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Ninja Teacher In HCM
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tellersquill



Joined: 08 Apr 2016
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ExpatLuke wrote:
$500-$800 per month living in either HCMC or Hanoi is near impossible for someone who is used to a western lifestyle. You have to make major life changes, and accept dismal living standards if you want to live on that little.

The cheapest studios in smaller towns are now around $300 per month alone. You can find cheaper options with house sharing, but still... I can't imagine you could live on $500 per month unless you were a hermit who just goes from work to apartment, no socializing, and only eats street food or cooks at home every single day.

I could probably do that for a few months, but a whole year? No way.

Minimum to live and have a decent social life in the bigger cities in Vietnam is $1000, and that's even pushing it these days. If you live in one of the small towns which occasionally hire (Vinh, Quy Nhon, Dalat), you could do it no problem.


I live off £600 per month in the uk - if I can do it here I can do it there!

£300 rent
£120 food
£50 gym and phone
£100 for socialising
£30 misc

I'd imagine all that costs less in Vietnam - foods cheaper that's for sure.

I never know how people spend so much more - I think they go out drinking booze or something.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10829
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

skarper wrote:
Frankly nowadays and with no local help to get you the proper cost for things I'd say a minimum of 1000 USD per month in the first year. Maybe 1200-1500 is more realistic.

Is that monthly living expense amount doable for newbies like the OP? Moreover, what could he realistically expect to earn with a newly-minted BA, TEFL qualification, and no TEFL experience?
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tellersquill



Joined: 08 Apr 2016
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
skarper wrote:
Frankly nowadays and with no local help to get you the proper cost for things I'd say a minimum of 1000 USD per month in the first year. Maybe 1200-1500 is more realistic.

Is that monthly living expense amount doable for newbies like the OP? Moreover, what could he realistically expect to earn with a newly-minted BA, TEFL qualification, and no TEFL experience?

I've got a friend who's just been there and done it and they are earning $1500 per month and spending around $900 per month.

My living costs will be lower though because I don't go out drinking very often.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 469

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are things that confuse the issue.

Do we include one off purchases - like a motorbike, bedding, household stuff, a phone etc in living expenses for the first year or not.

Do we include visa costs?

You also have to allow for a 2 -4 week slow down or stop in work over Tet for which you will not be paid. If you are sick and miss a week or two [which is likely in your first year or so] you will earn nothing.

Do you plan on getting health insurance?

There is also a high risk of getting scammed on pay in your first few jobs. You work a month and then they just don't pay you. This can happen and since you are working illegally there is little you can do.

I tend to include these things in a budget. Others may not.

900 USD is tight but if it's just rent + food + bills then OK.

EDIT - the above budget has 120 pounds for food. I think that is low and while maybe you can manage on that I'm doubtful.

Here - I like not to be too miserly on food because the cheapest food is highly suspect from a safety point of view.

I buy quite a lot of imported food that is quite expensive here. When I eat out I never risk street food and try to eat in cleaner more reliable restaurants. That's a choice you don't have to make but IMO it's foolhardy to be cavalier with your health.

I think a budget of 10USD a day for food is more realistic. Even if you skimp and go for 5USD a day that is still 150 a month and about what you claim to spend in the UK.
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tellersquill



Joined: 08 Apr 2016
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

skarper wrote:
There are things that confuse the issue.

Do we include one off purchases - like a motorbike, bedding, household stuff, a phone etc in living expenses for the first year or not.

Do we include visa costs?

You also have to allow for a 2 -4 week slow down or stop in work over Tet for which you will not be paid. If you are sick and miss a week or two [which is likely in your first year or so] you will earn nothing.

Do you plan on getting health insurance?

There is also a high risk of getting scammed on pay in your first few jobs. You work a month and then they just don't pay you. This can happen and since you are working illegally there is little you can do.

I tend to include these things in a budget. Others may not.

900 USD is tight but if it's just rent + food + bills then OK.

EDIT - the above budget has 120 pounds for food. I think that is low and while maybe you can manage on that I'm doubtful.

Here - I like not to be too miserly on food because the cheapest food is highly suspect from a safety point of view.

I buy quite a lot of imported food that is quite expensive here. When I eat out I never risk street food and try to eat in cleaner more reliable restaurants. That's a choice you don't have to make but IMO it's foolhardy to be cavalier with your health.

I think a budget of 10USD a day for food is more realistic. Even if you skimp and go for 5USD a day that is still 150 a month and about what you claim to spend in the UK.


If I can live off £120 ($150) per month for food in the UK then I will be stunned if I cant in Vietnam. Everyone is always saying how cheap the food is. Plus, I eat low calories - just chicken, eggs, and vegetables.

I've got a £2500 reserve to set me up for the first two to three months. This will pay the first two months of rent and food costs, and I think I will also buy a cheap little scooter.

I will be working legally - just need to add that - I've got a degree and have no reason to cheat the system. As for getting scammed, I guess it could happen. It hasn't happened to my two friends there but you do hear the odd horror story. There isn't too much you can do to stop it apart from take serious revenge if someone decides on becoming your enemy.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 469

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not arguing with you tillersquill!

I'm just being skeptical for the benefit for others coming to this thread at a later date.

I reiterate that anything less than 1000usd a month is a stretch. Quality of life will be poor. Poorer than I would want to put up with.

If you are convinced you can manage and be satisfied with that kind of life then go for it. What would be useful IMO is an update when you are set up.

Working legally/illegally is often not up to you but up to your employer. If they won't fulfill their part of the process there is nowt you can do about it. It can take months to find a single employer you feel comfortable with who is willing to take you on full-time and process a WP for you. Even some of the big names renege on this. All this is well covered in numerous threads on here.

2500 pounds is a good minimum safety fund. It can take a few weeks to start earning. More would of course be better but that is a reasonable amount.
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ExpatLuke



Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 743

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're overlooking start-up costs... which includes often pay 3 months +1 month security deposit on house up front. Motor bike rental/purchase. Documents. Etc.

You're also no counting things like visa runs, new visa purchases if needed, electric is not included in rent and usually runs an extra $50 in the summer if you use the A/C. Water, gas, internet, all possibly extra.

Frugal living is fine. I have many friends who do it. But not for less than $1000 per month. I have a feeling most of the friends you talk to aren't counting these extra things which occur less regularly than once a month.

If you want to live such a boring existence, I would highly encourage you to just work in Saudi Arabia, and live on a compound and make MUCH more money.

I don't think a brand new teacher setting foot on the ground in VN for the first time will be able to even come close to what you're looking for. It usually take time to figure out how much to haggle, which places are ripping you off, and who to know to get the cheapest prices. A green newbie is likely to over pay for pretty much everything unless you have local help.
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tellersquill



Joined: 08 Apr 2016
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got a good deal on the rent so far - I'm getting a room with a friend for $230 per month.

The other major outgoings are food, bike, and a gym membership - i'm told that to rent a bike costs 80$ per month plus 20$ for petrol. Gym is 20$. Food will be roughly 150$ (I cook for myself).

All of that is around $600 but there are little costs like going out for a beer and visa's etc.

I think the max I'm spending is 800$ per month which is about the same as I live off in the uk (I live off around £600-700 per month in England).

Essentially I need to make sure I earn over a $1,000 per month which I am told is very easy in HCM.

With some luck and hard work i'll hopefully earn over $1,700. I'm saving for a bunch of things - a trip to the Himalayas, s.america, and saving for my pgce.

I'm a tight arse by nature and take pleasure in saving cash so as long I get the hours I will make achieve my goals.
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tellersquill



Joined: 08 Apr 2016
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for the boring thing - I really love going to the gym, reading books, sitting in the sun, going for walks -- all of which is fun for me and pretty much free. I get the some people like to party more, but that just isn't for me. I much prefer the simple life.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 469

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tellersquill is overlooking a lot of detail in a hope for the best spirit.

Who knows, maybe he will be fine on his minimal budget. He is after all the best person to judge what he needs to feel satisfied.

We have given him the benefit of our on the ground experience and he rejects it. Fair enough. We get people like this every so often and it doesn't seem to matter how you break it down or how many people chime in, they know best.

So be it.
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tellersquill



Joined: 08 Apr 2016
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

skarper wrote:
tellersquill is overlooking a lot of detail in a hope for the best spirit.

Who knows, maybe he will be fine on his minimal budget. He is after all the best person to judge what he needs to feel satisfied.

We have given him the benefit of our on the ground experience and he rejects it. Fair enough. We get people like this every so often and it doesn't seem to matter how you break it down or how many people chime in, they know best.

So be it.

Its not that I reject it - its just that you guys said you both like western comforts - I figured you all go out for meals and drinking etc.

I'm basing my figures off what people I know in their 20s spend in Vietnam.

What other major cost is there beyond rent, food, bike, and visa?
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ExpatLuke



Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 743

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a lot of small costs that just add up to be a fair amount... especially when you move to a new country for the first time. It'll be impossible to put an exact number or definition on what they will be, but you can count on them being there. Take it from experienced travel folk.

Once you're established, know the lay of the land, and the ins and outs of your city, you'll find it much easier to live cheaply and save. Your first year is usually spent doing just that.

Vietnam is not known as a country where you go to save money. Yes, cost of living is relatively low. But so is the pay, and Vietnam's beurocracy adds a lot of extra annoying expenses when you least expect.

Korea is still the best country in Asia if you hope to save. Taiwan and China are also not bad choices.
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tellersquill



Joined: 08 Apr 2016
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ExpatLuke wrote:
There are a lot of small costs that just add up to be a fair amount... especially when you move to a new country for the first time. It'll be impossible to put an exact number or definition on what they will be, but you can count on them being there. Take it from experienced travel folk.

Once you're established, know the lay of the land, and the ins and outs of your city, you'll find it much easier to live cheaply and save. Your first year is usually spent doing just that.

Vietnam is not known as a country where you go to save money. Yes, cost of living is relatively low. But so is the pay, and Vietnam's beurocracy adds a lot of extra annoying expenses when you least expect.

Korea is still the best country in Asia if you hope to save. Taiwan and China are also not bad choices.


Are you in Vietnam now?

I've got friends earning decent money there.

I turned down Epik in Korea and a job in Nanning, China to go Vietnam.

Wages for natives in HCM per hour is between $17-20 for a newly arrived and qualified native speaker.

The China job offered £750 per month (8000rmb) plus rent. Because my rent in HCM is £250 I need to make roughly £900 per month for the HCM move to be more profitable which means If I get 20hrs of classroom work per week at $17 per hour then the deal pays off and I'm better off in Vietnam.

The Epik Korea job was £1500 per month with rent included but it wanted me to work 9-5 so there were loads more hours (so its not paid more - just more hours).
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 469

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd have to say if it's savings you want I'd have gone with EPIK.

20 hours a week running around HCMC will easily be more effort than a 9-5 EPIK gig.

Factor in paid vacations, free rent, visa costs all covered, severance, health insurance, plus flights in and out and you're quids in.

Korea is not as nice as Vietnam in many ways. So there is that.

In the end it's your life and you must make your own choices. But it strikes me your plans are sketchy at best. There is a lot easily found out online that you seem to be unaware of.

Good luck anyway and let us know how it pans out.
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tellersquill



Joined: 08 Apr 2016
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheers, man.

Don't forget I'm not going for a few months yet so I have time to figure everything else out.

I'm part of the a ESL Vietnam group on facebook and theres a bunch of people who have been giving me advice these past few days.

As for Korea - it just doesn't appeal to me - plus, Vietnam has much warmer weather.

My first choice was actually Cambodia but when I found out the wages are around $10 an hour I decide Vietnam is far better.
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