Hanoi - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is more than adequate, generously sized. My housing is provided and furnished by the Embassy so I don't have a idea of costs. Commute times to the Embassy are via a shuttle service and typically take 15-30 minutes depending on traffic. - Aug 2021

Housing is a mix of serviced apartments and stand-alone houses. We had a serviced apartment right in the middle of one of the main expat areas (Tay Ho) that was well apportioned and close to shops and restaurants. A 150-200 m2 (~1500-2000 sq ft) 3BR serviced apartment will run around US$1,500-2,000/month, depending on location, amenities, and quality, but there's lots of choice in that segment. You can occasionally get a 4BR in that price range. Smaller flats are naturally cheaper. Serviced apartments come with cable, internet, and cleaning (2-3 times per week) included in the rent. Stand-alone houses are more common in Ciputra (the other main expat area close to UNIS, one of two main international schools) and are large to massive. Even the newer ones there tend to have a reputation for more maintenance issues, though wherever you are, something will always need to be fixed from time-to-time. Tay Ho has all walks of expat life, and is generally more singles-oriented, with a recent influx of real English teachers (and faux "teachers" - think burnout 20-somethings that would be unemployable otherwise were it not for their native tongue) in shared or studio accommodation throughout the neighborhood. But the neighborhood itself has lots going on and is very convenient. Ciputra is more family oriented. Many expats from Asia live in Ba Dinh or in the new housing complexes off the center (e.g. Times City). Commute times vary. It took me 20-30 minutes in the morning from Tay Ho to the center, and 30-45 minutes in the evenings, with the occasional one hour plus if the taxi/Grab driver decided to chance it on Thuy Khue at 6pm (not a good idea). Construction will be a big issue no matter where you live. Sooner or later, there will be construction near you that could take a few weeks or finish by the fifth of never. - Dec 2019

There are apartments/condos and single family homes. The current commute to embassy is 30-40 minutes for residents in Tay Ho. - Jul 2019

We like our housing, but it’s kind of a mixed bag. Sizes can vary dramatically; it just depends on what is available when you arrive. Embassy housing is spread out. Each has its own perks. - Apr 2018

Larger families have the option of living in large, older stand-alone houses in the Tay Ho community, about a 40-50 minute rush-hour commute from the embassy. These buildings sometimes have a pool but rarely have much yard space. Other expat families live in the area and there are plenty of Western/Asian restaurants and small grocers nearby. My small family lived in one of the several apartment complexes located closer to the center of the city. Our apartments were smaller than the houses, but still huge compared to Washington, DC standards. And, you're much closer to the restaurants, parks, and sights of the inner city. Finally, maintenance and amenties that come with the apartments (often there are small gyms, pools, and/or a concierge) aren't available with the houses. I'd recommend opting for one of the larger downtown apartments, even if you have a family of four. - Dec 2017

Please listen carefully when I recommend that despite your position, tenure or family size, insist on living in one of the apartment complexes. The stand-alone houses/villas are maintenance nightmares, dark, moldy with on average 90 stairs. If they have a private pool, they're rarely used because the pool is cold, dark and under the house. In the houses, bedrooms are on many different floors - so your kids will likely not be on the same floor as you. There are zero closets, pantries, storage, parking or outdoor space. Bring armoires and shelving. Single family homes are also in and amongst locals. Sounds fun, until they sit outside of your gate and monitor your comings and goings. Some of the homes are connected to loud restaurants, bars and such. Constant noise. Conversely, the apartment complexes have amenities, are modern, have green space, are bright and people seem generally very happy at all options. They're great for singles, couples and families alike. They also don't seem to have that "fish bowl" lifestyle. Work has morning and afternoon shuttles to all housing locations. Insist on an apartment - while post told us they didn't have 4 bedroom apartments, there are actually many. - May 2016

Single houses, townhouses, and apartments mostly around West Lake. Commutes vary depending on traffic. The houses are about 30 minute commute if traffic good. Townhouses and condos are less - Aug 2015

For U.S. Embassy people, 20-25 minutes from the office. Not far but things are congested. - Mar 2015

Housing is limited to apartments for singles, couples, and small families. Only two or three apartment buildings are used to facilitate shuttle vans from home to the office. Each apartment building has pro's and con's so the housing pool is fairly egalitarian and 20-30 minutes to the Embassy. Higher ranked and larger families get houses 30-40 minutes to Embassy that are huge but lacking in character. - Aug 2014

The embassy has several apartment compounds and houses for the personnel that are OK. Commute to the Embassy varies from 15 to 30 minutes depending of the location with no traffic, to 30to 45 minutes with traffic. The apartments are OK but the typical Vietnamese design (narrow and deep, on several floors) makes our apartment very dark. We have to turn on the lights during the day even when it is very sunny. Housing is all equipped with reversible A/C, which is a blessing with the hot and humid weather. You’ll find yourself using the heater at night a few weeks during the winter. - Dec 2011

Embassy staff are either in apartments closer in (of various shapes, sizes and configurations) but all have pools - some have tennis courts. Many also live in large houses usually with 3-4 levels. (Lots of stairs!)From the apartments commute time can be 15 - 30 minutes. From houses commutes would be more like 20-40 minutes depending on where you work. - Aug 2011

Most singles and small families are in apartments, and larger families and section heads are in houses. Don't get your hopes up; housing here is well below par compared to other places I've served. There are constant problems with power outages, plumbing, etc. Everything breaks down all the time. - May 2010

Housing is worse than at most other posts. The houses are farther out and have an unappealing commute (on an ugly, slow road) into the city center. They are large but have almost no yards and are mostly on a somewhat dangerous street full of brothels. The apartments are small, lack closet space, and are often unattractive. However, they are serviceable and close to work and after-hours entertainment. - Dec 2009

Most people live in apartments or very narrow houses at the center of town. 20-25 minutes commute is the norm. Hard to spend more time than that commuting unless you live in the outskirts. - Feb 2009

Housing can be spacious but problematic. Hanoi has only opened up to the international community in the past 10 years so the pool of housing that most expats would expect is very limited and new construction slow. Coupled with limited supply and an increase in expat population due to Vietnam's economic growth, there is high demand for housing with new units often rented in days at high prices above the normal value of the unit. Construction quality is poor (one person said houses in Vietnam age in dog years) and even brand new homes require extensive maintainence. My house is less than two years old and there is at least one repair needed daily. My driver has become a full time handyman and would recommend anyone with a house find someone that can be available part time to take care of problems. Electrical outlets are not grounded and six months ago the transformer outside our house failed surging power across the powerlines into our house. Any electrical appliance plugged into the wall was ruined including the stove, frig, microwave, water pump, all a/c units, tv's, dvd players, stereo, phones, cell phones on chargers, etc. The only item saved was the computer as it was plugged into an expensive surge protector. Vietnamese like wood for doors, windows frames, shutters, floors etc however the wood is green and untreated so wooden elements warp and crack quickly. New doors and windows quickly become jammed and will not open. Selection of Embassy housing pool is very limited. While most people are satsified, few are impressed. Embassy housing is a mix of apartments with unusual lay-outs and free standing homes. Hanoi is relatively small and one person said a commute to any location is about 15-20 minutes. However traffic is becoming increasingly worse and the small old French alleys which are most of the roads in downtown are Hanoi are quickly becoming jammed. Twice in the past six months our normal 20 minute commute home has taken 2 to 4 hours. - Sep 2008

Few stand alone houses, usually assigned to section heads, most others are assigned to various apartments, condo style housing. - May 2008

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