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Hanoi, one of the cheapest cities to live for expats in the world

February 06, 2021 | 14:20

Hanoi is one of the best places to live on a budget when you want to settle down in a city outside your hometown, which is much cheaper and more affordable than other cities in the world.

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Photo: Worldpackers

Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries in Southeast Asia. Its capital, Hanoi, is the perfect place to live and work abroad on a tight budget.

This multicultural and historical city is known for its architecture, street food, nightlife, and vast history. Hanoi has existed for centuries, and its Chinese, French, and Russian influences are still tangible today.

Hanoi is a great place to live if you want to meet new people, experience a rich culture, explore the natural beauty of Vietnam, and, of course, save money.

The cost of living in Ha Noi is a bit higher than most places in Vietnam. Expats who have lived there have also reported seeing an inflation on prices compared the past few years. This rise in price can be due to the increase of expats as well as the improvement of Vietnam’s economy.

But do not be worried, these price hikes are not as bad as you think and you can still live comfortably. On average you should expect to live anywhere from 600 USD to 900 USD per month. This can, of course, get higher depending on your preferences.

Budget for Living in Hanoi – How much it Costs to Live as an Expat

As a Southeast Asian country, Vietnam is quite cheap compared to Western countries. Your money from home will for sure go a long way here. Lots of remote workers purposely choose to live in Vietnam for this reason specifically among others. Note that no matter how cheap a place is, if you do not control your expenses you might still end up spending as much as you would back home.

You should also note that the cost of living may differ from city to city. Bigger and more known ones like Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh are naturally more expensive to live in compared to a smaller town. Below you will see a breakdown of costs for the most common expenses you will have while you are there.

Accommodation

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Photo: Milesofsmiles blog

The most typical type of accommodation that you will have if you are living here is an apartment or a room in a shared house.

Prices for a studio apartment located within one of the cities main districts can range from $300-$500 USD a month, whereas a one or two bedroom apartment will cost around $400-$600 a month.

Alternatively, a popular and cheaper option would be to get a room in a shared house. All across Hanoi there are large French inspired homes that have full kitchens and living rooms, and upwards of three bedrooms. Home owners put these rooms up for rent, most starting at around $250 – $350 a month.

Along with your accommodation/rent you will have to pay your electric bill which in the winter months will be around $20 a month and in the summer if you use your air conditioner can be closer to $50.

Also, since you cannot drink the tap water you can order water straight to your house as well, a large jug (19L) will cost you around three dollars.

To Review:

Studio Apartment: $300 – $500 USD

1 or 2 Bedroom Apartment: $400 – $600 USD

Room in a shared house: $250 – $350 USD

Bills: $20 -$50 USD

Drinking water: $3 USD per 19L Jug

Transportation

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Photo: Movetoasia

Hanoi is a city built for motorbikes, not cars. These small congested roads are not equipped to handle large vehicles making getting around places difficult. Many people learn to ride a scooter or a motorbike. This makes buzzing from one place to the next easy and fast.

Monthly rent for a bike will be around $50 USD. If you would like to buy a scooter or motorbike, you can also do that. To buy a half decent used motorbike it will cost around $500 dollars.

If this isn’t for you, don’t worry! Hanoi has a large network of taxi drivers and other types of paid transportation. Popular apps like Grab and Uber are widely available and you can even book motorbike taxis through the apps making getting around cheap!

There is also a comprehensive fleet of public buses in Hanoi. They go everywhere and is by far the cheapest option, though it may take you a little longer to get there.

Food

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Photo: MovetoAsia

Hanoi is a food mecca. There are a myriad of options from cheap street food to higher end eats. On an average day I will spend in total around $8 most of it being on food.

Breakfast

An average budget breakfast will cost you around $1.50, this could be for anything from a bowl of Pho to a bagel. Some ways I save money on breakfast is to eat oatmeal or fruit at home. Buying something like oatmeal is good for many days worth of b-fasts. Fruit here is also very cheap! For 0.88 cents you can get a whole bunch of bananas. These are good for smoothies as well!

Lunch

On a normal day, a tasty Vietnamese lunch will run you about $1.70. This could be noodles, or various rice dishes. Let’s say you also fancy a coffee during the day, then you will run down to a local cafe and get a Vietnamese iced coffee for around $1.30.

Dinner

Dinner will cost you about the same as the other meals depending on what you want! I will normally go for a local dish, so that will be around 2.20 USD

These are all the prices for local dishes. If you fancy a pizza, Sushi or any other non-Vietnamese dish the prices will be more in the 4-7 dollar range.

Other monthly costs

Of course most other things you will spend money on completely depends on you! Here are some popular things and prices that you might also be spending $$$ on.

Gym Memberships

All over the city are different gyms, there are large companies like Elite Fitness and California Fitness, to small locally owned places. Memberships at a large group will run you around $50+ a month whereas at a smaller place it will be much less, closer to $25. At some of the smaller gyms you can pay per entry. This will cost around $2 or $3 a time.

The majority of your month’s expenses will be spent on your accommodation, followed by transport then food and other things. Like all budgets, you are in control of what you spend and really everyone’s spending is different. Living on $1,200 a month is super doable here and you will even be able to save lots.

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