Thinking of moving to Hanoi? Then you must read this!
When my visa expired, I knew I needed a new place to hop into.
Since I was living on a budget, Hanoi became one of the options even though it wasn’t my ideal place. I found myself booking a flight to this city that I didn’t fall in love with on my first and second visits.
The capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi has a population of over 9 million, half of which are motorcycles. Three out of 10 Vietnamese own a minimum of two motorcycles.
Vietnam is a country widely influenced by France.
It was smoggy and chilly when I landed in Noi Ban, Hanoi. I’m not a big fan of cold temperature. In fact, I’m totally not used to it. I instantly missed the comforting warmth of Bangkok. Some travelers told me that it wasn’t that cold for them, as they were from countries with snow. I believed them although it wasn’t my first time in this city. Somehow, I wasn’t prepared for it. I thought jackets would be enough to keep me warm. I never thought I would need winter clothes. Later on, I experienced chills.
Acquiring a tourist visa wasn’t that complicated. I applied for a three-month single entry visa for a total of $44. I rented a private room on the third floor of a four-story house on 22housing.com It cost $170 a month and it comes with a fast internet connection of up to 30 mbps. I’m sharing the cost with three cool British people, Charlie, Caroline, and Sian, who are also English teachers and travelers, and with a Vietnamese girl, Diep.
When living in a country with a low cost of living though, you’d start questioning why a meal costs $3 or more.
Meat, bread, eggs, and other basic food items make up my grocery list, for which I spend $20-$30 good for a week. I buy fresh vegetables from a woman vendor who doesn’t speak English, but gladly entertains me. We understand each other through hand gestures. Fresh broccoli costs only a dollar. I also buy tofu, which is always an ingredient of Vietnamese dishes. From her stand to my apartment, I walk for only five minutes.
Getting a job to support your life in Hanoi is effortless as well. Majority of English centers accept cover teachers and the pay is satisfying. It usually ranges from $15 to $30 an hour, provided that you have a degree, a teaching experience or a certificate. With so many travelers and job seekers flocking to this country, however, the competition is undoubtedly high. Most academies and centers prioritize native speakers despite the qualifications you’re holding, so don’t get too excited.
I tried my luck getting a job as an English teacher while doing online teaching even though I didn’t have a work permit yet. I thought it would be a smooth process since English teachers are in demand. I never thought it would be challenging.
I received countless rejections, and that’s part of the game. You just have to be patient and show your best whenever you’re invited to teaching demos and to take over classes. In preparation for that, you can also consider volunteering at a homestay as what I did before to prove that you’re passionate about what you do.
When I’m bored and stressed after endlessly working in my four-cornered room, I go to random cozy coffee shops to enjoy my favorite Vietnamese coffee or other drinks such as fresh coconut juice, flavored tea, and even the sweet yogurt coffee that I never thought existed. Don’t worry about connectivity, because almost all coffee shops have reliable Wi-Fi connection.
If you want to go healthy, you can walk or ride a bike along the lakes. Hanoi has major lakes: Hoa Kin and West Lake. If you feel like hitting the gym with free sauna and yoga, you can register for only $20 a month.
Or if you want to have a nightlife, there is the Old Quarter that never really gets old. You know what I mean? It’s a nice place to meet fellow travelers and have a real fun time.
If, however, winter isn’t your thing, avoid staying in Hanoi from December to March. Temperature drops to 7-9 degrees. I’m checking weather reports every morning to know what it’s going to be like for the rest of the day, hoping for warm temperature. So far, though, the temperature has consistently been ranging from 9 to 17 degrees.
Hanoi almost has everything, and it’s an attractive place for freelancers like me. Affordable and convenient.
My biggest pet peeve, though, is the quiet seem unfriendly locals. They’re not as polite as Filipinos and Thais. They seem to not care on the road, almost oblivious of the people crossing the streets. You’ll see what I’m talking about when you get to experience it. Nevertheless, there are numerous reasons why I love this place.
Vietnam, a nation of brave women, although somewhat chaotic in one’s eyes, makes me appreciate tropical places and teaches me to live a simple and healthy life. It also shows me how to be kinder and more patient.
So, was choosing Hanoi to live in worth it? Absolutely.
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