Well, it’s on to a new adventure!
Inside of my apartment. I love the full-height balcony and detail on the ceiling.
I said a tearful goodbye to my friends in the Philippines and have moved on to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (aka – Saigon). Before I was offered the Badladz internship in the Puerto Galera, I was planning all along to come to Ho Chi Minh City. I got a little sidetracked, but I finally made it. Despite a bit of a rough start, I am loving it here. Why, you ask? Well, here are 9 reasons why it is one of the most ideal places to get started with your location independent business.
1. Low cost of living
This is one of the cheapest places I’ve ever stayed (though if you’re really looking to get started cheaply, head to Chiang Mai, Thailand, HCMC’s rival as Southeast Asian digital nomad capital of the world).
I just found my new favorite breakfast place where I can literally get breakfast for 69 cents. Seriously. My favorite Vietnamese cafe is right next to my favorite coworking space, and my iced coffee costs 55 cents.
So here’s what I’m looking at in monthly costs (in USD):
- Rent: $280 (includes internet, maid service, and laundry)
- Electricity: $30
- Food (eating out every meal): $230
- Transportation: $20
- Coworking space membership: $60
- Coffee (yes, this is essential): $60
- Miscellaneous: $50
- Yoga membership: $20
2.Setting up is super easy
Not only is it extremely affordable, but it is practically designed to set up camp for a few months with no commitment necessary. (We digital nomads are not fond of long-term commitments.)
The first thing you should do is get a SIM card for your unlocked smartphone. You can do this at the airport. Then, you’ll need to find an apartment. This couldn’t be easier in Saigon. When I got an apartment in the US, I shopped for weeks and weeks, because I knew that once I signed a lease, I would be stuck there for at least a year, and getting out of it in a dire situation would probably be pretty difficult.
But here in Vietnam? I didn’t do any research at all (granted I have connections here who tipped me off to a good neighborhood). I just walked up and looked for signs on the door that said “room for rent.” No Craigslist, no review sites, no contract. Just a quick look at a few rooms and some internet speed tests on my iPhone.
I only had to pay for a month with no commitment to stay (and a down-payment of around $20USD). If it was bad, I would just move the next month. If it was really bad, I’d just eat the monthly payment and move into a guest house or another apartment. Haven’t had a single problem though.
Additionally, most apartments here are already furnished. That takes even more commitment out of the equation: no heavy and expensive stuff to accumulate. I didn’t even need to buy silverware or a lamp. It’s already good to go.
3. Fast Internet
Internet speeds here are super fast, making it easy to be productive. Just ask Nomadlist.
4. No cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, or doing laundry.
If this was the only benefit of living in Vietnam, I might still sell everything and move across the world. I am going on 6 months of not cleaning a dish, cleaning a toilet, sweeping a floor, shopping for groceries, or cooking a meal. I’ll tell you, I definitely don’t miss it. Not even a little. Maybe one day I’d like to cook again. But right now, all that time is reinvested in my business.
5. Awesome, diverse food.
Saigon has amazing Vietnamese food for pennies on the dollar, and sometimes even less. But many people don’t realize that there is also a large Japanese population here, so there’s delicious sushi and other Japanese food.
As a big metropolis of almost 8 million people, you also have every international food option available. There are a lot of long-term expats here from all over the world, and they bring their own foods with them. From burgers and pizza to Korean food and German food, you’ll find it somewhere in Saigon.
The best thing about the food though, is Saigon street food. Check out my friend and fellow DCer’s ode to Saigon street food to see what I’m talking about.
6. Entrepreneur community
Because of all of the above features of the city, this place has become a magnet for entrepreneurs from around the world. Just the other day, I went to an entrepreneur brunch with people from Germany, Holland, Russia, Australia, and Wales. All in the same place.
Surrounding yourself with other business people does amazing things for your own motivation and energy for your business. You might even get some business opportunities out of it.
The result of lots of entrepreneurs? Some pretty darn good coworking spaces. I’ll be writing soon about my love for coworking spaces. But in the meantime, a coworking space is like a college library, but without the books and with entrepreneurs instead of students. It’s a place where you can go to get shit done that’s not your apartment or a coffee shop.
You might ask, “didn’t you quit your job so that you don’t have to go to an office everyday?” Yes, I did quit my job so I don’t have to go to an office everyday. I can still go wherever I want. I can come in whenever I want and leave whenever I want. I don’t even have to come at all.
Remove the mandatory part of your office job from the office job, and you might be surprised that you enjoy it more. For me, a work environment with super fast internet and amenities is exactly where I’m most productive. Not everyone is that way. But more on that in a future post.
Saigon probably has enough cafes for every person in Oklahoma City (my hometown) to have their own coffee shop. It probably has enough coffee shops for me to go to a different one everyday for 10 years. I can’t even exaggerate how many there are. They are next door to each other, on top of each other, and everywhere you turn.
In short, perfect for me (and for many other entrepreneurs). Cafes are a favorite work spot for digital nomads here (and just about everyone, really), and they’re also great places to meet a friend or a client.
9. Easy transportation.
Forget navigating public transit: just rent a motorbike. Ok, full-disclosure: I don’t rent a motorbike because the traffic everywhere is crazy and I have no interest in driving in it. But don’t listen to me: I don’t even like driving a car through rural Oklahoma.
But many foreigners rent motorbikes for around $60/month, making getting around a total cinch. If you’re like me and you’re much more interested in paying a more qualified motorbike driver to take you around, that’s affordable as well. Too hot in the afternoon to take a motorbike? No problem. A 15-minute taxi ride costs around $2.
I walk a lot of places, so I estimate I’ll spend around $20-$30 USD on transportation this month.
For all of the above reasons, this is where I’ll be staking out camp for at least a couple of months. Grinding on the business is as easy as possible here. Why not come check it out for yourself?
Other awesome resources on Saigon that helped me move here seamlessly (all these guys are fellow DCers): http://davidhehenberger.com/saigon/ https://medium.com/digital-nomad-stories/bootstrapping-in-saigon-fc9744367386 http://www.legalnomads.com/2014/06/saigon-street-food.html http://www.nomadicnotes.com/travel-blog/cost-of-living-ho-chi-minh-city/