If it’s your first time to Hanoi, don’t rush to find a place—it may take a few days to get oriented to the city, and to discern the advantages and disadvantages of different areas. The best way to begin searching for a home is with any local or expat friends or colleagues you have in Hanoi. They may be able to recommend an area or an apartment complex to you, and they will probably have a real estate agent they know and trust. With ample space in the market, it’s not necessary to jump into the first place that seems decent.
Rental prices usually reflect market rates, so there’s little room for negotiation there—but often the details of a lease can be discussed—such as the size of the deposit, how often the rent is paid, what the tenant and landlord are each responsible for, and other issues. For example, if you’re paying $2000 for a 3-bedroom house, you can probably get free internet, cable, and water included. Ask your agent to help with these negotiations—providing good service to you helps their future business, and they know it!
Once you’ve decided on a place to live, the rental process is standard and straightforward–all you need is your passport and your signature on the rental contract. Contracts are written in both English and Vietnamese, and your real estate agent can help you with any necessary rewrites or adjustments.
Contracts vary, but for long-term leases most landlords prefer a 6-month or one-year lease. Longer contracts are available if you know you’ll be remaining here and prefer the stability that affords. In addition to a one-month deposit, often rent is paid three months at a time. Maintenance is generally the landlord’s responsibility, and utilities such as electricity and internet are the tenant’s. Most landlords will be flexible with the terms of a contract, so don’t be afraid to ask for anything you want or need.
Relocation clauses are generally unheard of in Hanoi real estate. However, in most cases it’s no problem to have your deposit returned as long as you give reasonable notice—an “escape clause” is written into most contracts, allowing you to opt out with two weeks to a month’s notice. It’s important to remember that any paid rent will not be returned no matter how much time is left when you leave. So if you pay three months in advance and then get transferred to Sydney with only a week’s notice, you could get stuck paying for a couple of months when you will not inhabit the property.
Personal relationships are important in Vietnam. If you’re friendly and polite with your landlord, chances are he or she will be happy to negotiate a relocation clause for you–or even let you off the hook if you are forced to break the terms of your lease.
Prices vary according to size, quality and services. Basic 2-bedroom apartments start at $900/month, and 3- or 4-bedroom luxury apartments can go as high as $3500/month. For $1300/month you can rent a 3-bedroom villa, but it might be slightly cramped with little external space. For a large yard, swimming pool, and elegant interior design expect to pay $3000-4000/month.
You can check the latest prices and listings on the New Hanoian website: http://newhanoian.xemzi.com/en/propertylisting/home