I’ve been in Vietnam for almost a year.
Here are a few things you should know before moving to Vietnam. The list is in no particular order.
Disclaimer: This is a website by men for men. As such, this advice is aimed exclusively at men.
Moving Abroad Won’t Solve All Your Problems
Life abroad won’t magically solve all your life/mental problems. It might help, it did for me, but the act itself will not solve any underlying problems you may have or make you feel fulfilled.
So ignore all those travel bloggers and Instagram people that are like, “Traveling the world will lead to infinite happiness and you’ll never be sad ever again and I’m working on the beach in a chair. Oh yeah, buy my course about starting a travel blog that makes infinity money.”
It’s all bullshit.
Travel blogs don’t make much money, working on the beach sucks because of glare, and life pretty much becomes the same as back home after awhile. I’m pretty sure people that push that message are really depressed and lying to their readers, and themselves, about their happiness.
Or maybe I’m just super bitter and everyone else is happy. Who knows?
Anyway, you still gotta work on something, or some big project, while abroad. You’re just going to end up as an alcoholic or a sex addict to numb the pain of an unfulfilled life if you don’t have a purpose.
That seems lame as fuck to me.
I went in depth about staying fulfilled while abroad in this article.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun living out here and I prefer it to back home (most of the time). It’s not a magic pill though.
Everything is Much Cheaper
Yeah, everyone probably knows this already. Everything is so much cheaper over here. I mean it’s really, really, really cheap.
You can check out my monthly expense report to see how much I spend per month. I’d say $1,700/month is a good budget when you first get here. You can live for much cheaper than that though.
Your price will probably decrease the longer you live here as well.
Note: There are some things that you should buy BEFORE moving to Vietnam.
Find Some Expat Friends
Male expat friends will keep you sane. Trust me, talking to (Vietnamese) women all day will turn your brain to mush.
I’ll eventually do a full blown article on making friends in Southeast Asia. Just know this. You pretty much need expat friends if you’re going to make it out here without going full Patrick Bateman.
Even the most degenerate expat friends will keep you sane, but having somewhat normal guy friends is much better.
Some guys use expat forums as a substitute for real life interactions, which is alright. Real life interactions with other men are much, much healthier.
Don’t Go Too Crazy With The Partying
Everything is dirt cheap in Vietnam. This includes women, drugs, and alcohol. Some guys go absolutely insane with the partying and blow through all their cash in a few months, get AIDS, or just die.
You obviously don’t want to do that. Try to limit your partying to one or two days per week to prevent burning out and having to go back home.
Try not to become an alcoholic either.
Don’t Get a Girlfriend
Vietnamese women are decent. However, you should avoid getting a girlfriend when you first get here. I know a lot of guys have never had female attention and will basically date the first girl that gives them attention.
This is a bad idea for obvious reasons.
Meet some girls on Vietnam Cupid, go on some dates, have sex with a few different women, and see what you like and don’t like in women. Honestly, women will shapeshift to what you find attractive once you become a high value man. So finding a good fit isn’t that important.
More importantly, learn how women think and operate. Hint: Completely disregard all logic and reason when dealing with women. Women are 100% emotional.
You should get a girlfriend once you actually understand how women operate. Not understanding women will just get you cheated on, dumped, and probably cost you a lot of money. Yes, Vietnamese women will still cheat on you, dump you, and steal all your money… if you let them.
This article gives the basics on understanding women.
Signup for Vietnam Cupid
Vietnam Cupid is the best way to meet women in Vietnam. You can make an account before leaving and have a few girls ready to meet you when you show up. You can probably find one to wait for you at the airport.
Doing this makes things a little easier when you first move to Vietnam as they can show you around the city and stuff.
Just don’t make one your girlfriend when you first move here…
Join the Housing Groups on Facebook
If you have a Facebook account, then join all the housing groups on Facebook.
The prices will be a little higher since they’re targeted to foreigners.
Still, when you first move here it’s a great way to get a feel for prices and what to expect.
Don’t Sign a Long-Term Lease
You will see some amazing deals on apartments, but they almost always require a one year contract with a two month deposit.
Yeahhhh, don’t do that when you first get here. Find a good guesthouse, or serviced apartment, on AirBNB or the Facebook groups that you pay monthly. Stay there for a few months and get a feel for the city and the different districts.
Once you do that then you can sign a contract. You should still push for a 6 month contract, or even monthly, though.
Get the Fast Track Visa, Bring USD, and Passport Photos
If you’re flying into Vietnam, then you need a visa letter. You have the option of doing the fast track visa, which I highly recommend. Otherwise you will spend two hours waiting for Vietnamese customs to glue a visa into your passport.
The fast track takes anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes.
Also, make sure to bring USD. You get a much better rate compared to any other currency.
There are no ATMs before the entrance either, so an immigration officer will have to walk you to an ATM and let you withdraw money.
The same goes for a photo if you forget to bring one (or two?). You have to wait for everyone to finish and then an immigration officer will take your picture.
Open a Timo Account
You don’t need a Vietnamese bank account if you’re a digital nomad. However, I still recommend opening one in the event that you lose your foreign debit card or you need to moonlight as a teacher while building an online income.
You can easily transfer money into your Timo account and then withdraw it (for free) from most ATMs in Vietnam.
Timo has an office in Saigon, Da Nang, and Hanoi. Opening an account is free and all you need is your passport, so you have nothing to lose by opening the account.
Just make sure to follow all laws regarding foreign bank accounts. In the US, you may need to file an FBAR and Form 8938 (a total pain in the ass) if you meet certain requirements.
I’m not your CPA, so make sure to ask one about this stuff. Not filing your FBAR is a $10,000 civil penalty!!!
Oh yeah, you have to give your Social Security number when opening a bank account in Vietnam.
Open a Schwab Bank Account Before You Leave (US Only)
If you’re a US citizen, then you should open a Schwab Checking Account while in the US. They reimburse all ATM fees, which is pretty awesome.
Plus, they charge no fees for anything.
It’s the best bank for US citizens that live, or travel, abroad.
Have AT LEAST $5,000 US Dollars Liquid (Checking Account)
Vietnam is cheap. However, you should still have a decent amount of money saved up before moving here.
Yes, you can move here on less money. Some people move here with $2,000 liquid. They have to stress more with finding work and being a cheapass, which just isn’t fun.
Having $5,000 liquid should be enough to last you a few months with no income.
For reference, I moved here with about $8,000 liquid (and zero debt), which gave me plenty of breathing room.
Purchase an Onward Flight
Legally, you need an onward flight to enter Vietnam. The government wants to know that you aren’t just going to stay in the country indefinitely…
Laws in Vietnam… LOL.
Ok, Vietnamese immigration won’t ask for proof of onward travel. However, your airline might ask for proof of onward travel before letting you board.
You can buy some tickets on Orbitz and Expedia and get a 100% refund if you cancel within 24 hours. Otherwise, you can find a $50 flight on Air Asia and just take the $50 loss.