The living cost in Saigon is flexible. Even if you don’t have much money, you can live well in this city. If you want to live luxuriously in a decent house and use the best services, Saigon will also satisfy these needs.
In Saigon, if you add up the biggest expenses from housing, food and drink, to clothing, even a basic laborer with a salary of around 250 USD (approximately 5,700,000 VND) per month is able to live well. Does this number surprise you? Of course, this is a minimalistic life, but I want to prove that the living standard varies largely in Saigon. If you are wondering whether you can live well here, throw your worries away!
I suggest you live in District 1 and 3, the most convenient districts of the city. Although these areas are also the most expensive places, they have the biggest expat communities of all Saigon. There are many other districts that will suit your needs, but they are far from the city center. If you prefer silent places to live, District 2 and 7 are smart choices. 20 to 30 minutes to get to the city center, lots of decent apartments to choose from, luxurious malls, quiet atmosphere, and international hospitals and schools are the advantages to consider.
You can save a huge amount of money or you can also spend all of what you earned in this city. Be careful with your budget in Saigon! A simple living can increase your saving account quickly, but Saigon offers many things that attract you to spend. A delicious meal in a restaurant, a weekend movie, or a day of playing golf can easily empty your pockets.
Average cost – Proportion of Living Cost
To a foreigner, it will cost you around 700 – 1,200 USD per month to live comfortably in Saigon (approximately 16,000,000 – 28,000,000 VND). This estimation covers rental cost, food and drink, transportation, shopping, entertainment, and other utilities.
On average, you may spend the most on rent and buying food and drink, which are around 30 percent and 20 percent respectively. Transportation accounts for around seven to ten percent, depending on whether you own a car or a motorbike. Shopping may take up ten percent and entertainment will be around 15 percent. The final 15 percent can be used for your phone, health care services, and visa.
These percentages do not account for savings. Of course, these percentages will change from person to person as well. For example, if your salary is 30,000,000 VND a month and you just want to spend about 25 percent of that hard-earned money renting an apartment, you must find an apartment with the rental cost of 7,500,000 VND a month.
The monthly cost of renting a house, an apartment, or a room in Saigon varies a lot. The price depends on the area of the accommodation, the location, and the installed utilities. Area and utilities are up to you.
What you should pay more attention to is the location of your accommodation. The cost is very different between accommodations with the same quality but different location. In a normal area, a high-quality apartment may cost you about 10,000,000 – 14,000,000 VND per month. In the city center, especially in District 1 and 3, the same room may cost up to 20,000,000 – 25,000,000 VND. A funny fact and also a tip for people who want to live near the city center is that in Saigon, on the same street, sometimes the right side belongs to one district, and the left side will belong to another. This results in a big discrepancy in rental cost on the same street. Some streets act as the border between District 10 and 3, and of course, accommodation in District 3 costs more than it does in District 10.
You can also apply this tip to District 5, 8, 4, Binh Thanh District, and Phu Nhuan District. These are not central districts, but it doesn’t take much time to travel to the city center and more importantly, the rental cost is much lower.
As you know, the amenities don’t cost as much as the house itself. Electricity, water, and gas may cost approximately 800,000 to 1,300,000 VND a month. The high-speed internet fee is just about 200,000 VND a month. Monthly cost for laundry service may be around 200,000 VND. For more details about house rental cost in Saigon <link to Tien’s>, you can read this article.
Cost for Food and Drink
You will also spend a lot on food and drink, it’s hard not to when there are quality vendors and restaurants on every corner in this city. Let me show you one of my typical days, a local day, in Saigon.
After having breakfast that typically costs 30,000 VND, I cannot start my day without a morning cup of coffee, which costs 30,000 VND at my favorite place. I stay at the coffee shop and work until lunch time. I don’t like the dishes served at the coffee shop, so I go out and have a Vietnamese lunch, which costs me around 30,000 VND. Then I come back home and take a nap. In the afternoon, I go to a convenience store to buy fruit, Coke, and snacks, which costs 100,000 VND. Dinner is about 30,000 VND. In total, I spend 220,000 VND (nearly 10 USD) per day on food and drinks. Take that number and multiply it by 30 days a month, we get 6,600,000 VND (280 USD).
Above is just my estimation based on a day. You may not drink coffee and need snacks throughout the day. You can reduce the cost of eating by cooking for yourself. Sometimes you have to spend more to go to expensive restaurants with your friends or your partner. I think now you are asking:
Why did you say workers making 250 USD salary a month can live in Saigon while the cost for food and drink accounts for 280 USD a month?
The cost of everything in Saigon fluctuates hugely based on the quality and the luxury of what you desire. You can have a cup of coffee with just 10,000 VND or up to 100,000 VND. It’s your choice. Low cost offers lower quality and services, high cost offers luxury. In Saigon, you can eat a lunch with only 2,000 VND. It just depends on how you manage your money.
Pro tip: Vietnamese food is much cheaper than Western food. The list of Our Favorite Restaurants in Saigon for Authentic Vietnamese Food may help you choose your meals.
Shopping and Entertainment
Buying clothes and other accessories is sometimes necessary. Saigon has many good brands of clothes from low to high prices. The cheapest places that you can buy clothes and accessories are the markets. Chinese brands which are not famous are also cheap. There are also shops selling secondhand clothes.
To buy better clothes or international brands, you must go to the malls or the branches of famous brands typically in the center of the city. You should note down the shopping streets so you can fit all your shopping in one day. They are Nguyen Trai street (District 5), Le Van Sy street (District 3), and Nguyen Dinh Chieu street (District 3). You may be interested in the Ultimate Guide to Shopping in Saigon article.
The active city of Saigon does not lack entertainment. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to do in Saigon during the weekend or at night. The Saigon center and the neighborhoods offer many entertaining services. A movie ticket costs around 70,000 – 110,000 VND. There are dozens of cinemas around the city, so you can easily enjoy cool movies at your nearest cinema. Bars, pubs, and nightclubs in Saigon have various types of drinking culture. Consider spending your leisure time playing a sport. A monthly fee for a gym may cost you 500,000 – 800,000 VND. If your apartment doesn’t have a swimming pool, the cost for a public pool entry is just about 20,000 – 50,000 VND. If you are a tennis player, an hour of renting a tennis court is around 150,000 – 200,000 VND, based on whether you rent on a weekday or weekend.
A private means of transportation is very essential when you decide to stay long term in Saigon. The most popular vehicle of Saigon, as well as Vietnam, is the motorbike. People really prefer motorbikes because of its flexibility in the narrow streets of Saigon. Moreover, it is very expensive to own a car here, so a motorbike is a good choice. We have published an article about Buying and Renting Motorbikes in Saigon, you can take a look at it. For expenses sake, one liter of gasoline varies from 21,000 to 23,000 VND at the moment (2018).
You can also choose to take taxis. Choose reputable brands like Mai Linh, Vinasun, Vinataxi, etc. The starting cost is around 10,000 to 12,000 VND and the average cost per kilometer is about 15,000 VND. Public means of transportation like a bus is a cheaper choice. There are hundreds of bus routes around the city and with the Google Maps app on your smartphone, you can easily find the fastest routes to travel. The price varies from 5,000 to 7,000 VND. Saigon is now finishing the first monorail train that will connect the center and the northern countryside. It’s estimated to be completed in 2020. The government has decided to build two to three more monorails and metros in the near future.
I hope that this article can give you an overview about the living cost in Saigon. Once again, Saigon is a very easy-to-live-in city, your living standard depends on your financial management skills.
Follow our Christina’s Blog to get more information about traveling and living in our beautiful country. Here are some recommended articles:
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