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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Vietnam Offers Easy Finances but Poor Administration

Expats find it very easy to get settled in but struggle with the local language and the environment.

Vietnam excels when it comes to Personal Finance, ranking first worldwide in this index. The majority of expats (80%) is happy with the general cost of living, compared to only 45% globally. “There are affordable prices in almost all areas,” reports a Swiss expat.

There is no stress when it comes to their financial situation: about four in five (79%) are satisfied with this factor (vs. 60% globally), and 92% say that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 72% globally). “I live comfortably on my limited income,” shares a US American expat.

A Warm Welcome

Settling in is also a breeze for expats in Vietnam. They rank the country ninth in the Ease of Settling In Index. They greatly enjoy the Local Friendliness (6th) they experience. Most expats (84%) describe the local residents as generally friendly (vs. 66% globally), and 83% find them friendly towards foreign residents in particular (vs. 65% globally). “The warmth, honesty, and friendliness of the people” are what a US American enjoys most about life in Vietnam, while a Malaysian expat highlights “the people and the friendly culture”. Indeed, the local culture is another area where expats are especially pleased — 83% feel welcome in Vietnam (vs. 66% globally), and 71% feel at home there (vs. 62% globally).

Easy to Create a Personal Network

Creating a personal network is certainly important to expat life. Expats rank Vietnam among the top 10 in the Finding Friends Subcategory (7th), saying it is easy to make local friends (54% happy vs. 42% globally). Over two in three (69%) are happy with their social life, compared to 56% globally. Moreover, 63% have a personal support network in Vietnam, e.g., people that they can go to for practical/emotional support (vs. 59% globally).

Well-Paid but Unsatisfying Work

Expats have mixed opinions about Working Abroad (29th) in Vietnam. On the downside, 29% of expats feel that moving to Vietnam has not improved their career prospects (vs. 18% globally). What is more, 14% of expats do not see a purpose in their work (vs. 9% globally), and 45% think that the work culture does not promote independent work and/or flat hierarchies (vs. 28% globally).

While the country places in the bottom 10 for all these factors, it ranks eighth for another one: over two in three expats (68%) feel paid fairly for their work based on their industry, qualifications, and role (vs. 62% globally). The most common fields expats in Vietnam work in are education — including language education — (21%), manufacturing & engineering (15%), and advertising, marketing & communication (13%).

Worrisome Environmental Issues

The country lands among the bottom 10 in the Quality of Life Index (48th), and the Environment & Climate (49th) raises major concerns for expats in Vietnam. Over half of them (53%) are unhappy with the urban environment, over triple the global average (17%). “The noise pollution is terrible,” a French expat reports.

They are also disappointed with the availability of green goods and services (37% unhappy vs. 17% globally) and are especially unhappy with the air quality (64% unsatisfied vs. 19% globally). “The smog is a huge problem,” notes an expat from Italy. “The air is really toxic.” What is more, over half the expats (51%) believe that the government does not support policies to protect the environment (vs. 18% globally), ranking the country 50th for this factor.

The Healthcare System Is Disappointing

Additionally, expats in Vietnam are unsatisfied with their Health & Well-Being (40th). About one in five expats (19%) say that healthcare is generally unavailable (vs. 13% globally), and one in four (25%) reports that it is difficult to access all the kinds of healthcare services that they need (vs. 17% globally). When expats are able to access healthcare services, they find them to be of poor quality — 23% are unhappy with the quality of medical care, compared to 14% globally.

Transit & Language Frustrate Expats

The Travel & Transit Subcategory (42nd) narrowly escapes ranking among the bottom 10. Expats describe the availability of public transportation as especially poor (43% unhappy vs. 17% globally). About one in three (32%) are dissatisfied with the infrastructure for cars, more than double the global average (13%).

Language (47th) is another issue in Vietnam. Four in five expats (80%) report that learning the local language is difficult, compared to only 38% globally. They rate the country last for this factor (52nd). A US American expat says his “inability to learn the language” is something he struggles with most in Vietnam. In fact, 44% do not speak the local language at all, which is more than four times the share of expats saying this about the language of their respective host country (10%).

The Administration Is among the Worst Worldwide

Language is not the only hurdle in the Expat Essentials Index (46th). In the Admin Topics Subcategory, Vietnam ranks 51st overall, only Malta (52nd) does worse. Expats find it difficult to deal with local bureaucracy (66% vs. 39% globally), open a local bank account (41% vs. 21% globally), and get a visa in order to move there (48% vs. 24% globally).

Digital Life (49th) does not perform much better. Expats vote the country last (52nd) for the availability of administrative/government services online — 44% of expats are unhappy with this factor, compared to only 21% globally. Nearly one in four expats (23%) also find it generally difficult to pay without cash (vs. 8% globally).

Further Reading