How to Retire in Vietnam: The Pros and Cons

Here’s what to consider before moving to Vietnam for retirement.

Retiring in Vietnam: The country has low cost of living, beautiful sceneries, paradise beaches, a safe destination and a country that two can live with an estimated budget of around US$ 1500 per month including accommodation. However, the culture gap and the living standard in Vietnam might be far different from what you already have in Europe and or in America, this way, you might asking if you will find the reality retirement live in Vietnam or not? Here we bring all the questions and answer and let you read about best pros and worst cons of how to retire in Vietnam, what you need, what you prepare and how to move. Read more on what you need to know about retirement in Vietnam.

The Pros

Beautiful landscapes and amazing beaches

Vietnam has placed among the top 10 countries to retire in 2020, thanks to its interesting and diverse landscapes, long history of war, photogenic villages, 3000 KM of beautiful beaches stretched along the country from south to north, delicious healthy food and a very special nature. That is why Vietnam has become a very popular country to travel and to retire. Vietnam is a big and wide country in terms of things to see. The versatile landscape and nature of Vietnam will catch your eyes from the moment you touch down, this is a country where nobody is bored. It offers nature, many places of interest and friendly people. Vietnamese cuisine is also popular. Try eating cheap and delicious food at the street stalls. Retirement is an option in Vietnam. The country is adapted to many young travelers who find the land a great place to explore without need of spending crazy amount of money. There are enough hostels and room prices are low. The general population speaks fair amount of English and transportation is well organized. Also in terms of prices it is notable that Vietnam is very open to retirement. For history buffs, Vietnam has an exciting history of war. Until 1975, the country was divided into two parts, with the north being communist.

The Low Cost of Living & Housing in Vietnam

Life in Vietnam for being retired is considerably cheap, or better say, its reasonable. That is why many expats choose to live and work in Vietnam. Also unlike its neighboring country Thailand, accommodation and life in general is cheaper in Vietnam and is less touristy in compression. If you have a very tight budget, avoid Ho Chi Minh City as much as possible, as the prices are much more expensive than anywhere else in Vietnam. For those who have thought of buying a home in there, prepare the portfolio as the price per square meter of land in Saigon is prohibitive; US$19,000 / m2. So, buying a condo or apartment in this city is not a good idea unless you get a house in a local area and renovate it the way you wish.

How much does it cost to live in Vietnam? Living in Vietnam for a couple costs from US$ 1500 per month, depending, of course, on some factors such as where in Vietnam you are going to live. For example, going to live in Hoi An would cost for less than US$ 1000 per month and would be cheaper than going to live in Hanoi, which would cost from US$ 1000, and which in turn would be cheaper than going to live in Ho Chi Minh city. However, Ho Chi Minh City [Saigon], remains more popular as the life standard is more appealing to western. When is it worth renting a flat in Vietnam? The rent of a studio of 30 square meters would be about US$ 400 in District 1 of Saigon. Renting a room in Saigon costs around US$ 250 in a 3-bedroom apartment. Here you can find rooms for rent in Vietnam and here you can find flats and studios. But in general, rent a two-bedroom apartment cost around US$ 500 and more depending on which area you going to live.

Most apartments and many houses are fully furnished and services. Utilities are usually paid by tenants, although extras like Wi-Fi and cable TV are sometimes included in the rent. Most contracts are for a year, but six-month leases are also common. Upon signing you’ll going to be asked for the one-month cost of rent as a deposit as well as one to three month rent in advance, although this is not common, but some landlords required for the three month rent in advance.

Healthy and variety of Foods

Just like any other Asian country, Vietnam is known for its street foods, you will see street stalls at any corner selling cheap and easy grab and go foods. However, this might not be your daily consideration if you going to live as a retired in Vietnam. Many retired couples hire a domestic helper to which help them to take care of housing and cooking, this way is more cost-saving and you will have your own freshly cooked meal everyday. A domestic helper may or may not be able to speak English, however, you may hire one and provide her to stay with you in one extra room in your apartment, only if you want them 24 hours, this case, they expect a month pay of US$250 to 300 which is about 6500,000 VND. The cost can be lower if you want the helper come and cook and clean few times a week, this is negotiable and you can talk to them directly.

The Cons of being retired in Vietnam

No Retirement Visa schedule

The Retirement visa scheme in Vietnam doesn’t seems to be appealing and helpful like in Thailand and or anywhere else with easy facility for the retirement visa. However, as a retired, all you can do is to apply for Vietnam visa on arrival [easiest and less expensive compare to visa at the embassy], the visa options are from one to three month and you are able to extend them inside the country without the need to leave once they expire. You can also do the visa run by easily fly out and in with your new visa. There were some set rules for some European and American to apply one-year tourist visa, but then, this didn’t take long and the immigration cancel it after a year [this started in 2018 and end in late 2019], still American in 2020 are allowed to apply for a 1-year tourist visa. A very common question is that am I able to rent an apartment with my tourist visa in Vietnam? The answer is yes, there will not be any issue at all.

Vietnam Transportation: How to move around

Motorbikes and scooters lead the roads in Vietnam. They are cheap to own and ride. You can also own a motorbike with your tourist visa but the paper is not entitled under your name, buy them with essential Dang Ky card, commonly known as the blue card and sell them the same way. Anyway, you may own a scooter as cheap as US$ 200, they are easy to ride, fairly cheap to maintain and you can move anywhere around the city and its traffic. For motorbike lovers, you can own as big as Harley Davidson and Triumph Bonneville in Vietnam, to buy them brand new, check with the dealerships in Hanoi and Ho Chi minh City as well as other bigger cities. The newly purchased motorbikes can be under your name but it has its own paper work and headache.
Public transportations are available as well, city buses and metered taxis are everywhere, buses are dirty-cheap and taxis take you to your destination upon request. Also, nowadays, many people use an APP called Grab taxi or motorbike, they are also cheap, cost effective and safe, to use, just install the APP on your smart phone and enjoy.

Alcohol in Vietnam

Drinking alcohol and specifically beer is relatively popular and extremely joyful among the locals. A draft beer in local street foodie cost not more than 5000 VND [~20 cent]. However, imported bottled beer and beverages are also available. Wines too, there a re a handful chain of cigar bars and wine pretty much everywhere too. Vietnamese beer – the most popular of the alcoholic drink. There are local varieties to drink. Mainly beer in Vietnam is sold in 0.33-liter aluminum cans, less often in 0.5 and 0.6 liter bottles, and rarely in gassed bottles

The Cost of Health Care in Vietnam

Quality health care for retirement in Vietnam is widely available in major cities at affordable prices. Patients are flown from all over Vietnam to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for life-saving and one-of-a-kind procedures that can only be performed in one of those big hospitals. The healthcare system in Vietnam for expats and retired combines best medical practice from Eastern and Western techniques. As an expat and retire to Vietnam, you may consider one of the private health insurance before planning to stay here for long time. There are dozens of medical and insurance companies to consult with.

Language in Vietnam

Vietnamese is a ton based language and you will be amazed by how varied one word can be pronounced, however, practicing Vietnamese and learning the language can be a huge help specially in daily life and for the shopping. As mentioned, it’s a tonal language with a lot of dialects that make it even more difficult to understand than it is to speak. Many Vietnamese speak fairly English. However, do not expect to find English to be spoken or understood everywhere you go. You should learn how to count and communicate the basics, direct a driver, order food and ask directions when outing.