How i Live in Vietnam for $770 Month

phu quoc
Phu Quoc sunset

People often ask me how i can afford to live in a tropical country for so long and work less than i do when back home in the UK. Vietnam alongside Camdodia is probably the cheapest country to live in in South East Asia. Thailand used to be cheap and still is, but day to day living costs will be less in places like Vietnam.

living in vietnam
Phu Quoc sunset

I’ve detailed here the general costs of living in Vietnam, but wanted to give you guys a better idea of what i typically spend each month in Da Nang so i’ve broken down my cost of living below. I’m re-locating to HCMC in about two weeks so once i’m set here there i’ll do a similar cost comparison.

Living costs will vary wildly from person to person. Alcohol is normally one of an expats biggest crutches when it comes to overspending but here in Vietnam beer is dirt cheap so i don’t think it’s too much of a concern.

So below is my total spending for one month in Da Nang:

  • Rent $325

My biggest expense but still not a lot.

This works out at around £205 British pounds which wouldn’t even get you a shared room in a house in the city in the UK. This bought me a modern one bedroom apartment 3 mins walk from China beach and near to many great restaurants. It took me a while to find this place and i wouldn’t expect someone new to the area to find something like this immediately. Remember to take your time when moving to a new area and get a hotel for at least a week or so before committing to an apartment for a longer term. It’s worth checking out websites like chotot.vn when looking for a motorbike or place to live, but remember to take along a Vietnamese friend.

  • Groceries $190

I like to eat well with good meats and vegetables plus the odd Western treat thrown in. Meat is very cheap in Vietnam generally with a fillet steak setting you back around 40K or £1.25 in British money. I tend to shop at the bigger supermarkets like Lottomart or Big C. The food selection here is good and generally fresh.

  • Eating out $105

This varies month to month depending on who i’ve got staying with me, dates i go on and how hung over i get! Da Nang has some great budget restaurants plus hundreds of cheaper Vietnamese alternatives where you can grab some Pho or Com Ga for around 30k a portion.

  • Utilities $65

Electricity is the biggest one especially if you run the aircon a lot. Make sure you check with the landlord before moving into a place the price per KW as this can vary wildly and many unscrupulous landlords like to add a little when they think they can get away with it. Water is very cheap, as is garage collection. Be carefu if you rent a services apartment as they can add significant monthly ‘service charges’ to your bill-i got caught out here in my first rental property by this.

  • Alcohol $50

I’m not a huge drinker, i.e every night but i do enjoy my beer and vodka. Expect to pay between 20-30K for a beer, 60p-£1 and a little more for spirits with a mixer. If you want to drink at the Skybar at Novotel or in any of the fancier hotels by the pool which is nice to do sometimes then expect to pay more than you would back home for a beer.

  • Gym $10

Yes gyms can be dirt cheap here if you don’t want a fancy health club with all the trimmings. I’m not training right now due to an injury but gyms here are plentiful and certainly wont break the bank.

  • Visa $25

This figure is rather arbitrary as the Vietnamese like to change the visa rules regularly meaning the prices for a new visa or extension fluctuates massively. For my last renewal i paid $55 for 3 months so not too bad. I’ve paid $200+ fo 3 months before though so you have to weigh this against the cost of leaving the country and doing a visa run, a topic that i will blog about shortly.

Total: $770

Conclusion 

So as you can see you can live well in Vietnam for comparatively little money each month. It will depend on where you decide to live, and bare in mind prices are increasing quite rapidly here so it won’t be this cheap for ever. I’d think you would struggle to live in Bangkok on this budget, but this would be a good amount for Camdodia or Lao. In regards to dating and finding women, i tend to use a paid membership with Vietnam Cupid so i can check out the girls first and find out who speaks the best English before wasting any money on dates.  

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for your insights. I am making my way to Danang via Thailand (taking a CELTA course in BKK) at the end of April. I have taught ESL in Korea (7 years) and moved back to Canada for 4 years to get a “normal” job and lead a “normal” life. i was successful in doing so but find myself bored to death. Mid 30’s now and making the move back to Asia.

    Just wondering if you have any tips that you haven’t covered for a Canadian moving to Danang?

    Cheers!

    • You sound similar to me except with considerably more ESL experience. I think with your teaching experience coupled with a CELTA you will find well paid work immediately. The schools in Da Nang typically pay less than HCM & Hanoi ($14-$18hr) however cost of living is a lot lower as im discovering trying to find a decent apartment at the moment in HCM. There’s not much here under $450 that’s any good, whereas in Da Nang that would get you a very nice place. I’m sure you’ll love Da Nang, especially if you like the outdoors. The weather can be a bit variable and it gets fairly cold in the winter evenings. I’d recommend you live ‘eastside’ of the river in the My Khe area. Plenty of nice furnished apartments and a good mix of expats and locals, plus you’ll be right on the beach.

  2. Appreciate the advice. What was the reason for the move to HCMC? I am not stuck on Da Nang but it looks appealing. I lived in Seoul for 4 years and enjoyed the city, but maybe in my advancing age thought a slower pace would suit me better. Anyway, good luck in HCMC!

    • For me a year was enough in Da Nang. HCMC has more opportunities and is a more vibrant place to live. Da Nang is a good ‘girlfriend’ city or a place to chill for a few months at a time, there’s not a huge amount going on there and i expect it would be hugely different from Seoul as well. I think the next few years will be interesting for Da Nang and Vietnam in general, maybe i’ll head back to Da Nang again but i have a few more countries to explore first…

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