Low Rents and the Good Life: Why Expats are Enticed by Vietnam

Of all the countries in Southeast Asia that I have scouted, Vietnam is the most exciting and the most fascinating. Foreign and alluring, exotic and enticing…I would go back in a heartbeat, live there without hesitation.

There’s so much more to this country than just its past. I was shocked to find pristine white-sand beaches…astonished to find pine forests amid temperate mountains…

The street-side baguette sellers, corner cafés, pastel-colored churches, and mulberry wine are a pleasant hangover from the French colonial era. You can even find older locals who speak rusty French.

This “otherness” doesn’t mean it’s not comfortable. You’ll find welcoming locals, outstanding cuisine, and a thriving expat community on hand to help you find your feet.

Part of the pleasure of Vietnam is the sheer ease of exploring all it has to offer thanks to cheap, comfortable, and fully furnished rentals available at short-term rates.

My favorite heritage town in Southeast Asia is Hoi An. Just a few minutes’ walk from the beach, I came across a fully furnished, two-bedroom house with a small garden. It had the works: air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and WiFi. Both bedrooms are en-suite. All yours for $345 a month.

Hoi An is deserving of the word “unique”. You just can’t find the same mix of immaculately preserved architectural styles anywhere else. Think old Chinese temples, the 16th-century homes of Japanese traders, and a dollop of French colonial. Plus, you won’t find a better place to sip a beer and watch a lazy river meet the sea.

Here’s a photo of one rental property I went to see when I scouted real estate in Hoi An:

Hoi An, Vietnam

This two-bedroom home was available for $344 and is typical of what you’ll find here. Here’s one up for rent right now: A three-bedroom home of 1,290 square feet going for $458 a month. It’s a minimum lease of three months. In the Cam Chau district, it’s 10 minutes on a scooter or taxi to the center of Hoi An and walking distance to a local market. It’s fully furnished with a Western-style kitchen and all rooms have air-conditioning.

When I first stepped onto An Bang beach I was surprised to see 18 miles of white-sand beach between me and the city of Da Nang…you could walk to Da Nang from An Bang beach…it stretches all the way. Better to take a taxi though, it’s just a 20-minute drive on an excellent road.

It was on the beach in Da Nang that the first U.S. marines waded ashore in 1965. These days the beaches here are beginning to see the arrival of plush new resorts and boutique hotels. But it’s never crowded. I stood knee-deep in the water there, alone but for one coracle-boat fisherman.

Da Nang is developing a reputation as something of an expat hub. You’ll join an international mix of folks there. The war is in the past, the country is booming, hungry for foreign entrepreneurs and looking to the future.

Vietnam is opening up. Tourists are going there in growing numbers. I arrived in the country through Da Nang’s modern international airport. Mine was a direct flight of less than two hours from Siem Reap in Cambodia, gateway to the temples of Angkor. Low-cost airfares make Vietnam’s hub cities like Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, and Da Nang perfect for exploring the region.

Bottom line: Vietnam is a low-cost destination, rents are downright cheap, and there are a range of adventurous lifestyle options…

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