Pros and cons of moving to Ho Chi Minh City
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Expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) will find themselves in a vibrant, engaging culture. The city has many benefits, but it also has drawbacks and expats should prepare themselves realistically to make the most of their time in Vietnam.
Living in Ho Chi Minh City
+ PRO: Good expat community
There is a strong expat community in HCMC and the social life is varied and engaging, which means there is something for everyone from families to singles.
+ PRO: Welcoming attitude of the Vietnamese people
Vietnamese people are very friendly and welcoming of foreigners. Expats will find locals to be accommodating and genuinely interested in helping them – something that may seem unusual to many expats.
- CON: Overcharging foreigners
Despite the friendliness of Vietnamese people, some expats still face discrimination in terms of increased prices. Expats should be firm when bartering, and learn a few Vietnamese words to negotiate a fair deal.
The lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City
+ PRO: Sights and activities offered throughout the city
Expats looking to spend their days outdoors will be spoilt for choice. There are many recreational and water parks around the city, which are not just for the kids. For the culture vultures, there are numerous historical and cultural places to visit in and around the city. The vibrant local art scene is a representation of the upscale and cosmopolitan lifestyle spread throughout the city.
- CON: Pollution in the city
With some 5 million residents, the city does suffer from noise and air pollution. Expats will see some Vietnamese people wearing face masks as a prevention of irritation from pollen and pollution.
+ PRO: Easy access to the beach
This is especially important as a respite from the hot summer days, making it the perfect getaway to enjoy the weekend and escape city life.
+ PRO: Incredible food
From dingy authentic Vietnamese haunts to five-star restaurants, there are numerous international and local cuisine options to satisfy all tastes.
+ PRO: Abundance of shopping outlets
Shopping is a favourite past time for many HCMC residents and expats will have plenty of options available. The shops range from small markets to impressive department stores.
- CON: Petty crime
Vietnam is a safe country, but like every city HCMC does have its petty crime. Expats should be watchful of their belongings and aware of those around them.
The location and layout of Ho Chi Minh City
+ PRO: Cheap and easy travel to neighbouring cities
Places like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are popular, with regular flights going to and from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Tan Son Nhat is Vietnam's largest international airport, located in HCMC.
+ PRO: Districts of HCMC
The city is very accessible for expats as it is divided into easy-to-understand districts.
Amenities of Ho Chi Minh City
+ PRO: Top international schools
Expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City with children will have access to a host of excellent international schools. For further information, have a look at International Schools in HCMC.
+ PRO: Excellent banks
Banking is accessible and convenient for expats. With top banks like HSBC and ANZ available, expats should have no problems with banking.
- CON: Public transport is lacking
Ho Chi Minh City's public transport system is relatively underdeveloped, which can be frustrating for expats. Currently there is no metro system in place, but construction is in progress for this.
Language in Ho Chi Minh City
+ PRO: The language is relatively easy to learn
The Western alphabet script is used for the Vietnamese language, which makes it more accessible for foreigners in comparison to other Asian countries.
- CON: There is a language barrier
Despite Vietnam being one of the few Asian countries that uses a Roman-based alphabet, there is still a language barrier. Expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City should keep in mind that English is not commonly used.
Censorship in Ho Chi Minh City
- CON: Government censorship
There is occasional government banning or censorship of websites. Internet access to certain sites is sometimes regulated, especially if they are religious or politically sensitive; this can include Facebook.