As you might know Teresa and I moved to Vietnam about 3 weeks ago. So far we have a very good impression of Vietnam and we feel that being here has significantly improved our lives. In this post, I want to share some of our experiences of living and working in Vietnam and how this compares to living and working in China.
More open to foreigners
The first thing that I noticed when we were moving to Vietnam is how much easier it is to obtain a visa here. In China getting a visa for long-term stay and/or employment has become a lot more difficult, especially since the revised entry and exit laws that were implemented as of September 2013. In China losing my job meant that I would ultimately lose my right to stay in the country, in Vietnam obtaining a visa is very simple and straightforward.
In China, we experienced a strong bias towards foreigners, especially in terms of housing. It was difficult to find a house where the landlord (?) would approve of having foreigners as tenants. In Vietnam, we managed to find a very nice apartment in Tay Ho (West Lake) area in Hanoi. The process of finding a house and negotiating with the landlords was very convenient and the quality of the houses is remarkably better. Best the thing is that houses here in comparison are also cheaper than in the big cities in China.
Food, food and food
China offers great local food and every different province and even city or municipal district is known for their own signature dish and style of cuisine. I have thoroughly enjoyed tasting and enjoying all sorts of dishes and Cantonese, Sichuan and Dongbei cuisines have become one of my favorite types of food.
I have lived in China for almost 3 years and in all honestly I noticed that eating western food was also important for me to stay fit and healthy. Now eating western food in cities like Shanghai is in general not a problem, unfortunately, more so in Guangzhou. Hanoi is the opposite and there is good Asian food and a wide selection of affordable western dishes!
Daily life more convenient
Daily life is a lot more convenient for us in Hanoi. Don’t get me wrong here, there are certain aspects that we liked more about China. For me, convenience is all about freedom, the freedom to do what you want to do without too much hassle.
Above image is an image of the metro in China. The metro is great and one of the best I have seen in the entire world, but it is also crowded, very crowded. Metros in China give a new definition to the word crowded or to the saying packed like sardines in a car.
Now above is an image of the road around our house in Hanoi. It stretches around the West Lake and it is very convenient to drive around on our motorcycle. In Guangzhou often the smallest things could take a long time due to the amount of people everywhere, here most things take considerably shorter.
Working remotely rocks here
In order to work remotely you really only need two things, a laptop, and reliable internet. As you might know the internet in China is plagued by censorship and restrictions, forcing you to always use a VPN and even that not always works. In Vietnam there are some restrictions on the internet but nowhere near the level in China. It gets even better as fiber internet is already available at a lot of places for a very affordable price.
Better facilities and fewer people around me also have a positive influence on my creativity and motivation. I feel a lot less stressed, healthier and overall have more energy to focus on what is important to me. If you need to get some air, there are a lot of nice restaurants and affordable coffee places to work.
For us, moving has been a very positive move that could not have come at a better time. Our life quality has increased a lot and I can feel happier and healthy immediately. I feel that changing your location can benefit your business or the project that you are working on. This also explains why websites such as Nomad List are so popular.
Best the thing is that living in Vietnam actually allows us to save money as well. This is perfect in the case when you are still starting out and you do not see big streams of income coming to your bank account. You can have a good life here for a fraction of the costs what it would be in the Netherlands or a comparable country.