My husband Tim and I live in a quiet neighbourhood. We rent a modern, two-bedroom, fully -furnished, air-conditioned apartment and our rent of $900 a month includes Pay TV, WiFi, the use of a gym and also covers the cost of a cleaner two days a week.
Beautifully maintained parks and gardens abound and sitting under the shade of an old tree, watching the world go by, is the perfect way to unwind. A leisurely stroll along canal-side paths, popping into treasure-filled museums and galleries along the way, I always learn something new about the rich history and culture of this fascinating city.
That’s Ho Chi Minh City for you…full of surprises.
When Tim and I first moved here, some people wondered why we wanted to live in a city that’s so fast-moving and hectic. And of course, it can be. But it’s also friendly, exciting, pulsing with energy, and, as we discovered, you can enjoy a quieter pace of life here too. Either way, you’ll never be bored in Ho Chi Minh City.
And of course, that wasn’t the only draw. When we decided a travel-rich lifestyle was something we wanted to pursue long-term, finding a way to fund that dream was a top priority. Vietnam played a big part in making that happen for us, it offers serious bang-for-buck.
We both teach English here, which supplements the money we make from renting our home back in Australia. And day-to-day living expenses are low. Aside from our rent, our next biggest expense is our electricity, which is around $130 a month, but we do run our air-conditioning almost continuously.
If we eat local food, which is varied and delicious, we won’t spend more than $10 a day. When we fancy splashing out a little more, a nice meal in a mid-range restaurant rarely costs us more than $30 and that includes a couple of beers each.
Getting around here is easy—and cheap. I rent a decent motorbike for around $55 a month and the running costs average about $2 a week. Alternatively, a taxi ride across town is rarely more than $6.
The location also played a big part in our decision to make Vietnam our base. Direct flights to Australia take less than nine hours. Even with a short stop-over, we can be there in less than 12 hours. With ageing parents and family gatherings back in Australia, it’s important to us that making the trip back is a breeze.
We’re also ideally located for exploring the rest of what Vietnam has to offer…and that’s a lot. There’s hundreds of direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City every day and regional budget airlines mean taking short breaks is seriously affordable.
A $33, 50-minute flight will take you to the tropical island of Phu Quoc, just off the southern coast of Cambodia. It’s a popular spot among expats, offering good-value guesthouses and hotels and steamy night markets brimming with mouth-watering local seafood dishes.
Also just a 50-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City is the laidback, former French colonial hill station of Dalat. This mountain town, surrounded by pine forests, crashing waterfalls and vibrant strawberry farms is most famous for its cool climate. Known as “The City of Eternal Spring”, Dalat has long been a go-to spot for those seeking relief from the humidity of the south.
But this week, we’re headed to Vung Tau, a former French colonial town just over a two-hour drive out of the city. With long stretches of white-sand beaches and breathtaking mountain backdrops, it’s the perfect place to kick back and relax for a few days before heading back to embrace the energy and excitement of Ho Chi Minh City…
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