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How is $1500 a month good enough to live on?
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septum1234



Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:05 pm    Post subject: How is $1500 a month good enough to live on? Reply with quote

$1500 probably taxed around 20%

The leaves close to $1100

Then an apartment in Hanoi for $300

Yes, food is cheap, but that leaves maybe another $4oo for entertainment and food.

So like$300 savings? That is awful. How are people saying they are living great lives in Vietnam, seems like I would barely just scrape by.

Maybe I have this wrong?
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TimkinMS



Joined: 18 Oct 2005
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:13 am    Post subject: Re: How is $1500 a month good enough to live on? Reply with quote

septum1234 wrote:
$1500 probably taxed around 20%

The leaves close to $1100

Then an apartment in Hanoi for $300

Yes, food is cheap, but that leaves maybe another $4oo for entertainment and food.

So like$300 savings? That is awful. How are people saying they are living great lives in Vietnam, seems like I would barely just scrape by.

Maybe I have this wrong?


I think, you have it right.

Of course it depends on an individual's lifestyle.

$1,500 USD gross was good money about 6-7 years ago, in my opinion.

There has been a lot of inflation in Vietnam. Add the visa costs, work permit situation, taxes under the PIT (Personal Income Tax) transportation, food, and entertainment (even entertainment on the cheap) and a gross monthly income of $1,500 USD means you'll have to scrimp and try to save, if you want to.

The devaluation of the Vnese Dong has not helped, either.
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Andy123



Joined: 24 Sep 2009
Posts: 206

PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tax could be as much as 25% and $300 may be low for a hotel room not an apartment in Hanoi. Add to that the learning phase when you will be cheated and not know the best prices.

You can do better than this in Ha Noi. I hear that there are more new jobs in Ha Noi recently but there are some draw backs living there.

Do some more research and try to contact someone that has lived there for a while.

Good luck
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anubistaima



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 110
Location: Thailand

PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

$300 for an apartment? That's being very, very optimistic.

I don't know where people shop, but food took a big chunk of my money when I lived in Hanoi. Unless you shun all Western food, you'll be spending quite a bit of money to eat.
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hot_rock



Joined: 16 Apr 2010
Posts: 107

PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much?

In Saigon I spend about 75,000 a day on food (including snacks, cha da, cha xanh, coffee etc). Unless of course I go out to a proper restaurant in the evening; add another 100,000 on in that case, maybe more. Most days its well under the $5 mark though.

I assume the people who spend loads on food are actually eating in expensive restaurants all the time; this is understandable as there's a lot on offer, especially of those who can genuinely afford it easily (some teachers bring in over 2500, and there are many westerners here in 'construction' on over 7000!). But the high life is not you only option. I would endeavor to eat as much pho and comh binh dan ("basic rice meal" or something!) as you can if you're only bringing in 1500 a month and paying 300 in rent. It is cheap, healthy and often very tasty food; Find a small handful of places you like and you will quickly get over the 'culture shock' (if you've ever traveled out side the developed world you probably wont have one on the first place).

Or get a flat with a kitchen and cook your own food; I don't have this option but most vietnamese eat at home most of the time so its clearly cheaper.

I would love to hear from others on how much they spend a day and on what sort of food. I came here to work hard, save big time, and eat as healthily as possible; so far I am succeeding fantastically on all fronts (and some others), its not rocket science, you're in Vietnam for haven's sake! If you want cheap you can get cheap.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 837

PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:40 am    Post subject: about restaurants and eating at home Reply with quote

I was in restaurants many years in the west, owned a couple and degreed in that subject. While I am not at all an expert on food and beverage here, my observations are this. In the west, the ratios break down something like this
food cost 30% (of the sales dollar)
labor cost 40%

So, if the meal costs you $10, it cost them $3 for the food. Approximately.
It would likely cost you more at home, as you would not get the same bulk prices, and you would have more waste. You always have to buy some little items that you never use up, just to follow the recipe.

Now, in VN, I have to speculate, but obviously the labor component is much smaller. My guess is

food 60%
labor 10%

These figures may also depend on the nature of the establishment. Western oriented businesses may be closer to the western model in terms of cost ratios. More primitive establishments may actually have an even lower labor component and higher food costs. Now, it is also my observation that the raw food products are cheaper here. Of course, it depends on what you are getting, but generally speaking, that is how it appears to me. So, the bottom line to me is that the savings one takes from eating in (in the west) is not nearly as significant as it is here. Add to that the issue of inefficiency of cooking for one or two, and factor in the speed of service in VN, and it is my opinion that compared to the west, eating out here is a much greater bargain and makes a lot more sense.

I am spending a bit less than a dollar on lunch, it is plenty good and right next door. I tend to spend a bit more at dinner, as I am not alone then, but if you are hanging with the natives, as I am, you do not have to go crazy on this expense. Fruit is excellent, cheaper than dirt, also the bakeries are good. That is where I spend the money on food I eat in my dwelling. Watermelon and pineapple are excellent, and great bargains.
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anubistaima



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 110
Location: Thailand

PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, didn't eat out much when I was there. I was talking about buying food to eat at home.
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surreycouple



Joined: 06 Oct 2007
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its easy to spend money here if you want to. I know expats $10k+ a month in construction and know others who earn $700 a month who both live comfortable lives.

I spend probably 30k on pho + cafe sua da each morning, then free lunch at school or 50k on a sandwich or KFC. Dinner is cooked for under 100k and we go out to restaurants twice a week at probably 300k each.

It is cheap to eat here, fruit and veg for starters, banh mi (pork/pate sandwich) 5k, 15k Com tam (rice and pork) any basic rice meal is usually meat/fish + rice + soup under 25k.

Cook yourself, very good grain of rice 14k a kilo, 20 chicken *beep* 200k, veg, 15k a tiger beer - or get a 'maid' who cooks - 1 million a month, you will save that over a month if you get her to do all your shopping and cooking each day:)

You could live on less than $5 a day if you really wanted!
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septum1234



Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the tips guys. But is 1500usd before taxes comfortable to live on in Hanoi including entertainment and savings. I'm not talking about going out every night drinking, but I am 25 and I do enjoy hitting the pub once a week or so.

Thoughts?
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BenE



Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 321

PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Short answer: Yes and a little more to save...

You don't have to kill yourself making $2000+ working at 3 different schools to have a nice time here.
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snollygoster



Joined: 04 Jun 2009
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:08 am    Post subject: Hanoi Reply with quote

$1500 seems a bit low for a comfortable life style, but if you are single, I think its doable. Need to be a bit concious of what things cost. Food and drinks in a "pub" are expensive, but at a road side food stall, and beer from a Bia Hoi- very cheap.

You dont have to knock yourself out to make $2000 a month- I make more than that on a one school gig on 24 hrs a week, and its quite cruisy really.

I have dependants, a nice house, and I get by and treat us all to the odd luxury like going out somewhere every week end and eating out once a week in a middle to good restaurant, and we save money every month.

So it can be done- $1500 is a fortune if you live like a local, and a pittance if you live the high life.
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silvery



Joined: 16 Jul 2010
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How can tax be estimated?

(I see both 20 per cent and 25 per cent mentioned above).
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cigrainger



Joined: 19 Aug 2009
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't you get Pho and similar meals for around 15,000?
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anubistaima



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 110
Location: Thailand

PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can anybody save in Hanoi on a $1500 salary? I guess you can if you live in a dump or rent a room (rather than an apartment/house). But do you really want to do that?
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Jalowsky



Joined: 04 Aug 2010
Posts: 5
Location: Tucson

PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much should I realistically be expecting to pay for an apartment. I don't need anything fancy, just a simple one bedroom/bathroom with a kitchen. Even studio type of stuff, it doesn't matter to me, just livable.
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