10) The Weather
In the southern half of the country where I live, it’s never cold. Sweaters and coats are unnecessary. My clothing budget is minuscule; I get by with shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops when I’m not working. That’s not to say the weather here is perfect. Far from it. The heat, humidity and rain can all be unpleasant. But overall, the climate here is conducive to my lifestyle and I love seeing the bright sun every day.
9) Cost of living
Inflation is happening and the bowl of pho that cost 25 cents a few years ago now costs $1.50. However, the cost of basic items needed for daily living is still a bargain, especially if you shop around. Everything from pedicures to taxis is a fraction of the cost of Western countries. If you can manage to avoid the more expensive touristy areas and the stores geared toward the wealthier expats, you can live quite cheaply. Shop for food at the markets and share housing, especially with a local family, and you can actually save money.
For convenience, cost, and freshness, you can’t beat the local street markets. Even though there is a family of ten living in this house where I rent a room, their refrigerator is only 1/4 full. Why? Because they shop for fresh food every day at the street market. A refrigerator becomes redundant when you shop daily for fresh produce.
7) Tropical fruits
Exotic fruits that I only read about back in the States are now a part of my daily diet. Mangosteen, dragon fruit, durian, rambutan, lychee, jackfruit, soursop and more are just a few steps from my front door. In-season fruits sell for 25 cents a pound.
6) Being in Southeast Asia
Cambodia (with the otherworldly Angkor Wat ruins), Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines are all just a stone’s throw away. With discount airlines such as Air Asia offering daily flights all over the region, there is enough to explore here to last a lifetime. A bus fare to the Cambodian border costs a mere ten dollars.
Viet Nam is a developing country. It is growing rapidly in an economic, political and cultural sense which means there are many opportunities here for aspiring entrepreneurs. Many young Vietnamese who studied abroad are now returning here from Europe, America, and Australia and helping to build the country. There is still far too much red tape to navigate for foreigners to start a business, but that is improving, albeit slowly.
4) A respectable English language newspaper
Viet Nam News is published seven days a week and is superior to any daily paper in the United States, and operates on only a fraction of the budget of papers like The Washington Post.
3) A sense of optimism about the future
Vietnamese believe that the best days lie ahead. After two brutal wars of liberation from foreign powers, the country is rapidly industrializing and joining the global market. Foreign investment is flowing into the country and the internet is exposing the population to the wider world. Not just new technology, but new ideas are gaining ground quickly.
2) A well-established ESL job scene
ESL language schools have been around now for over 20 years, (some longer than that), and the demand for English instruction seems to be as robust as ever. This is good news for teachers like myself. Most of the bigger schools are reputable and treat their teachers with respect and courtesy. Now, if the government could just simplify the work permit process….
1) Vietnamese women
The women of Viet Nam are the most beautiful in the world. From their soft skin to their long silky hair, they are gorgeous in every respect.