Beachside Bliss, Low Costs and New Friends

“All the best things about the weather are right here,” says 54-year-old Eileen Brown of her adopted home town of Nha Trang, Vietnam. “The summer season is beautiful and we have an extended spring, summer and autumn,” she says. “The climate invites you to be outside, to go out for dinner or lunch or go to the beach.

“Even when it rains, it’s not cold. It’s very similar to Brisbane, but Brisbane does get a bit colder.” Temperatures here rarely dip below 20 C or rise above 32 C.

Eileen and her husband, Steve, first discovered Nha Trang, the beach town paradise they now call home nine years ago. “We ended up staying here for longer than we initially planned,” Eileen says. “We fell in love with the beaches, the relaxed atmosphere, the awesome seafood and the lovely climate.”

In 2014, when Eileen retired, the couple made preparations for a full-time move overseas. “I sold our house, the car, furniture, knickknacks—everything,” Eileen says. “In the end, it felt fantastic. I loved getting rid of it all.”

They now enjoy making their home in Vietnam, a country with one of the lowest costs of living in the world. Eileen says that their average monthly budget is about $1,100.

“Besides rent, we spend $38 per month to have our apartment cleaned twice a week and $33 per month for apartment fees and parking spaces for our motorbikes. We pay $45 per month for high-speed unlimited internet—though we could have gotten a less expensive plan—and between $42 and $119 per month on electricity, depending on the season and how much we use the air conditioners. Everything else goes towards groceries, eating out, petrol for the motorbike and whatever else comes up.”

Nha Trang is a popular beach and resort destination with a population of about 420,000. Many of the expats who make their home here live in the part of town locals call ‘the tourist area’, where you’ll find the majority of Western restaurants, bars and shops. It’s just south of the city centre, nestled against the city’s busiest stretch of beach. A growing number of expats, though, including Eileen, have chosen to live in the quiet neighbourhoods about three kilometres north of the tourist district.

“It’s very local, very comfortable and not as noisy as the tourist area. The prices are cheaper and the food is better. We have a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, which includes a Western-style kitchen, a lounge and beautiful views. We can stand out on our balcony and watch the waves.”

The cost of this ocean-view apartment? Only $738 per month. Eileen’s budget may be low, but she has more than enough to eat most meals out and even enjoy an occasional splurge.

“Yesterday we spent the day at a ritzy Resort. There were eight of us altogether. We came early and went swimming. Then we had an amazing brunch with all we could eat and unlimited alcohol. After that, we all went swimming until seven at night. We paid $56 each and it was fantastic. The salmon and lamb chops were amazing,” she says.

“One of our favourite getaways is Bai Dai Beach, which is on the way to the airport. There are lots of seafood shacks along a beautiful beach. We’ll go for a day, chill out and have a seafood lunch while we’re there. At the end of the day, after having a few drinks and lunch, we might spend between $12 and $18.”

The couple enjoy socialising with their friends, a mix of locals and expats and also spend time undertaking charity work. “We believe in giving back something to the community that has welcomed us and made us feel so at home,” says Eileen.

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