Vietnam rated as best low cost SE Asian country for expat professionals

Published:  20 Jan at 6 PM
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Vietnam and its capital Hanoi are increasingly rated as not only the cheapest Southeast Asian destination for expats, but also as a great place to grow a new career.

Although the relocation process itself isn’t exactly inexpensive, once you’ve arrived to start your new life you’ll find the cost of living is far cheaper than the vast majority of favoured expat destinations in the region. A recent survey charted living expenses as averaging some $700 a month, including rental, transport, food drink and the essential smartphone costs.

The monthly living costs compare more than favourably with nearby Thailand’s equivalent at $1000 a month and the country is developing far faster than its immediate neighbours, giving it fourth place in Asia below Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong and above Japan in the recent HSBC survey. High spots for expat entrepreneurs were work fulfilment, an improved work/life balance, the chance to learn new skills, the ability to save from their disposable income, Vietnamese culture and its welcoming people.

The majority of expats received employment benefit packages, with the only downsides being the poor rating of Vietnamese healthcare and reduced job security. Most expats in Vietnam are employed in higher-level managerial positions, with salaries reflecting experience and qualifications. The work environment mirrors that in Japan, South Korea and China, with the Vietnamese themselves showing a strong work ethic.

Business culture is more formal than in many western countries, meaning expats need to dress and behave suitably, and networking skills are essential for success. Socialising with work colleagues in the evenings is a must, as in Japan, and is the traditional way to build up the wide social group necessary for career advancement. Arriving early for interviews or meetings is the norm, with punctuality an essential part of business life in Vietnam.
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