Vietnam is now favourite for expats giving up on Thailand

Published:  24 Dec at 6 PM
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Vietnam is now an all time favourite for expats, whether they’re looking to retire, start a small business or teach English.

Unhappiness and insecurity about swinging changes to Thailand’s visa requirements as well as a general feeling of being no longer welcome has sent Thailand plummeting in expat survey rankings against Vietnam’s increasing popularity. In one study taken earlier this year, formerly popular Thailand’s quality of life, affordability, digital life, well-being and safety and security all lost ground to Vietnam, with more than 50 per cent of respondents saying they were insecure and unhappy.

Even Thailand’s acceptable-quality healthcare isn’t encouraging existing expats to stay or new arrivals to settle, with compulsory private health insurance for retirement visas and ever-increasing charges for medical and surgical treatment causing a growing number of expats to relocate to Vietnam. Previously, a favourite replacement for expats leaving Thailand was the Philippines, but Vietnam is now the most popular relocation destination.

The country’s strength is its affordable quality of life, now seen as the best in Southeast Asia, and its delicious, healthy fresh foods contrast with and are far cheaper than in the country’s near neighbour. For Western expats wanting to work, finding a job teaching English is a breeze, and most of the popular towns and cities now have flourishing international expat communities. The country is now considered secure and safe, and its weather varies dependent on location from cooler mountainous regions to the southern tropical climate.

Long-stay and work visas are far easier to get than in Thailand and, although owning land isn’t allowed, leasing a plot is straightforward. Ho Chi Minh City is a hub for digital nomads, many of whom were formally based in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, and the cost of living outside the big cities is far cheaper than in its counterpart. However, the main attraction is Vietnam’s visa offerings as well as its present-day political stability, and the country’s long-term economic growth also factored in many expats’ decisions.
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