July 6, 2023
HANOI – Việt Nam could be an ideal retirement destination for elderly people looking for a great lifestyle and low cost of living.
But restrictions currently in place mean it’s incredibly difficult for elderly people to live here permanently without a job or investment visa.
Some international reports and websites have listed Việt Nam among the countries that are friendly to retiree expats for its affordability. However, those who want to retire here are being hampered because of the challenges they need to overcome to get a visa.
John Collins, an Australian expat living in Hà Nội, said: “While I understand the need for a structured system, the current restrictions in place often deter potential retirees who could contribute positively to the country’s economy and cultural diversity.”
Hoàng Minh Phương, sales and marketing director of Joymark Travel Co., Ltd, pointed out the country’s visa policies may pose a more critical challenge to foreign retirees.
Unlike other Southeast Asian countries that offer golden visas with maximum stays of ten years, Việt Nam currently has a single-entry visa policy, she said.
To attract foreign retirees and generate foreign revenue, Việt Nam needs to improve its visa policies, she said.
Richard Thompson, a British expat residing in Đà Nẵng, said Việt Nam could benefit tremendously, from welcoming more expat retirees. Streamlining the bureaucratic procedures and offering options tailored to individual needs would foster a healthier and more vibrant retirement community.
James Anderson, an American expat residing in Nha Trang, said Việt Nam’s retirement visa policies should strike a balance between attracting financially secure retirees and ensuring the nation’s interests are protected.
“A more inclusive and less stringent approach would be a win-win situation for retirees and Việt Nam alike,” he added.
The National Assembly recently extended the tourist e-visa duration from 30 to 90 days.
Furthermore, citizens of certain countries, unilaterally exempt from visas by Việt Nam, may be granted temporary residence for 45 days with possible extensions.
Although Việt Nam has one of the strictest visa policies in Asia, it issues e-visas to citizens of 80 countries.
Experts suggested improving its visa policies will have significant benefits in promoting tourism and generating revenue.
By making it easier for expats to retire here, Việt Nam can tap into the significant potential of this growing demographic, they added.
“I never expected to retire in Việt Nam, but now I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” said John, an American expat, who has been enjoying his golden years in HCM City.
Ideal destination for retirees
Việt Nam has recently become a sought-after destination for retirees from around the world seeking a fulfilling, affordable and unique lifestyle.
The Southeast Asian country’s landscapes, low cost of living, friendly locals and growing economy make it an ideal expat haven.
According to the International Living Retirement Index and US News & World Report, Việt Nam is among the top destinations for those on a budget, allowing retirees to enjoy their quality of life while cutting their living costs by half.
Reports from Sputnik radio and the Los Angeles Times indicated that Việt Nam’s affordability, including inexpensive rentals, transportation and food costs, are among the top draws for international retirees.
Even in the most expensive cities of HCM City and Hà Nội, two people can live comfortably for less than US$1,500 per month.
A Los Angeles Times article noted, “Aging American boomers are living a lifestyle reminiscent of Florida, Nevada and Arizona, but in Việt Nam” at a fraction of the cost. “Monthly expenses here rarely exceed $2,000, including the help of a cook and a cleaner.”
It quoted John Rockhold, an American veteran married to a Vietnamese wife who lives with two children in a 170sq.m four-bedroom apartment, for about $250,000 (nearly VNĐ6 billion at the time of purchase in 2011), in a 20-storey apartment building overlooking the Sài Gòn river.
Việt Nam also ranks as one of the top ten destinations in the world for retirees who score it 85.8 out of 100, according to International Living’s recent report.
With a warm tropical climate and abundant sunshine all year, Việt Nam offers an escape from harsh winter weather, while its diverse landscapes, from mountains to beaches, provide retirees with outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming and boating.
From bustling cities like HCM City and Hà Nội to charming coastal towns like Đà Nẵng, Nha Trang, Mũi Né and Phú Quốc, Việt Nam has something for everyone.
HCM City, also known as Sài Gòn, the southern economic hub, is full of skyscrapers, lively markets, and vibrant nightlife, making it a great option for retirees who desire a bustling city life with all the amenities to shop, dine, and relax.
According to Janie, a HCM City-based expat: “Việt Nam’s largest city is great because it has all the amenities you could ever want – shopping, dining, entertainment – but it’s also reasonably priced.”
Meanwhile, Hà Nội, the capital city, is a more laid-back alternative to HCM City where retirees will discover a more traditional and cultural Việt Nam, with stunning architecture, quaint cafes, and charming narrow streets.
As a Hà Nội-based expat named Robin explained: “I love Hà Nội because it feels like stepping back in time.”
“The Old Quarter is just magical, with all its old buildings and winding streets. But despite its old-world charm, Hà Nội is still very modern and cosmopolitan,” she said.
For retirees who want to live near a beach, Việt Nam also has many beautiful coastal cities that promise a more relaxing lifestyle.
In addition to its practical suitability for retirees, the country also offers a unique cultural experience that enriches the retirement experience.
Its centuries-old traditions and customs are still visible, allowing retirees to immerse themselves in local culture and appreciate the country’s rich history and heritage.
It is also known for its world-class cuisine, with street food vendors, and restaurants that offer tasty and affordable options.
Expat retirees can easily integrate into the local community because Vietnamese people are friendly and welcoming.
While language might be a barrier, English is widely spoken in major cities such as HCM City and Hà Nội, making communication and getting around more accessible.
Retiring in a foreign country can present several challenges, and Việt Nam is no exception, especially regarding its language barriers, unfamiliar customs, and visa policies.
Robin, the American expat in Hà Nội, said language barriers can be tough, but most people are willing to help through gestures and facial expressions, making communication less daunting. — VNS