Moving to Vietnam: Things you should know before you immigrate to Vietnam

Even though Vietnam only opened its doors to visitors and expats in the beginning of the ’90s of the previous century, it has rapidly become a popular destination for travellers, expats and immigrants from all over the planet. Experiencing a continuous wind of change, life in Vietnam is fast paced and never dull. With many reasons to choose from, you will always find something in Vietnam that will make you come back. So, are you thinking of packing up your suitcases and start a new life in Vietnam? Then join us when we explore what life in this magnificent country entails. We will also give you advice on how to tackle issues like accommodation, employment, education and much more.

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More and more people are moving to Vietnam from the USA, something that no one could have imagined a few decades ago. But with the implementation of drastic reforms at the Sixth National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1986, the country changed dramatically. Creating economic success that has rarely been seen before, Vietnam has seen a sharp increase in living conditions and overall freedom. Therefore, many western companies have opened up factories and offices in Vietnam, such as Zara, Nike and Bayer. And where there are western companies, there are expatriates. With those, and a growing number of pensioners, the foreign population in Vietnam has increased. Are you thinking of joining them? Read all about relocation to Vietnam in our dedicated removal guide.

Before you book your tickets to Vietnam, you should of course first know the basic facts about this amazing country in the heart of South-East Asia.

CapitalHanoi, which has 7.7 million inhabitants. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with 8.6 million inhabitants
CurrencyVietnamese đồng (₫) (VND)
PopulationVietnam has a population of about 94.5 million inhabitants.
How do you call someone from Vietnam?Vietnamese
Official languageVietnamese
International dialing code+84
Emergency number112 (Search & Rescue) 113 (Police) 114 (Fire) 115 (Ambulance/First Aid)
DrivingOn the right side
TippingTipping is not obligatory but it's customary to leave a 10-15% tip when receiving good service.
Unusual factVietnam exports almost 30% of the world’s cashew nuts production.

Relocating from the USA to Vietnam is something that needs decent preparation. You have to look for accommodation, a job and your way around town. When you accept the help of Eurosender, international removals to Vietnam become much easier. Contact one of our logistics experts for an individual offer or any question you have regarding the start of your new life in Vietnam.

Living in Vietnam

Relocating to Vietnam is something that will change your life. There are many things that might surprise you, so let’s have a look at some of the things that travellers and expats noticed when visiting this gorgeous country in South-East Asia.

  • Vendors in touristy areas can be quite persistent and aggressive. Keep in mind that they do not represent the general Vietnamese population, who are known as kind, welcoming and always ready to help.
  • Avoid talking about politics as Vietnamese history is a tale of many tragedies.
  • When you are living in an environment with many expats, it might seem that you can do without learning the Vietnamese language. However, when moving out of the urban area, you will find that knowing the local language is quite useful. Learning Vietnamese will also help you to read for example street signs and blend in with the locals easier.
  • Dogs and cats are not only considered to be pets in Vietnam; they also serve as the ingredients for many local dishes. When you are a dog or a cat person, it’s better to avoid these kinds of restaurants.
  • As Vietnam has only recently opened its borders, you might get a few stares when being a westerner. Don’t worry too much about this as it is only curiosity and when knowing a few words of Vietnamese, you will easily make some new friends.

Visa Regulations for Vietnam

Relocating means going through all the visa hurdles required. Let’s take a look at the options Vietnam has to offer.

  • Tourist Visa: With this single or multi-entry visa, you can stay up to 30 days in the country.
  • Business visa: With this visa, you can stay up to 1 year when you have sponsorship from an employer. When you haven’t found employment yet, you can also apply for a business visa, but you can then only stay up to 90 days.
  • Official visas (for example diplomatic visas): These are issued for various durations, but you will need an official letter from your government to apply for one.

Visa regulations have frequently changed over the last decade and will probably be altered more in the years to come. When you are planning to relocate to Vietnam, always check with the local Vietnamese embassy or consulate, to find out which documents you need and for which permit or visa to apply.

Healthcare in Vietnam

Before going to Vietnam, always contact your doctor to see whether you need any vaccinations, as there are many diseases going around that you don’t want any part of.

At the moment, Vietnam is making drastic changes to its healthcare system, which will now resemble the successful healthcare system in Thailand. With almost 1% of its GDP being spent on the improvement of healthcare, Vietnam is aiming at having all its citizens covered by the government healthcare plan. This would then decrease the difference between the level of healthcare in the major cities (such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Min City, etc.) and the rural areas in Vietnam.

Most expats choose for private healthcare as these institutions offer higher quality and shorter waiting lists. In the main cities, you won’t have problems finding a hospital with international staff.

School and education

When you want to send your child to school in Vietnam, there are several options.

  • Public schools: These usually teach children the Vietnamese way, meaning that there is a lot of passive learning and reciting. There are also public schools that apply a more western approach, but they have immense waiting lists.
  • Private and International schools: Due to the growing number of expats in the last 2 decades, the number of private international schools has been gradually increasing. The reason they are popular among expats is that there is less overcrowding. On top of that, education is available in several languages and not only in Vietnamese. However, due to the popularity of these schools, not only among expats but also among affluent locals, there are huge waiting lists. So, when you plan to relocate to Vietnam, you may want to register your child at a school before you actually fly there.

After finishing school, students have the possibility to study at university, which you can enter after passing an entrance exam. The numbers show this is not an easy task as only 1 in 5 of the applicants passes the test.

The job market in Vietnam

Having one of the lowest unemployment rates on the globe, Vietnam is an economic success story. No less than 25 years ago Vietnam was one of the poorest countries in the world but has since then rapidly developed itself to the economic powerhouse it is today. The Vietnamese government has reformed many sectors such as tourism, telecommunications, agriculture and the food industry. These reforms led to an increase in foreign investment, which also means good news for expats. In many industries, there are decent opportunities skilled workers. There is only one thing that is a bit of a pain and that is your work permit. The process can be long and complicated. However, the government is also reforming this part of legislation and it is widely believed that the situation will improve in the years to come.

Property information

Finding accommodation in Vietnam is not considered to be hard. With many kinds of housing widely available, you can easily find something for every budget. Some things to keep in mind are:

  • Finding living space is best done by word of mouth. Ask your colleagues or fellow expats to help you find accommodation. Only when they will not be able to help you out, you should ask the help of a broker.
  • There are special estate websites for expats, but keep in mind that prices are higher then when going on a local site.
  • When looking for an apartment in a big city such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Min City, also inspect the area in which the living space is located. Vietnamese cities are quickly expanding, and you don’t want to work next to a construction site.
  • It is common for landlords to ask for a one- or two-month security deposit. Expats should also provide a copy of their passport, proof of employment and a work visa.

Cost of moving to Vietnam

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  • Standard Shipping: When you want to send your luggage, books or clothes, this service is for you. Make sure that you don’t exceed the dimensions for standard shipments below.
    • Maximum weight of 40kg (30kg in some cases).
    • A maximum length of 175 cm.
    • Length (in cm) + 2x width (in cm) + 2x height (in cm) < 300 cm.
  • Freight shipping: Do you have a family or just a boatload of stuff? Then shipping on pallets is the most cost-effective option for you.
  • Dedicated Van Delivery: With this service, you will have a van that only works for you. It will come and pick up your items and then drive to the destination without any stops. Keep in mind that this is not possible for every route.
  • Individual offer: When your shipping needs can’t be fulfilled with the shipping options above, contact our logistics experts for an individual offer, catered to your needs.

After you choose the appropriate option for you, you can then move on to placing your order. Here are some of the other things that Eurosender has to offer.

So, whatever your needs, the cost of moving house to Vietnam will cost you much less than you had expected.

Cost of living in Vietnam

Many people are drawn to Vietnam because of the low cost of living, making it a popular location for retirees who enjoy their pension in dollars or euros. Of course, the lifestyle you live determines the budget you need, but on the whole, Vietnam favours well compared to for example the USA, Canada or countries in the European Union. However, you should keep in mind that, due to the growing economy, prices go up year on year.

  • Things that are relatively expensive: accommodation, schooling, western products.
  • Things that are relatively cheap: food, transport, internet and phone, travel

Driving in Vietnam

To drive in Vietnam, you need an International Driving Permit, which you can get for around $20-25 at one of your local driving authorities. When you are staying in Vietnam for a longer period of time, it is also possible to convert your local driving license for a Vietnamese one.

Other things you need to drive in Vietnam are:

  • Blue card (vehicle registration)
  • Insurance document

Besides the documents, there are many things that might differ from driving in your home country. Let’s take a look at some of the things you should know before entering the Vietnamese roads.

  • In Vietnam, the horn is used as a communication tool and you may hear a lot of “talking” in the numerous traffic jams.
  • When being stopped by traffic cops, usually dressed in yellow or green, you can offer a little “coffee money” to avoid fines.
  • Motorbikes are extremely popular in Vietnam and this may take some getting used to when driving in Vietnam for the first time. They can come from any direction and try to overtake you from every angle.
  • People often neglect red traffic lights, so when yours is green always check that there are no more cars coming from other directions.

See the most popular destination from where you can move

United Kingdom

Moving to Vietnam from the UK is catching on. This comes as no surprise when you put the two climates together. Where the UK is known for its grey and rainy environment, Vietnam has a much more tropical outlook. This also means that Vietnam is more suitable for scuba diving or kitesurfing. Add to that the fact that the cost of living is significantly lower in Vietnam than in the UK and you understand that moving will not only improve your mood but also your financial status. So, don’t wait any longer and get those suitcases out of your storage and start your new life in Vietnam today.

Other destinations?

Disclaimer: The materials provided in this article were collected from other credible resources to be used for general information purposes only. Given that the legislative basis of the country and its economic development have a changing nature, the information provided in the article could be subject to change. Whilst we endeavour to keep the information up-to-date and correct, Eurosender will not be liable for any inappropriate, incomplete, or inaccurate information. Certain links will lead to websites which are not under control of Eurosender. Thus, Eurosender accepts no liability in respect of materials, products or services being not under control of Eurosender.