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Can I pull off living in Hanoi?

Hey guys I'm new here to the forums ~
I have been considering for a while now traveling and staying in Vietnam for the long term. I'm a 24 year old US native currently living (and struggling) on $750/mo in disability benefits. I have been to SEA three times, and I really enjoy local cuisine (street food), and I don't want some "high life" house or apartment.  Do you think I could get by semi-comfortably on $750/mo as compared to the way I live in the US now? Any comments are really appreciated, thanks!

..as the advertisement man famously said...   'Sure can!'    (before he got caught...)

..but I'm equally sure there are many more people here with (all?) the nitty gritty details...

Go ferret!                     :top:

Thanks for your reply, I hope I can :D

Just do it

..you will never regret it...

I think you clod get by on $750 a month but it will be harder than you think. I'd make sure and have $5000 in reserves in case something happens, lots of things can.

I'd also look into if you can get disability and live outside the U.S.. I've know a few people who wanted to do as you're thinking but were told they couldn't leave the U.S. for more than a few months.

Thanks for your reply I really appreciate it :)
I think I've talked to SS over the phone about this before but I don't necessarily recall it.. memory is bad :s but I believe I'm alright to live in another country such as Vietnam so long as I have an open US bank account for direct deposit, and as long as I'm still an American citizen. I'm not sure if I am able to have dual citizenship in the case that I get married though..so as far as I know, marrying a native may or may not affect my disability benefits if I chose to stay in Vietnam.
In any case, I am very accustomed to struggling to live on my own in the states off of $750/mo only, (near Cleveland) and would honestly feel any leverage in my budget to go to a movie, or eat/drink out every once in a while, as weight lifted off my shoulders~
I could keep a couple thousand saved up just in case of emergency, but honestly if I do ill probably end up blowing a lot of it on booze or something :s

Good!   Even (unconsciously?) you have done the homework and are self-aware enough to know the major difficulties most often are our own expectations.   And living up to them.

You are also accustomed to living with only the necessities.   So you will find (more easily than most) that living here is Heaven compared with the 'rat race'.   You know 'how to'.

Yes, (any) reserve is insurance.   Temptation takes it away with the unfailing logic of priority: what is more important?    But even if the sky does fall, I get the feeling it would not be as severe with someone used to daily? dramas.    Been there, done that.

  But since the pessimists are now crying about the imminent collapse of the world economy (yes, yet again...)   my own defence is to use the trilogy of cash, gold and assets.

  ..so by buying a couple of gold sovereigns (almost pure gold) will remove the 'instant'  temptation to cash them, AND they are forecast to rise (rapidly) when the rest of the herd realise the ATM's are worse than useless.   As happened (temporarily?) in 2008 and recently in Cyprus and Greece...         ..so just be pragmatic...   Use your reserves as collateral.

  But at the end of the day, only you can be responsible for your own happiness.   You already know this, which puts you streets ahead of the (many) minions.  You'll be Ok.

I appreciate your replies, they've been really inspiring for me :D I'm going to give it a shot.
My friend in Hanoi is actually looking at places around $150-200/mo (which is insanely cheap considering what I pay now) just outside of the city that look perfectly livable, and seem to be just a short distance away from entertainment and good food. And though I don't have a bachelor's degree, she still insists on finding an English language center in the area for me to work part-time at (though I don't know if that'll be very possible without qualifications)
Hearing stories of people living, and struggling in Vietnam on a $1500 budget have made me wonder, but in my current situation I feel like moving to Hanoi would be a blessing.

Again, good.  Better even.

  I hate to brag, (liar!)  but living in a (insanely cheap) Hostel in the heart of the 'old quarter'  is exactly what I did  when I first arrived in Hanoi.  $140 USD per month.  With free breakfast, free WI-FI, a communal family atmosphere...    ..did I mention the free Beer every Friday night..?   Eating the street food did NOT give me 'Bali Belly',  and at $1-3:00 why not eat out at every opportunity..?    ..as I (still) do...        :whistle:

  I'm (still) looking for the downside.   Strangely?   it just (seems to?) get even better!   ..or is it my attitude that is changing..?    The one thing I have (continually proven to myself) become aware of is that the vast majority of everyday people I deal with are not only interested in boring (old) Barry, but go out of their way to help me 'fit in'.   As You will find too.

  Examples?   The (lack of)  what we call 'road rage'.  Or any other forms of 'pushy' or assertive behaviour.   The (inevitable) spills from loading (impossible!!) loads onto a 50cc step-thru scooter are not only tolerated, but EVERYONE  (even the children) help to clean up while the traffic waits for the 30 sec traffic jam to clear.   As they swap jokes...

  I kid you not.   

  And yes, it is true.   If you speak English, you will be pounced on by (everyone?) wanting to learn the true 'economic' language.   Forget your pre-conceived ideas of needing 'formal' qualifications.   They just want to talk to an English-speaking person.  Full Stop!!   

Yeeeesss...   ..you do run the risk of being dobbed in accepting money (if) on a tourist visa of 90 days.   Work and business visas are available, but there are ways...   Keep your eyes open and an ear to the ground.   As you already do. 

  I came with the same idea; teaching English.   Now I earn (no, I won't tell...)   MUCH MORE just writing copy for a heap of desperates who need someone to write business letters, travelogues, even recipes...    ..and because it is on the internet, INTERNATIONAL!   

  As I (keep saying) to anyone who wants to listen, open your mind to the opportunities before imposing the rat race values onto a society rushing towards their own form of a civilised society (most) Europeans cannot begin to imagine.

  (pant, pant,)   ..and there you have it in a nutshell.   Sure, read (all) the negative stuff too.   Some of the points are (equally?) valid.   (ahem)          :blink:

  Should I have mentioned I now pay $60 for an apartment (house, actually...)    Nah.   Wait to see...

Wow, your story is awesome! I also looked at living in a hostel for a month or more for $150-200/mo around Old Quarter while waiting for a more permanenet (and cheap!) solution.
I'd rather live off of cheap and delicious street food than stay here and not be able to fit good food into my budget!
To be honest I love when people in foreign countries want me to teach them! I don't even need to be paid to enjoy helping someone out and teaching them some things! I stayed at my buddy's house in Osaka last July and we had the opportunity to teach each other which was really fun. But your work sounds awesome! I might have to do my research on work like that for myself since I love writing!

Ok.   But that is only my story.     Inspired by the obvious parallels to yours.

I'll repeat; keep an open mind.   

You have the advantage of being able to appreciate: the True meaning of Life.

But you won't know until you go.    Keep researching.       :top:

I will, and I hope to find out a whole lot more about the plethora of possibilities! Thank you very much for your replies, I really appreciate your advice!

Hektix :

Hey guys I'm new here to the forums ~
I have been considering for a while now traveling and staying in Vietnam for the long term. I'm a 24 year old US native currently living (and struggling) on $750/mo in disability benefits. I have been to SEA three times, and I really enjoy local cuisine (street food), and I don't want some "high life" house or apartment.  Do you think I could get by semi-comfortably on $750/mo as compared to the way I live in the US now? Any comments are really appreciated, thanks!

You might be able to, but your biggest problem would be medical expenses/medical insurance.

Hektix,

You can 'survive' on $750 PM but 'Living' is another.....there is a massive difference coming to Vietnam as a tourist compared to actually living here..its all very easy to get hooked up with the idea of living here and romancing on living with the locals and eating at the street  markets etc. which in the short term would be an experience...but long term that will soon wear off and there be days when you want to get back to your own culture and do and eat the things that were common to you ....by all means give it a go and I wish you luck but make sure you have a plan B and some finances tucked away for the unforeseen and for bailing out should you need too, also as Matt said you will need health insurance and secondly in Vietnam there is no state handouts or support if you as a foreigner end up broke with no work...if you do go ahead you should start a blog.....

You mentioned you are receiving disability as your income. Social Security is to be notified if your are out of the U.S. for more than 30 days. Payments will stop and upon your return your payment will begin after 30 days. Only Social Security continues to pay since this is retirement payments and not disability. Check online all SS pamphlets are accessable.

If you can take care of yourself, then of course  you can live here with that Money.

you can get what i mean....

Hi Hektix

I am not sure why you have chosen Hanoi or Vietnam for that matter, but you may want to think a little further outside the box, like Cambodia where a degree is not required to teach English in most of the foreign language schools.

Just a thought.

Cheers

Bazza139 :

Again, good.  Better even.

   I came with the same idea; teaching English.   Now I earn (no, I won't tell...)   MUCH MORE just writing copy for a heap of desperates who need someone to write business letters, travelogues, even recipes...    ..and because it is on the internet, INTERNATIONAL!

Sorry to hijack this thread but my question may help the OP.

Hi Bazza139

I have wondered about doing similar as technical and business writing has been a big part of my role over the majority of my career, but when I investigate I am not able to find anything or anyone  reputable enough to point me in the right direction.

I would appreciate any advice.

Cheers

It's Ok.   I think (most of?) people here only want to help point at options and alternatives (various) OP's have not (yet) considered.

And whilst Go Ogle is everyone's friend, or just a useful resource, we all see our own unique perspective.   Which is why 'advice' rarely helps.   Pointing at many methods at least gives choices.

'Copywriting'  as it is now known is only one method of earning that (often) necessary loot we need to survive(?)   There are others...

..many mentioned (and even advertised) on GoOgle, and a short search will uncover a Pandora's box of alternates.   Some you will find to be the Bees Knees for your own specialties, skills or even suggestions for passive  earnings you need not lift a finger to gather the goodies.  Seriously.

Others (naturally) expect a return for dispensing what might seem to some common sense.   But even reading their sales pitch should give enough clues.   Or simply type in 'How to escape the rat race'.   Inspiring stuff from those fortunate (fortuitous?) enough to do it differently.

'Working from your Laptop',  International Earnings, writing travelogues, starting your own blog  (even as a 'hobby') are a few of the dots  only you can decide to connect to.   

..some of us are even more devious...               :idontagree:

Returning to the original question:
I would consider such a move an 'experiment' for a period of time, I hope that is what you are thinking: 6 months, a year? There will be any number of reasons that it won't be as enjoyable as you hope: heat (aircon is a luxury on $750), weather, people, food, living conditions, home sickness, 3rd world stuff. That means you will at least need savings for a return ticket to return to the US.

Consider transportation if you are getting an apartment outside the center. You don't want to be isolated, it will cost more to travel for eating and shopping and socialization. I assume you are mobile? Viet Nam is not a place for people with walking difficulties, sidewalks are crap if they exist or are even accessible.

If you are up for teaching English, I think even part time work is available, but you will need a TEFL. Probably cheaper to do the course in Viet Nam. $750 is borderline comfort, another $500 income will make a big difference.

Thinking about marrying on $750? You know things are old fashioned here, right? Husband expected to support his wife, the wife's income, $150-300 / month if she works, supports her family, something like that.  A generalization yes, or hold out for a rich one.

@AlexterBalexter is wrong about social security payments. They can be direct deposited to your US bank, I believe they encourage that, and you can live overseas and withdraw from local ATMs. I am pretty sure federal disability payments are the same: call them up.
Good luck!

The SS Disability is not a retire income. They evauate your status annually, they are aware of any income that goes through the system. Annually they will ask what shows up...in fact, they will be notified immediately about some sources of income and reduce your disability payments... I deal with SS for 3 years now. The disability pamphlet is online and all info there. I think the SSI is what he is receiving since SDI required 10 or more years of work and paying into SS.  Oh. It is required to notify SS if any changes in status. Income and if out of the country for more than 30 days. There is a list of countries the U.S. gov recognizes and Vietnam is not one of them...SS retirement is your retirement income. This you receive and only will be adjusted or you fall into a taxable category according to your age or amount of additional income.

Just to add...Any income earned wil be subtracted from the Disability income...for example you earn an additional income or other monies. SS will subtract the same amount until disability income is zero. You make $800 month disability is $750. Disability pays you $0 and your extra income is $50. And Yes all SS payments are auto deposited. As we all know. When in Vietnam it costs some money to get our money. Another factor reducing his $750 which may end as $720-730 in Vietnam

AlexterBalexter :

You mentioned you are receiving disability as your income. Social Security is to be notified if your are out of the U.S. for more than 30 days. Payments will stop and upon your return your payment will begin after 30 days. Only Social Security continues to pay since this is retirement payments and not disability. Check online all SS pamphlets are accessable.

I had already contacted SS about this and have done some research, and their response was that as long as I am a US citizen and have my US bank account with Direct Deposit set up for the duration I'm out of the United States, the check will be deposited. Social Security can't send payments to Vietnam, such as a check or something

AlexterBalexter :

Just to add...Any income earned wil be subtracted from the Disability income...for example you earn an additional income or other monies. SS will subtract the same amount until disability income is zero. You make $800 month disability is $750. Disability pays you $0 and your extra income is $50. And Yes all SS payments are auto deposited. As we all know. When in Vietnam it costs some money to get our money. Another factor reducing his $750 which may end as $720-730 in Vietnam

I'm not sure how work outside of the country goes either towards SS benefits but as for here, ever since I have received benefits as low as mine I have been told by the SSA and vocational rehab that you can now work and receive supplemental income based on your disability income and keep your benefits as well, especially if the job pays under the table as I hear a lot of jobs in Southeast Asia do. For example, I can work a job for the rest of my life and still receive my full disability benefits so long as it pays me less than $950/mo, but if I make anything over $950 for 9 months then they will deem me not disabled and cut my benefits completely..but as for me I have a permanent disability, so I am unsure if my case is different, but that's the information I've gathered from the SSA about my status so far

Here's the link to out of country. https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500501410

gobot :

Returning to the original question:
I would consider such a move an 'experiment' for a period of time, I hope that is what you are thinking: 6 months, a year? There will be any number of reasons that it won't be as enjoyable as you hope: heat (aircon is a luxury on $750), weather, people, food, living conditions, home sickness, 3rd world stuff. That means you will at least need savings for a return ticket to return to the US.

Consider transportation if you are getting an apartment outside the center. You don't want to be isolated, it will cost more to travel for eating and shopping and socialization. I assume you are mobile? Viet Nam is not a place for people with walking difficulties, sidewalks are crap if they exist or are even accessible.

If you are up for teaching English, I think even part time work is available, but you will need a TEFL. Probably cheaper to do the course in Viet Nam. $750 is borderline comfort, another $500 income will make a big difference.

Thinking about marrying on $750? You know things are old fashioned here, right? Husband expected to support his wife, the wife's income, $150-300 / month if she works, supports her family, something like that.  A generalization yes, or hold out for a rich one.

@AlexterBalexter is wrong about social security payments. They can be direct deposited to your US bank, I believe they encourage that, and you can live overseas and withdraw from local ATMs. I am pretty sure federal disability payments are the same: call them up.
Good luck!

Thanks for your reply, it made me think a bit more about the whole thing
I have heard some terrible, terrible things about VN, both from my friends here in the US (from Hanoi) and from a Vietnamese friend of mine currently living in Hanoi, but on the other hand I have also heard amazing things, so I'm not really sure which way to go with it other than seeing for myself. As for a return ticket, a one-way can cost as little as $500 or so as seen on Kayak, and I just figured if I wanted to get out, I could suck it up and wait a month - or half a month for my next check and be on my way.

My apartment would likely be somewhere around Tay Ho or a little further out if I moved, and my friend in Hanoi has been looking at and comparing places so that if I end up there I will have a decent place at a low price. As far as mobility goes, well, I am mobile.. but my disability causes imbalance, and bad coordination and will get worse as I get older because my cerebellum will continue to degenerate and get smaller - so basically, right now I often look drunk while walking, or doing anything for that matter, when I'm not at all. I figured as far as transportation goes, tuk tuk's, taxi's and my own two feet could do the job..I'm not sure.

As for teaching, I figured I would just stick to private one on one teaching, as my friend has other friends who are already willing to pay me a bit per session if I were there - equaling out to maybe $200-300 extra per month.
There's still a lot I'm not sure of, but I am sure that I love travel, and that I'm tired of only being able to pay rent and electricity in a high cost-of-living country. It is difficult for me to find any part-time employment here being disabled in our job market. I want to be able to prove I can do something for and by myself without having to rely on others or federal aid

AlexterBalexter :

Here's the link to out of country. https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500501410

That's for SSI not SSDI. SSI is payment to old or disabled people who don't qualify for SSD payments.
It's just as this article explains for SSD and retirement http://www.disabilityexpertsfl.com/blog … -of-the-us

Clewington :

Hi Hektix

I am not sure why you have chosen Hanoi or Vietnam for that matter, but you may want to think a little further outside the box, like Cambodia where a degree is not required to teach English in most of the foreign language schools.

Just a thought.

Cheers

From pictures and other research on the country my impression of Vietnam is that it is beautiful, unique, and relaxed :)

Actually, I have thought quite a bit about Cambodia, but not knowing anyone in the country to hang out with or meet me at the airport I'd be scared of the lonely and stranded feeling I'd get hahah

I read your cite and the social security pamphlet concerning SSDI and it does allow payments to a U.S. citizen and citizen of another country, that is dual citizenship of a list of acceptable countries to continue payments. Example. Canadian and U.S. citizenships and YOU are living in Canada.   Call social security anonymously for information. I may be wrong. Better to be clear on this issue.

AlexterBalexter :

I read your cite and the social security pamphlet concerning SSDI and it does allow payments to a U.S. citizen and citizen of another country, that is dual citizenship of a list of acceptable countries to continue payments. Example. Canadian and U.S. citizenships and YOU are living in Canada.   Call social security anonymously for information. I may be wrong. Better to be clear on this issue.

I live in the States not Canada :l

Your cite and social security is much clearer:

you are currently receiving disability benefits as a citizen of the United States, you will still receive monthly benefit checks during extended periods of travel, as long as you are medically and financially eligible. Additionally, if you are a citizen (dual or otherwise) of any of the following countries and currently receive SSDI payments, those payments will continue as long as you are eligible, no matter how long you spend outside of the U.S.:

Canada
Chile
France
Germany
Greece
Israel
South Korea
Netherlands
Spain
Sweden
United Kingdom

My example was If you are a Canadian citizen and a U.S. Citizen and you are living in Canada...YES, you will continue to receive your disability money.

This is Insurance money NOT retirement money. Retirement money is earned and yours, Insurance money has rules.

Just wondering is that $60 a month for accommodation your paying, where about a is your house located in Hanoi
My husband and I are seriously thinking of living in Hanoi so I just want to put the feelers out and see what accommodation is available
Cheers
Chris

Forgive my paranoia.   The CIA would like to know too..

(within 4 km of the old quarter)   ..but I found another.

Cheaper (and better)       :proud

Hektix I'm thinking of moving to Vietnam also. I've been asking questions about the place also. Bazza and Gobot are great sources for information. But please do the math. If it cost you $200 for housing, $200 for food it leaves you $350 for everything else, transportation, entertainment, visa fees,etc. Housing and food you may be able to lower even more. Unless you are extremely well disciplined and can make some extra cash there, you will be in not an inviable position,  But if you can live in Cleveland for $750 and still be able to save a few thousand dollars, man you can make it anywhere in the world.
Myself I can count on almost double, $1378, but I have no illusions of living high on the hog. I also plan to rent out my property in Hawaii and under good conditions I could double my income. In my opinion there is hardly anything worse than being broke in a poor foreign country. I wish you the best of luck and health. Aloha

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