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Living in Vietnam can offer a true taste of life in the East. Vietnam is a poor, densely populated country that has historically been associated with war and a punishing centrally planned economy. Today, however, it is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination and its beautiful countryside and beaches are becoming as much renowned as its tragic past.

Although Vietnam is a relatively small country, covering a total area of approximately 329,500 square kilometers, it is home to 54 different ethnic groups. Of these the most significant group if the Kinh (Viet) people, who account for 86% of the total population. It is divided into 58 provinces and there are 5 centrally-controlled municipalities existing at the same level as provinces. These are Hanoi, Hai Phong, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho.

Vietnam as an Expat Destination

Vietnam has become increasingly popular as an expat destination in recent years and it is now recognized as a safe place for foreigners to live and work. Expats are attracted by the nice weather, low cost of living, lively culture and the steady improvements in Vietnam’s infrastructure. Despite the advantages there are still some issues that expats complain about on a regular basis when living in Vietnam. Top of this list is the pollution and it is common to see Vietnam’s residents, expats and locals alike, wearing masks in order to prevent the inhalation of dirty fumes. A further problem is the traffic conditions. The streets are regularly congested with high volumes of cars and bikes and Vietnam has one of the highest road fatality rates in the whole world.

Cost of Living in Vietnam

Vietnam has a comparatively low cost of living and expatriates can live a very comfortable life here with a moderate expenditure. In the 2012 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Hanoi's position remained unchanged on the previous year at 136 in the list of most expensive cities in the world. There is varied accommodation available to suit all budgets, from up-market apartments in major cities through to modest houses in the suburbs.

Expatriates observe a big difference in the price of local food and western food in Vietnam and those who are prepared to eat at the local bars and restaurants will find that they can eat good food out at a very low price. Many western bars and restaurants, however, are much more expensive. As with many Asian cities, beer and spirits are very cheap but wine is expensive.

Our relocation guide to Vietnam contains a comprehensive list of all the costs of living in this Asian city, including groceries, eating and dining out, local and private transport, schools and education and a whole host of other living expenses.


Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer.


Vietnam has a largely tropical climate in the south and monsoonal in north.

Living in Vietnam: Expat Job and Career Opportunities

Work opportunities for expats living in Vietnam are rare but it is not entirely impossible to secure suitable work. There are growing opportunities in fields related to not-for-profit international development work. Websites such as contain details about opportunities in the region. Be aware, however, that jobs in these areas are generally limited to people who have previous experience in this type of work.

In addition to NGO work, computer related skills are also in demand and there are teaching jobs available throughout the region.

Key Facts Every Expat Should Know About Living in Vietnam

Living in Vietnam: City Guides

Expat Info Desk currently has a city guide available for living in Hanoi. This exhaustive guide contains everything you need to know about relocating to this Vietnamese city and will assist you to:

Unlike a book, Expat Info Desk guides are regularly reviewed and updated in order to ensure that the information is accurate and reliable and because the guides are written by real expats who live and work in expat Hanoi, you can be assured that you are accessing the information that you need as written by people who really are in the know.

Your only expat guide to living in Hanoi; Feel at home abroad – Fast!