What’s the Cost of Living in Vietnam?

We’re almost half way through our teaching contracts in Hanoi, Vietnam. In one way it feels like the time here has whizzed by in a blur of lesson planning and noisy classes but in another way it also seems like we’ve been here for much longer than four months. Isn’t that always the case when you stand still in one place for a while?

People Relaxing by the Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam

One of the things that has surprised me most about living in Vietnam is how much money we’ve been able to save so far. This is partly due to the amount of hours we work and a relatively high wage but it’s also down to the fact that it costs so little to live in Hanoi. In contrast to London, where we spent almost £1,700 a month on rent, bills, food and transport, we spend less than half that here in Hanoi.

Dollars and Dong

So, just what is the cost of living in Vietnam?

Here’s a look at exactly how much it costs us to live here in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi; as always, we track our daily expenses using the fantastic Trail Wallet app. The figures below are based on what we spend in a typical month. Note that we arrived in the country with a three-month Vietnam business visa, which you can apply for online.



Apartment Rental

Although we looked at flats in different areas of the city including the expat area Tay Ho, we eventually decided to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Ba Dinh district, very close to the touristy Hoan Kiem Lake. We’re 15 minutes walk from the Old Quarter and it takes around 20 minutes to drive from here to our work. We love our apartment as it is large, light, airy and the building is set away from the city in a quiet area with its own private courtyard. We like living in an area with local people rather than somewhere full of other expats.

Andrew in our Hanoi Apartment

Cooking in our new apartment

Like all apartments in Hanoi, ours is fully-furnished and has air conditioning which doubles as a heating system in the winter. It also came with a TV, microwave, hob and fridge-freezer as well as a lovely corner-sofa, a dining table and chairs, double bed and balcony. There’s access to a communal washer and dryer downstairs and we a have a small drying room in our apartment; there’s secure parking and a 24-hour security guard in our courtyard. We did spend a bit of money kitting out our apartment with a toaster, kettle, extra blankets and towels; the director of our language centre kindly donated a small electric oven to us too.

What's the cost of living in Vietnam?

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When you rent in Hanoi you’ll typically be asked for a deposit equal to one month’s rent and three months’ rent in advance. Water, sewerage, twice-weekly cleaning and internet are included in our rent; we pay the electricity bill separately each month. Everything is run on electric apart from our gas hob which we have a small gas tank for; there was one here when we moved in and it’s still going strong four months later.

Rent£290
Electricity£35

Food

After travelling for nearly a year and a half we were so pleased to finally have a kitchen to cook in when we moved to Hanoi. Although street food here is incredibly cheap and if you wanted to, you could eat out three times a day for as little as £5, we tend to cook a lot in our apartment and have most of our meals in.

Breakfast at Hanoi Social Club

Breakfast at Hanoi Social Club

We buy our fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk and bottled water from the local market which happens to be two minutes away from our apartment; prices are incredibly cheap and we can usually buy all of our vegetables and fruit for the week for under £5. Eggs cost just £0.07, mangos are £0.50 each, carrots are as little as £0.10 and a large five-litre bottle of water is £0.60. We also buy canned goods from FiviMart, which is a cheap Asian supermarket and we splash out at one of the few western stores, L’s Place, for home comforts such as nice bread.

We tend to eat out around twice a week and always make at least one trip to Joma, a delicious western bakery where you can get hot soups, wraps, bagels, cookies and cakes. We’ve also found our favourite Indian, vegetarian and Mexican restaurants and places to get vegetarian Vietnamese food.

Groceries£275
Eating out£75

Transport

I toyed with the idea of buying an electric bike but we finally decided to make do with renting just one motorbike to get around the city. Although I’m less scared of motorbikes than I was when we first arrived in Asia, I still wouldn’t trust myself to ride one so Andrew does all of the driving and takes me to and from work. On days when Andrew can’t take me to work I walk if my school is close enough or get a taxi if it’s right across town; a journey by taxi costs on average around £1-2.

Me ready to go on the motorbike

Our language centre put us in touch with Mr Nguyen, who we rent our motorbike from and whenever there’s a problem with the bike he fixes it for free. We fill up the bike about once a week costing about £2.50 each time. We bought the best quality helmets we could find for about £15 each.

Motorbike hire£29
Fuel£10
Taxis (three times a week)£20

Entertainment and Extras

Most of our time here is spent either teaching or lesson planning but we do try to make time at the weekends to kick back, relax and enjoy the city. We regularly get massages which cost from £3 to £13 and visit the cinema which costs roughly £3 a ticket.

The views on our way to Kim Boi

The views on our way to Kim Boi

We’ve also spent money on occasional trips away to Kim Boi and Cat Ba Island, we’re also planning to go to Sapa for TET.  Although our language centre paid for our work permits, we then had to pay a one-off fee for our annual visas. We’ve also had to stock up on warmer clothes as winter has kicked in.

Massages (two each per month)£24 (£6 each)
Visas£172 (£86 each for 12 month work visa)
Cinema (once a month)£6 (£3 each)
Trip to Kim Boi£12 (£6 accommodation, £3 swimming, £3 fuel)
Clothes, haircuts, shoes£72

Total Monthly Living Costs in Hanoi

I’m amazed by how little it costs to live well here in Hanoi; I work less than half the hours I used to in London yet I earn almost as much and am able to save three quarters of my earnings because living costs are so low. The entertainment costs below do not include the visas and clothes since those aren’t monthly expenses.

Quiet leafy street in Hanoi's Old Quarter

Quiet leafy street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

ExpenseTotalPer person
Accommodation£325£162.50
Food and drink£350£175
Entertainment£42£21
Transport£59£29.50
Total£776£388

Have you ever lived in Hanoi? Do you live abroad? How do the costs of living compare to ‘back home’?



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62 thoughts on “What’s the Cost of Living in Vietnam?

  1. This is a great post, Amy, I’ll share with my FB readers, lots of great information for anyone who might be considering life in Vietnam.

    And, I couldn’t agree more. We’ve been “standing still” for a couple of months while we settled in and while Abi is helping our son with his house. We are heading out again in 2 months and I am itching like crazy to get going! It feels as if we’re in limbo. It’s always nice to return home again, but after a few months it’s time to go! 😉
    Patti recently posted..Belgian Waffles in Belgium ~My Profile

    • Thanks Patti, I hope people find it useful. Yes, we’re at the half way mark of our teaching contracts and I feel so impatient to get through the next half but at the same time I relish the routine we have here. Sigh. Exciting news that you have just two months to go!

      • I am considering teaching ESL in Vietnam. I chose it for a number of reasons, one being the cost of living but the other is it’s long coastline. I didn’t know there were opportunities for 4 month contracts. That’s awesome. Do you have any recommendations of schools to check out or cities to look into? I have my certification to teach English. I am just looking for information from someone who actually did the same thing I want to do. Thanks for the post!!!

        • oh man, I made a grammar error I despise! lol. “it’s” long coastline? Please don’t judge, it’s Friday and I’m at work supposed to be working….yet instead I have a billion windows open researching my future! 🙂

        • Hi Staci, I think you’ll have most luck finding work in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Language Link, Apollo and ILA are all well-known centres or you can try international schools. Since you have a teaching certificate you should find it easy to find a position but it’s worth noting that there’s more work available around the start of the academic year in September. If you have any more questions let me know; our language centre are hiring at the moment so if you’re interested we can put you in touch with them 🙂

    • I know Catherine, our rent alone in the UK was £750 (and that was incredibly cheap for London)!

  2. Phwoar – cute risque photo of Andrew in the kitchen cooking – he he he 🙂

    Did you find it cheaper living here then in Chiang Mai? Currently doing the same in Bangkok and quickly realising we are going to need a lot more long term admin bases.

    So great to have a kitchen eh? For us this was key to keeping our cost down in the Maldives, which we tried to visit on the cheap and think we did ok.

    Nice post guys.
    Stefan Arestis recently posted..How to visit the Maldives on a budget?My Profile

    • Ha Ha Ha! Andrew was unaware that I was snapping that photo while he poached eggs 🙂 It is great to have a kitchen to cook in again, even if the oven is only a tiny electric one. Yes, we do find it cheaper here than we did in Chiang Mai, our apartment there was about £330 a month and we had to pay a lot more for electricity. How does Bangkok compare?

    • They are a dream Rhonda, especially compared to London 🙂 It can get below 10 degrees in winter, which is still mild by British standards but it feels chilly when you’re used to Asian weather.

  3. Hi Amy,

    Would you be able to share how much you are managing to save per month while teaching in Vietnam?

    I’d be really interested to know. When I was teaching in South Korea I managed to save around £5000 in a year FYI!

    Best,

    Steve

    • Hi Steven, we manage to save at least £1,700 each month, last month we actually saved £2,000 although that is with two of us working. I guess South Korea was more expensive to live in?

  4. omg… when we spent time in Hanoi our hotel was a couple of blocks from Joma and we became regulars! yum! Love the cost of living.. makes me want to head back.. NOW 🙂
    Rhonda recently posted..A Year of FriendsMy Profile

    • We love Joma Rhonda, I’m actually quite addicted to their cookies! Even eating from places like these is fairly inexpensive, Vietnam is definitely a great option for saving money 🙂

    • Hi Gilda, yes, when we finish in May we should have enough money saved for at least the rest of the year and our trip to America. Exciting!

  5. OMG so cheeeeeap! Amazing! I’ve been to Hanoi, but I’ve never lived there. I actually prefered Hanoi to Ho-Chi-Minh, but if I were to ever live in Vietnam, I’d live in Da Nang. I thought it was beautiful!
    I’m from Manchester originally, but I lived in London for almost 6 years and I know how ridiculous prices could be, but it was all part of the fun though in those days! Now I live in Berlin as an expat. I live in a huge place, in a gentrified area, and I pretty much do the same sort of stuff that I used to do at “home” and my son goes to an international school, but at a third of the price. You can’t argue with that!
    Thanks for sharing guys. 🙂
    [email protected] The British Berliner recently posted..How I went to 10 incredible countries, and climbed a volcano in 2014. If I can do it, so can you!My Profile

    • Hi Victoria, Berlin sounds like pretty good value for money too! I loved living in London, it’s still my favourite city but we can save money so quickly here and it’s a great experience living and working in a different culture (as I’m sure you know!) Win-win 🙂

    • Thanks Maddie, looking back on it I’m amazed that we managed to save what we did when we lived in London considering how much it cost us to just exist there. I love London and hope to return one day but before we eventually do I think we’ll spend another season teaching in Asia so we can go back with a pot of cash to soften the blow of UK prices!

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  7. Hi Amy, I was just wondering how you found your teaching job? Did you have it lined up before you arrived in Hanoi?
    Thanks

    • Hi Kelly, yes, we did find our jobs before arriving in Hanoi, you can read more about exactly how in this post. Are you thinking of moving to Vietnam? Let me know if you’d like us to put you in touch with our language centre, they are currently recruiting for the summer and September onwards 🙂

      • Hello Amy I read your post and would like to tell you that my husband and I are going there this September to look for work as English teachers…are you still in Vietnam? I hope so, pls pls tell me the name of the language school you are teaching.

        • Hi Cris, thanks for reading. Unfortunately we left Vietnam almost a year ago. The language centre we worked for was called Washington, other popular companies you could try are Apollo, Language Link and ILA. You can also check The New Hanoian website for jobs listings – good luck!

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  9. Hi Amy, thank you for your wealth of information about Vietnam! I am moving to Hanoi from Canada to teach English in a few weeks for ILA, and am going crazy with preparations. I was wondering if I could pick your brain a little, specifically in regards to: a reputable agent to find an apartment to rent, where to rent a motorcycle in Hanoi, items you think are essential to bring to Vietnam (anything you wished you had brought?). Thank you!

    • Hi Melissa, thanks for reading, I remember what preparing to move to Hanoi was like! I will email you the details of the bike and apartment rental companies we used. I would definitely bring at least one pair of jeans and a coat as it does get cold in December/January; knock-off coats can be found in the markets but it difficult to find jeans in my size in Hanoi. You should be able to find anything else you need in Hanoi; we took Marmite with us as it was hard and expensive to get in Vietnam, so if you have any home comforts that you miss when you travel, take them with you. Any more questions, feel free to ask and I will email you the other details 🙂

    • Hi Melissa, I see that you took a job with iLA. I think I am in the same boat as you except I’m going crazy trying to figure out if i should accept the job with iLA or not. Have you settled in okay in Hanoi? What’s it like working for iLA? Any assistance you can provide with weather i should accept the job or not would be highly appreciated.

      • Hi Yasmin, I’m Amy and this is my little blog, I taught in Vietnam last year. I interviewed Melissa about her teaching job in Hanoi in another post you must have read, I can pass your question and email address on to her if you like?

  10. Living in Vietnam sounds so exciting and exotic to me! I have never gone out of Europe and for me the thought of moving to Asia give me thrill and excitement! There’s a chance for me and my boyfriend to move there for a year as we have friends who live there and don’t mind sharing their house with us! Thank you for sharing all this information! It is incredibly helpful! Greets!

    • Hi Pearl, Vietnam is certainly a very exciting place and I would recommend moving there, I’m sure you’d have a great time. Having support from friends who are already there would make the transition much smoother too. Good luck, if you have any questions, let me know 🙂

  11. Hi Amy,

    I’m a native English speaker from Singapore and CELTA qualified. I’ve been accepted to teach in Prague, however, I was made aware that the cost of living there is pretty high and most teachers have to take up some form of supplementary income to survive. Thus, I didn’t end up going there. Currently, I’m looking at other options – countries with low cost of living with the ability to save on earnings.

    Having read your post, I think teaching in Vietnam is a viable option. I’ve a concern regarding teaching in Asian countries – I know for a fact that language schools in China, South Korea, Japan and even Singapore look for Caucasian teachers (to fit the “native-speaker” image) and Asian teachers aren’t deemed as “native-speakers” even though Singapore’s national language is English. I’d like to know if this is a case in Vietnam language schools. How open are they to hire teachers of Asian background?

    I notice that you ride or take a taxi to work. Is this because public transport isn’t easily accessible or reliable?

    • Also, I’d forgotten to ask how high the income tax rate is and if there’s any pension taken out of the pay. Do you know what’s the going rate for an English teacher with a few months experience?

      • Our salary was set out in our contracts and calculated without including tax, which the language centre paid on our behalf, so I’m not exactly sure what the rate is. Most centres seem to offer salaries after tax, so you should get a clear idea of what you’ll earn; we didn’t have any pension payments taken out of our pay but this could vary depending on the company. I had no teaching experience when I moved to Vietnam and I started on $21 an hour after tax, this moved up to $22 once I’d completed the month trial. Again, pay varies from company to company but around $20 per hour seems normal for new teachers. Good luck and let me know if you have more questions.

    • Hi Michelle, thanks for reading and commenting. It sounds like you definitely have the qualifications required for teaching in Vietnam. I do know from doing some recruiting for our old language centre that they only accept candidates from what they call ‘native English-speaking’ countries though; it’s unfortunate that they do seem to value a white face in the classroom. Saying that, there are plenty of other language centres which may be keen to hire you, especially since you have CELTA training; I would email your CV with photo to companies like Apollo, ILA and Language Link to see what they say. Public transport in Hanoi consists of some infrequent and unreliable local buses, which I avoided since Andrew could give me a lift on the motorbike or I could catch a cheap taxi instead. I do know teachers who have used the buses though, so it’s an option if you have lots of time to spare.

  12. Hi Amy. Such an insightful post. I’m from South Africa and want to go over to Vietnam possibly April next year. I will follow your advice you have given 🙂 my first concern is that I have read one needs to have enough money to tide over till the first pay check. How much do you think I need to save before I go over? (In USD)

    • Hi Julia, thanks for reading and commenting. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding work in Vietnam; we had a few South African teachers at our language centre. Yes, it is good to have some savings to tide you over when you arrive; if you rent an apartment straight away you’ll normally have to pay three months rent plus deposit in advance. Food, transport and other living costs are pretty cheap in Vietnam, but I’d recommend having at least $2,000 when you arrive. Good luck and if you have any more questions, please let me know 🙂

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  15. hi,

    I have an apartment for rent in old quarter. do you know if anyone interest in looking for place in old quarters? price for 500 USD. The apartment is 50m2

    • Hi, I’m no longer in Vietnam, so I don’t know anyone looking for an apartment. Sorry I cannot help.

  16. Hi Amy,

    Thanks for the info, it’s great! I’m surprised that your groceries come to £275 for the month, though. Especially if your weekly fruit and vegies were about £5 from the market. How did the rest add up?

    My partner and I are thinking about spending a year in Vietnam, and our groceries are currently only £200 a month in London, so I was hoping or expecting it would be a bit less than that…

    • Hi Kate, thanks for reading and commenting. Looking back on it, I’m not sure how we spent quite so much either! The short answer is that we didn’t really eat a lot of Vietnamese food and we spent a lot on over-priced western luxuries like cheese and imported goods like Marmite! We felt we needed these things to stay sane 🙂 If you can do without those kinds of things and like eating local food than you’ll be able to save a lot more. Have fun in Vietnam! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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  19. This was very helpful! Especially knowing you were able to find a place with a garden. I am considering moving there next year (early 2017) and am taking my cat along, so the apartment hunting is my biggest concern (finding enough space for him). Were you able to find the place before you got there or after you arrived? Thank you!

    • Hi Chelsea, sounds like you have an exciting adventure ahead! You may have to branch out into Tay Ho to find a garden but I’m sure an estate agent can help you; we found a place within a week or so of arriving by contacting a company called Fair Real Estate. If you want to email them you can try this address: [email protected] good luck!

  20. Hi , I love all information. Thanks so much.

    I just wanted to ask for people without a degree but with something like TEFL , how much can they expect to get paid an hour ?

    Thanks.

    • Hi Dominic, thanks for reading and commenting, I’m glad you’ve found the info useful. Unfortunately I can’t give exact rates but our language centre paid between $20 and $23 per hour after tax; I believe there were a couple of people working there without degrees. It would be best to email your CV off to a few centres and see what they say. Any other questions, let me know and good luck!

  21. minimum cost for living in Hanoi is about 250USD (for vietnamese) (can even be lower), for a foreigner like you, it will cost more, but £776 is too much, maybe you are using expensive services

    • Yes, we did pay a lot more than a Vietnamese person would. I think this was mainly because of all the western food we ate; I am vegetarian so found it difficult to eat Vietnamese food all the time. We loved living in Vietnam though and we saved a lot of money while we lived there compared with living back in London.

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  24. Hi. I found your article about the cost of living in Hanoi really insightful. Thanks.

    I was wondering if you could give me the name and/or contact details of the language school where you guys worked. I’m currently working at the British Council in Bogota, Colombia, but thinking about moving toto Hanoi in January. Any info about the teaching there would be great.

    • Hi Jamie, glad you found our website useful. Andrew is currently recruiting for our former language centre, if you could email him at: [email protected] he can give you more information about their requirements and put you in touch.

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