Is Retiring in Vietnam Worth The Money?

*Note: This is a redirect from an OLD article I wrote about 5 years ago. The information is dated and has changed dramatically from the original article. I've spent several more months living in Hanoi, so I have a better notion of life in this chaotic city. This guide was also written before I standardized on the format of writing my Retirement Guides, so the information is a bit lacking.

I'll leave this Vietnam information here as a placeholder until I can rewrite the entire article. 

Please the Ultimate Overseas Retirement Guides for Manila and Medellin for better information of what life is like retiring overseas.

You can retire in many places for significantly less than what it would cost in the US.

As an example, the average wage of a professional white collar worker in Vietnam is ~$450 per month.

  • Banking: 7.6 million VND/month
  • Pharmacy: 7 million VND/month
  • Food Industry: 2.3 million VND/month
  • Western English Teacher: $1000-$3000 (varies a considerable degree, depending on who you ask)

The natural follow up question to "What does it cost to retire in Vietnam?", is "What kind of lifestyle can I expect to live?"

Many Westerners would not be comfortable living "native": smaller housing, street food, and less creature comforts than in their home country. At the same time, most retirees could not expect to live on what a typical corporate expat would be paid. Western companies usually pay housing, car, schooling, tax benefits, and an executive level salary. Total compensation packages of over $250,000 are not unusual for a corporate expat. With the stark juxtaposition of living like a native or living like a Vice President, what expectations should a retiree realistically have in a low cost developing country? 

I asked several blogs and websites for their opinion on my ability to retire in Vietnam and Thailand on a modest retiree income. The range of "required" income varied between $1000-$2000. The unknown variable always being what my definition of "comfortable" lifestyle would be. With SPECIAL THANKS to the awesome communities of ESL cafe, Reddit, and Quora, I came up with a better barometer of a retirement budget. It provides me additional detail on what "luxury" or "comfort" lifestyle may mean. The intent is to use the worksheet to set expectations and better describe specific examples of a retiree lifestyle in Hanoi, Vietnam.

For people with experience in Vietnam or Thailand, what do you think? Are the numbers close? Are the prices estimated reasonable? Is there anything that you feel is left out or grossly misrepresented?

Based on your feedback, I will revise the spreadsheet and repost with corrections. If anyone would like a copy of the worksheet to help come up with their own retirement budget, please let me know and I can email it to you.

Please leave your feedback and corrections in the comment section below.