expanding campuses, extensive partnerships with overseas institutions, and a vibrant intellectual community, Hanoi has emerged in recent years as an ideal destination for international students looking to study in Vietnam. Overseas students enjoy a wide range of accommodation options both inside and outside the city’s central districts, with the most popular ones including homestay, studio apartment, rental houses, and shared apartment. Student accommodation in Hanoi is estimated 75% lower than in Australia. Average accommodation cost in the central districts of Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Dong Da, Tay Ho, and Long Bien ranges from $357.76 for a 1-bedroom to $751.46 for a 3-bedroom apartment.
For professional workers and entrepreneurs looking for long-term stay in Hanoi, the accommodation outlook in the city appears prospective. Decentralization trend and increased housing developments in the western suburbs may lead to softer rents in the city. According to the 2020 market brief of Savills – an independent real estate consulting firm -, future supply of housing in Hanoi is expected to push westward into districts such as Cau Giay, Nam Tu Liem, Bac Tu Liem, Thanh Xuan, and Ha Dong. The research also projects that by the end of 2021, 20 projects will enter Hanoi, 39% of which are in the Western suburb with some notable projects being Vincom Mega Mall Smart City, Vincom Mega Mall Ocean Park, and Hinode City,
On average, the price for purchase of an apartment in Hanoi is $1460/m2, significantly lower than that in Australia which approximates $5860/m2. And with Australia’s estate prices continuing to grow, Vietnam’s cheaper prices are an attractive offer. Residential property might also be a good investment in Vietnam as its urbanization level still lags behind other SEA countries and Asian peers.
For investors and company-owners looking to establish locations in Vietnam, the average office rent is $20/m2 per month. Reported trend reveals decreasing rent and increasing occupancy, with grade A offices having the strongest occupancy growth following several successful projects launched in 2019. On the other hand, the average monthly costs of prime office occupancy in Australia is $57/m2. Costs in major cities are significantly high, up to $102/m2 in Sydney and $58/m2 in Melbourne and Brisbane. Co-working spaces are also a popular alternative in Vietnam, with prices ranging from $64.72 to $172.58 for a fixed desk per month, significantly cheaper compared to Australia’s average of $544/month for a fixed desk.
Serviced apartments in Hanoi are a potential field with a significant increase in vacancy in recent years. Several locations to keep in mind for business travelers or temporary workers are Thanh Xuan, Cau Giay, Nam Tu Liem, Bac Tu Liem, and Hoang Mai Districts (peripheral areas surrounding central districts). The average rent is $26/m2 per month or approximately $2600 for a three-bedroom apartment. Meanwhile, serviced apartments in Oz are highly concentrated in major business and tourism hubs such as NSW, VIC, and QLD, and average rent ranges from $2,754 to as high as $3,321 in Sydney and Melbourne.
2. Ho Chi Minh City
As Ho Chi Minh City gains reputation as an emerging hub for engineering and telecommunications, more and more students are drawn to the place as a destination for their studying. One of the perks of choosing HCMC as your college destination is, of course, its incredible affordability. Average rent is $393 for a 1-bedroom apartment outside the city center or up to $780 per month for a three-bedroom. Apartments inside the city are on average $548 per month for a one-bedroom and $1,194 for a three-bedroom. Again, this is incredibly cost-saving compared to an apartment in Aus’ major cities, which approximates from $850 to $1,450 and can be as high as $2,054 for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center.
For workers and entrepreneurs who might consider purchasing an apartment either for long-term stay or to invest, the average price for an apartment in HCMC is $1,460/m2. While the prospects for apartments in HCMC are dimmed by the pandemic – supply of buildings decreased 52% to a five-year low -, it still stands as an attractive option compared to apartments in Australia that approximate $5,860/m2.
Office rent in HCMC is slightly higher than that in Hanoi, approximating $32/m2 per month. However, it is projected that by the end of 2022, over 376,00m2 from 24 projects is scheduled for entry. Increasing vacancies will leverage negotiations for tenants. Co-working space is always a back-up alternative with prices ranging from $64.72 to $172.58 for a fixed desk per month.
Being a high-on-the-list destination for FDI, demand for HCMC’s serviced apartments is in the high. However, with the current situation of the pandemic, vacant units of serviced apartment have increased from 1900 in 2019 to 2400 in the first half of 2020. The average rent is $23/m2 per month, significantly lower than that in Australia.
Yes, admittedly, Vietnam lacks the availability and flexibility offered by a wide range of public transportation options in Oz, and traffic etiquette is quite chaotic. However, once you get used to the flexibility of commuting via motorbikes, it is a cost-effective and convenient way of commuting to work. Private motorbike is the most popular mode of transportation in Hanoi, as over 58.5% of the city’s population opts for private motorbike.
Public transportation includes regular buses and BRT, a monthly pass for which is approximately $20 compared to the regular price of Australian monthly pass which is $108. Also, you can always opt for a taxi with an average price per tariff of $0.52. Private cars are another popular alternative in Vietnam given its rapidly developing network of highways.
Even though Vietnam lacks a nation-wide healthcare plan that covers all residents with basic medical care, its current health insurance system is extensive, and the medical cost is only a fraction of that in Australia. Health insurance is deducted from monthly salary, and private insurance companies can provide premium plans from $250 to $1000 for an adult above 30 years of age. The use of private hospitals is a popular choice among expatriates; these provide excellent standard of service and are staffed by doctors from the USA, Korea, Japan, and France, as well as Vietnamese doctors who have trained overseas. They generally accept international health insurance.
Australia foreigners who work in Vietnam under an indefinite or definite term of a labor contract are qualified for compulsory social insurance in Vietnam, which covers maternity, illness, retirement, labor accidents, occupational diseases, and survivorship. The rates of contribution to social insurance are the same for both foreigners and those Vietnamese: 8% for employees and 17.5% for employers.
A premium plan of life insurance in Viet Nam averages $30, much lower than the global average of $595 and Southeast Asia’s average of $74.
Of course, a few bullet points can hardly do justice to a country, but it is hoped that after reading this article you feel more confident knowing the place, which might later inform your future directions and goals. And should further insight and advice be needed, your Viettonkin experts are always ready to help.
READ FURTHER: Why Hongkong investors should invest in Vietnam