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Was Choosing to move to Hanoi worth it?

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. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeHg6tOFbmc/?taken-by=escapesanddiaries

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.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Be9m3oqloo6/?taken-by=escapesanddiaries

 

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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Was Choosing to move to Hanoi worth it?

Was Choosing to move to Hanoi worth it?Was choosing to move to Hanoi worth it

Born, raised, and forever loyal to the Philippines. Catherine is a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. She writes every day. She's in love with Africa, beaches, and books. Her favorite books are " There Is No Me Without you, One woman's Odyssey to Rescue African's children, and "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace. One School at a Time". And her ultimate dream destinations are Madagascar and Hawaii. Check out more of her stories on her blog.

44 Comments

  • Queenie

    I love Hanoi! It has such a good vibe to the city. I miss the coffee and food there. It was intimidating the first day just to see all the bikes on the road and crossing the street was terrifying. Haha but its all part of the city’s charm. Thanks for sharing!

  • Rosie Fluskey

    My brother and his girlfriend lived in Hanoi for six months and found it a really tough place to live. I think they struggled with the indifference of the locals and weren’t too keen on the food that they could cook with the ingredients they could get hold of (if you don’t know how to jazz up tofu like you do, it’s pretty boring). I hope that the weather is warmer, and you are enjoying it more now xx

  • Siarra | Wander.Focus.Love

    Glad to read that you’re enjoying your decision to move to Hanoi! I admire that–I’m currently debating whether I should keep my current job in the states or make the jump and move. You don’t make the decision sound easy, but you definitely make it seem worth it!

  • Mateja

    I haven’t been to Hanoi, bit it seems you’re beginning to like the city. With the weather getting warmer you might also get to see it in a different light and take advantage of the outside activities more.

  • Alexis Rae

    I haven’t been to Vietnam yet, but was considering going next month. I need up booking a flight to Malaysia because I heard the Visa for Vietnam was a bit of a pain – glad to see it wasn’t for you!

  • Angela

    Looks like you had a great choice. I also have friends who moved out to Hanoi seems like they enjoying it. This was a good read, saving this for future reference. 🙂

  • Ada

    I actually had no idea it can get so cold to Hanoi ! I am glad I know now, before I book my trip! Seems like Vietnam is a great place for travellers, its seems pretty cheap too! I am dreaming to visit Vietnam one day and Hanoi will be one of those places I definitely visit when I am there

  • Tammy

    Wow, you are a brave young lady! I am not sure I could just up and move to a whole new country! I love the location you chose and it looks fantastic for a visit!

  • Kevin Wagar

    Hanoi sounds like a pretty cool place to end up for a while. I hear you about the seemingly cold locals, but I find that in general with huge cities like this, I think it’s the almost overwhelming amount of things going on that cause people to shut down a little bit.

  • Marvi

    Good to know that you are enjoying Hanoi despite the fallbacks that you’ve encountered (ie. looking for a job, unfriendly locals and weather). Personally, I didn’t know living there can be cheap. Rent in Hanoi sounds really affordable compared to some places here in the Philippines which can be very expensive.

  • Wendy

    I am with you; I prefer warmer climates so I am not sure the busy city of Hanoi would be for me. Sounds like Hanoi is quite inexpensive for digital nomads. If I were young and wanting to travel and teach. I would consider it.

  • noel

    It looks like a mostly positive experience and affordable with good job prospects. I love the fact that its a great place for opportunities and to meet other expats in similar situations from around the world so there’s so many cool experiences to share.

  • Punita Malhotra

    Heard great things about Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Its all about old-world charm and buzzing nightlife…never a dull moment , huh? Looks like you are content with your decision to move.

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    Moving to and staying in a new place is always challenging and needs so many adjustments in lifestyle. Hanoi seems a nice place without major hassles and also a relatively inexpensive standard of life. People too are essentially the same everywhere, you get the good, bad, and the ugly.

  • Suruchi

    We have been wanting to visit Vietnam from long time but couldn’t make it till now. The place seems to have a great temp as well is reasonable for the tourists. I can understand each place comes with its own challenges and that is here too.

  • nisha

    You have given a nice angle to the whole point. I always say and so I agree with you, that you would have to stay in a place long enough for it grow on you and you to get used to it. Good luck and hope you land a lucrative job soon.

  • Kirstie Saldo

    Great read! I like that the review is from someone who actually lived there, and not just to visit as a tourist. If it is affordable, I wouldn’t mind unfriendly locals, I like being alone and undisturbed, anyway. I also have read a lot of great stuff about Hanoi so if it’s cheap, why not?

  • Ami Bhat

    I love your spirit of accepting a culture that is possibly a lot different from what you are used to. It can get quite overwhelming when you see unnecessary chaos and people that seem not too friendly. However, I love the positive outlook of how you are keeping patience and learning to enjoy it all. I am sure by the end of it all, you will not want to leave.

  • Kate

    Your photos make me want to move back to Hanoi! Great post! And anyway, you have not mentioned about beers? Hhaa!

  • Lisa

    I missed out on visiting Hanoi, but wish I’d been there when I was in Vietnam. I love your tips on living there, it sounds cheap to me (sorry, I live in London!). I like your honesty too about the locals; I think most places I’ve been to give me the same sensation. Lovely photos too!

  • Mateja

    I haven’t been to Hanoi, bit it seems you’re beginning to like the city. With the weather getting warmer you might also get to see it in a different light and take advantage of the outside activities more.

  • Angela

    Looks like you had a great choice. I also have friends who moved out to Hanoi seems like they enjoying it. This was a good read, saving this for future reference. 🙂

  • Ada

    I actually had no idea it can get so cold to Hanoi ! I am glad I know now, before I book my trip! Seems like Vietnam is a great place for travellers, its seems pretty cheap too! I am dreaming to visit Vietnam one day and Hanoi will be one of those places I definitely visit when I am there

  • Wendy

    I am with you; I prefer warmer climates so I am not sure the busy city of Hanoi would be for me. Sounds like Hanoi is quite inexpensive for digital nomads. If I were young and wanting to travel and teach. I would consider it.

  • Tammy

    Wow, you are a brave young lady! I am not sure I could just up and move to a whole new country! I love the location you chose and it looks fantastic for a visit!

  • Kevin Wagar

    Hanoi sounds like a pretty cool place to end up for a while. I hear you about the seemingly cold locals, but I find that in general with huge cities like this, I think it’s the almost overwhelming amount of things going on that cause people to shut down a little bit.

  • Marvi

    Good to know that you are enjoying Hanoi despite the fallbacks that you’ve encountered (ie. looking for a job, unfriendly locals and weather). Personally, I didn’t know living there can be cheap. Rent in Hanoi sounds really affordable compared to some places here in the Philippines which can be very expensive.

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    Moving to and staying in a new place is always challenging and needs so many adjustments in lifestyle. Hanoi seems a nice place without major hassles and also a relatively inexpensive standard of life. People too are essentially the same everywhere, you get the good, bad, and the ugly.

  • Punita Malhotra

    Heard great things about Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Its all about old-world charm and buzzing nightlife…never a dull moment , huh? Looks like you are content with your decision to move.

  • Suruchi

    We have been wanting to visit Vietnam from long time but couldn’t make it till now. The place seems to have a great temp as well is reasonable for the tourists. I can understand each place comes with its own challenges and that is here too.

  • nisha

    You have given a nice angle to the whole point. I always say and so I agree with you, that you would have to stay in a place long enough for it grow on you and you to get used to it. Good luck and hope you land a lucrative job soon.

  • noel

    It looks like a mostly positive experience and affordable with good job prospects. I love the fact that its a great place for opportunities and to meet other expats in similar situations from around the world so there’s so many cool experiences to share.

  • Kirstie Saldo

    Great read! I like that the review is from someone who actually lived there, and not just to visit as a tourist. If it is affordable, I wouldn’t mind unfriendly locals, I like being alone and undisturbed, anyway. I also have read a lot of great stuff about Hanoi so if it’s cheap, why not?

  • Ami Bhat

    I love your spirit of accepting a culture that is possibly a lot different from what you are used to. It can get quite overwhelming when you see unnecessary chaos and people that seem not too friendly. However, I love the positive outlook of how you are keeping patience and learning to enjoy it all. I am sure by the end of it all, you will not want to leave.

  • Rosie Fluskey

    My brother and his girlfriend lived in Hanoi for six months and found it a really tough place to live. I think they struggled with the indifference of the locals and weren’t too keen on the food that they could cook with the ingredients they could get hold of (if you don’t know how to jazz up tofu like you do, it’s pretty boring). I hope that the weather is warmer, and you are enjoying it more now xx

  • Queenie

    I love Hanoi! It has such a good vibe to the city. I miss the coffee and food there. It was intimidating the first day just to see all the bikes on the road and crossing the street was terrifying. Haha but its all part of the city’s charm. Thanks for sharing!

  • Alexis Rae

    I haven’t been to Vietnam yet, but was considering going next month. I need up booking a flight to Malaysia because I heard the Visa for Vietnam was a bit of a pain – glad to see it wasn’t for you!

  • Siarra | Wander.Focus.Love

    Glad to read that you’re enjoying your decision to move to Hanoi! I admire that–I’m currently debating whether I should keep my current job in the states or make the jump and move. You don’t make the decision sound easy, but you definitely make it seem worth it!

  • Lisa

    I missed out on visiting Hanoi, but wish I’d been there when I was in Vietnam. I love your tips on living there, it sounds cheap to me (sorry, I live in London!). I like your honesty too about the locals; I think most places I’ve been to give me the same sensation. Lovely photos too!

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