Reasons why Vietnam among top countries for foreigners to retire
Hoi An Ancient Town. Photo: Tang Trung Kien/ Shutterstock
Kara Williams dedicated the first part of the article to share her experiences when visiting Hoi An Ancient Town. She was blown away by “the well-preserved Ancient Town with its centuries-old buildings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site”. She toured the countryside by bicycle, learning about the ever-present rice paddies and how rice paper is made; and taxied to a white-sand beach for a dip.
After one week of staying in Vietnam, Kara Williams fell in love with the country and vowed to return someday. “I could spend a lot of time here”, Williams said.
Williams added she was not the only person having great affection for Vietnam. “With its rich culture, tropical weather, low standard of living, and vast sightseeing opportunities and travel in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a popular place for ex-pats to relocate. It’s also caught the attention of retirees”. Vietnam ranked 10th on International Living’s list of the world’s best places to retire in 2021.
In the second part of the article, Kara Williams shedded light on 8 reasons why Vietnam is one of the best destinations for ex-pats to spend their retirement years.
1. Cost Of Living
Kara Williams cited International Living Magazine as pointing out that exceptionally low cost of living is Vietnam’s huge attraction for retirees. In A Better Life for Half the Price, author Tim Leffel notes that Vietnam is “one of the best values in the world for travelers, especially when it comes to lodging and food,” making it a great value for residents, too. Leffel says that when it comes to apartments, almost anywhere in the country, “you can find something nice and reasonably roomy in the range of $300 to $800 a month.”
Kara Williams also quoted Neil Varden, the CEO of CabinZero, who moved to Ho Chi Minh City as saying that the cost of living is great, he can live like a king without spending much money.
“Low prices certainly made sightseeing, shopping, eating, and drinking in Vietnam so wonderfully appealing when I visited. Dipping into a busy, casual restaurant and paying $1 for an ice-cold can of beer and $2 for banh mi”, Kara Williams recalled.
2. Opportunities For Travel
From Vietnam, visitors can easily access the Southeast Asian countries. With plentiful flights on budget airlines, frequent trips to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, or Malaysia are possible.
Traveling domestically is also easy, with flights between key cities like HCMC, Da Nang, and Hanoi, plus a system of buses, trains, and even ferries to popular island destinations, like Phu Quoc.
Not only is Vietnamese food so cheap throughout the country -- whether you’re picking something up from a street stall, sitting down in a restaurant, or shopping at a local grocery store -- it is so good.
Kara Williams had the opportunity to sample Hoi An’s signature dishes, from the banh mi sandwich to white rose dumplings, to Cao Lau noodles. Especially, strong and dark Vietnamese coffee is exquisite.
If you’re a foodie who’s interested in sampling new foods and enjoying them cheaply, Vietnam will not disappoint, she said.
Vietnamese people are very friendly. “Everywhere we went, we encountered so many smiling faces -- people who were eager to help us”.
Kara Williams said at Hoi An hotel where she stayed, the gentle demeanors and welcoming nature were the norms among the front desk and restaurant staff. Her English-speaking bike tour guide was chock full of knowledge and so accommodating -- candid and happy to answer questions about her life in Vietnam.
5. Various Places To Live
Photo: Nguyen Quang Ngoc Tonkin/ Shutterstock
Da Nang seems to be the “it” place for ex-pats and digital nomads these days, with its numerous cafes (with solid internet), golden beaches, high-rise apartments, and pretty landscapes, as it’s surrounded on three sides by mountains.
To the south of Da Nang are two world-class golf courses, and further south still is the colorful city of Hoi An, which may be too touristy for some retirees. Still, it is quite vibrant, with plenty of restaurants, cafes, proximity to more beaches, and lots of tailor shops, if reasonably priced custom clothing interests you.
HCMC is mind-blowingly huge but may appeal if you’re all about an urban center that is rich in French colonial history. Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, is in the north, so it’s not quite as toasty, temperature-wise, as HCMC. Other smaller communities that ex-pats consider, says International Living, include Dalat, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, and the island of Phu Quoc.
Vietnam’s tropical monsoon climate appeals to many -- especially snowbirds who simply want to say good-bye to North American winters. However, it’s definitely not for everyone. Temperatures can easily reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit and above in some areas in the hottest months, and humidity reigns throughout the country.
The seasonal climate varies depending on whether you’re inland or on the coast, in the north, or in the south.
7. History And Culture
From its ancient temples and pagodas to its more current 20th-century war history, Vietnam offers so much for retirees who want to broaden their minds with an exploration of Vietnamese and Southeastern Asia historical and cultural events.
There are countless opportunities to join cultural tours and classes to learn how sleeping mats are woven from dried reeds or how commerce works in the Mekong Delta floating markets.
Of course, a country’s culture is often best experienced simply by strolling through a neighborhood, eating local foods, watching families play in the park, or taking in a local theater performance. Again, Vietnam offers plenty of opportunities to do just that.
8. An Evolving Future
The author cited Jefferson Saunders who moved to Vietnam in retirement in 2016 as saying that he was interested in watching the evolution between the old and the new. There is “higher education, better income, internet, more traveling, along with serious investment money coming into the country,” an emerging market.
Now 70 years old and married, Saunders notes that Vietnam’s big cities feature Western-style medical clinics and hospitals, as well as high-end hotels, often backed by Japanese or Korean investors. He also sees Vietnamese society increasingly rejecting some of the issues that have plagued the country in the past, such as petty crime and litter.