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Cost of Living in Ho Chi Minh City for Expats

Cost of Living in Ho Chi Minh City for Expats

Ho Chi Minh City is located in the south of Vietnam. It is formally known as Saigon. In the 1970s, after the Vietnam war, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the North won the war. This is to honour the leader of the North and the Prime Minister of the communist party at that time – Ho Chi Minh.

Today, the city is officially called Ho Chi Minh City. Although Saigon is still used by locals and even expats. It is also called HCMC for short or SG.

The cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City for expats varies a lot. It all comes down to the kind of lifestyle you prefer to have. It’s easy to live here at a very affordable cost, but at the same time, it’s also not a problem if you prefer a more grand lifestyle.

For a more general guide to planning your budget in the country, see our guide to the cost of living in Vietnam.

Why Move to Ho Chi Minh City?

3 images - skyscapers with nightlights (2), motorbikes on a road - Cost of Living in Ho Chi Minh City as an Expat

This city is what they call the business hub of Vietnam. Here, you will find many international companies’ head offices, embassies and consulates, foreign brands and shopping malls, and even international gyms.

Ho Chi Minh City is a massive area with expats from all over the world. The expat community is big and very active in promoting social events, outdoor activities, and supporting each other. Here are the reasons why many expats choose Ho Chi Minh City as their new home.

International schools

Ho Chi Minh City has a lot of international schools which attracts many expats for two reasons. One, many foreigners who moved to Vietnam are English teachers. The availability of jobs here with high salaries is plenty.

Second, families with children are choosing HCMC due to its wide selection of international schools where their kids will be in an international and diverse environment.

ALSO READ: Everything you need to know about teaching in Vietnam

Expat community

The expat community in this city is huge even after many have left in the beginning or during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are nationalities from everywhere; Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, Oceania, and Africa.

There are plenty of events that expat organise where everyone will be able to share their own culture with one another. From salsa dancing, cooking classes, hiking adventures, to even celebrating holidays together.

Many people are coming to Vietnam nearly every day and someone is always looking to meet new people. Hence, you don’t have to worry about making friends since there will always be someone who’s also looking to meet new people. You can join these active Facebook groups for expats.

Ease of getting around

Ho Chi Minh City has an international airport where flights go directly to Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and anywhere in Asia. Motorbike is the main transportation here. If you don’t drive one – that’s alright. There are ride-hailing apps that will get you a motorbike or car services to take you where you need to go.

Today, the city is constructing a tram and railway lines to help the growing traffic issues. There is also a train line that will take you directly to big cities such as Nha Trang, Da Nang, and even all the way to Hanoi.

Unfortunately, Ho Chi Minh City is not wheelchair-friendly.

High-standard housing

Border Crossing Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh

HCMC have loads of skyscraper all over the place. The interior design is luxurious and similar to western standards which offer lots of comfort to expat. Both foreigners and locals are living in these buildings. Finding an apartment or house in Vietnam, in general, is quite easy since there are a lot of local real state agents.

Some buildings allow pets as well and usually come furnished with mattresses, a couch, dining tables, a fridge, microwave, TV, air conditioner, and even high-speed WiFi. If you prefer a house, you might have to look a bit outside of the city centre but they still exist.

High-standard of living

Due to the fact that this is a business hub and very popular city. Ho Chi Minh City also has a higher stander of living compared to other parts of Vietnam.

There are hospitals that have foreign doctors and staff that can communicate well in English, while the facilities are the same standard as in Europe or North America. There are places such as international gyms, tennis courts, golf courses, and of course international restaurants.

Cost of Living Estimates

Ho Chi Minh City is quite a unique place. You can live here cheap if you want to but you can also enjoy a luxurious lifestyle without spending too much. The cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City on the affordable side is about $400 per month and a luxurious and comfortable is about $1200 per month. These are per person and I will explain below a little further or you can read this cost of living in Vietnam breakdown sample.

To break it down, $400/month means you will be living with a roommate or renting a room in a house while the kitchen is shared. This includes cooking at home or even going out for food once in a while. You can also afford to sign up for a local gym, rent your own motorbike, and a mobile data that includes 28 GB per month for $6.

For $1,200/month, you can rent your own place (1-2 bedrooms) in a skyscraper with security and other facilities to enjoy such as a swimming pool. You can either use the gym at your apartment building or subscribe to one with an AC (it gets very hot in HCMC). At this budget, you can either hire someone to meal prep your food weekly or order food from your preferred restaurants.

Personally, if you budget $600-$800 a month, you can easily live comfortably in Ho Chi Minh City. This will afford you your own place, cooking your own meals 3-4 times a week and ordering food online as well. You can afford to get on a mid-range gym and use ride-hailing services frequently. This will also allow you to go out at the weekends to catch up with some friends or meet new people.

Of course, if you have a family and children, that cost will go higher especially if you enrol the children in international schools. If you have a job here, usually, this includes health insurance as well and in some cases housing.

Ways to Reduce your Costs

There are many ways to reduce your expenses in Ho Chi Minh City. Here are some things you can consider cutting to make your cost of living more affordable. Follow these and you can easily stay on top of your finances, maybe even sending money out of Vietnam to your home account every few months!

  • eating out – stick to local Vietnamese foods or save money by cooking at home
  • gyms – the cheap ones don’t have AC and get crowded but if you go during lunch, it’s a decent choice
  • transportation – it’s cheaper if you drive your own motorbike, but if you find a driver and contract them to serve you daily, you can save money instead of booking transport services from apps
  • buy and sell – get your furniture or clothes shopping from expats and locals leaving Vietnam (look for buy and sell FB groups)
  • Pack smart – bring essential or potentially hard-to-find items from home


Living in Ho Chi Minh is still so much more affordable than in Europe or North America, even compared to Hong Kong or Thailand. The accommodation in Vietnam, in general, is very affordable for the features it offers.

On the other hand, it’s easy to spend money in this city since there are many services and businesses that are designed to attract and service foreigners who are making way above average than the locals.

I hope that you found this article about the cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City helpful. I’ve been in Vietnam for nearly 10 years and I can testify that the cost of living has gone up since the first time I arrived here. Still, an expat can still live here comfortably without spending too much.

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