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Vietnam retains on top great countries for old men

January 06, 2021 | 10:20

Vietnam continues to be a top 10 country for retiring abroad, holding on to its spot in the latest Retirement Index.

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Photo: VN Explorer

According to the Retirement Index, Vietnam received a final score of 75.5 in this year's edition, which was released last week by International Living, an Irish publishing company that focuses on overseas retirement. The score was 0.5 points down from last year, but Vietnam remained in 10th place.

The index covers 25 countries, aiming at rating these countries based on several factors including housing, benefits and discounts, visa and residence, fitting in and entertainment, development, climate, healthcare, governance, opportunity, and cost of living.

Vietnam scored the highest marks among the listed countries in the cost of the living category with 99 points, according to VN Express.

Answering International Living, Vietnam may be growing in leaps and bounds, but for retirees looking for a delightfully comfortable lifestyle, it remains one of the least expensive countries on earth. Couples who have made their homes in the mountain town of Dalat say they’re not sacrificing a thing to stay within a budget of $800 per month or less, and expats in Nha Trang rave about spending $1,000 per month and “living rich.” Even in the most expensive cities—Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)—you can live comfortably for less than $1,500 per month.

“You’ll know within 36 hours of coming here whether you love it or not,” says 65-year-old Redwood City, California expat Deb Aronson. “I knew within three months of being in Vietnam that this would be my home. It captured my soul.” That was 21 years ago, and she’s still under the spell. She’s one of a growing number of expats who lives long term in Vietnam.

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Photo: VN Explorer

"I’ve lived here for 10 years now—in the coastal resort city of Nha Trang, in the progressive and delightfully livable city of Da Nang, and currently in Hanoi, Vietnam’s 1,010-year-old capital city. When I’m not at home, I’m often exploring other parts of the country—the wild, remote mountains of the far north, the pristine beaches of the central coast, the waterfalls and pine forests of the Central Highlands, and the skyscraper-filled skylines of Vietnam’s rapidly developing cities", the expat added.

The website highlights Vietnamese locals' hospitality and friendliness. "t’s an easy place to make local friends", it said. Vietnam scores well on the English Proficiency Index—higher than most other Asian and even Latin American countries. They are also eager to practice their English skills; many friendships are formed through informal language exchanges. Therefore, English-speaking expats find lives here enjoyable.

Many expats are drawn to Vietnam for its beaches, which stretch more than 2,000 miles along the entire length of the country. Places on the central coast like Da Nang, Hoi An, and Nha Trang have exceptionally pretty beaches while offering residents the benefits of city life, too. In other places, such as the south-central village of Mui Ne and the southern island of Phu Quoc, the laidback lifestyle is centered around the coast.

Vietnamese cuisine is delightfully regional, with savory broths in the north, spicy noodles in the south, and incredibly delicious dishes and specialties that are found in only one town or village in the entire country. The food is fresh and healthy, with complex flavors expertly blended to create unique dishes. The country is also famous for its coffee—strong, rich, and locally grown, it’s a source of pride for the Vietnamese, who are its biggest consumers, the Index cited.

Vietnam is a regional travel hub. Several international airports serve regional destinations, while airports in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offered flights to all major global destinations, including direct, non-stop flights to the U.S., and likely will again, once borders reopen. Budget carriers like VietJet Air, Pacific Airlines, and Bamboo Airways offer ridiculously low promotional fares, while the signature carrier, Vietnam Airlines, has full-service flights.

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Valerie Mai