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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Expats Feel Secure with Their Finances in Vietnam

A low cost of living is highly appreciated by most expats in Vietnam, but getting high-quality healthcare is a struggle.

Vietnam comes 14th out of 53 destinations in the Expat Insider 2023 survey. It even secures 1st place worldwide in the Personal Finance Index. Expats are also happy with the Local Friendliness (5th) and Work & Leisure (6th) in this destination. However, the country ends up among the bottom 10 in both the Quality of Life and the Expat Essentials Indices. Overall, 85% of expats are happy with their life in Vietnam, compared to a global average of 72%. 

Best Choice for Affordable Living

Since the first Expat Insider survey in 2014, Vietnam has always ranked in the top 10 of the Personal Finance Index. It has even landed in 1st place in this index five times, including in 2023. The country also consistently ranks among the best-rated ones for its general cost of living — in 2023, almost four in five expats (77%) are happy with this factor, compared to only 44% globally. Another 71% are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 58% globally). Expats could not agree more that their disposable income is enough to lead a comfortable life in Vietnam (1st).

“What I love the most is the low cost of living and the friendly people here.’”– US American expat

Expats Are Happy with Local Residents

Vietnam also performs quite well in the Ease of Settling In Index (14th). It makes it into the top 10 in the Local Friendliness Subcategory (5th). More than four in five expats (82%) describe its local residents as generally friendly, 15 percentage points more than the global average (67%). This is probably one reason why expats consider it easy to make local friends (9th). The majority of expats also feels welcome in Vietnam (83% vs. 67% globally).

Work-Life Balance Pleases Expats

The destination has an average performance in the Working Abroad Index (29th) but secures a top 10 ranking in the Work & Leisure Subcategory (6th). Almost three-quarters of expats in Vietnam (73%) are happy with their work-life balance (vs. 63% globally). They are also pleased with their personal career opportunities (61%), compared to 57% globally.

On the other hand, the country ends up in the bottom 10 of the Work Culture & Satisfaction Subcategory (44th). Expats are especially disappointed with the lack of support for independent work (47th) and flexibility (49th) in the local business culture.

Digitalization Lags Behind

Expats report more difficulties in the Expat Essentials Index (43rd), especially in the Digital Life (50th) and Admin Topics (48th) Subcategories. Almost half of them (49%) are unhappy with the availability of administrative services online (vs. 21% globally), and only 66% are satisfied with the cashless payment options, much less than the global average (84%). Both obtaining high-speed internet access at home (44th) and having unrestricted access to online services (44th) pose further problems for expats in Vietnam.

They also struggle with opening a local bank account (49th) and the process of getting a visa to move to Vietnam (50th). Well over twice the global average (83% vs. 38% globally) also find it difficult to learn Vietnamese. In fact, not a single expat in Vietnam claims to speak the language very well (vs. 34% globally). On the positive side, 67% of expats are happy with the affordability of housing in Vietnam (vs. 38% globally).

Poor Air Quality & Infrastructure

Vietnam performs worst in the Quality of Life Index (47th). More than half the expats (55%) are unhappy with the air quality, more than triple the global average (17%). And not even three in ten (29%) are happy with the urban environment, compared to 67% globally. About half (49%) also say that the government does not support policies to protect the environment (vs. 17% globally), which might impact the poor availability of green goods and services (52nd) as well.

When it comes to Travel & Transit (44th), Vietnam’s infrastructure for cars ranks in the bottom 10 (48th). Unfortunately, the availability of public transportation is also not great (46th). The Healthcare Subcategory (44th) brings up more pain points for expats. The poor availability of healthcare (46th), and the lack of easy access to all kinds of necessary healthcare (44th) are particular difficulties. Just over half the expats (53%) are happy with the quality of medical care, almost 20 percentage points less than the global average (70%).

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