Cost of Living in Vietnam

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Living expenses in Vietnam will range depending on an individual’s lifestyle. Many expats manage to enjoy an upbeat existence without spending a fortune. The largest dents in an expat's monthly budget will be in the areas of housing, schooling and western foodstuffs. Travel, phone and Internet costs remain low.
Like most countries, Vietnam has is fair share of temptations for an expat's wallet. Being in Asia, there are lots of electronic gadgets that expats can spend their hard earned salary on. However, with a little financial shrewdness it is easy to live comfortably and save.
When shopping in Vietnam, expats will notice that different streets sell similar goods, for example there will be a “shoe street,” followed by a “stuffed toys street” and a “TV and audio visual street”. This system comes from ancient Vietnam when traders would set up their businesses close to their competition in order to cluster all similar services in one area. Today, it means that shoppers are able to go to one area for all their shopping and they can compare prices easily and bargain knowledgeably. There are also numerous malls and shopping plazas constantly being built or added to in the larger cities.

Cost of accommodation in Vietnam

The majority of expats moving to Vietnam do so on a short-term basis and therefore opt to rent property rather than buy. The cost of rent will vary depending on the standard of housing a person requires as well as the location of a property.
Renting a 2 bedroom French colonial house in Ho Chi Minh City costs between VND 7,000,000 and VND 12,000,000 per month. While these properties are comfortable, they offer a more modest standard of living. 
On the other hand, expats will find more and more modern apartment complexes are being built in Vietnam’s bustling cities and as a result there are more luxury accommodation options available to them. These condominiums and apartments come equipped with a range of facilities such as gyms, laundries and swimming pools. Naturally, rental prices are higher and the cost of a 2 bedroom apartment in Ho Chi Minh City is on average VND 14,000,000 per month.
Generally, housing closer to the city centre comes at a premium and housing in outlying suburbs is more affordable.

Cost of transport in Vietnam

There are plenty of cost-effective ways to get around Vietnam. An inner city bus fare costs on average VND 5,000 for a single journey. Expats can feel free to negotiate on taxi or motorcycle taxi fares in Vietnam. On average a taxi fares in Ho Chi Minh City cost around VND 12,000 per km. 
Most expats do not drive in Vietnam due to the chaotic conditions on the city streets. Those that do wish to have a private vehicle will hire a driver with knowledge of the local roads. The cost of petrol in Vietnam is reasonable with a litre of petrol priced at VND 24,000. 

Cost of food and eating out in Vietnam

Vietnam is a food lover’s paradise. Not only are there many Western restaurants to choose from, but there are also a huge range of great local restaurants, food stalls and street vendors that cook up amazing fare while the customer waits.
Sticking to Western food and Western restaurants will burn a hole in an expat’s wallet as many of the food items or ingredients are imported and the government levies high taxes on these goods. Eating Vietnamese food is cheap, tasty and definitely something to write home. An average meal at a Western restaurant will cost expats around VND 300,000 whereas a wholesome meal at Vietnamese restaurant will cost between VND 40,000 and VND 100,000. 
The cost of a coffee from a Western style coffee shop is about VND 40,000, while an authentic Vietnamese coffee will cost less than VND 20,000 on the street. Fruit and vegetables from the supermarket are also a lot more expensive than those bought in the marketplace.
Cost of electrical goods in Vietnam
Expats will find cheap electrical goods, particularly in the markets. However, many of these are inferior copies made in China.
Shopping at department stores and malls is one way to ensure that items are genuine and come with some sort of manufacturer’s guarantee; unfortunately this also means paying a lot more than one would expect to pay in the region, especially with Bangkok a cheap flight away.

Cost of living chart for Vietnam (2014) 

*All prices listed in Vietnamese Dong (VND). Based on average prices in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Furnished 2 bedroom house VND 10,000,000 - 12,000,000
Unfurnished 2 bedroom house VND 7,000,000 - 10,000,000
Furnished 2 bedroom apartment VND 11,000,000-15,000,000
Unfurnished 2 bedroom apartment VND 8,000,000 - 13,000,000
Dozen Eggs VND 25,000
Milk (1 litre) VND 30,000
Rice (1kg)  VND 16,000
Loaf of white bread  VND 20,000
Whole chicken  VND 70,000
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) VND 22,000
Eating Out
Fast food meal   VND 80,000
Coca Cola (500ml)  VND 10,000
Cappuccino   VND 40,000
Bottle of Beer (local)  VND 20,000
Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant  VND 300,000
Utilities/Household (monthly)
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)  VND 2,100
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month)  VND 300,000
Electricity (average per month for standard household)  VND 800,000
Taxi rate per km  VND 12,000
City centre bus fare  VND 5,000
Petrol/Gasolene (per litre) VND 24,000

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