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Moving Into Your Own Home

Many newcomers to Vietnam will be moving into property acquired by their employer.

If it is possible to arrange this as part of your contract, it is by far the best outcome as you will have the comfort and confidence of knowing that there is somewhere for you to settle in to straight away. It is one less thing to worry about.

If you need to find your own place to live, the market for owning your own home has opened up in recent years but the process is complicated. There is also a buoyant rental market offering desirable, spacious accommodation well on par with Western standards.


In line with the Vietnamese government’s policy on open market reforms, the property market is growing and it is now much easier for foreigners to buy somewhere to live. The rate of development is rapid so it would be wise to find out as much as you can and if necessary seek expert advice before considering buying property in Vietnam. Of course, it is wise to check out the area before committing to purchase, so many expats choose guest house accommodation in order to do this before settling somewhere more permanent.

Until as recently as 2009 is was not possible for an expat to move to the country and legally acquire property, save through joining a joint project with a Vietnamese company. Further restrictions were lifted in 2015, enabling foreign investors even more freedom to purchase, enabling foreigners even more freedom to purchase but the process is still a regulated and complicated one. Newcomers are strongly recommended to find a good English-speaking estate agent and an experienced, English-speaking lawyer to help steer them through local negotiation customs, the extensive due diligence paperwork, and red tape.

Technically, all the land in Vietnam belongs to the state. It is possible, however, to rent the land from the government and own the building or one of the apartments on it. The standard lease term is fifty years, which can be renewed. Once you have bought a house, you can sell, donate, inherit, or gift it but if you leave the country without having disposed of it, the state will take it back after ninety days.

The government are keen to make sure that non-Vietnamese purchasers are well dispersed to prevent the development of foreign towns or areas. It is worth noting, therefore, that there may be restrictions on who can buy what and where.

The best way of starting a search for property is on the internet. The property market in Vietnam, particularly in the cities, is on an upwards trend following the implementation of policies designed to attract more foreign investment in the country.

The process of registering a property can take between 43 and 71 days and as a simplified guide, may proceed as following:

  • When you have found the property for you, a legal reservation agreement will be drawn up and you may need to pay a deposit. This links the buyer and the seller.
  • The next process is due diligence, making sure that the rules are followed, both buyer and seller are operating within the law, that they are both trustworthy and legally permitted to buy or sell, and that the land documents are in order.

Contracts are signed

After the paperwork is completed, the buyer will receive the Land Use Right Certificate (LURC). This is a legal requirement and allows the buyer to pay rent to the government.

The other important thing to note is that the currency used for property transactions is gold. It is therefore essential to be aware of exchange rates before making a decision about your budget and the kind of property you would like to purchase.

As a rough guide, an inner city apartment in Ho Chi Minh City will cost you 87% less per square metre than in London and 84% less than in New York. The same square metre in Hanoi will set you back 82% less than in London and 78% less than in New York.    


Many people start the hunting process using the internet, but don’t overlook word of mouth or enquiring with your employer. A local, English-speaking estate agent is the best bet as they are likely to have access to a larger selection of properties, will be able to give you more information about the area, and will be able to effectively guide you through negotiating and signing a lease.

With better access to health care and education and closer proximity to business areas, rents in cities will be more expensive than rural areas. In turn, the more desirable districts of a city will command higher rents again. Some areas are better suited to professional couples, others to those with young children, so it is best to check out the area before making a decision; perhaps talk to some local expats to see what their advice is.

It is normal to pay at least one or two month’s rent up front as a deposit. Some landlords may demand the cost of the duration of the lease but this is risky and not recommended.

Expats are also legally required to provide their landlord with a copy of their passport, work visa, and address of their employer.

As a rough guide, rental prices for a city centre one bedroom apartment in Ho Chi Minh City are 75% lower than London and 83% cheaper than New York. Hanoi has rents 81% lower than London and 87% lower than New York.

In addition, price-to-rent ratios — which divide the average cost of ownership by estimated rental cost — for properties outside Vietnam city centres fell by over 7% between mid-2019 and mid-2020. This suggests that buying may be a better financial choice than renting. Read more in our 2020 Global Housing Market Trends report.

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