What is the cost of living in Vietnam


This is exactly my question before I purchased my very affordable ticket to Vietnam, what is the cost of living in Vietnam? Many travellers and former expats in Vietnam assured me that it is cheap, which I think was one of enough reasons to move to Vietnam. After I moved, I found their statement both right and wrong.

Vietnam is relatively cheap, especially if you are looking in retiring in Vietnam or simply planning to start a new chapter of your life. The cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City is different from Hanoi or from the smaller towns in the country. It also depends on what lifestyle you are planning to have; type of accommodation, food to eat, where to shop, or how to get around in Vietnam are the factors you have to consider. The cost of living in Vietnam depends on the type of person you are and which city you want to live.

Related article: Expenses Incurred When Renting An Apartment In Ho Chi Minh City

To give you an idea, I will list down what are the expected living prices in Vietnam from the housing, food, alcohol, transportation, and other things that can be helpful. You can also check out this article about budget for moving to Vietnam.

If you are in a hurry, you can check this table below, scroll further down to know more about cost of living and expenses in Vietnam.

NOTE:Prices are in US Dollars; $1= 22,000 VND

Rent + Bills$300
Transportation (renting a motorbike plus gas)$60
Leisure: eating out, drinking(going out and/or eating out at least once a week)$100
Mobile phone bill$5
Gym membership/Fitness$20

These price are only estimation, your cost of living may differ depending on how you want to life and your own lifestyle. Read further to understand what is the standard expenses for an expat in Vietnam.


For an expat, the average cost of living in Vietnam is $500 including a cheap rent, decent food, transportation, and budget for leisure. I’m spending a little less than this as I share a room with my boyfriend in a shared apartment. We also rented a motorbike to go around the city and mostly cook the food for ourselves. Our biggest expense is the apartment and leisure during the weekends.



The best thing here is that Vietnam can accommodate both expats who are looking into cheap living and those who are keen to have a luxurious life. Here is for more detailed about the difference between the type of housing in Vietnam and its prices. The price varies depending on the location and services that are included. Finding an apartment or house in Vietnam can be easy or hard depending on where and when are you arriving or moving.

Cost of Apartment

The rent cost is between $200-$1,000+ depending on the type of accommodation, location, and its size. We discussed more about apartments in Vietnam here.

Length of Contract

The minimum length of contract for your rent is 6 months, while is it very normalthat a landlord may ask you to sign a year contract. If you can find someone to take over your place before you contract expires, you can get your deposit back.

Electricity price in Vietnam

The electricity in Vietnam is about 3,000-4,500 VND per KW. If your landlord is charging your more than this, something is definitely not right.

Prices of food in Vietnam

Personally, I find it almost the same price when you decide to cook home or eat out but that depends where you are eating; those small shacks on the street offers really affordable meal. Although a lot of expats are concern with its cooking sanitation and most of the time, the food they serve have gone cold.


If you cook for yourself, it would cost about $1-$3 -cooking meals without meat is always cheaper. I also cooked big portions so I can save the rest for the next day. My roommate would freeze the left over for the future. If you are on a tight budget, rice and pasta are pretty cheap as well. Doing your grocery at the local dry market is alwayscheaper than shopping in commercialised grocery stores.

Eating Out

$1-$2 for the side street vendors which you can mostly find in residential areas. While casual restaurants is about $3-$4 for a meal and/or fast food chains, fancier restaurants are about $6 and up. It’s always more expensive to eat at the touristy arealike Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien street. It can be challenging to find great place to eat there as well.

Food Delivery

You can have your food delivered for $2 and up (sometimes the delivery fee is free). I love this option, they are fast and very affordable.


Forget about driving a car unless you can’t stand the pollution in the big cities or you are moving to a smaller city. Driving a car will take you forever to get to where you want to go. There is a big chance you will be stuck in traffic especially if you plan to use this when going to work. Motorbikes are your on-the-go solution to get around.

You can check this article about transportation in Vietnam for some ideas on how you can get around the city or in the country.

Buying a Secondhand Motorbike

You can buy a motorbike for $250 (Hanoi) $350+ (Ho Chi Minh City), cheaper in the smaller cities/towns like Da Lat, Phong Nha, and Ninh Binh.

Renting a Motorbike

Renting a motorbike can cost about $40 and up per month with a deposit of $200+


The gas for your motorbike or car is not too expensive too, about $1 per litre

Motorbike Taxi

Motorbike taxi is one of the most common public transportation in Vietnam. About $.50 (minimum) depending on how far and the demand at the time of booking, you can use either Grab or Mai Linh phone apps.

Phone Apps

For a minimum of $.50, you can go around the city. Here, you can book a car, taxi, or motorbike taxi. Some apps even offer delivery service/parcel service. Check the list of phone apps you can use in Vietnam.


Taking the bus is one of the cheapest options to go around, for only $.25 (local buses within the city), just prepare for the traffic

Buses to the Next Town or City

For about $7+ (depending on the bus company and the travel distance) – Check the bus times and prices of out of the city buses here also remember to book in advance during the holiday season


It’s the cheapest but probably not the safest way to go around the city. For $25 you can buy a second-hand push bike. The motorists ignores the traffic lights most of the time, there are also no bike traffic lights or lanes.


Alcohol is quite cheap too, depending on where you are buying – the cheapest is at the local grocery stores. Cocktails and beers are expensive in bars and clubs especially in the big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, also in touristy places.

Cocktails $3+
Hard Liquor$7 (local)$10 (imported)$2+ per shot
Wine$5 (local wine)$10 (imported wine)$4+ per glass

There you go! Vietnam is honestly can be very cheap if you can follow a good budget and know the places to go, eat, shop, and party. Also, it will help a lot if you build a great network of friends (locals or expats) to get some tips.

I hope this article is helpful for you, if you have any questions or suggestions, let us know below the comment section. Join these Facebook groups too to get help and support from expats in Vietnam.

This article is summarized by Modoho – a trusted agency in Ho Chi Minh city. If you need any help from a local expert with free searching services (only landlord have to pay) feel free to contact us. Here is some listing for you:

Masteri Thao Dien for rent.

Vinhomes Central Park for rent.

Estella Heights for rent.

Apartment for rent in District 2 (Thao Dien).