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 2018 evidence of its incredible attractiveness.
How to evaluate a country for expatriation?
The study, based on the testimony of some 18,135 expats from 178 nationalities and spread across 187 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
The 2018 ranking of Expat Insider includes 68 countries, of which the Southeast Asian countries occupy very interesting places.
Indeed, with 2 nations in the top 10, Taiwan (# 2) and Singapore (# 5), and a total of 5 in the top 20, not to mention the Philippines in 28th place, Southeast Asian countries stand far ahead of their counterparts in Northeast Asia (South Korea # 41, Japan # 42, China # 55, Hong Kong # 56) and in front of most of the rich countries of Europe (France # 34, Germany # 36, United Kingdom # 56).
The case of Vietnam as an expatriation choice
This may surprise many, and yet … Vietnam is at the 14th 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 6.8% GDP growth in 2017 (and 6.28% on average between 2000 and 2018), and nearly 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, Hanoi in the 3rd rank and Ho Chi Minh City in the 8th rank of the most dynamic cities in the world according to the JLL City Momentum Index 2018 !
For the “Employment” category of the Expat Insider study, Vietnam is the 7th best nation in the rankings :
- # 1 worldwide for the ease of finding a job!
- # 2 for career opportunities and job satisfaction
- # 5 in the category “Work and leisure”
- # 28 for job security
The study literally celebrates the country in terms of professional life and places the country in its Top 3 of the best destinations for career opportunities, with Barhein and Ecuador!
The study also reveals that a third of expatriates in Vietnam work as academic staff, teacher or researcher. But expatriates jobs in Vietnam are plenty, with many careers in management, F&B, Hospitality, Health, Construction, Trade, Architecture and much more.
Vietnam, a financial haven
The cost of living is for many expatriates one of the first reasons for choosing to move to Vietnam.
Ranked third for this criterion by the Expat Insider study, behind Bulgaria and Mexico, Vietnam is undoubtedly one of the most affordable countries in the world, financially speaking. Expat salaries in Vietnam can be 3 to 10 times the ones of the locals.
So it’s no surprise that it is ranked number 2 in terms of “personal finances”: 93% of expats living in Vietnam believe that their income is sufficient or more than enough to cover all their expenses, against a global average of 78% .
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
Again, Vietnam ranks 6th on this indicator!
Vietnamese people are indeed perceived as being one of the friendliest and warmest people in the world, and rightly so. Tensions between communities are virtually invisible in Vietnam, and locals welcome foreigners with open arms, a feat to their credit given the country’s heavy history.
It is thus one of the countries where it is easiest to make friends (12th of the ranking). The atmosphere is generally very relaxed everywhere in Vietnam.
The negatives of expatriate life in Vietnam
This is one of the worst points for expats living in Vietnam, as the country is 63rd in the ranking for health issues.
To deplore: the pollution of the air and other that accompanies the growth of the country, as well as infrastructures that can be considered as insufficient.
The country’s two major cities thus exceed daily pollution alerts, and cancer rates are high in Vietnam, with lower rates of remission than in developed countries. Good insurance is therefore recommended for all expatriates in Vietnam.
Access to Vietnamese online administrative services is one of the worst in the rankings, placing the country in 65th position ! A real effort must therefore be made in this area to simplify.
For example, it is possible to make invoices (E-Invoice) online, as well as its VAT returns (VTA), but these services are sometimes inadequately translated into English, and others 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.
As a result, Vietnamese and expats still have cash on them for their usual expenses, and the country is 63rd on the list for this aspect of everyday life.
Access to Digital in Vietnam
According to the Expat Insider study, there is still work to be done in Vietnam in the digital world.
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 60th on this criterion! Just behind countries like France (# 57), but ahead of Japan, Germany, 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 46th position of the ranking on this criterion.
Its two main cities, Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi have started work on a metro system, but the opening dates are still somewhat unclear.
The new Ho Chi Minh City International Airport will begin 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
How to migrate and settle in Vietnam in 2021?
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the rules of the game have changed. Vietnam, one of the most resilient countries in the face of the health crisis, owes its success in particular to a drastic migration and tourism policy. While it is still possible in 2021 to emigrate to Vietnam, however, you will need to be patient and be ready for some sacrifices.
First of all, since international commercial flights are no longer operating, you will have to opt for medical flights, which are rarer and more expensive, in addition to submitting to the now usual COVID screenings, and a two-weeks quarantine after your arrival in Vietnam.
But before that, you will have to assert your case with the authorities. Three major cases are considered for the country to open its doors to you:
1- You exercise a diplomatic or official function.
2- You invest in the country. In this case, you will have to show that you are going to invest at least several tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros in order to receive a territory authorization and a temporary resident card.
3- You are a “qualified expert”. This is the most common solution today, the definitions of what an expert is subject to interpretation. In practice, this means getting sponsored by the company that will hire you once there, a fairly common method for obtaining a visa in countries that control their immigration.
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.
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