Downside of Expat life?

I'm sure this has been covered  before, but I couldn't find any threads.

What are the downsides to Expat life in VN? I don't have any family to miss in the US and I wouldn't have to work in VN for my income. As a result, I could live anywhere in VN. Other than a lack of good Mexican food, what other hardships can I expect to endure?

Cheers,

Bill

My situation is about the same. I will never return to my home country even if I couldn't stand it here anymore.

The food here is becoming more and more of a problem. More and more sugar is used in food and drink and too much bad oil is used for cooking and frying.
Also a lot of food is manipulated.
Yummy food

If you live in expatriate enclaves there is not much negative in big cities besides the chaos on the streets and bad air.

If you live outside big cities, there are many other annoying things. I don't want to say any more because there are many people who think that there are only polite and loyal people here.

I think it's easy to lose ones cultural identity living in a foreign country, to some people this is very important to others, less so. On a practical level I suppose the dirt and pollution is an everyday problem.
Of course as we age healthcare is a worry, insurance can be very expensive.

Suppobill :

I'm sure this has been covered  before, but I couldn't find any threads.

What are the downsides to Expat life in VN? I don't have any family to miss in the US and I wouldn't have to work in VN for my income. As a result, I could live anywhere in VN. Other than a lack of good Mexican food, what other hardships can I expect to endure?

Cheers,

Bill

For me, the main downside of VN is that it's just not a very interesting country. There is some stunning scenery in some areas and of course, some variation between regions but overall, there seems to be a kind of bland homogeneity.

Also, as mentioned, the quality of the food is generally not as great as it could be.

In addition, although the tropical weather is a big plus, during the summer, the heat and humidity can really take a toll.

I think you have already experienced the downside of dating in VN.

On the upside, it's a good place for getting married, losing weight and relaxing at home.

The fact that you cant have a motorbike, car and land in your name without jumping through major hoops.

Suppobill :

I'm sure this has been covered  before, but I couldn't find any threads.

What are the downsides to Expat life in VN? I don't have any family to miss in the US and I wouldn't have to work in VN for my income. As a result, I could live anywhere in VN. Other than a lack of good Mexican food, what other hardships can I expect to endure?

Cheers,

Bill

Since you are a U.S. citizen, the medical care & insurance situation MAY be a hardship for you.

There is no way to use Medicare here.

For military veterans with V.A. Medical Care eligibility, there is the Foreign Medical Program, but it doesn't cover everything and you must pay upfront for your care and then be reimbursed 6 weeks to 3 months later.

I'm not sure if or how military retirees on Tricare get healthcare coverage here.

However, excellent medical care here is available and cheap, IF you can speak Vietnamese or you bring along a personal translator.

Otherwise, you head to a hospital serving us foreigners where the prices are hugely inflated, largely because the staff speaks English (or French or...) and you get a private bed or room.

When I say "excellent" medical care in Vietnamese hospitals, I'm talking about everything except the room and board arrangements while actually staying in the hospital.

That can be the ultimate culture shock, with sharing a large platform bed with a total stranger not unheard of.

For OUTSTANDING medical care, many expats swear by the healthcare available in Thailand.

I don't have experience with locally available health insurance, but if you search for "insurance" on this site, you should find at least a few threads where the subject is fully discussed.

Travel insurance is the answer for some people, but *I think* that requires a paid round-trip travel itinerary, as those companies don't want to cover you if you are actually moving and not simply touring.

Vietnam officials need to start looking at long term solutions. Tourism suffers greatly from its many problems, this can also be said about the expat community.

VN problems.

I think we’ve seen the best of it.      Sadly, the over development  & mass market zero dong tourism has turned places that were once idyllic into cheap concrete ghettos. 

Too many places in SE Asia these days resemble a poor mans Miami.

Maybe the recent  Visa scams were a tap on the shoulder from someone up there letting me know it’s time to move onto greener pastures.   

I’ve taken the hint.    On the road , is back on the road again.

- no Mexican food, just some Texmex since all Mexican restos I've been were run by white guys
- no Amazon, Lazada ain't Amazon
- no Home Improvement megastores
- no modern transportation systems, just construction zones (Saigon)
- difficult language to hear and speak
- most people lack the manners of my culture

Otherwise the same hardships of other developing countries (bad drivers, open sewer smells, property ownership restrictions, shifting laws, superstitions, general shabbiness)

Bill,

There are plenty of upsides to expat life in VN, but I won't go into them because you specifically asked for the downsides. After 5.5 years in Saigon and 4.5 years in KL, here goes:

1) -- Food. Generally lovely and fresh with lots of healthy greens etc, but ignore the potential traces of mercury, arsenic, PCBs and dioxin (agent orange) in the groundwater. I've never been game to touch river fish and am wary about coastal seafood. On top of that, after a while you begin to realise there are only about ten dishes or so; everyone does them differently but they do get a bit same-same.

2) -- Air pollution. There are worse places in the world, and it's worse in Hanoi than Saigon, but still...

3) -- Traffic. It seems chaotic, but get a motorbike, learn to go with the flow (forget any official 'rules') and you'll be right. Just remember that no-one gives way; carefully insist on merging (or crossing the road as a pedestrian) and they'll simply swerve around you in a general give-and-take. I've only ever seen what you could call "road rage" once.

4) -- Medical care. VN is trying to sell itself as a destination for first-class dental treatments that are dirt-cheap by first-world standards, and by most accounts it's succeeding. However, for anything else, get the most expensive insurance you can afford and you'll get preferential treatment for what it's worth -- which isn't much. I slipped on our wet marble porch while holding a glass of coke, fell with my bum straight onto the glass, resulting in a wide cut two finger-joints deep through my pants. Made my way with heavy bleeding (towel on the taxi seat) to the FV hospital in Saigon's D7, reputed to be one of the best hospitals in the country (French management). After a four-hour wait they removed some glass shards and put me in a shared room for two days. Nobody gave me any consistent updates, but after two days I was let go with some Betadine to bathe my bum twice a day, and told to come back after a week. Fortunately, a friend of my wife visited from Australia when I came home. She's an experienced trauma nurse, took one look at the wound and said it looked ugly and needed stitching urgently. So, I contacted my insurance and booked a flight to Bangkok the next day, where they put in 15 external stitches and 14 internal. Lesson learned. For anything more than a superficial wound, go to S'pore or Bangkok.

5) -- Diseases. If you stick to the main urban areas, there aren't many you need to worry about. Just make sure your DTP jab is up to date, just like you should back home. Malaria is not really an issue in the cities but dengue is, as I experienced with close friends in Jakarta and Saigon. There's no vaccination or prophylactic. Talk to your doctor or tropical-diseases specialist about mosquitoes.

6) -- Officialdom. Where to start with make-work procedures in a top-down bureaucracy? Keen to promote tourism? Take a look at their neighbours' smooth visa procedures on arrival. Ditto residency and work permits. Local 'agents' will help for a massive fee (which might include underhand payments), even for something that should be straightforward like transferring a foreign rider's/driver's licence.

7) -- Language. I've mentioned it before on this forum. I like to think I have a head for languages and speak several fluently, but I gave up on the tonal aspects of Vietnamese, where a slight inflection in a three-letter word like "nam" can mean totally different things. I had no trouble picking up enough to get by in Malaysia, but Vietnam required lots of smiles and sign language. Fortunately the Vietnamese I encountered always had a great sense of humour and were happy to help.

8) -- Variety. Someone said here that there isn't much of it in the country, but I beg to disagree. The cultural differences between the north and south are massive -- more so than between northern and southern Italy which also has a north-south geographic stretch with different seasonal patterns. Political inclinations aside, just look at language, where they often have trouble understanding each other (in the centre, in Hue, that applies too). And when it comes to landscapes, the country has everything from stunning coastlines to mountain rainforests and even snowy peaks in winter. It doesn't have mighty deserts but everything else is catered for. Viet vets, much as they hated being here, often commented on the country's beauty.

9) -- Other downsides? Sure, there are more, just like there are more downsides anywhere else in the world. But often they're more than balanced by upsides depending on your priorities -- and they will shift when you shift :-)

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