Relocating to a country like Vietnam is certain to be a big change, but for most it isn't likely to be a disappointing decision. The culture in many of the large cities is vibrant and with the low cost of living, there shouldn't be too much difficulty in supporting the preferred lifestyle. Also, the country has a fast-changing economy, which gives plenty of opportunity to work or teach in many different markets. However, before arriving in Vietnam, there are plenty of things that need careful consideration.
Prepare the necessary paperwork
If it is the intention to work in Vietnam, there is a need to obtain the notarised copies of all relevant paperwork. A work permit is a standard requirement to work in the country. Anyone caught working in Vietnam without a work permit can be issued with a steep fine. Many foreigners will initially travel to Vietnam on a tourist visa which can give the time to explore the country in-person and find a job.
Where to stay?
Vietnam is blessed with a very varied landscape that can range from the sprawling cities with high populations to the more peaceful mountain villages. With a little effort researching the options, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a new place to live that matches the lifestyle. The chosen destination will depend a lot on your personality and the preferred type of work. Let's take a look at a few of the most popular places:
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is likely to be the most popular place to relocate for those looking to live or work in Vietnam. This mega city is very urban, so if you are looking for green space or less traffic and crowds it would benefit to look elsewhere. However, for those that do decide to stay, it is the liveliness of the city that helps create the excitement and adventure of living in this country.
Staying in this city gives plenty of accommodation options with prices suitable to virtually all budget levels. Also, it is great for restaurants, pubs, nightlife and other entertainment. There are many other foreigners in the area which will make it relatively easy to make new friends. Plus, there are options to find work in many professions and fields, such as manufacturing, technology and teaching. However, it is not always easy for professionals to find work.
Hanoi is a great city to live in for its unique feel and culture. Even though it may have a less cosmopolitan flair, it is still a favourite city for many and the weather is typically good for the majority of the year. This city has fewer options in the business sector, although many foreigners will look to open their own business; also teaching is a popular career option. However, the process of starting a business in Vietnam isn't a straightforward process, so it helps to have a local Vietnamese friend or a local spouse.
A stay in a booming city like Da Nang is certain to appeal to those in search of a lifestyle that combines the city with amazing beaches. It is a city that continues to grow in popularity with more foreigners looking to relocate here in place of Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. Additionally, it has plenty of mountainous jungle landscape surrounding the city which is great for enjoying the unique adventures. It is a particular favourite for the digital nomads that are able to rely on a foreign income.
Nha Trang is one of the many popular holiday destinations in the country and already appreciated by foreigners from several countries, such as Russia and China. This part of Vietnam has a pleasant relaxed vibe with a nice beach which makes it a very appealing place for the digital nomads.
Even though the quality of the beaches aren't as pleasant as elsewhere, the city of Vung Tau sees a lot of growth in popularity with foreigners because of not only its close proximity to Ho Chi Minh City, but also the slow pace of life. Travelling by air-conditioned bus, the journey time from HCMC to Vung Tau is approx two hours. So, this makes a great place to use as a base if it is not always necessary to be physically in the main city all the time.
How to get around
A very practical form of transport in Vietnam is the motorbike which is very plentiful and cheap. However, it is necessary to have an intentional driving licence before arriving in the country. This can be converted to the local driving license once in Vietnam. If there isn't an existing licence, there won't be the option to get insurance. In the event of an accident, you will be entirely responsible for the costs of repairs/damage. Also, for the first-time arrival, it may benefit to use the local Grab or Uber service until more familiar with travelling on the Vietnam roads. For the novice driver, the first few outings can be a little daunting, but it will become easier over time.
How much money?
While the day-to-day cost of living is very affordable in Vietnam, it is still practical to save up a decent sum of money before taking the step to relocate. Expenses that need to be covered early on include the business visa and a work permit if they aren't provided by the employer. Also, the first month's rent or a deposit will need to be paid. Without the backup funds, there is the risk of running out of money before the first pay check is received. Ideally, it can help to calculate the likely monthly expenses and then budget enough savings to last a period of up to six months.
Learn the local culture
The people in Vietnam are typically welcoming to international visitors. They appreciate that the foreigners have the ability to bring certain experiences into the country which can have a positive benefit. Also, the local etiquette and customs aren't too difficult to learn with the Vietnamese people very forgiving and accommodating.
So, if you do decide to relocate and live in Vietnam, make sure to prepare the relevant paperwork, decide on how to make your future earnings, and have enough savings to last until set up.