Each year, the organization Expat Insider publishes its ranking of the best destinations for expatriates around the world, a ranking in which Southeast Asia is again in 2022 evidence of its incredible attractiveness.
How to evaluate a country for expatriation?
The study, based on the testimony of some 11,970 expats from 177 nationalities and spread across 181 countries, incorporates opinions on all fundamental aspects of our lives, including:
- Quality of life: Leisure, happiness, travel and transportation, health, safety, access to technology.
- The ease of settling: Friendly relations, sense of belonging, language
- Work: Economic Environment, Job Security, Career Prospects
- Family life: Education, well-being
- Personal finances
- General satisfaction
Southeast Asia, a favored expatriate destination
According to the 2022 Expat Insider report by InterNations, Southeast Asian countries continue to be a popular destination for expatriates.
In the 2022 report, Indonesia ranked #2, followed by Taiwan (#3), Vietnam (#7), Malaysia (#9), and Singapore (#10). The Philippines ranked #28, and other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand (#32) and Cambodia (#44) also made the list. In comparison, Northeast Asian countries like China (#51), South Korea (#52), and Japan (#57) ranked lower. European countries like France (#32), Germany (#33), and the United Kingdom (#47) also ranked lower.
The case of Vietnam as an expatriation choice
This may surprise many, and yet … Vietnam is at the 7th place in this ranking for expats!
In this article we will study what are, in the eyes of expatriates around the world, the most attractive aspects of this amazing country, and the aspects that can still be improved.
Why live in Vietnam? Positive points of expats life
Vietnam, almost undisputed champion of employment and business
With 8% GDP growth in 2022 (and 6.28% on average between 2000 and 2018), and over 10% in its major cities, the Vietnamese economy is growing at a fast pace: trade opening , investments, improvement of education, development of the internal market are all vectors of growth.
Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are now major cities for business opportunities.
Thus, Ho Chi Minh City is in the 3rd rank and Hanoi in the 7th rank of the most dynamic cities in the world according to the JLL City Momentum Index 2020 !
According to the Expat Insider 2022 survey, Vietnam offers a welcoming and affordable work environment for expats.
The country ranks 11th out of 59 destinations worldwide for working abroad. Expats in Vietnam report feeling safe in their workplace and have a good work-life balance, with a high percentage of respondents indicating they work fewer hours than in their home country.
Additionally, expats report that the cost of living is low, making it easier to save money or enjoy a higher standard of living. However, the survey also notes that language barriers and cultural differences can make it challenging for expats to integrate into the local work culture.
Vietnam, a financial haven
The cost of living is for many expatriates one of the first reasons for choosing to move to Vietnam.
Vietnam ranks as the 7th best destination worldwide for expat finances. Expats report that their disposable income goes further in Vietnam, with 83% of respondents indicating that their cost of living is lower than in their home country.
The survey also highlights that the cost of accommodation is particularly affordable, with 94% of expats rating it positively.
Additionally, Vietnam ranks 4th worldwide for the affordability of healthcare, with expats reporting high satisfaction with both the cost and quality of medical care. Overall, Vietnam offers expats a financially attractive destination with a low cost of living and affordable access to essential services.
With an inflation at about 4%, prices rise reasonably in Vietnam in view of its growth, and all expenditure items of expatriate households are very comfortable with Vietnamese levels: housing, clothing, food, leisure, etc.
“Freedom, Independence, Happiness” is the motto of Vietnam, and it would seem that the country is keeping its promise!
Indeed, expats from all over the world place Vietnam in 6th place in terms of their personal happiness! An excellent feeling, for which explanations abound: climate, food, hospitality, exoticism, sense of security … everyone has a good reason to love this country.
The friendliness of its people
Expats in Vietnam find it easy to settle down and rank the country 9th in the Ease of Settling In Index.
They particularly appreciate the local friendliness, which ranks 6th, with 84% describing the residents as generally friendly, and 83% finding them friendly towards foreigners.
According to a US American expat, the warmth, honesty, and friendliness of the people are what they enjoy most about living in Vietnam, while a Malaysian expat highlights the friendly culture.
Additionally, expats feel welcome in Vietnam with 83% feeling welcomed and 71% feeling at home, which are higher percentages compared to the global average. The local culture is another aspect that expats greatly appreciate.
The negatives of expatriate life in Vietnam
Expats living in Vietnam express discontent with their Health & Well-Being, as the country ranks 40th in this category.
Around 19% of expats report that healthcare is generally unavailable, which is higher than the global average of 13%.
Moreover, 25% of expats find it challenging to access all the types of healthcare services they need, compared to 17% globally. Those who manage to access healthcare services are disappointed with the quality of medical care, with 23% expressing dissatisfaction compared to 14% globally.
According to the 2022 Expat Insider Survey, access to Vietnamese online administrative services continues to be a challenge. Expats vote the country last (52nd) for the availability of administrative/government services online.
Efforts are needed to simplify and improve this area. While it is possible to make invoices (E-Invoice) and VAT returns (VTA) online, these services are sometimes inadequately translated into English, and other services are still missing.
Vietnam is still a country where cash is king.
The banking system is thus not as developed as it could be, and even if distributors are present everywhere in the country, many businesses do not have credit card terminals.
This is also observed online with e-commerce, where cash on delivery solutions are commonplace. This is explained by the culture of the country, but also by the lack of real competition for online payments in VND (Vietnam Dong), the local currency. If for example Paypal is present in Vietnam, the transactions are denominated in USD and not in VND.
Access to Digital in Vietnam
According to the Expat Insider study, there is still work to be done in Vietnam in the digital world, which ranks #49 overall.
This is explained by the points mentioned above, on e-administration and online payments, but also on connection speeds or access to information.
Connection speed, even if it is constantly improving and fiber and 4G really democratize, is sometimes in slow down, even if in our opinion, not enough to handicap a Web Agency or Digital Nomad!
The sharks’ fault, if one believes some media, which would be responsible for cutting the underwater cables connecting the country to the web.
This is not a surprise: tonal (6 tones), Vietnamese is a difficult language to master.
For this reason, the country ranks 47th on this criterion! Just behind countries like China, France and Russia.
Fortunately, for the integration of expatriates, an ever-increasing number of Vietnamese are learning foreign languages, primarily English, and schools and language centers are flourishing throughout the country.
In addition, Vietnamese language courses remain more affordable than for other countries.
Travel and transport
Compared to other countries in the area (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, among others), it is true that Vietnam is quite limited in terms of travel and transportation infrastructure.
Where the other capital cities of Southeast Asia have world-class airports and modern metro systems, Vietnam is lagging far behind, and is trying to keep up with difficulty. The country is thus at the 42th position of the ranking on this criterion.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City both have subway/metro systems under construction. In Hanoi, Line 2A and Line 3 have opened in 2022, while Line 4 and Line 5 are still under construction with no official opening dates yet. Ho Chi Minh City’s Line 1 has been under construction since 2012 and is expected to begin operation in 2023, while Line 2A and Line 2B are still under construction with no official opening dates announced.
The new Ho Chi Minh City International Airport has begun construction in 2021 in Long Thanh, 40 kilometers from the center.
Let’s hope that over the next decade, Vietnam will partially fill the gap.
However, Vietnam, located in the heart of South East Asia, has a great location and many attractive destinations can be reached quickly and cheaply, within 5 or 6 hours of Japan and Korea , Australia or India, not forgetting all nearby destinations within 2 or 3 hours (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, etc.).
Thinking about expatriating? You can consult here the complete study of Expat Insider 2018 to have your own opinion.
Do you want to start a business in Vietnam ? Contact us, and we will be happy to advise you for the communication of your future company in Vietnam!
Do you want to move to Vietnam ? Feel free to contact a moving company such DocShipper to handle your relocation with a door to door services from/to Vietnam.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Vietnam a Safe Country?
Vietnam is possibly one of the most peaceful and calming countries there is. Justice isn’t joking with criminals, the death penalty is enforced, and there are very few firearms in circulation in the country. As a result, acts of violence are quite rare, and hardly concern expatriate communities.
In Vietnam, you can walk around the country and its big cities without fear, at any time of the day or night, whether you are a man or a woman. Naturally, the country remaining in development, and has despite its growth still many poor, thefts or pickpockets are not non-existent. Be wary of crowds and tourist spots, but overall you will feel very safe in Vietnam.
Do you have to learn Vietnamese to settle down?
As for everywhere else, it is recommended to familiarize yourself with the local language. However, Vietnamese are very open to foreigners, even if they do not have a command of their language. The country and its people are making great efforts to speak English, which is widely used. In the big cities, you will often be able to get by in English with the locals in your daily life (restaurant, shopping, taxi, health, etc.). With the international community well represented, you will have every opportunity to interact with your expatriate buddies from all over the world, and many of them do not speak Vietnamese even after years in the country.
If you hold a managerial position with Vietnamese staff, your company will often provide some courses to facilitate your integration.
Is life in Vietnam cheap?
As we have seen above, the cost of living is one of the main advantages of Vietnam. Although its growth necessarily comes with a little inflation, Vietnam remains very attractive in terms of costs. For more information, see our article on the cost of living in Saigon.
Keywords : best place to live in vietnam for expats, expatriate vietnam, immigrate to vietnam, how many expats in vietnam, expat vn