What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

#1 07 August 2012 08:52:14

Xavier Patrick
Xavier Patrick
Milwaukee

What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

Though many of my questions seem to have a consensus answer (ie, best to find teaching work there rather than in advance) one that seems to have wildly conflicting answers is how much one might need to spend in a month in HCMC.

Some sources say I can comfortably live on around 500USD/month while others insist between 2,000-3,000USD is needed. If I'm looking at bus & bicycle for transportation, affordable local meals in the 1-3USD range (if that), minimal other spending besides perhaps insurance costs, can I find living accommodations for 50-200USD? I'm really not looking to have every amenity most homes might have here in Wisconsin, some form of air conditioning and a somewhat convenient access to the internet is all the luxury I need really. Ideally my target is to save around 500/month. If I can make between 1100-1500 as a teacher, this should be plenty to live and save off of, but I'm curious from first hand experience where the kinks in my plan may be.

Mainly I just don't want to arrive and not be prepared to survive on what I'm able to start with (which will not be much at all).

Thanks in advance, looking forward to learning more!

#2 07 August 2012 10:00:08

Jaitch
Jaitch
Buon Ma Thuot, DakLak

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

The questions you ask are so dependent upon you personal tastes that it is difficult harden the figures.

A 2-bedroom apartment goes for around $4-500 per month. Add to this $15 for cooking gas every three months. Electricity - no air-con - is around $15.month; water around $6l InterNet around $30-50 unlimited per month; cable at around $3 per month.

Fans are often adequate, I spent a fair amount of time in cold Ontario, Canada, and I don't need air-con. Besides, when you see what you pay for air-con you have an added pressure to use the fan!

You have you cell, again you determine it's cost. If you use the VNPT 365 Plan you only top up when you need to and make one phone call each month to keep the plan activated.

Garbage is around a $1 per month and then, depending on your building, there is the management fee which is around $15-20 depending on your building.

If you want clean, decent restaurant meals a 'diner' style, at the Nhu Lan you will be laying down around $5 daily.

Transit sucks, so you might choose to walk or taxi.

Look at Craigs List VietNam for accommodation prices BUT only to get a feel for the market.

Milk is around a $1, Nescafe around $4.50 a jar. If you want to eat Western style you will pay big time. An average size Cornflakes is around $5 and rising.

10 large eggs are a $1; 3 small pork chops about $1.50, 3 filets of fish or one good sized chicken breast are about $1.50 a pack(Lotte Mart Q1).

Potatoes are around $2/kilo. Beer is reasonable, alcohol, too.

Hope this gives you something to think about. (Please excuse typo's, I dictated this whilst drinking coffee on a noisy street)

Last edited by Jaitch (17 November 2012 01:23:57)

#3 07 August 2012 10:08:38

Budman1
Budman1
Vietnam

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

To put some price to the beer and smokes:

1 case of Tiger 5% alc (24 Cns) 210050VND

1 Carton of "555's" (10 packs) 200000 VND

#4 07 August 2012 10:23:52

l3ully
l3ully
Nha Trang

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

It varies a lot, depending where you live and where you work. Cheap living, such places do exist,are commonly only cheap by rent, the reminder, might be well above average.

In Saigon, I (+wife) possible could live on 1200 USD a month quite comfortable, as I am not really in need for travelling. Distances and times for travel might swallow easy USD 20-30 a day, more is also possible, depending on .... and a push bike is not really always the convenient transportation, as local knowledge is needed, do find efficient from A to B.

Especially as a new comer, you will have to pay often more than locals. That can make easy the double/triple and more, as well you have at least at the begin excessive costs in time and travel and moneys, until you are settled.

Easy costs calculating formula for the overall costs: 6 month in holiday mode (like you did before, when not in Vietnam), some people need longer, some less, after that, costs could normalize, wherever you stay.

And remember, Vietnam is not cheap by price, but is has a quite bad price-quality standard.

Last edited by l3ully (07 August 2012 10:25:37)

#5 07 August 2012 20:59:58

Teacher Mark

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

"...while others insist between 2,000-3,000USD is needed."

That's a good one!  This place makes Las Vegas look like Salt Lake City, so the people saying that may have a bad habit(s).

$800-$1000 a month will provide the proverbial life of Riley.  You can survive on less.

You should have at least 2K available.  Even if you land a job immediately, most schools pay monthly.

Craig's List is a joke, and generally filled with inflated prices.  The Rooms for Rent section is better, however. 

I know a good hotel that would run about $11 a day, or less.  You may want to consider a place like that until you get adjusted.

Last edited by Teacher Mark (07 August 2012 21:06:23)

#6 08 August 2012 10:06:36

Kari31
Kari31
Sai Gon

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

Hi Xavier Patrick,

It really depends on which lifestyle you choose for yourself. I assume you won't like local food all the time. It is yummy for some days or weeks, but after a while you will like a good cut of meat or something else which is your favourite food from home. And those wishes can cost you a bit. Also when you buy clothes you might pay more than the locals easily before you figure out the "real" prices. But all in all, life is good in HCMC, because you won't miss a thing. It's just sometimes hard to find what you are looking for. We (my husband and me) live here since 6 months now and our average expense is about 2.000 US$ per month (for both of us, without rent, but with travel, gym, leisure activities...)
Hope this helps you.

Last edited by Kari31 (08 August 2012 10:07:44)

#7 08 August 2012 11:38:24

JVo18
JVo18
Saigon

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

You can live pretty comfortably off of 1000/month. That's assuming your room is somewhere in the 300-325 range out the door. You can certainly live off of less, but 1000 USD is a good projecting point.

I've talked to quite a few people who moved from the states and they always end up spending more than they think; in some cases a lot more. It adds up. You can't eat street food 3 times a day 7 days a week. You get sick of it after a while. I'm sure you're gonna make friends, so you'll probly go out for coffee and dine with them at times. If you're a social drinker, you might be going out a couple times a week for beers. If you plan on doing any traveling on the weekends while you're here that could add up as well.

You'll save a lot of money if your gonna have a bicycle and take public transportation. Even though taxi's are relatively cheap (compared to NYC and DC), they can add up pretty quickly.

If you rent anything other than a hotel, most but not all  rooms will make you put down a security and up to 2 months deposit. That's something to keep in mind if you're not coming here with a great deal of money.

Hope that helps,
- Jerry

#8 08 August 2012 14:04:46

Jaitch
Jaitch
Buon Ma Thuot, DakLak

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

JVo18 wrote:

You can't eat street food 3 times a day 7 days a week. You get sick of it after a while. ...

That's why I recommended Nhu Lan which, like all permanent restaurants, are inspected by the TP HCM Health Department.

#9 10 August 2012 10:48:27

dinhHien2006
dinhHien2006
Ho Chi Minh City

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

hi,
I think $500 is ok for a local man but it must be more for an expat. It may be easy for you to teach English here but you will find it easier if you have English teaching certificates. In my opinion, Vietnam's population is big enough but you are welcome because I wish most of vietnamese can speak english well.
Cheer,

Last edited by dinhHien2006 (10 August 2012 10:50:04)

#10 10 August 2012 11:09:14

Xavier Patrick
Xavier Patrick
Milwaukee

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

If I have a TESOL certificate from cactus completed in Vietnam, are my chances of finding work within a month pretty good? This is without having a bachelor's degree as well.

Thanks everyone for the responses so far.

#11 10 August 2012 11:29:26

nhung.scorpio90

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

In fact, I have no idea of living in HCMC, but I see if you want to save your money as much as possible, 500$ is pretty ok in Hanoi. I see a lot of expatriates here rent a room for 200$( including cable TV, Internet, living water, bed frame, mattress, pillows, AC, TV, fridge, shared washing machine) in a private condo. You can go for street food or cook yourself if you have free time (cooking is better and safer). I have some foreign friends, so I see it would be great if you have a local friend, who can help you everything here (I've helped my friends buy second-hand mattresses, cheap but qualified stove, and negotiate many things). You know, it always get easier with a local one. My friends are teachers also, and they want to save money for their travelling, they live in a shared house, just need 200$ for everything (rent, electricity, water, cable, Internet), and ideally, they can cook.
Of course, everything is up to you! As I said, I just wanna help you cuz I see expatriates here having a lot of difficulties. If you need my help, please feel free to contact me, I'm not sure I can help you cuz I'm living in Hanoi, but thanks to my network of friends, I hope I can help you something ^^

#12 10 August 2012 12:03:21

dinhHien2006
dinhHien2006
Ho Chi Minh City

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

It is up to you but the certificate usually  is a requirement. As I know, you guys usually work with some language centers, not only one.

Xavier Patrick wrote:

If I have a TESOL certificate from cactus completed in Vietnam, are my chances of finding work within a month pretty good? This is without having a bachelor's degree as well.

Thanks everyone for the responses so far.

#13 10 August 2012 17:13:06

Sharen
Sharen
Ho Chi Minh City

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

Kari31 wrote:

Hi Xavier Patrick,

It really depends on which lifestyle you choose for yourself. I assume you won't like local food all the time. It is yummy for some days or weeks, but after a while you will like a good cut of meat or something else which is your favourite food from home. And those wishes can cost you a bit.
Hope this helps you.

This is so true! I enjoyed a costly but oh so tasty steak tonight...

It's more than possible to life a good life cheaply in Saigon, just make sure you have some extra cash in the matress, to treat yourself once in a while.

#14 10 August 2012 19:43:00

gary2012
gary2012
Ho Chi Minh

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

I think the guys who said that it depends on your lifestyle are spot on. If you are going to eat at nice restaurants most of the time, go out partying alot at expensive places and live in a nice apartment then 2k-3k is probably accurate. If you're going for a comfortable but not extravagant lifestyle then you can easily get by on half of that or maybe even less. It really comes down to what you want, whether you can afford it and how much you plan to save.

#15 11 August 2012 08:38:53

vnexperience
vnexperience
Dong Nai Province

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

Hi friend
I have a suggestion for you, you agree or not okay! We can make friends, okay?
You are living in the city, and you meet some difficulty is of course, especially financial problems.
Come on rural areas now, i think so. I am a lived, study and work there, but the passion and desire to do something to where they live, I have left and returned it to work and contribution.
Countryside will have more opportunities and need the contribution of young people have nice soul and passion.
I am implementing a business plan in the home, community tourism
And I also want to open an English language center in the town area, and you have the desire to do something, go to this place. Please call or email me at hieuliemtravel[at]gmail.com.
I hope that you will visit me, our families, our friends with

Sincerely new friend
Hieu Jungle

#16 11 August 2012 08:50:00

vnexperience
vnexperience
Dong Nai Province

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

Hi
There exists a reality in the minds of young people today
Take come city and then life will be brighter, more chances of life.
Why? Completed in the city. It is true that no one forces you to return to rural areas, people are free in their choice, as long as it's good for you. I also agree.
But there must be other people think, and I was struggling with his own lot, I've returned to where they grew up, I listen, observe and look and I worked and worked. Life is less exciting, but true people, I love this jobs now, althought a bit poor but happy.
And now I'm happy with my choice, my passion
Cheer
Hieu Jungle

#17 14 September 2012 03:52:30

BritViet
BritViet
Bristol

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

I personally budget $1000 and send the rest home to the UK

If you spend $3000 > you will be Prince Xavier of Saigon
If you spend $1500 > you live like most teachers
If you spend $60 > you will live like a local
If you spend $3 > you will live like am ex Nigerian Footballer who has injured himself and got fired from his Vietnamese club. Having no money to fly home and no money to survive... Rock and hard place?

#18 14 September 2012 18:09:16

Tabikat
Tabikat
Ho Chi Minh City

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

Hi Xavier,
I've only been here a little while but I echo what people say. Some things are cheap but HCMC is a city and it's not that cheap to live. Buses really are a problem here and cycling is tricky.It depends where you live as well. I'm in An Phu and cycling from there is a nightmare down the highway. But if youive centrally, rent is higher. Vegetables and fruit in the markets are cheap, but you've got to get there and you  will get ripped off for a while.

Make sure you budget for health insurance. Doctors are expensive and there are a lot of things to catch. You also want to think about the jabs you need before you come. I don't know what people are normally immunized for  in the USA, but I had quite a few coming from the UK. And you will need to set yourself up with quite a bit when you get here like furniture so you have to allow for that. I spent at least $1000 my first month and I get accommodation with my job That included. Few social events but it's all the extra things you need like towels and a water cooler.  (You can't drink the water.) things like gum memberships are expensive.

It's a fun city though.



It's a great city though.

#19 17 September 2012 04:13:49

Minnesota
Minnesota
Minneapolis

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

If you have a room to rent in a home for $200 a month already in HCMC would you be able to live on about $400 a month?  200 for rent and 200 for food and everything else? 

Thanks.

#20 17 September 2012 05:29:20

saigonmonkey
saigonmonkey
Ho Chi Minh City

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

As others have said, it depends on the lifestyle you want to have, and where you want to live - even as far as the cost of utilities alone is concerned. (Many areas have higher-than-average utilities rates, such as where I live.)

Regarding the other costs, I'll throw another example out for you: my wife and I live on $300-$400 per month, which includes all expenses not related to rent and utilities. She buys the food at the local stores and markets (most have been recommended here on this blog) and cooks at home. We eat a mix of Chinese, Vietnamese, and western food. We go out for entertainment (mainly just for drinks during happy hours) only on weekends, and unless it's a very special occasion, we never eat out at the high-end "tourist" restaurants located mainly in district 1. Those places could easily top $50 for just one meal for two.

I will qualify, however, that I'm not sure this budget would be possible without the assistance of the wife, who is a very good negotiator, and also very good at passing herself off as Vietnamese in the local markets in order to get better prices for produce.

#21 18 September 2012 07:44:52

mathtutor

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

BritViet wrote:

I personally budget $1000 and send the rest home to the UK

If you spend $3000 > you will be Prince Xavier of Saigon
If you spend $1500 > you live like most teachers
If you spend $60 > you will live like a local
If you spend $3 > you will live like am ex Nigerian Footballer who has injured himself and got fired from his Vietnamese club. Having no money to fly home and no money to survive... Rock and hard place?

hi mate, I like to read your comments. it's interesting

#23 16 November 2012 20:09:18

AndrewDao
AndrewDao
Ho Chi Minh City

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

BritViet wrote:

If you spend $3 > you will live like am ex Nigerian Footballer who has injured himself and got fired from his Vietnamese club. Having no money to fly home and no money to survive... Rock and hard place?

that made me lol. LOL.
if you ever decide to go to HCMC pm me.

have a good one.

#25 Yesterday 12:07:27

colinoscapee
colinoscapee
Vung Tau

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

I live on about 500usd a month, that includes rent,food,utilities and going out a few times. I eat at home most of the time, when I do go out I eat where locals eat and not expat places, I dont drink a lot so that can make a big difference. Anymore then 1000 a month means your out partying and hanging out at expat places.

#26 Yesterday 12:08:45

charmavietnam
charmavietnam
Ho Chi Minh City

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

To whom this request?  :)
This is an old post. Why don't you start a new thread?

Aris Van Calster wrote:

Hi , could you send me a link or give me the name of this hotel you spoke of?

Kind regards
A.

#27 Yesterday 17:39:35

Nam_

Re: What am I really looking at for monthly expenses?

Teacher Mark wrote:

I know a good hotel that would run about $11 a day, or less.  You may want to consider a place like that until you get adjusted.

She's referring to this^. I'm kind of curious myself about what the cheapest hotels in D1 run (how about guesthouses?) as I may stay in Saigon on the weekends.

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