You’ve finally made the big decision and decided to pack your bags, say goodbye to family, and move to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Your main draws are the amazing food, stunning culture, and amazing scenery. Or at least that’s what you told your friends and family.
Finding an apartment is your number one priority to avoid sleeping in the park by Pham Ngu Lao with the broke begpackers. This guide will break down how to find an apartment and most importantly, how to not get ripped off.
Just Moved To Saigon
Don’t sign a long term lease for the first month that you are here. Wait one, maybe two, months and settle into the city. Explore the districts. Find out what district you like and then sign a long term lease in that district.
However, you need to find a short term serviced apartment unless you want to live in a hotel for two months. The best way to find a serviced apartment is by walking around and exploring the city. This can take a few days, so in the meantime I recommend staying at an AirBNB or a hostel depending on your budget… and tolerance for annoying backpackers.
Where to look for a Serviced Apartment
Ho Chi Minh City is a gigantic city, so you should focus on finding a serviced apartment in District 1. District 1 is very central and where most of the tourists congregate. A good transition if you have just moved here from the Western world. District 1 also has decent nightlife options.
In District 1 every alleyway seems to have a serviced apartment. However, I recommend a few specific areas in District 1 with good selection of affordable serviced apartments. Go to these areas and explore the alleyways. Walk up to reception and ask to see an apartment.
18 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
171 Co Bach Street
171 Co Giang Street
Note: The Co Bach Street area will likely be a bit more expensive due to the proximity to Bui Vien, but still under $400 for something decent. I prefer that area because it is within walking distance to a decent number of bars, but still quiet.
What Is A Serviced Apartment?
A serviced apartment is a fancy way to say a long term hotel. In my serviced apartment in District 1 the sheets are changed daily, the towel is replaced daily, water/electricity/WiFi are included, and a free breakfast is provided. Most serviced apartments will not provide free breakfast and some might make you pay for electricity. Make sure to ask what is included before agreeing to anything.
Questions To Ask Before Signing
Can I have overnight guests?
You want an apartment that allows you to bring back overnight guests. Even better if the apartment doesn’t have a security guard to make the girls feel bad, but finding an apartment without a security guard seems rare.
Is there a security guard?
If there is, then keep in mind that this guy can cause you to lose a girl. I haven’t had any issues with my security guard, but they can be jerks if they see you bringing lots of girls back.
Is there a curfew?
Lots of apartments owned by traditional Vietnamese people have curfews. Having a curfew as a foreigner in Ho Chi Minh City sounds like the 5th circle of hell. Avoid any apartments with curfews.
Is electricity included?
You might have to pay electricity. The rate should be 3500/kwh.
What Is A Good District?
The district that is closest to your job. If you work online, then that doesn’t really matter. District 1, 2, 3, and 10 are all fairly central and have decent apartments. I prefer District 2 and District 3, but explore the city and find what part of it you like. Unless you work far away, avoid non-central districts such as District 12 or Go Vap.
How Do I Find A Long Term Apartment
Finding a long term apartment is a little different. The best way to find apartments would be to get a Vietnamese friend (a girl) to go online and look at the Vietnamese apartment listings. The price goes up 25%-40% if the advertisement is written in English. Barring that as an option my next recommendation is to join the various apartments in HCMC Facebook groups (here and here). Post an ad saying that you are looking for a 1 bedroom apartment in District [number]. Don’t mention a price. You should get 30-40 people contacting you about apartments.
Alternate method: Talk to expats and ask them about good apartments. Everyone seems to know someone moving or renting an apartment. That is how I found my current apartment.
Viewing the Apartment
You are going to see some amazing deals on apartments. These are most likely fake. It is very common for agents here to send you an amazing apartment and then upon arrival the apartment looks nothing like the picture. Why do the agents do this? Because Asia. That’s why. Make sure to have the agent send you pictures of the actual apartment before you visit it.
How Much Does It Cost?
Well that depends on where it is, how nice it is, and how good you can negotiate. I’ll avoid mentioning price because it varies so much. I will say that for $500/month you can find some decent 1 bedroom apartments in every district except maybe District 1. $1000/month puts you into some amazing apartments. Anything over $1000/month and you’re going to have a super nice apartment.
Normally the apartments want a one month deposit and then one month upfront.
How To Not Get Scammed
The best way to not get scammed while looking for an apartment in Ho Chi Minh City is to find an apartment via your network. Yes, that means you have to talk to other expats. Don’t worry, most of them are somewhat nice and the long term ones know the good apartments. You can normally meet them day drinking at a foreigner bar in every district.