The two countries couldn’t be more different. Vietnam the sleeping giant hungry for growth and opportunity. The UK, mundane and developed with one of the highest rates of obesity in the Western world. Every six months or so I like to take a break from the sweat and chaos that is Vietnam and head home for some much needed cooler weather and English breakfasts with decent bacon.
Before and during such trips I ponder the pros and cons of living in Vietnam versus living in somewhere like the UK, where I’ll see myself in the future and where ultimately I think provides a better quality of life. Vietnam is undoubtedly cheaper then the uk and I noticed this to a much greater level during my most recent trip home to blighty. In fact house prices and accommodation in general are still excessively expensive in the uk compared to Vietnam and Vietnam definitely comes out on top in this regard.
The cost of alcohol and food is also much cheaper in Vietnam, as is transport, locally and to neighboring countries such as Thailand Cambodia and China via air or bus. People in the uk like the majority of the west are taxed heavily on just about everything from fuel to food, and I take satisfaction living somewhere where taxes are lower which results in a greater sense of freedom. There is an upside to this of course. Healthcare is generally free in the UK under the NHS (if you have the patience to wait months for appointments) and prescriptions are very cheap.
Corruption is low, and things tend to work more efficiently most of the times. That parcel you sent to your mate ‘might’ get there in Vietnam, but 99% of the time you’d get it the next day with no fuss in the UK.
Every time I come back however I always feel like I’ve entered some zombie like nation. People seem to be obsessed with working, eating crap and watching crap on TV. There is no real feeling of ‘excitement’ like you get from living in an up and coming Asian city like Ho Chi Minh and whatever thoughts about what bothered me whilst living in Vietnam quickly fade and turn into a desire to return as soon as possible.
So here is my summary on the pros and cons of living in Vietnam
Vietnam Pros (not the kind you pay for..)
- Cheap cheap cheap. Everything from girls to food to accommodation is much cheaper than you will find in the West. 50 pence beers rule as does pork chops and rice, Com Tam, for around £1.
- The Weather. Yes it’s unbearably hot a lot of the time but it beats the long drizzly days and shitty grey skies that you can never seem to get away from in the UK.
- Visas. Whilst it’s getting a little trickier for longer stays it’s still a lot easier than neighbouring Thailand to get a visa and renew it for a long period of time.
- The Girls. Perhaps one of the best reasons for a single male traveller to base himself in Vietnam is the local women. I’ve written a lot about dating in Vietnam and the girls, and yes i’ll say it once again; they are beautiful and some of the best in this part of the world, if not the world!
- The heat and humidity. This can be unbearable for a lot of the year especially if you’re living in the south in Ho Chi Minh. Think drenched in sweat 10 seconds after stepping out of the shower.
- The traffic. The traffic in Vietnam can be best described as horrendous. I’ve had a few scrapes on the bike and it’s a matter of when not if.
- Jobs. Unless you can make money online or love playing dancing clown foreigner to groups of little kids who love to chuck things at you, then it’s tricky finding work here.
- Saving face. People like to lie in Vietnam. It’s just part of the culture. You’ll notice it a lot when you’ve been here a while and it’s considered no big deal. It helps to tread carefully however especially when dealing with girls and business interests. Perception is everything, you never want to put down or argue with a Vietnamese person in public.
So there you have it, my brief summary of the pros and cons of living in Vietnam.
I still think the pros outweigh the cons, and will continue to live in Vietnam for the foreseeable future. I know i won’t be there forever but for the moment i reckon you should come on over and give it a try 😉
Now over to Troy for his verdict…