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Cost Of Living Cost Of Living In Vietnam As An Expat

Vietnam is a magical country with plenty to offer expats. With a rich history and over 100 million people living in Vietnam, you’ll find culture bursting from every seam.

Many expats come for the incredible landscapes and top-quality local food, then stay for the warm climate and low cost of living in Vietnam. And that’s exactly what we’re here to find out – how much does it cost to live in Vietnam as an expat?

The cost of living in Vietnam

Vietnam is well-known for offering a high standard of living at a low price. According to 2022 data, the cost of living in Vietnam is around 42.8% lower than in the United Kingdom and 63.5% lower than in the United States. This is based on the total cost of living, taking into account a wide range of living expenses in Vietnam per month and the average apartment cost in Vietnam.

The bottom line is that Vietnam is a very cheap place to live, compared to Western countries. Better still, as an expat in Vietnam, you can expect to earn a high salary if you work in the country’s emerging technology and services scene. The average expat salary in Vietnam is around US$78,000/£55,000. Coupled with the low cost of living, most expats enjoy a high standard of living in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a rapidly modernising country with two economic centres: Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City (also called Saigon) in the south. These two cities attract enormous amounts of foreign investment. Vietnam’s economy has grown almost every year since 1990, putting it within the top 50 countries worldwide by GDP. Consultants PWC predict that, by 2050, Vietnam will be in the top 10 economies worldwide.

That means now is a great time to move to Vietnam, giving expats the opportunity to enjoy high growth, high wages and a low cost of living.

To help you visualise the cost of living in Vietnam, here is how much you can expect to pay for everyday essentials:


Average cost in Vietnam (US$)*

Milk (1 gallon)
Loaf of bread
Rice (1lb)
12 eggs
Local cheese (1 lb)
Chicken fillets (1 lb)
1.5 litre bottle of water
Bottle of wine
Domestic beer
Imported beer

*As of December 2022, Numbeo

When it comes to eating out, you can also expect to benefit from the very low cost of living in Vietnam:


Average cost in Vietnam (US$)*

Three-course meal for 2 at a restaurant
Meal at a fast food restaurant
Domestic beer (1 pint, draught)
Small bottle of water

*As of December 2022, Numbeo

A young couple travelling on the streets of Hoi An in Vietnam

Effects of the cost of living crisis in Vietnam

The cost of living in Vietnam has skyrocketed in 2022 as a result of the worldwide cost of living crisis. Supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine and the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted Vietnam’s growth in 2022, causing consumer purchasing power in the big cities to fall by up to 25%.

Rampant inflation is the key perpetrator of this increase. Inflation in Vietnam was at 1.8% at the start of January 2022. By November, it had increased 2.5 times to 4.3%. Inflation has caused the prices of consumer goods to shoot up rapidly throughout the year, with everything from food to clothing, construction materials and even the price of education increasing at unexpectedly fast rates.

One particular area where Vietnam is feeling the cost of living crisis is fuel. Fuel prices in Vietnam are extremely volatile. Between January and June 2022, they increased 46%, before plummeting back down to their January levels by November.

Vietnam’s imports and exports have also taken a huge knock in 2022. Vietnamese exports fell from US$34.59 billion in January 2022 to US$29.18 billion in November. Meanwhile, imports decreased from US$31.62 billion in January 2022 to US$28.4 billion in November. Imports and exports both hit rock bottom in March, around the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Vietnam is a key importer and exporter to and from Russia and Ukraine. Vietnam is dependent on Russian iron and coal, and Ukrainian wheat and corn. In 2021, Vietnam imported US$2.3 billion worth of produce from Russia and US$375 million from Ukraine. Vietnam has not expressed condemnation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, however, it remains to be seen how the situation in Europe will affect Vietnamese-Russian trade in 2022 and beyond.

On the bright side, the Vietnamese government has been quick to respond to the cost of living crisis, which has ensured relative stability and helped to maintain growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its 2022 growth forecast for Vietnam from 6% to 7%, making Vietnam the only Asian country to have improved this year in spite of macroeconomic adversity.

Beautiful drone view of Saigon - Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam at night

Average apartment cost in Vietnam

As an expat living in Vietnam, you are likely to want to live in one of the big cities. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hanoi and Da Nang are favourites among expats, offering a modern standard of living at very affordable costs, and large expat communities to help you settle in. Life in the Vietnamese countryside is even cheaper, but lifestyles are pared back by a lack of infrastructure. Let’s consider the average apartment costs in Vietnam for expats.

Average rent in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

The average cost to rent an apartment in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) will vary depending on the part of the city you wish to rent, and the quality of the apartment.

Apartments at the lower end of the market are very cheap, while even the more luxurious apartments close to popular areas like Thao Dien will be affordable for many expats. The average costs for an apartment in Saigon are around these estimates:


Highest rent (US$)*

Lowest rent (US$)*

1 bedroom
2 bedroom
3 bedroom

Average rent in Hanoi

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and an epicentre for business and culture. The average cost to rent an apartment in Hanoi is slightly higher than in Ho Chi Minh City, but expats can find many bargains at the lower end of the property market.

Hanoi also offers many luxurious, furnished apartments marketed specifically at expats. An expat could enjoy a high quality of living in Hanoi at an affordable price.


Highest rent (US$)*

Lowest rent (US$)*

1 bedroom
2 bedroom
3 bedroom

Source: property search

In summary, the cost of renting in Vietnam is very affordable, which is why many expats are able to afford luxurious and spacious apartments in nice parts of town. Many even choose to have regular cleaners (from US$2 per hour) or live-in maids (from US$125 per month).

All in all, the average rent in Vietnam is 63.5% lower than in the United Kingdom.

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What is the cost of buying property in Vietnam?

Property prices in Vietnam are very affordable and, as an expat buying property in Vietnam, you can expect to find some great deals. Having said that, cities in Vietnam are experiencing a property boom, with prices at record highs and continuing to rise exponentially.

Currently, the average property price in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is around US$2,000 to $4,500 per square metre. In Hanoi, the average property price is around US$1,300 to $2,500 per square metre.

Therefore, an average 3-bedroom property in Ho Chi Minh will cost around US$180,000. An average 3-bedroom property in Hanoi costs around US$150,000.

Are there any challenges to buying property in Vietnam as an expat?

Buying property in Vietnam as an expat is possible, but there is one major limitation you must be aware of: foreigners are not allowed to own land in Vietnam.

However, that won’t stop you from buying leasehold properties built on that land. Leaseholds in Vietnam are usually set at 50 years, but are sometimes as high as 99 years, and can always be renewed.

Foreign investors are allowed to own as many leasehold properties as they like, but there are certain rules, namely:

  • No more than 250 residences in a single ward
  • No more than 10% of the properties in a single development
  • No more than 30% of the apartments in a single unit

You will not need to pay stamp duty when buying property in Vietnam, however there are several other fees you should be aware of. These include:

  • VAT of 10% on any primary property purchase
  • Maintenance fee of 2%
  • Registration fee of 0.5%

What are the costs of household bills in Vietnam?

Household bills are not too expensive in Vietnam. There is also very little difference between the cost of household bills in Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). See below for the average cost of bills in Vietnam.

Utilities (monthly)

Average cost in Vietnam (US$)*

Basic utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage) for a regular-sized apartment
One minute phone call on a pay-as-you-go mobile tariff
Monthly home internet bill

*As of December 2022, Numbeo

If you are living in an apartment complex, you may also need to be mindful of service charges, which often include cleaning fees. As you might expect, the cost of living in Vietnam’s rural areas is far cheaper, although you won’t have access to the same high-quality infrastructure you would find in major cities.

Two Vietnamese schoolboys sitting on a bridge, Mekong River Delta, Vietnam

Cost of education in Vietnam

Education in Vietnam is split into five levels: preschool, primary school, secondary, high school and further education. Vietnam is known for its highly-competitive education system, which includes “High Schools for the Gifted,” prestigious institutions that students compete to get into.

The quality of education in Vietnam is improving, with the government spending 20% of its national budget on the education system. As a result, Vietnam sees high completion rates and low drop-out rates. Vietnam was ranked 97th in the world for education in the 2018 UNESCO Education Index.

Many expats who move to Vietnam choose to send their children to private or international schools. As many as 40% of all students in Vietnam are enrolled in private education.

Hanoi has 24 international schools, while Ho Chi Minh City has 33. International Schools in Vietnam offer a variety of worldwide education systems (including British, French, American, Australian and Japanese systems), and teaching in different languages.

What is the cost of education in Vietnam?

International schools in Vietnam vary in price depending on the age of the child and what sort of education system you choose. Fees for international schools in Hanoi range from US$4,500 to US$35,000. Fees for international schools in Ho Chi Minh City range from US$4,800 to US$36,000.

What is the cost of higher education in Vietnam?

Vietnamese universities are not particularly outstanding. Vietnam has no universities in the Top 500 worldwide according to the QS World University Rankings 2022. For that reason, many Vietnamese students choose to enroll in universities overseas.

If you do wish to study at a Vietnamese university, tuition fees range from US$6,400 to US$15,000. Tuition fees across Vietnam are currently skyrocketing, especially within the private university sector.

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Bui Vien Street, Ho Chi Minh

Cost of transport in Vietnam

Public transport in Vietnam is, unfortunately, somewhat underdeveloped. Most people choose to get around using their own vehicles, with scooters and motorcycles the most common form of transport. The cost of a new motorcycle in Vietnam ranges from US$1,250 to US$2,860.

If you do choose to use public transport in Vietnam, you may find services to be infrequent, unreliable and slow. However, these services are rapidly improving. Hanoi already has a sprawling metro system, while Ho Chi Minh City is in the process of constructing their first metro, with the first line scheduled to begin operations in 2023.

On the bright side, the cost of transport in Vietnam is very cheap. Many expats living in Vietnam will find taxis to be the most affordable way to get around. The cost of inter-city buses and trains is also very reasonable.

Transport type

Average cost in Vietnam (US$)*

One-way public transport ticket
Monthly public transport pass
Daytime base fee for taxi
One mile daytime taxi journey
1 litre of petrol
Small family car, new

*Data correct as of December 2022, Numbeo

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Cost of healthcare in Vietnam

The Vietnamese government is investing heavily in state healthcare. Between 2000 and 2019, the government increased spending on healthcare from 3.82% to 5.25% of GDP. Vietnam does not currently have a universal healthcare system, although the government has planned to introduce one as a priority.

As such, you can expect to find healthcare in Vietnam to be of a good quality. However, it is still lacking in many key areas. As an expat living in Vietnam, you will find two types of basic healthcare:

  • Compulsory social security cover is for workers on permanent contracts of longer than three months
  • Voluntary health insurance is for temporarily, seasonal and self-employed workers

Expatriates must pay for compulsory social security cover, however many expats also choose to top up their healthcare spending with private medical insurance. This allows expats to attend private medical facilities, where they are more likely to find doctors who speak their native languages.

International private medical insurance is also essential for expats who seek an additional level of cover for matters such as major treatments, mental health support and emergency treatment.

Picking the right international health insurance plan can be tricky
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Vietnamese women selling and buying fruits on floating market, Mekong River Delta, Vietnam

How to budget as an expat in Vietnam

As an expat living in Vietnam, you should find you have no trouble living a comfortable lifestyle. However, as the cost of living in Vietnam changes, you may find it increasingly difficult to live within your means.

Here are some simple tips to make sure you can enjoy a good quality of life in Vietnam, whatever your budget:

1/ Know your take-home pay

While living in Vietnam, it’s important to know how much of your salary you’ll be allowed to pocket. As a non-resident expat, you will be expected to pay Personal Income Tax at a rate of 20% on your Vietnam-sourced income. The rates for all other income will vary, from 5% to 30%.

Therefore, you should be aware of how much of your income will go into your pocket, and budget accordingly.

The good news is that, as an expat, you can expect to command a high salary in Vietnam. Salaries for expats ranged from US$8,500 to US$34,000 per month in 2022, VnExpress reported.

2/ Budget for rent/mortgage payments

Your rent and mortgage payments will account for the majority of your outgoings as an expat in Vietnam. It’s therefore important to know how much this will impact your finances. As an expat, you could find that rent accounts for as much as 10% of your monthly gross income.

3/ Calculate your monthly bills

As the cost of living increases in Vietnam, you may find that energy, petrol and utilities bills creep up month-by-month. It’s important to know how much you will be expected to pay for your monthly bills and to ensure you have this income set aside.

One particular area you may want to consider is your international health insurance. As an expat, you’ll be expected to pay into the state healthcare sector, but you may also want to take out an additional level of healthcare cover for you and your family.

If you believe that your income may change, income protection insurance could help you to manage your cost of living in Vietnam.

4/ Stick to your monthly budget

Once you’ve worked out your monthly outgoings, you can rest easy knowing that your budget is secure. The good news is that expats in Vietnam can enjoy a high standard of living, despite the rising cost of living.

Insurance to help you manage the cost of living in Vietnam

For over 30 years, William Russell has helped expatriates like you settle into a new life overseas.

Our comprehensive insurance packages give you and your family peace of mind. Our international health insurance ensures you can access high-quality medical treatment abroad, while income protection insurance is there should you experience a cash flow shortfall if unable to work because of illness or injury.

Speak to us today to find out more about how we could help you make the most of your new life as an expat in Vietnam.

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