It’s easy to fall in love with Hanoi. The buzzing capital is the calm glance of the Asian living without the stressful fuss of bigger cities like Ho Chi Minh. Many expats decided to settle here to do business or just to enjoy their retirement years. But how much money do you need to live in Hanoi?
Vietnam isn’t a first world country. Prices are cheaper compared to what you pay here in the States. Anyway, this isn’t a testament of poor living. Vietnam has one of the most promising economies in Asia and is expected to be a developed country in three years.
As expenses seem to be at your side, let me get you back to the cost of living. Here are some of my points:
Let’s take a look at the prices
I think the best thing to start this is to say that compared to Western countries, Vietnam is very cheap. But that’s for people who can spend a thousand bucks a night with no fuss. But if you’re a cash-strapped person looking for a humble abode, the following are the points you should know.
How much money do you need to live in Hanoi? At the current dollar exchange, living in Hanoi will cost you approximately $500 a month. That’s if you won’t rent a place. If you do so, you might add another $200 depending on where you’ll be staying. Some expats approximate theirs to be around $600-$700 a month. And in an Asian country like this, that’ enough for a comfortable if not a bit lavish living.
Hanoi’s cost of living index is around 80 as of the moment. This is way lower than the 236 CLI of San Francisco or the 191 of Seattle. Even neighboring cities from other countries like Manila and Singapore have higher CLIs.
The numbers above might bore you so let me give you a lighter take. Eating a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant here would only cost you $22. It’s very cheap for an American like you. Come on, you can pay 30 bucks for a single meal.
If you’re planning to live here for good and work at the same time, you should know the expected income for typical locals. The lowest average salary of a worker here is $148 a month and for higher paid folks in the white-collar sector, they can bag $500-$600 a month.
This might look very low considering how much money do you need to live in Hanoi. But if you can live as a local and not as a tourist, you can make all ends meet. This means that you’re not going to get out all night or look for places to hang out every time.
It would be a good choice if you have a business at home or probably freelance work that you can accomplish with a laptop and decent internet connection. By the way, Hanoi has one of the fastest internet connections in Asia. I guess that’s one big advantage here.
Compared to Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi is friendlier for non-business expats due to lower cost of living. You can also find long-term house rental deals here as locals are used to having expats around. If you have the funds, I suggest that you just buy a humble place through trusted real state agencies. This will save you more money in the future.
Still, you can live with the $500 income a month since the food here is cheap. If you can stick to lesser “Western” amenities, you can even have a little extra in the bank.
So, how much money do you need to live in Hanoi?
From a Westerner’s standpoint, no! Vietnam is very cheap compared to living in other key cities. The prices are relatively low and you can start a business with the promising economy. My final say here about how much money do you need to live in Hanoi is around $500-700 tops. If you keep your living humble-but not deprived-you can stay peacefully here.
If you want to have the living conditions of the middle-class Hanoians, you can level up to $1,100 a month. I think it’s still cheap even if you hail from the cheapest downtowns like Kansas City or Wichita. In these two cities, you’ll throw away about $700 for your apartment rental alone. But if you came from a three-grand apartment from San Francisco, Hanoi will give you the biggest savings of your life.
If you can get by with a humble $10 budget a day, you’ll be one comfortable expat here. But if you got a deeper pocket, you can enjoy any living thrills.
How will your own business fare?
If you plan to live and bring your business here in Hanoi, you should know the strict regulations for foreigners. From what I know, Hanoi doesn’t allow full ownership of physical businesses but it depends on the industry you’re in. Digital nomads might be better with their businesses but taxation would be a bit vague.
It’s not wise to get a Vietnamese business partner just yet. If you have a local spouse, it would be better; otherwise, you’ll have to go through the hassle of dealing with local laws. But once you got settled, it would be easier for you to maintain income and sustain your living.
I suggest that you learn the language to avoid being duped by sneaky locals. This can happen if you don’t practice caution. Just don’t fall prey on “faster” processes as it would likely be illegal. Building your business here may take time but that’s better than losing money.
It’s not just about how much money do you need to live in Hanoi but also how you’ll spend it on your stay. The capital is a vibrant city where expats are welcomed and loved. Locals here don’t find it weird anymore to see a blue-eyed wanderer in the streets dressed in the culture of the country. Are you planning to start your life in Hanoi? Let us give you some advice in the comment section!