Vietnam at a Glance
Living in Vietnam
Life in Vietnam is rife with traces of different cultures. Especially in Hanoi, traces of French architecture are still prevalent, over half a century after the country won its independence from France. Chinese influence on civilization, government, and other aspects of life in Vietnam can be found as well.
Expats will also experience an ancient culture, which is considered the oldest in East Asia. Centuries after the first Chinese invasion, you can still find traces of the historic achievements of Vietnam’s golden era.
Vietnam has a population of about 92,500,000 people, 31% of them are living in Vietnam’s urban areas. Vietnam’s biggest cities are Ho Chi Minh City (5.98 million) and Hanoi (2.67 million). However, Haiphong and Da Nang are also attractive locations, with an urban population between 800,000 and 1.94 million people.
The biggest ethnic group in Vietnam is the Kinh, making up 85.7% of the population. When it comes to religious affiliation, most people living in Vietnam claim none, although a mixture of Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism remains important. 9.3% are observing Buddhists, while 6.7% are Catholics. The latter is a trace of the French occupation, which brought Catholicism to those living in Vietnam.
Housing in Vietnam
Housing can be a tricky topic, especially if you plan to move to a city. Urban areas like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are often overcrowded, and rents can be rather high. The first step is to decide on the neighborhood you prefer.
Many expats work in industrial or business districts. These, however, often lack decent residential areas or are too crowded for expats living in Vietnam. For that reason, many expatriates choose to settle in suburbs or residential districts, facing long commutes to work.
Expats on the real estate hunt also have to make another choice: Some prefer a higher living standard in typical expat neighborhoods, while others would rather fully immerse themselves in Vietnamese culture.
For example, district 2 and district 7 in Ho Chi Minh City are typical expat neighborhoods. Both offer peaceful developments with large houses and access to green space, which is rare in urban centers. Although these areas will not give you the typical Vietnamese living experience, international schools and nurseries are right around the corner. Thus, if you are planning on living in Vietnam with your family, these areas far away from the chaos of the city center may be the right choice.
Types of Accommodation
As an expatriate living in Vietnam, you can choose between different types of accommodation:
- Serviced apartments make sense for you if you are planning to stay for only a couple of months. They are usually located in high-rise buildings or hotels and come with furniture, a reception, gym, and restaurants. Different services like housekeeping are included in the rent.
- Normal apartments give you more independence and flexibility aside from leaving more money in your wallet. Renting an average apartment, of course, also means that you will have to organize many details such as having utilities connected and dealing with your landlord.
- Houses can be rented as well, with and without furniture. They are the best option if you will be living in Vietnam with your family and need space. Unfortunately, finding a house to rent may be difficult in densely populated areas.
- Renting a room is, naturally, the easiest and cheapest option. This makes sense if you make relatively little money but don’t want to move too far out of town. Rooms often come with a bathroom and shared kitchen. They can be rented furnished and unfurnished.