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Expat life in Ho Chi Minh city

Updated: Oct 7, 2022


HCMC formerly known as Saigon is becoming a popular destination for tourism and also expats. Vietnam has a strong and vibrant economy and has been politically stable for some time. The outlook also looks good for continued growth and stability.

As a result more and more expats are coming to work in HCMC and International schools, bars, restaurants are springing up over the city. The city is broken up into districts with commerce and business being focused in District 1. District 2 over the past decade has become very popular with expats as it is where many of the International schools are located.

In terms of quality of life district 2 offers a lot for the expat. Although you are in HCMC it has the feel of a village with only a few high rise buildings and plenty of green areas. The bars and restaurants are local and eclectic as opposed to the standard international chains you find in most big cities. They are often run by locals who have married an expat and they cater to all in their offerings.

The climate in HCMC is tropical like most of Asia and can be pretty hot in the city during the summer months. In the surrounding areas like district 2 it is still comfortable sitting out in the mornings and evenings especially if there is a breeze. Compared to other cities the cost of living in HCMC is still very affordable and the local food is becoming very well known and popular.

HCMC offers excitement and fun for both families and single people, as a location it currently ticks most of the boxes for an expat who plans on moving there for work. There are plenty of good hospitals and clinics and also plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and play sport.

HCMC is well served in terms of transport by Grab and various other taxi companies. It is also possible to get around HCMC quite quickly and cheaply with ‘Grab Bike’. Bikes are the preferred mode of transport and most expats who plan on staying for any length of time will likely get a bike.

Vietnam has also become very popular with tourists with many famous attractions and if you are living there it is easy to get out and enjoy them. Vietnam is well served by ‘low cost airlines’, buses and trains making almost everywhere now reasonably accessible.

HCMC is not Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong but for those looking for a less hectic life the quality of life is very good. District 2 is fantastic for those who want or need to work in a big city but want to actually live somewhere quieter and more village like. The country is safe and well suited to families and the people are friendly and generally helpful.

Most nationalities visiting Vietnam will need to get a visa before they enter the country but this can be done online and is fairly straightforward.

Currently I would rate HCMC as one of the better locations in the world to be an expat. Yes it is not Singapore or Dubai but it has a certain charm which is unique and hopefully this charm will remain for many years to come.

I will run a series of blogs on various expat cities but as a whole I would say HCMC is somewhere in which most people will have a great time and really enjoy their experience.

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