Updated: Apr 20
As mentioned our plans are simple. We are moving abroad to SE Asia. With the goal being to live happily and relatively cheaply, along with a few other things that we went into via our latest podcast and Veeeelog.
We are also writing a series of 4 blogs dedicated to each country that we are considering living in and visiting for some length of time. Cambodia was our first blog, followed by Malaysia and now up next is Vietnam. Full disclosure, I've been to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon) and found it hot as hell. Like seriously questioning how humans live there hot. Even still is on our list because I found it beautiful, historical and of course cheapish. And the food was good. Well not the street food cause I just couldn't envision eating anything that was sitting in 2000 degree weather being good for my sensitive tummy. I will move past this...on days when the temp is 1000 degree's or less.
Vietnam First thing we thought about when looking at all is how long can we live there with ease and by ease I mean length of stay aka passport/visa requirements. We'll start with the obvious for ALL. Passport. You need one and it needs to be valid for at least six months after departure/arrival. With that being said, the Visa requirements are really the interesting factors for each country.
Visa process for Vietnam Visa on Arrival: There are two types of Visa's for Vietnam similar to Cambodia, Tourist and Business. That's it. What's interesting about Vietnam is the fact that you have to pay two fee's, which in all of my research before my trip last year, I missed. Like totally missed. And after flying, at that point about 20hrs, that was not a good look. Especially considering I had no cash and the ATM machine was in Timbuktu. Lesson learned the hard long slog way, to and from that ATM.
So once again, in order to get your Visa you must pay two types of fees: Approval Letter Fee (paid online) and Stamping Fee (paid in cash at Vietnam airports). The Stamping Fee is $25 per person for 1 to 3 month single entry, $50 for 1 to 3 month multiple entry. The approval letter fee can vary depending on which site you use and can vary for as little as $10 to as much as $20 per person.
Visa on Arrival works at any of Vietnam’s three international airports: Tan Son Nhat (Ho Chi Minh City); Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi); or Danang Airport (Da Nang)
Tourist - This one is generally best if you are planning on staying 90 days or less. A tourist visa can be extended but the cost is more than just leaving and applying for another Tourist Visa to enter.
Business - This will be the one you want to go with if you are planning on staying more than 90 days. Prices vary here for the approval letter from as little as $70 for six months to as much as $450 for a year(multiple entry) depending on which company you go with. The stamping fee will thankfully be the same at every Embassy/Consulate of Vietnam. It is $95 for 6 months multiple visa and $135 for 1 year multiple visa.
Cost of Living- Lodging/Food
As always location counts or as they say in Vietnam "Go out in District 1, eat in District 5, and live in District 3." We found that it's similar to the rest of the world in that location counts. Living in the middle of it all will cost you as much you are willing to pay, fortunately that cost can be lower than living in the U.S., again depending on which end of the spectrum you want to live. Google searching didn't produce great results and the apartment costs where comparable to the U.S. with 2 bedroom apartments ranging from $600 to $1200 a month. Not much of a savings right? But food is definitely cheaper. Not cheap enough to make a huge dent in your budget but enough to be a consideration.
According to Numbeo to live in Vietnam could cost about half of what you spend currently if living in Atlanta, using $2000 as your base.
On a side note, you can't drink the water in Vietnam, or rather the tap water. Bring a water bottle with ya. It will save money when traveling around the city/country. This is also true for Cambodia and Malaysia, though I did drink it in Malaysia. Which may account for the Imodium moments that I had.
One of the things we haven't touched on in previous blogs is Healthcare, but with mosquitoes, subtropical climate, no drinking of the tap water and suspect street food there's a chance health care will be an issue. Fortunately the range of hospitals and standards of healthcare are generally on par with those in the U.S. Though a lot of expats tend to fly on over to Bangkok or Singapore for serious medical issues because it can be cheaper and extremely good.
Health Insurance Get you some before you travel to cover the above mentioned possibilities and so many more.
So what's the bad side of Vietnam? Well, the Vietnam War wasn't to long ago. It's a communist country. Poor. Loud. Hot. On the flip side it's beautiful, historic even. Just my personal opinion.
Disclaimer, this is just "my" research. It will be updated with true to life details once we live there.
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