In this article we have prepared some information on the cost of a variety of products, goods and services so that you know how much the cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City is.
What’s life like in Vietnam in general?
Vietnam is one of the fastest growing export markets in the world and has grown at an impressive rate since it was opened to foreign investors in 2015. Both real estate buyers and multinational corporations are trying to take advantage of this country’s rise.
Along with this expansion, we have seen rapid price increases in major cities like HCM and Hanoi . Property prices have skyrocketed in central areas, and at the same time we see obvious changes in areas with a high concentration of tourists and expats.
Even so, before stating that living in a place is expensive, you should analyze your general lifestyle. Adding an extra car or room to your apartment can make a big difference.
Living as a single is not that expensive in Saigon. You can easily survive on a budget of $1,000 a month if you are willing to share an apartment and cook at home from time to time. You might even save some money.
However, you should also keep in mind that the country has some of the most expensive international schools in the world when compared to general costs of living and salaries. So if you are an expat moving with your family, make sure you confirm what costs your company will cover.
Although Ho Chi Minh City attracts most foreigners, prices are not comparable to the rest of the country. The third largest city Da Nang is 30% cheaper on average when looking at rental rates and general cost of living.
Cost of rent, food, transportation and more
If you live in Ho Chi Minh City, you will spend much of your salary or savings on rent. Although the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center is 9,140,028 VND (400 USD) nationwide, you will have to pay 10,839,415 VND (471 USD) in Ho Chi Minh City.
It is expensive compared to more developed cities, such as Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, where prices are on a similar level.
Rent in Ho Chi Minh city
If you want to live in a 3-bedroom apartment in Vietnam, you will have to pay an average of 20,004,997 VND (869 VND), while the amount will rise to 25,167,339 VND (1,094 USD) in Ho Chi Minh City. If you decide to live outside the city center, you will save around 30%.
Food in Ho Chi Minh city
Vietnam is famous for its good food, with excellent cuisine of its own. Besides, there are also many influences and inspirations from French cuisine. Did you know that Vietnamese people love to eat baguettes filled with vegetables, meat, spices and pate? You will not have to pay more than 1 USD for one.
Meals in inexpensive restaurants usually cost 50,000 VND (2 USD) on average, but can reach as high as 70,000 – 80,000 VND. Normally, when you go out for a three-course meal, you will spend an average of 400,000 VND (17.3 VND) in Vietnam. The price rises to 450,000 VND (19.56 VND) in Ho Chi Minh city.
Alcohol is cheap, at least the beer. A can of cold Tiger or Saigon beer costs as little as 20,000 VND in restaurants (0.86 USD). Note that there is also no need to pay a tip, but restaurants sometimes add separate VAT and a service charge.
Transportations in Ho Chi Minh city
One drawback of living in Vietnam is that not even the major cities have efficient public transportation (yet). They are building subways in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and we expect the works to be completed in the next few years.
That implies that you will have to buy a motorcycle or go by taxi. If you go by taxi a couple of times a day, it will be a lot of expense. That’s why I recommend you to buy a bike or download the biggest taxi app in Southeast Asia: Grab.
No need to book a car if you use Grab, you can also book scooters and you’ll save a lot of money in the long run.
You will also need a SIM card if you move to Vietnam. The fees are lower and you can easily get by on 80,000 VND per month (3.5 USD). Two of the most popular service providers are Viettel and Mobifone.
One thing you will notice is that utility rates can be high, at least for electricity. Foreigners often pay up to 100 USD a month for electricity, even in 2-3 bedroom apartments. I have noticed that the electricity rate tends to increase if you cook a lot. Also, don’t forget to turn off air conditioners when you’re not home, as they also tend to increase costs.
To save your cost of living in Ho Chi Minh city
If you want to reduce your cost of living in Ho Chi Minh city, below are some recommendations:
Buy a scooter or grab bike: You will save a lot of money if you buy or rent a scooter instead of taking a taxi everywhere. The second cheapest option is to go by Grab-bike, as you book a scooter instead of a car.
The transportation system is not very developed in Ho Chi Minh City and most foreigners cannot travel by bus. Another option is to go on foot or by bicycle. However, keep in mind that there is a lot of traffic and it is easier to get around by scooter.
Shared apartment: the apartments are large compared to Hong Kong and Singapore. You can share a nice flat of 80 square meters in a new building for 700-1200 USD per month. It is common for foreigners to share a flat in Ho Chi Minh City. The good thing is that you will often have access to cleaning services, a gym and a swimming pool.
Avoid the expensive bars: there are many bars and restaurants where you can eat and drink for much less than in the elegant bars and pubs with terraces in the center. If your budget is limited, I recommend you go to a local Vietnamese.