New Yorker David has spent more than ten years in Southeast Asia - the last three in Vietnam. Here, this American expat tells us a bit about his reasons for moving to Vietnam, his job there, and what he thinks about living in Ho Chi Minh City.
-Where were you born?
New York City, USA
-In which country and city are you living now?
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Who do you live with?I am single.
-How long have you been living in Vietnam?Three years.
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Vienam?
I had lived in Korea for 10 years and needed a new challenge. Through research and speaking with people Vietnam looked like the next "Korea" in terms of energy and economy.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
Simple as pie. They're practically giving them away.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
Not at all.
-How do you make your living in Vietnam? Do you have any type of income generated?
I work in Marketing and education. My living is a mix of consulting jobs and university teaching gigs.
-Do you speak Vietnamese and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
Nobody cares if I speak Vietnamese. I am hired for international experience and because I speak English.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
I miss some foods, sometimes but generally do not miss home. I lived there a long time.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
I'm writing a book which I hope to publish in the US.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
I rent and prices can vary from a few hundred dollars for a small room to thousands for a proper house. I'm somewhere in the middle of that mix.
-What is the cost of living in Vietnam?
Not as cheap as the recruiters will lead you to believe. If you want to replicate a western lifestyle in terms of food, entertainment and living style, expect to pay western prices for it.
-What do you think about the Vietnamese?
On the surface everyone is nice but's that's only because they feel there's money in it. Once it's about making money you'd be better off bleeding rocks. The Vietnamese still suffer from a developing country mentality that works off NGOs and handouts, not unlike Mongolia. The gifted businesspeople who can forecast the value of western knowledge are few and far between.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Vietnam?
Positive: Booming economy.
Negative: Virtually "0" infrastructure, starting with deplorable road conditions.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Vietnam?
Negotiate like a banshee before you get here. Once you're on the ground you're at a massive disadvantage.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Vietnam?
for a good run on Vietnam and my 10 years in Korea. We're one of the top blogs in Vietnam and an active source of all sorts of lunacy on a thrice weekly basis.