Vietnam is cheap, really cheap. Rent is 78 per cent cheaper in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) than in Sydney. It costs 75 per cent less to go to a restaurant. Groceries are a third of the cost.
You can eat in a local restaurant for A$3. A beer will cost you about A$1. And these are the prices in Ho Chi Minh. It is even cheaper in the countryside.
John, the Australian barrister, agreed: ‘It’s just so much cheaper here. Sydney is just off the planet when it comes to costs, especially restaurants. That’s why I think a lot of Australians come here; they realise they can live a lot better, then they make arrangements to stay.’
Ian, our Vietnam vet, warned us in Vung Tau that the cheap cost of living in Vietnam, especially for single men, can be dangerous. Easy access to alcohol and the bar-focused lifestyle pose great health risks.
When Ian first came back to Vietnam he stayed in hotels in Vung Tau. ‘In the hotel I had a serviced small suite with a kitchen at A$600 a month. Then I found some friends, and worked out the best area to live in. The trouble with living in a hotel is that you end up in the bar each and every night. You have to have a lot of self-discipline here,’ said Ian.
After all, beer costs just A$1 a bottle. As Ian pointed out, ‘That in itself can be a trap. I have a rule that I don’t drink before six o’clock because you see so many blokes start drinking at three in the afternoon, then it gets earlier, twelve noon, then eleven in the morning, and before long it’s wake up and have a beer, and their life is over.’
A comfortable three bedroom apartment in central Ho Chi Minh City will cost around $1000 a month to rent, that’s a about 70 per cent cheaper than Sydney. Two people can enjoy a meal at a mid-priced restaurant in the city for $15, that’s 80 per cent less than in Sydney.
A taxi home is 76 per cent less and to have a taxi wait is almost 98 per cent less. It costs less than $1 an hour to have a taxi wait.
Internet is 74 per cent less and mobile phone usage costs are almost 90 per cent lower in Vietnam than in Australia. A retirees pension goes a long way in a country with a cost profile like this.