Budget for Moving to Vietnam and Surviving Your First Month

After we discussed the reasons for moving to Vietnam, the cost of living, and the best city to live in Vietnam, let’s talk about the budget you should have for moving.

Personally, I find having the set of a budget when moving can be tricky. How much will the deposit for the apartment be? How about the bills and expenses for the first few months since getting yourself familiar in a new environment can be expensive.

A simple mistake like shopping in the wrong grocery store or taking a taxi after you give up finding your way home can cause a few extra dollars or in this case Vietnamese dongs out of your budget.

I remember when I first moved to Ho Chi Minh City, I was doing my grocery in the nearest shop, although the prices were not so bad, later on, I realised it was actually pretty steep compared to bigger supermarkets. I also took a taxi motorbike almost everywhere every time I get lost walking around.

If you are ready to move to Vietnam but still unsure who much budget is enough before you actually jump on this life-changing decision, this article can give you an idea on that dilemma. Would $5,000 USD be enough? How long $10,000 USD can last me until I find a job? How long before I’ll be on my feet again and earning enough to send money OUT of Vietnam?

Hopefully, we can answer if not all, at least some major questions you have.

ALSO READ: A guide on how to move to Vietnam

Budget for Visa & Flight

Vietnam's Newest Environment-First Moving Company
Photo Credit: Evolve Mobility. With permission to use

Before anything else, you’ll need to book a flight to Vietnam. Of course the price of your flight is going to vary depending on where you come from.

Before arriving, depending on which country you’re from, you’ll also need to secure a visa. Either you are getting a business visa or a tourist visa, you need to know how much you have to spend here because it differs depending on your nationality.

It ranges between free (because you might not need a visa if you are only staying for less than a month) to $200 or more. See our articles covering  the different visa typeshow to apply for a tourist visa, business visas, and other requirements for entering Vietnam.

Clicl the below image to see how much a Vietnam visa will cost for you.

ivisa table guide - Vietnam

Are you planning to bring your pet to Vietnam? This may come with additional costs too. Read out guide to keeping a pet in Vietnam.

Rent in Vietnam

This question was thoroughly answered in our article about the cost of living in Vietnam and the cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City specifically. But to give you an estimated answer, a shared apartment is between $220-$350. A studio apartment is from $350, an entire apartment ranges between $400 and up while a house with a garden starts from $600. The prices vary depending on the location and the size of the apartment or house. Some expats say it’s cheaper in Hanoi some says Ho Chi Minh is more affordable. I’ve lived in both, in my experience I feel like Hanoi is cheaper but the quality of apartments in Ho Chi Minh is better. Smaller cities like Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Mui Ne can be cheaper than Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Finding an apartment in Vietnam may take some time depending on which time of the year you arrive. You can find more information about finding an apartment in Vietnam here or check our recommendation for the best Vietnam hostels, a place to stay while you are looking for an apartment without spending too much.

How to find an apartment for rent in Vietnam
Typical shared apartments in Vietnam

How much is the deposit for the apartment

The normal rule for signing and moving to a new apartment is that you pay a one-month deposit and one-month advance. This may differ in every landlord and/or city. My apartment at that time was a shared one, I was paying $239 or 5,449,797.50 VND. Therefore, I had to pay $478 or 10,899,595.00 VND, this was in Ho Chi Minh City. Depending on the length of your contract, some landlords may ask for a two-month deposit and a one-month advance. It’s safe to say to have at least $600 if you are going to move to a shared apartment with six months contract.

Budget for Food and Groceries

Like what I mentioned, finding the most suitable grocery for you can be a little work. You will more likely be uncertain about the prices of the basic needs which can lead to an expensive first month of your stay. If you, later on, figure out that you spent too much, don’t be hard on yourself and just move on. I was spending about $20 (456,050.00 VND) for a weekly food budget where I shop in big supermarkets.

Yummy Pho

Job Hunting Budget

In case you moved to Vietnam without securing a job yet, be prepared that this will cost you some money. Let say it will take a month for you to land a job, this will cost you a month of expense that will be deducted right from your savings or budget without making any income.  If you are qualified, you can also get an English teaching job, however, the good ones can take some time. Here, you can read more about teaching English in Vietnam.

Health & Medical Insurance

If you found a job here in Vietnam, there’s a big chance that your medical/health insurance will be covered. But if you are planning to be a digital nomad here or prefer to get your own insurance, you can choose between a local provider or get a worldwide company.

The cost for a local one is almost the same for worldwide coverage, if you travel a lot, you might one to consider an international company instead. Just remember that you might have to pay out of pocket first and apply for a claim after compared to a local company that most likely partnered with Vietnamese hospitals. Read our insurance for expats in Vietnam guide.

Other Expenses

Living in a new city or country is exciting, you will surely find yourself in a situation where you will be spending a little too much, especially on alcohol and food. If you convert the food and alcohol cost to the currency back home, it can look a lot cheaper. However, as this “luxury” piles up, you can see that it is costing you money. Prepare to spend about $100 to $150 per week for transportation, eating out and drinking out. Check out our article about transportation in Vietnam to have a better idea of how locals and expats get around.

If you arrive during summer, you will more likely be using the air-conditioner a little too often to cool off. Generally, the bills are not that expensive. We were paying about $30 a month (we are two people – my boyfriend and I). We use the air-conditioner every night but have it turned off during the day when it’s not too hot.

In $30, this includes the electricitycommon bills (for your building or electricity and water for the common area), internet, and three times a week cleaning service.

If you are using a moving company, that can also add up on your budget, so budget wisely! We recommend you read this checklist for packing and getting ready to move to Vietnam, you can also download our printable checklist.

Total Budget for Moving to Vietnam

Visa (+ stamp fee)$150
Rent + Bills + Deposit$250 + 30 + 250
Transportation (rent of motorbike + deposit + gas)$40 + $200 + 10
Grocery (1 month)$50
Mobile phone (best SIM card guide)$10

Your budget for moving to Vietnam is all down to your own discipline, it’s easy to spend $3000 in your first month while it’s also possible to spend $900 as well. The first month can be expensive because of the deposit you need to pay for the apartment and motorbike.

Although it’s easy to go by in Vietnam even you are broke, believe me, it’s not the life you want to have especially in a foreign country where rules can be different in every corner.

15 thoughts on “Budget for Moving to Vietnam and Surviving Your First Month”

  1. Hi, Is Vietnam child friendly? Do you think it would it be easy for the whole family with two kids to migrate in there?

    • Hi Donna, I’m not sure what specifically you mean by child-friendly. Can you give more information about what kind of environment are you looking for? Moving your family shouldn’t be hard, there are international schools in big cities like Hanoi, HCMC, and Da Nang. There are also many expats who moved their family and kids here but a lot of them are living in big cities because, like what I mention, that’s where the international schools are and also the community for expats is much bigger.

    • Hey Mark,

      Young people in big or touristy cities speak good English. If you install a translation app, it will help you greatly on a day to day basis.

  2. Hello Isabelle,

    Many people arrive in the country on a 3 month tourist visa until they can land a job and get a work Visa. I was wondering what the adjustment would be for someone like that staying in hostels or hotels and eating out- as there wouldn’t be place to cook.

    • Hi Clayton,

      I’m not sure what you mean by adjustment between staying in hostels, eating out, and cooking? Also, there’s no work visa, Vietnam have business visa, work permit, and TRC (temporary residence permit).


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