Moving to Vietnam
This South-East Asian country has become known for its exquisite natural beauty. Experience white sandy beaches along the East coast, dense forests, mountainous regions and, of course, the must-see Hạ Long Bay with its unique limestone karsts, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1962.
Now is the perfect time to start moving to Vietnam. There is a real burgeoning expat community that has grown in recent years. The 20th century was a turbulent time considering what happened throughout the Vietnam War but that is now firmly in past. Vietnam is constantly striving to improve and develop as a nation. As a result, expats can take advantage of the low cost of living as well as the steady improvements with regard to infrastructure. Not only that, you will be able to discover the lively Vietnamese culture through their food and traditional artistic practices such as silk painting and woodblock prints.
Some employers allocate housing as part of a relocation package but if that’s not the case then there is a wide range of options available to you from villas to apartments. Many people find accommodation through word of mouth but there many real estate websites geared towards expats to help in your search. However, you should always visit your accommodation in person and take a walk around the area before signing a lease to make sure it suits your needs!
At the moment, it isn’t possible for internationals to buy houses in Vietnam. However, you can obtain a 50-year lease on a plot of land and build your home on it.
Education is hugely important and state-run education is in high demand. For many Vietnamese families, education is the gateway to a better life. Schooling is split into four sections: nursery, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary, running from ages 6 to 18. Compared to Western cultures, learning in Vietnam is a much more passive experience. Active discussions are not commonplace and it is a highly pressurised environment.
Ho Chi Min City and Hanoi have many International schools with a selection of curricula to choose from, such as French, British, American and Australian. Be sure to start the enrolment process as soon as possible because waiting lists are often very long.
Although they now use the Western Gregorian solar calendar, Vietnam’s traditional festivals and holidays follow the Chinese lunar calendar due to Chinese influence. Tet Nguyen Dan (Lunar New Year) is the biggest and most popular holiday that can last for up to a week! This changes year to year but it’s usually around January/February. Vietnamese spend this time with family, feasting and exchanging gifts. Much like China, red and yellow are considered lucky colours so you will see a lot of them around Tet!
Good to know
If you wish to drive a car or motorcycle then you must apply for a Vietnamese driving licence. If you hold a valid driver’s licence in your home country then you may be able to use that to apply for a Vietnamese licence. This can be done at the Department of Transport office in Ho Chi Min City or Hanoi.
It’s also worth brushing up on a little Vietnamese. While it isn’t the easiest language to speak, learning a few basic phrases is sure to ingratiate you with the locals and make the beginning of your stay a lot smoother!
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