Living in Saigon 101

12:00:00 PM

Whether you plan to live in Saigon, or anywhere in Vietnam, for one month or more, it is best to be prepared or you'll later get regrets like us.
We started living here almost a year ago for personal reasons. On the first few months of living here, we spent quite a sum of money. We visited restaurants, bought some sweets and snacks for when we are at home, in short, we bought everything we thought was cheap and good. What we didn't know is that it can be cheaper than that.


Here are lists of living expenses we are able to keep track

1. Rent a Condo unit/Apartment Room/House
Whether you want to rent any of the three things above, it is important to find out the average costs of renting those places. An apartment room can be as small as 18-24 square meter with a toilet for a rental cost of 3M VND average. While a Condo unit can be from 6-7M furnished and without a proper kitchen for 1 bedroom that can accommodate 2 people, and 8M VND furnished and higher for one with a proper kitchen and 2 beds. Condo unit prices can also differ in every district. A house can be more expensive to rent as most houses here in the city have 3 and more floors. Remember that the cost listed is a monthly payable. This does not include payment for water and electricity yet. There might also be some charges that is not part of the unit you are renting, like parking fee, security, maintenance, cleaning, etc.
Calvin's height is 1.8m
 Since we are living in a family house, we are able to save up money instead of paying monthly rent especially when the district is closer to District 1, rent can go higher and electricity charges can be higher as well.

2.  Electricity and Water
Usage of the air conditioning system might be something really important for you especially when the weather in Ho Chi Minh is 80% sunny, hot, and humid. However, using an air conditioning system would slowly create a hole in the pocket. Using it for almost 24 hours a day in 18-25 degrees would boost the electricity charge to 1M VND or higher. It is actually possible to pay half the amount and still use the air conditioning system. How? By turning it on at night when we are about to sleep, and turning it off in the morning when we wake up. During the day, when we stay at home and it is hot, we use a stand/desk fan to keep us cool. Just keep tabs that all switches are off when on standby. It's the same with water, we pay 50-60K VND a month by not wasting water.

3. Drinking Water
As for this, we spend 100K VND for 5 20L-Containers with free delivery and we can last long for a month with that much.
There will be a phone number stuck in the water container so if you need a new one, you can just contact them.
If they can't speak English, you will have to prepare a google translate before calling their number and practice how to say it, send a translated Vietnamese message to their number, or ask a Vietnamese neighbor to call for you.

4. Groceries
We have a total budget of 2M VND good for 1 month groceries. This includes, around 15kgs of meat (pork, chicken, fish), a few kilograms of vegetables, 5L cooking oil, sauces, laundry detergent, toiletries, and some snacks. We do take note of our budget every month to track our spending and we rarely go over budget. Buying in supermarkets may be cheaper than local markets, some local markets have the same prices as when you buy in the supermarkets, also, you get points if you are a member in a supermarket which you can use the points to buy anything.
Inside part of a local market

The outside part of the local market

Here is an example of our Grocery list, this one is for the month of October
Open image to new tab to see the details up close

5. Daily Budget
Our daily budget is 100K VND, that is for us. It can go as high as 200K VND for 2 people and that is enough. If you are working, you can save money by cooking meals and bringing some lunch boxes to work. It will cost more if you go out to eat. One regular size of coffee or other drinks can cost 40-50K if you buy it in a coffee shop/house. But if you bring your own water or water bottle and refill the bottle in your workplace, you can save money for buying other beverages. Food can also be more expensive for foreigners who don't trust in eating at stalls by the street prepared by locals. Well, I don't mind and I love eating local food. I also prefer to eat at home than outside. So we get to save money.
The thing is we don't have a scooter/motorcycle/car to go around the town, so this budget is usually spent to Uber/Grab/Bus fares and we can still save money at the end of the day because of the promos they offer except for busses.

6. Gas
If you have a kitchen in your unit, one gas can costs 360K VND and will last for 3 months even with cooking everyday. It includes free delivery and installment.
The same with the drinking water, this also has a contact number stuck into it. But I couldn't take a photo or I had to uninstall it.

In total, the costs breakdown will be like this:

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2 comments

  1. I don't live in VN but I was raised in the south and have gone back to visit a few times. I think the cost of living is pretty reasonable here considering SG is getting more and more expensive each year. While ~600 USD is not too bad, I can't say that it's good without knowing the income. Several years ago I read somewhere that the average monthly salaray is about 4M a month. But seeing how much people spend on food and utilities I doubt that's accurate... otherwise most people go into debt (and a lot do, sadly).

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    Replies
    1. I see. In this case, my cost of living expenses is based on a foreigner who will be working in Saigon. Most foreigners earn $1000-$3000 or higher, depending on the job. I am also writing this for the sake of foreigners planning to live in HCMC. To have an idea of how much it costs monthly without other additional expenses.

      I do have learned about the 4M VND a month minimum salary earned by the locals and with that, I found that they could rent a room for a cheaper price like around 3M and 3-4 people can live in that room. Wherein friends can stay together and divide the cost. Since if the locals are renting, that means they are in SG for work, they won't be spending a lot of time at home thus affecting the utilities directly making it cheaper.

      I am glad you commented this. If you have other questions feel free to comment.

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