Teach English in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: The Chance of a Lifetime

By Geddy Gee
Teach English in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, more commonly known as Saigon, is a bustling city located in Southern Vietnam. The bustling city is built around the Saigon River and is filled with skyscrapers, including the Vinhomes Landmark 81 tower, which is the tallest building in South East Asia and one of the tallest buildings in the world. Teachers who haven’t been to Vietnam before, are always pleasantly surprised by how built up and developed the city is. There are parts where poverty is noticeable but in some areas like District 1, it feels more developed than cities in the United States or Europe. The city is loud and energetic. The first thing newbies notice when first landing is how the roads are filled with motorbikes, and there are so many street food stalls. Food is amazing and very affordable. But in contrast, the city is surprisingly walkable and has some of the best city parks in Asia. So when you need a quick break from the hustle and bustle, you can take a relaxing park stroll.

Teachers are often attracted to Ho Chi Minh City for the craziness of big city life. It’s the capital of commerce and culture in Vietnam. Here you will find all the biggest global brands and people will be dressed up to the latest fashion trends. One of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City is to go spend some time at cafes with friends, but the city has so many interesting restaurants and an incredible nightlife. Those are just a few reasons that make the city one of the most attractive places to live and work in Vietnam. Since the city is the place of business in Vietnam, speaking English is extremely important for the locals if they want to be competitive in the job market. Most large companies require employees to speak both English and Vietnamese. Because of this, you will find that schools place an importance on their English programs and there are many English language centres throughout the city. These schools  are always on the lookout for energetic and enthusiastic foreigners who want to teach English in Vietnam.

This article will cover the following points about living and working in Ho Chi Minh City as an English teacher:

  1. The cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City
  2. Finding an apartment in Ho Chi Minh City
  3. Teaching Jobs in Ho Chi Minh City

The cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest city in Vietnam, so you can expect living here to cost more than anywhere else in Vietnam, and that is true, but it is still in Vietnam, so the cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City is very affordable. As a teacher living here, your biggest essential cost will most likely be your apartment, then your food and transport. Living here can be cheap, but it can also be as expensive as you like. If you enjoy eating out at nice restaurants and spending time exploring nightlife, the cost of living can increase very quickly.

The amount you spend on rent depends on a couple of things. The area of the apartment and the number of rooms for example. Now you can rent a 1 bedroom or studio apartment in the city centre for around 12 million VND and a 3 bedroom for 30 million VND. Now if you were to find a place outside of the city centre, a 1 bedroom apartment would go for around 7 million VND and a 3 bedroom for around 15 million VND. Of course these prices can go up or down depending on the quality of the apartment.

The cost of getting around Ho Chi Minh City will vary based on your preference. Most teachers choose to buy a motorbike to drive themselves around. But this can be intimidating for some. Another option is to use the Bus for daily needs and taxi’s when needed. Many teachers use the Xe Om, which is basically a motorbike taxi. You can find them parked at most major street corners and you can even call a motorbike taxi using the Grab app.

Food can be cheap if you eat local food. You can even find a good local meal for 50 000 VND here. Western food is going to be quite expensive compared to that and most teachers save that for a treat. There are many grocery stores to go buy fresh ingredients to cook your own meals. AEON, Lotte Mart, eMart, Tops, and Big C are just a few options.

Finding an apartment in Ho Chi Minh City

Now when it comes to choosing an area to stay in Ho Chi Minh city, it’s going to be different than when you are visiting. District 1 is where most of the life is and District 2 is the most popular area for expats, however it doesn’t make sense to live in those areas if your school isn’t there. The best is always to live as close to your place of work as possible to make the daily commute easier. You can always go up to another area in your free time. You can expect the rent costs to be higher in District 1 and 2 than other areas as well.

When you rent an apartment, getting a 1 year contract is usually the norm, but it’s also possible to do 6 months and even less if you need more flexibility. The shorter the contract, the higher the monthly rent. Here most places ask for 1 month’s deposit which is equal to 1 month’s rent. Water and electricity is really cheap but depends on your usage and how much you leave the air conditioned on. 

When looking for an apartment, you can contact agents through Facebook or Zalo and ask them to show you a few places, or you can take a look at DotProperty and reach out directly to the owner.

Teaching Jobs in Ho Chi Minh City

Now the best part about teaching in Ho Chi Minh City is that there are more jobs than anywhere else in Vietnam and the pay is really good. Teachers here typically earn around $2000 – $2500 USD per month and many opt to take on additional classes at night which pay another $20 – $25 per hour. By earning that much, it’s very easy to live a comfortable life in Vietnam, as well as travel or even save some money.

When looking for a teaching job in Ho Chi Minh City, you have the option to work at an international school, government school, private school, or English language centre. International schools offer high salaries and great benefits, but usually require you to be a certified teacher in your home country. Traditional schools offer good salaries as well as benefits, but teachers actually prefer working at language centres such as ILA and Poly as they offer more flexibility and the highest pay.

Written by Geddy Gee for TEFL.NET September 2022
Ex-teacher, unvaccinated traveler and amateur writer

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