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Finding accommodation is a priority for expats moving to Vietnam. There are a variety of options in Ho Chi Minh City, from short-term backpacker accommodation to luxury apartment complexes.
Some expats are lucky enough to have their employer source accommodation for them before they arrive in Ho Chi Minh City. However, most expats are left to find their own way around the city’s property market.
While expats can make contact with estate agents and peruse property listings from their home country, it is not advisable to commit to a rental contract in HCMC before seeing the property in person. For this reason many expats choose to stay at a guesthouse for their first few weeks in the city while they look for a suitable home.
Types of accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City
Expats moving to Ho Chi Minh City will find a variety of accommodation options in this rapidly growing metropolis. From beautiful French colonial multi-storey houses along narrow alleyways to the modern condominiums and apartment complexes that are becoming more widely available as the city expands, there are many places for expats to choose from.
The quaint colonial houses which are a prominent feature in Ho Chi Minh City are often found just off the main streets. The bottom floor is usually used as an entryway or storage space for motorbikes and bicycles, the next floor up will usually consist of a kitchen and dining room, and the upper level will be where the bedrooms are located. Most houses in Ho Chi Minh City will have a small deck on the roof.
Apartment complexes and condominiums are becoming more and more common in the city. These complexes are modern and in line with what expats would expect in most Western countries. They often include facilities such as gyms, swimming pools and a laundry area. Many of these complexes also have security guards who are on duty 24 hours a day.
Finding accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City
Finding accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City is relatively painless and generally doesn't require too much admin work. While there are several ways to find suitable properties, using a real estate agent is by far the quickest. Several rental agencies operating in the city focus solely on the expat market, but for those who wish to go it alone, there are a number of helpful websites with property listings.
The major advantage of using a real estate agent is that they have access to a larger pool of properties and are able to show expats a number of homes that meet their requirements and budget. Furthermore, as most property owners in Ho Chi Minh City do not speak English, a real estate agent plays a crucial role in negotiating the lease with a landlord on behalf of the tenant.
Renting accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City
Most leases in Vietnam are for a set period, usually 12 or 24 months, and expats are required to pay a deposit equal to one or two months’ rent. Rental properties in Ho Chi Minh City usually include a fridge and stove, but it's possible to negotiate with the landlord or real estate agent for a fully furnished property.
Government regulations and language barriers can present some difficulties when trying to agree on the terms of a lease, so it's wise to get the help of one’s employer, a Vietnamese-speaking colleague or friend, or to use one of the many rental agencies aimed at expats.
Much like Hanoi, certain areas and suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City are preferred by the city's expat population. Some of the most popular are District 7 (the New Economic Zone) and Phu My Hung, while Districts 1 and 2 are closer to the famous Pham Ngu Lao backpacker and tourist centre.