Americans Wendy and David Justice have been living in Nha Trang, Vietnam, since December 2010. They enjoy a lifestyle they describe as “royal” on a budget of $800 to $900 per month. Many retired couples live comfortably here for as little as $600 a month.
The beautiful coastal city of Nha Trang qualifies as one of the most affordable places in the world to retire well. The Justices have a furnished one-bedroom apartment just a five-minute walk from the beach in a central location with friendly neighbors. Their rent of $350 per month includes Internet, cable TV, and a housekeeper who comes twice a week. They also spend $40 a month on electricity, rent a motorbike for $45 monthly, and spend $60 per month taking Vietnamese language lessons with a private tutor.
Many Americans will be able to purchase luxuries in Nha Trang that would be much more difficult to afford in the U.S. “We recognize that, back in the States, our expenses would be triple or more what they are now in Nha Trang. We wouldn’t be able to afford to eat out as regularly as we do or to have a housekeeper, and we certainly wouldn’t be able to afford to live within a few minutes’ walk of such a gorgeous beach,” says Nancy. “We'd need a car, which would mean insurance, maintenance, repairs and those expenses alone could more than exceed our total monthly budget here.”
The couple admits that they could probably spend even less without too much effort. They eat few meals at home and spend about $300 a month on dining out and entertainment. “It is possible for two people to live comfortably in this part of the world on even less than $600 per month,” says Wendy. “You could cut your food expenses to as little as, say, $120 per month by eating at the many super-inexpensive Vietnamese street stalls and restaurants.”
In addition to the low cost-of-living, there is a high quality of life and beautiful scenery in this seaside city. Nha Trang's popular white-sand beach stretches for six miles. Other quiet beaches and small resorts can be found just a few miles to the north, the south, and scattered among the outlying islands. Nha Trang is also famous for excellent diving and snorkeling. But this locale is more than a beach resort. Nha Trang is also a vibrant small city with plenty of parks, good roads, and most of the amenities that foreigners need.
Most Nha Trang residents speak at least some English, and many Vietnamese citizens in this region are fluent. Vietnam pegs its currency to the U.S. dollar, so there is little currency risk for American pensioners. The country also has lax visa regulations, which makes it possible and easy for a foreigner to organize a long-term stay.
Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.