Pros & Cons of Teaching & Living in Hanoi, Vietnam

International TEFL Academy (ITA) graduate Abby Moore shares the pros and cons of living and teaching English in Vietnam's historic capital.

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There are positives and negatives about living anyplace in the world. Living in Hanoi, Vietnam offers a unique blend of advantages and challenges. 

Is Hanoi a Good Place to Live?

Yes, Hanoi is a vibrant and culturally rich city with a bustling atmosphere, delicious cuisine, and affordable cost of living. Its historical sites, parks, and diverse expat community make it an attractive place to live and explore.

On the positive side, Hanoi boasts a rich cultural heritage, vibrant street life, and delicious cuisine. The city is also known for its affordability and thriving expat community. However, it's important to consider factors like heavy traffic, air pollution, and language barriers as potential drawbacks. This balanced mix of pros and cons contributes to the dynamic and diverse experience of living in Hanoi.

Read more: Teach English in Vietnam

Pros of Living in Hanoi, Vietnam

The Food

Vietnam has some amazing food available around every corner. From steaming rice buffets to piping hot bowls of noodles to a quick streetside snack. The price of an average meal ranges widely, but you can usually grab something delicious and filling for around 30,000 dong, about $1.50.

The Food in Hanoi, Vietnam is a pro of living and teaching English there!

The Cafe Culture

Cafes are everywhere, and if there isn’t one, chances are good you can pull up a plastic stool streetside and grab a cup of green tea. Vietnamese coffee is strong and delicious and many cafes are busy all day long and into the night. Not a coffee drinker? Most cafes also off a wide variety of fresh juices and smoothies. 

The Cost of Living

The cost of living in Vietnam is extremely affordable. You can always spend more money if you like, but you can get a room in a shared house for around $200 a month. Not to mention beers are anywhere from $10 to $1.

You can also fill up your tank on your motorbike for around 50,000 dong ($2.50), depending on what kind of bike you have and how far you drive daily a full tank can get you around the city for a week. 

Read more: How Much Money Can I Save and Earn Teaching English in Vietnam?

Flexible Schedules & Short-term Opportunities to Boost Income

Because the cost of living is so affordable you can work quite flexible hours. You can work as little or as much as you like. Language centers are always seeking cover teachers if you’re looking for a short-term boost in income, and many people also choose to add private classes to their schedule (I am a huge fan of private classes). 

Read more: What Are the Requirements to Teach English in Vietnam?

It's a Great Home Base for Traveling around Vietnam & Asia

There is a long list of countries that are easily accessible from Vietnam. This makes Vietnam a great base for traveling around Southeast Asia. Hanoi specifically has lots of great destinations just a short drive away if you have limited time off. From remote mountain villages to bustling farming towns and scenic beaches, you can explore it all by motorbike or bus. 

Pros and cons of teaching English in Hanoi, Vietnam

The Strong Expat Community

There are lots of other teachers and expats living and working in Hanoi. You will never be short of things to do or people to talk to. This means your favorite comfort foods from home are also easily accessible for a price. 

Read more: Visa Know How: Vietnam Work Visa & Business Permit

Cons of Living in Hanoi, Vietnam

What are the Disadvantages of Living in Vietnam?

Some potential disadvantages of living in Vietnam include language barriers for non-Vietnamese speakers, air pollution in major cities, heavy traffic congestion, occasional flooding in low-lying areas, and cultural differences that may require adjustment. However, these factors can vary depending on the individual's preferences and location within the country.

The Pollution

It’s true, the pollution in Hanoi isn’t great. There were several days in 2016 when the pollution in Hanoi was among the worst in the world. You can check the daily air index on the US Embassy website for current conditions. Pollution seems to get worse during the winter months as smog and grey settle into the area. 

The traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam is definitely a Con of living and teaching English thereThe Chilly Winters

Being from the Midwest, I was ready to put freezing winters behind me when I moved to Hanoi, but it wasn’t quite the case. While Hanoi winters have nothing on the brutal Chicago winters, they are quite cold in their own way. The air is damp, and you are exposed more to the elements driving a motorbike around the city. It’s a wet bone-chilling cold, but it doesn’t usually drop below 40 F degrees. 

The Traffic

Going along with pollution, traffic is the main culprit. More cars and motorbikes are on the roads every day in Hanoi clogging the narrow streets and wide boulevards. Let me tell you, there is not much worse than being stuck in gridlock traffic in the middle of July on a 110-degree day with a feel of 130 degrees and stuck behind the palpable black exhaust of a city bus. 

Getting Over-Charged as a Foreigner

It’s just something that is going to happen all throughout Vietnam (and many other places as well). Learning the exact prices of items and learning the numbers in Vietnamese will really increase your bargaining skills. 

Go further: A 6-Step Plan to Get a Job Teaching English in Vietnam


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