Ho Chi Minh City Monthly Expense Report

My friends back home, and some readers, have asked me about my monthly expenses.

It’s a legitimate question. Everyone knows that life here is cheap, but just how cheap is it?

Really fucking cheap.

Anyway, I gave myself a 25 million VND ($1071) budget for the month and spent exactly 17.14 million ($734) without even trying to save money.

Honestly, it’s hard to spend a lot of money with my lifestyle. Most guys tend to overspend on entertainment (prostitutes, beer, nightlife) or eating at western restaurants.

Each category will have a short description of my spending.

Here’s quick pie chart before we begin. Rent and food is 86% of my monthly spending, which is probably pretty normal.

Note: These prices are rough estimations.

saigon monthly expenses


10.5 million VND ($450 USD)

Studio apartment in a nice district with a balcony and an amazing view. This price includes water, electric, motorbike parking, and maid service.

You can find an acceptable apartment for half this price. I just like to live nice.


4.3 million VND ($184 USD)

I eat street food for 95% of meals and always skip breakfast. Normally this means a lunch of rice and pork 20k ($0.82 USD) or bun thit nuong 28k ($1.18 USD). Sometimes I splurge and spend 30k ($1.25) on pho.

The 4% of meals I make myself usually involve me buying food and having a girl cook for me, which is usually cheaper than the street food.

1% of meals are western food. I went to KFC this month and it was great.


Vietnam Cupid subscription (prorated)

419k VND ($18 USD)

My pipeline was getting dry, so I reupped my Vietnam Cupid subscription for another three months.

Worth it.

Vietnam Cupid Box

Coffee Dates

605k ($25 USD)

I went on 8 “first dates” this month at my local coffee shop. Inviting Vietnamese girls straight to your apartment rarely works.

Most dates only cost 50k ($2.10) and take 30 minutes to an hour. Some cost more money. No biggie.


300k VND ($13 USD)

I’m not a nightlife person… at all. However, I did go out to Bui Vien twice with two different girls (including my former teaching assistant). We just drank at the places with the kid stools on the street because it’s cheap and fun.

Beer costs like 25k ($1.05) for a big bottle. Both times the girl drank one beer while I drank 4 or 5.


500k VND ($21)

This is just a local Vietnamese gym. No air conditioning…

If you need air conditioning at the gym, then you’re a pussy. Do you want them to bleach your asshole too?


150k VND ($6.43)

You shouldn’t drink the tap water here.

Most expats just buy water bottles at Circle K, but this gets annoying. Instead, you can buy these 5 gallon water cooler things with a spigot and put it on your counter. A 5 gallon water bottle costs 25k ($1.05) and the company delivers them to your apartment.

I used 6 this month.

Just have a Vietnamese girl from Vietnam Cupid order it for you.

Motorbike Stuff


200k ($8.25).

I don’t ride my bike much.

Oil change

10k ($0.41)

Normally an oil change costs like 50k, but a girl gave me free oil (?) so I only paid for labor and oil disposal.


156k ($6.56)

This just includes random stuff like parking and my cellphone bill. Actually, this is probably mostly my cellphone bill since that was 100k ($4.29).


  1. A second experience here for your readers :

    Pretty much the same here. Around 1250$/month and i don’t try to save anything.

    Basically 450$/month for rent – all incluses, nice studio, garage and a pool – and then 20$/day. Usually 3-4$ all day for food/coffee, and then 15-17$ for western/japanese food + dates + japanese/western food. I do drink a lot, i think that’s my mainly expanse after the rent.

    1$/day for one pack of cigarettes (Camel, some other brands are even less expensive).

    I don’t go to the gym, but i spend more than you for gas. Maybe 20$/month. Sometimes a massage at 15$/hour (a real one, not a random handjob on Bui Vien) or a movie at the cinema (3,5$).

    That’s all, 1250$/month for everything.

    1. Fuck i should read what i write before posting. Editing here :

      *and then 15-17$ for western/japanese food + dates + bars at night

    2. Thanks for the comment. It’s always good to hear another perspective. $1250/month seems about right for people that like to drink and leave their apartment (most people). I gotta work on that myself.

      Either way, still dirt cheap compared to the west.

      1. Hey Neo,

        first of all awesome blog. Its the first blog I read on a regular basis.

        When I started out the “digital nomad life”, I also went to Ho Chi Minh City and managed to live there for just 500 USD per month. $220 for rent, about $10 for electricity. And the rest was for food, drinking and going out.

        95% of the meals of course were local streetfood +iam vegetarian which makes the meals even more cheap.

        So if someone really wants to bootstrap, you can do it really cheap. If you have more money of course its better, especially if you wanna see more stuff or day some trips around vietnam + 300-350 USD will get you a much better apartment. Mine was not bad, it was a very new place, but quite small 15 qm with little kitchen and bathroom

        1. Thanks. Glad you like it here.

          And damn, $500/month for all expenses. That’s why I always say that Vietnam is great for beginning the digital nomad life.

          15sqm is tiny though, but all we really need an apartment for is sleeping and showering anyway lol.

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