“I didn’t realize how easy living here would be. How easy it is to get around, to buy food, to go to the beach—things that make it so livable. Everything is so easy here—it’s remarkable.”
This is what Erin Scholnick-Lee, a retired 49-year-old expat, says about the modern, progressive, and dynamic city of Da Nang she lives in with her husband Ed. Downtown has a decidedly cosmopolitan look, with a growing skyline, new shopping centers, cinemas, an ice-skating rink, parks, promenades, and a truly stunning beach.
“We walk to the beach; it’s just five minutes from our house,” she says. “Who doesn’t want to live five minutes from the beach?”
The Han River runs right through the heart of the city, spanned by four architecturally stunning bridges. The bridges are lit in an ever-changing animated display of brilliant rainbow colors every night. Parks and promenades on both banks of the river provide perfect respite from the city streets.
And you’ll enjoy one of the best climates in the region. Most days are partly cloudy, warm but not too hot, and tempered by gentle ocean breezes. Depending on the season, temperatures rarely exceed 95 F or dip below 64 F.
Despite its modern appearance and a population of about 1 million people in the greater metropolitan area, Da Nang has a small-town feel. There’s an easy, informal ambience; you won’t find much hustle and bustle here. Framed by mountains to the north and west, the city’s expansive parks, pedestrian walkways, and nearly 20 miles of deserted beach provide ample opportunity for recreation.
More than 4,000 expats have chosen to settle in Da Nang, and the expat community grows every year. The bars along the riverfront fill up with expats by night, and social networking groups post information about events and activities almost every day. Making friends is easy.
Steven Bruce has lived here since 2001. “Even though it’s becoming a more and more popular destination for tourists and expats, it still retains a genuine charm. On top of that, the beach, the weather, and the cost of living all balance to make this the perfect place for me and many others. The expat community is diverse and growing rapidly. People come here from all over the world, with different motivations and desires.”
You might think that this high standard of living would come with a high price tag. But Da Nang is quite affordable. Even with a small pension, you can live comfortably here. Expats I’ve spoken to invariably bring up the low cost of living. Many of them live in houses or apartments within five minutes’ walking distance to the beach and still manage to live well on less than $1,000 a month.
Mel Potter, a 68-year-old expat who has lived here for the past two years, says, “You can live very cheaply or you can live extravagantly—it’s one of the nice things about living here. You can have the lifestyle you want.”
Grace and James Bogert, a couple in their 60s, are also living the lifestyle they want. “We live in a very local neighborhood,” Grace says. “We pay $500 a month for a furnished, 1,076-square-foot apartment in the central part of the city. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
“Additionally, we pay $31 per month for homeowner’s association fees, and about $154 a month for utilities, including pay TV, internet, water, gas, and electricity.”
Erin and her husband love the low cost of living. “We rent a one-bedroom serviced apartment in a clean, newly constructed building,” she says. “Our rent is just $350 per month, and that includes laundry, pay TV, water, WiFi, and cleaning three times per week. All we pay for is electricity.”
Gary Stapleton, a 63-year-old Australian expat, also enjoys the low cost of living. Excluding an international health insurance policy, his monthly budget is around $850. “I live in a three-bedroom furnished, house with a kitchen, a washing machine, and an air-conditioner, less than a mile from the beach. My rent is just $363. I pay about $70 a month for all my utilities, and the remainder is for food, clothing, and entertainment.”
He also finds that his expenses drop over time. “If you live here for a longer period of time, you can get very good value. You get to know where you can save money, but that takes time to learn. The longer I live here, the lower my cost of living becomes.”