Are you visiting or moving to Saigon?
Congratulations! You’ll be living in my favorite city and no doubt you’ll have a great time.
But like any move there’s always a lot of questions. And most questions will be about accommodations. Where can I find an apartment? How much deposit do I need to give my landlord? Will my landlord allow overnight guests?
Visiting or moving to a foreign country can be overwhelming. I know. But I think I can be of help. I’ve been living in Saigon for many years and stayed in many different apartments.
In Saigon, most people find their accommodations from three sources: Airbnb, Facebook or any of the local Vietnamese sites. Not surprisingly, Airbnb is most popular but for certain situations the other two may makes sense, which I will describe in detail below.
In addition I’ll give you some information that you won’t find anywhere else:
- A fourth “secret” option which helped many friends find their apartments.
- Critical tips you’ll need when signing your first contract with a Vietnamese landlord.
But first let’s talk about where to stay in Saigon.
Where To Stay In Saigon
Most first time visitors end up staying in District 1. That’s where the nightlife and all the tourist attractions are situated. The downsides are the expensive prices and that’ll be crowded with tourists. The traffic is also terrible most of the time.
Eventually most long term residents will move from district 1. The outer districts have more affordable apartments and less traffic. Currently I am living in District 7 but the Districts 2, 3 and 4 are also good places to stay. The downside with the outer districts is that the streets may get flooded during the wet season.
Where To Find An Apartment In Saigon
Today, Airbnb is the first place most travelers will use to find an apartment in Saigon. With just a few clicks you can rent an apartment anywhere in the world, ranging from a single day up to several months.
But Airbnb is far from perfect. First and foremost, you’ll end up paying much higher rents. For trips ranging many months this will be quite noticeable.
In my opinion, the higher prices are mainly due to the following two reasons:
- Airbnb adds their own fees on top of the rent. Those can be pretty hefty
- Since Airbnb is mostly used by foreigners, the landlords know they can charge higher prices
If you decide to use Airbnb to find an apartment in Saigon, I recommend to try negotiating the rent. Most times I’ve been able to shave at least $100 off the monthly cost.
In addition, a lot of people asks me if the Airbnb hosts are allowing overnight guests. I would say it depends on the host. But let me tell you, me and my friends never had any issues with having our girlfriends staying over. If you are uncertain just ask them. And in the case your building has a front desk try to make friends with the receptionist. That’ll make it less likely he/she will complain.
Facebook has some expats groups where realtors often advertising their available apartments. The most popular group is called Expats in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and some friends have been able to find good apartments there.
If you decide to use Facebook I recommend that you write a post explaining what you’re looking for. Make your requirements clear, for example what district you want to stay in, your budget etc.
#3: Vietnamese Sites
If you plan to stay for a longer time, I recommend to use a local Vietnamese marketplace. In my opinion, Batdongsan is the best marketplace and this is also where I found my last apartment.
Sadly those sites are rarely in English. If you don’t know Vietnamese, I recommend to get help from a local friend.
Also, be aware that most landlords that are advertising on those sites usually requires a stay of several months. Sometimes up to a year.
Bonus #4: Directly Approaching Landlords
Some friends have had great success using a fourth option. If you’re the adventurous type, plus have a lot of time, this will be a great match for you.
First they book a few nights at a hotel. Then they drive around their neighborhood of choice hunting for good apartment deals. Sometimes they see a for rent sign. Sometimes they just see a nice building and decide to walk inside to speak to the manager.
By doing this you may find great deals that can’t be found anywhere else. The downside is the time it’ll take. And most landlords won’t be able to speak much English. But hey that’s part of the adventure right?
Bonus: Signing The Contract
If you decide to stay in Saigon for a longer period of time you’ll eventually need to sign a contract. This can be stressful especially if you’re new to this country. In Vietnam things works differently compared to your home country.
But don’t sweat it! Below I’ll put together a few bullet points I learnt through the years:
- For a one year contract, never give more than a month deposit. If you’re requested to give more, negotiate.
- You’re entitled to get your deposit back if you break the lease early. Make sure it’s in the contract
- Clarify what’s included and not. For example electricity, water, parking, management fee etc.
- The price for electricity should be about 3,500 VND per KWh. Also check the meter when you move in!
- Have a walk through with your landlord and have him/her write down all damages you see
If you are staying for a shorter time, for example less than one month, it makes most sense to use Airbnb to find an apartment in Saigon. But if you want to enjoy Saigon for a longer period of time I recommend to use the Facebook group or one of the local Vietnamese sites.
Did you like reading my article how to find an apartment in Saigon?
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