Moving to Vietnam

Updated 2023-11-19 12:29

Are you considering moving to Vietnam, or have you recently been offered a job at a Vietnamese company? Packing up your life and moving to any new place can be daunting, but with patience and preparation, this might be the best thing you've ever done! Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime as you find out why you should (or should not) move to Vietnam.  

Pros and cons of moving to Vietnam


One of the biggest benefits of moving to Vietnam is the lower cost of living compared to many other countries. Especially in North America and Europe, the cost of living has increased dramatically, forcing people to work more than ever. A beautiful two-bedroom apartment in Vietnam can cost anywhere from 16 million VND (USD 657.08) to 21 million VND (USD 862.42). These are Western standard apartments (spacious living rooms, big kitchens, and balconies) with beautiful amenities (pools, on-site gym equipment, public BBQ space) and usually a weekly cleaning service.

Another benefit is the landscape of the country. If you are accepting a job in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, it's very easy to take a weekend getaway and see the rolling hills of Da Lat or nearby national parks. You have the choice among mountains, beaches, caves, sand dunes, and so much more waiting to be explored.


A massive con of living in Southeast Asia is the pollution and waste disposal issues. If you have respiratory issues, you will be forced to stay inside or invest in proper air humidifiers for your home. Air quality is measured with the AQI index or air quality index. This scale assigns a daily rating per place from 0-500. A healthy AQI rating is anything below 50, and air quality in Vietnam, on average, is rated as high as 177. This mid-range rating is bad enough to cause further damage to pre-existing conditions.

While the country is trying to embrace a “greener mentality,” sidewalks, rivers, and roads are still littered with garbage and various one-time-use plastics. If you are someone passionate about the environment, this might be a visual hurdle for you, but you will soon connect with like-minded communities organizing clean-ups or teaching about recycling and proper waste management.

Another downside for some newcomers to Vietnam is the traffic and loud honking. While at first, you might be hypnotized by the ease with which other drivers seem to avoid accidents, embracing a new commute or learning to drive in Vietnam might intimidate you beyond reason. Remember that you are not obligated to learn how to drive if you choose to move to Vietnam. There are many taxi mobile apps like Grab, Gojek and Be that will quickly pick you up at any time of day, or you can look at hiring a private driver. Remember to choose an accommodation that will feel like a refuge after a long day, and consider starting your journey within Vietnam by living in a popular expat area to ease the transition.

While there are several more pros and cons, it will be unique to your preferences. Vietnamese people are incredibly welcoming and kind, but meeting your neighbors might not go exactly as you expect. For example, in apartment buildings, you won't necessarily meet your neighbors due to different schedules, and if you rent a house, you may be invited next door for food, drinks, and late-night karaoke sessions. While you are settling in, there is a large expat community from all different nationalities that will be eager to welcome you on this next chapter of your journey.

What to pack when moving to Vietnam?

As you begin to pack up your belongings, you may feel apprehension over what is available or not available in this new country. Rest assured, many international brands and items are available in the bigger cities of Vietnam, and country-wide delivery is simple to set up and receive. Things you may have trouble finding include:

  • plus size clothing and undergarments;
  • larger shoe sizes (over 9 or 38);
  • feminine hygiene products for monthly cycles;
  • medication.

Be prepared to bring notes from your doctor that you can have translated for specialized drugs or medications and review any urgent medical care you will have to maintain while abroad.

Where you are living in Vietnam will dictate what you need to pack. Living in the south of Vietnam means you will not experience temperatures lower than 21°C/69.8°F, but you will have a rainy season. Bring a durable pair of rainboots, but rest assured you will find protective ponchos and umbrellas when you arrive. If you are moving to central Vietnam, you may want to bring brands of tea or snacks that you will miss, as most Westernized grocery stores are in the north or the south of the country. If you enjoy exploring the outdoors and own a comfortable pair of hiking boots, we recommend bringing them. The north of Vietnam experiences three seasons: hot, rainy, and winter. You will be grateful for bringing jackets, hats, scarves, and gloves, but you can also find a lot of these items locally to save room in your luggage.

Choosing an apartment or a house in Vietnam

Finding furnished accommodation in Vietnam is not difficult. However, if you don't like the furniture provided, buying new furniture tailored to North American or European standards will be expensive. While there are several high-end furniture manufacturers near Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, if you are living in a more central or secluded area, it will be difficult to swap out or change the house.

What is furniture like in Vietnam?

Vietnam is the second largest furniture manufacturer in the world and specializes in wood-based designs, specifically focusing on Acacia wood designs. Therefore, the house or apartment you are moving into will likely include a wooden couch or table in this design. Especially in more central-based accommodation, it is typical for all furniture to be made from wood and passed down through the family.

Apartments in Vietnam usually have smaller kitchen spaces and bigger communal areas. If you prefer a bigger kitchen, make sure to list that to your realtor. Other items you should expect are a rice cooker and at least a small table with two chairs for coffee. Vietnam also has JYSK and IKEA if you are familiar with their furniture collections and prefer to find new things for your home at either retail store.

For apartments in Vietnam, the ground floor is also the parking and common area. In general, this means that when you open the front door, you are welcomed with a very big living space. Stairs are very popular, as are low ceilings in bathrooms or hallways. If you live in the north or the south, invest in bedsheets that are breathable and moisture-wicking, plus a big duvet for those northern winter nights. We recommend investing in a mattress topper since mattresses in Vietnam tend to be thin. Make sure to double-check that your house or apartment includes hot water and it is accessible all day.

Good to know:

Due to the preference for wood materials, termites are widespread in Vietnam. There are over 200 species, and unfortunately, there is not a lot in regard to protection. However, if you suspect there are termites in your home, then your landlord will assist in the easy removal process.

Planning your relocation to Vietnam

It is critical to inquire about authorized and prohibited items entering Vietnam. This will be a good starting point in choosing which belongings to pack up. The Vietnam visa website is a good place to find out details. Remember that you can purchase most items in Vietnam, but it is hard to part with emotional memories. If you are considering hiring an international moving company, below is an in-depth look at what the process entails and recommended a few companies.

Good to know:

Professional international movers are well-versed in international regulations and will handle all the necessary customs formalities on your behalf.

Once you have decided which items to take with you to Vietnam, you will hand over a detailed list of your belongings to the mover. This list will be used to assess the volume of goods to carry and to make a declaration of value.

The declaration of value is a document that you have to fill out yourself. You must specify the overall value of your property to be transported. This will allow you to arrange insurance in the case of loss or damage. Be sure to specify which objects require special attention, such as special packaging for fragile goods or deconstructing larger furniture to be reassembled on arrival.


Check with your airline to see how much additional baggage costs and whether it is cheaper to bring everything on the plane or wait for its arrival. If you choose this solution, remember to arrange the correct transportation from the airport to your new home.


The volume of goods to be transported will determine the best mode of transport for your belongings. Sending items via air freight is most appropriate for smaller belongings. This method is relatively rapid and typically takes between one and eight days, depending on the point of origin. However, it is also more costly. If you have a larger number of goods and more oversized furniture items, you will more likely send your items to the country via sea freight. This method can take up to eight weeks but is the more cost-effective of the two.


Your chosen courier may offer you damage insurance covering unpredictable damage to, or loss of, your property. This will be the declared value of your total assets. You will receive an insurance certificate once you have read, understood and signed the contract.

There are several options for international transport insurance, and knowing how your items are transitioning is key. These are a few common terms:

Air freight: As mentioned above, this will include shipping your belongings as additional flight baggage or if you have chosen to use an airborne carrier.

Door to door: as it sounds, “your items will arrive from one door to the next”. Double-check before clicking this option for any small print or removed liability from the moving company.

Port to port: Instead of a moving company handling the heavy lifting - you will be responsible for packing all belongings and delivering them to the seaport. This option should only be clicked if you are using sea freight. This option will also require more paperwork for you to do, including customs declarations, inspections, and port fees.

There are also standard-size shipping container measurements that can help you visualize which is the right size.

20ft shipping container:

  • Suitable for 1-2 bedroom moves or a car with only a few boxes;
  • Size (LxWxH): 19′ 10.5″ x 8′ 0″ x 8′ 6″ (6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m);
  • Total internal volume: 1,169 ft³ (33.1 m³);
  • Net shipping load: 61,289 lb (28,200 kg).

40ft shipping container

  • Suitable for 3-5 bedroom moves or a car plus a typical two-bedroom move;
  • Size (LxWxH): 40′ 0″ x 8′ 0″ x 8′ 6″ (12.2m x 2.4m x 2.6m);
  • Total internal volume: 2,385 ft³ (67.5 m³);
  • Net shipping load: 57,759 lb (26,600 kg).

A consignment form

Finally, you must sign the consignment form (here's an example from Vietnam Airlines) specifying the terms of the move, including transport mode, the volume transported, your name, the carrier's information, and the loading and final delivery address. A copy of this document should be handed to you while the movers assist or before you sign off on any paperwork. This letter is crucial to receive your belongings once you arrive in Vietnam.

Useful links:

International Federation of International Movers

Federation of European Movers

Vanpac Group Asia

Relocation Vietnam


Evolve Mobility

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.