For those moving to Vietnam for a fresh start, this article provides a checklist to help you prepare accordingly before moving.
Vietnam has become an increasingly popular destination for expats looking to live and work abroad. With its tropical climate, low cost of living, and growing economy, Vietnam offers an appealing lifestyle for foreigners.
As of 2021, approximately 100,000 expats call Vietnam home out of a total population of 99 million people. Most are concentrated in the bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but many also reside in Danang, Nha Trang, and other regions.
If you plan to move to Vietnam, proper preparation is key. Follow this comprehensive checklist to ensure your relocation goes smoothly:
Navigating Vietnam’s complex immigration system can be challenging. Begin the process as early as possible, as obtaining approved permits may take weeks or months.
To legally reside in Vietnam, you'll need:
Work Visa: Issued for up to 2 years with a confirmed job offer. Applicants must meet eligibility criteria such as age, health standards, education or experience levels, and possess a clear background check. A minimum 2-week processing period is recommended prior to starting new employment.
Temporary Residence Card: Provides residency privileges including property ownership for 1-2 years without exit or re-entry requirements. Cardholders enjoy home country benefits with extended stay permissions. Review detailed eligibility as circumstances vary.
Permanent Residence Card: Attainable by those living continuously in Vietnam for over 3 years or meeting alternative designation standards. This offers renewable long-term residency of 5-10 years with full rights and responsibilities.
Setting yourself up for financial success when relocating abroad takes some strategising. While living costs are reasonable in many areas, a few key considerations still apply to managing your money smoothly in Vietnam.
Bank account: To open a bank account or apply for a credit card in Vietnam, you need to have proof of your right to live and work in Vietnam for at least 12 months. Research your banking options between local and international institutions for fees, exchange rates, and services.
Currency: The main currency, Vietnamese Dong (VND), is widely accepted for daily purchases like meals, transportation, entertainment, and basic goods. While the stable US Dollar (USD) retains widespread acceptance, it is commonly used for larger transactions like healthcare expenses in some hospitals.
Tax compliance: Expats who live in Vietnam longer than 183 days will need to file for taxes at the same rates as other citizens. Temporary residents, on the other hand, can make use of Vietnam’s double tax arrangements.
Additionally, many large multinational companies with expatriate employees in Vietnam handle filing income tax returns on workers' behalf. However, self-employed individuals and those at smaller firms need to submit personally.
With over 65 million registered motorcycles as of 2020, equivalent to around two-thirds of Vietnam's population, it is clear that motorbikes dominate transportation in the country.
Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have extensive bus networks and metro systems, providing convenient and inexpensive local transportation options. Ride-sharing apps like Grab also facilitate on-demand private transportation, providing another convenient door-to-door alternative to taxis. Traditional taxis remain readily available as well. If you drive, make sure to apply for a Vietnamese driving license as per the rules.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer the most employment prospects across industries, international schools, hospitals, and well-established expat communities. Their vigorous amenities and nightlife make them ideal for initial cultural immersion. However, congestion and high housing costs are downsides. Here are some popular neighbourhoods that attract many expats:
District 1: The heart of Saigon, close to tourist attractions and very busy day and night
District 3: Leafy suburbs with compounds and villas
Binh Thanh: Hustling business district becoming a startup hub, easily accessible to District 1
District 2: Mix of upscale residential enclaves like Thủ Thiêm and new developments
District 7: Quieter residential area close to international schools and modern shopping malls
Long Bien: Vibrant arts and cafe scene, close to the historic Old Quarter
Tay Ho: Lush lakeside area favoured for its parks and quiet streets
Ba Dinh: Central location near embassies and government buildings
West Lake: Upscale villas and international schools around Hoan Kiem Lake
Along coastlines, mid-sized cities such as Da Nang, Nha Trang and Hoi An draw those prioritising beach proximity and a more relaxed tempo. Their blossoming remote work and digital nomad scenes are appealing as well.
As a fast-growing economy, Vietnam has invested heavily in recent years to expand and improve its healthcare system. This focus has led to clear advancements, especially in urban centres like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Both cities boast a wide range of hospitals and clinics, including international-standard private facilities targeting expats and wealthy locals. These facilities offer cutting-edge technology, modern infrastructure, and English-speaking doctors trained domestically or overseas.
However, Vietnam's healthcare system remains uneven depending on location. In rural provinces, clinics are sparse and under-resourced. Few doctors speak English, technology may be dated, and services limited. Serious conditions often require a medical evacuation to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
For these reasons, comprehensive health insurance is highly recommended regardless of location. Policies with emergency evacuation coverage can provide you essential peace of mind and protection.
Individuals and families must protect themselves when moving abroad, especially with Vietnam's healthcare infrastructure still developing beyond major cities. Finding the right insurance plan is key to avoiding potentially huge medical costs down the line from emergencies to everyday treatments.
We offer MyHEALTH, which is the most flexible health insurance plan in Vietnam. Tailor your coverage to fit your unique needs and budget, with the ability for every family member to customise their own plan. Whether you're a Vietnam national, permanent resident, or foreigner, MyHEALTH is available to all, ensuring that everyone has access to quality healthcare coverage.
To learn more about our MyHEALTH Vietnam, check out the full benefits schedule or request a personalised quote today.
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