The Differences Between Living in Vietnam and a Western Country

Flag of Vietnam

Vietnam was for many years war-torn, and though it is still recuperating from the effects of civil war, it has recently come to epitomize one of the most attractive South East Asia nations. It now pulls a huge number of foreign tourists as well as expats, who are all smitten by its unmatched and largely unspoilt natural beauty and picturesque atmosphere.


When it comes to the Vietnamese way of life, many westerners are usually taken aback by the distinctive laid back lifestyle that is evident even in the major cities like Ho Chi Minh City, the capital. In essence one of the main differences between living in Vietnam and many a western nation is its ubiquitous “small town” feel. For the most part the local population is extremely friendly to foreigners and normally go out of their way to make them feel welcomed. This is a stark contrast from the tension-packed and “mind you own business” way of life in the west.


The cost of living in Vietnam is also significantly lower than that of the western sphere. This is naturally one of the greatest allures for many expats that have settled in this country. Indeed in a 2012 cost of living survey conducted by mercer, Hanoi was ranked #136 in the most expensive cities globally listing. Food is very affordable and you can subsist on the local cuisine and even western food at very minimal costs.


The same is also true of accommodation, and there is a plethora of housing options laid out for expats. From up-market furnished apartments in the big cities like Ho Chi Minh to modest homes located at the suburbs of such urban centers. While property costs and rental prices are usually lower than they are in the west, they are considered around 30-50% higher than those of neighbouring countries such as Bangkok, Malaysia and Indonesia.


Healthcare is also very affordable for locals at public hospitals, however, private hospitals that cater for foreigners will be more expensive.


Vietnam, like earlier stated is characterized by a scenic ambience as well as 24/7/365 tropical climate that effectually make it a South East Asia paradise. You will find most expats flocking to coastal regions of these countries such as Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and Ha Long Bay all year round. These regions are characterized by pristine magnificent islands, white sandy beaches and warm clear waters.


Vietnam is also a safe South East Asia haven for foreigners, and happens to have one of the lowest crime rates in the entire world. The only vice that westerners are exposed to are petty thefts, pick-pocketing and purse snatching. Which is trivial when compared to the alarming crime rates of most western nations where robbery with violence and even murder are commonplace occurrences.


The local cultural influence in Vietnam is also very different from that of the west. While most western states’ population embrace individualism, this nation lays a strong emphasis on the family unit. Everyone from children to adults have clear cut roles to play to benefit the whole family’s day to day living.


For all intent and purposes this state of affairs makes Vietnam one of the few South East Asia nations that offers the authentic Oriental way of life. And a mesmerizing way of life that continues to lure foreigners to settle here.