17 March 2017

Nathan van der Most - Expat in Hanoi, Vietnam

Nathan van der Most - Expat in Hanoi, Vietnam

We’ve had the chance to talk to Nathan van der Most, 30, an American expat who has lived in Vietnam for two years. He currently works as an English teacher and freelancer.

Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Seattle, WA, USA.


Q: What made you move out of the USA?

A: I wanted to travel and see the world.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I am currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam and came here originally to teach English.


Q: How long have you been living in Vietnam?

A: Two years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I live with my girlfriend whom also enjoys living abroad.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I miss my family and friends at times but it’s nice to know that they are a phone call away.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I love Vietnamese people and their culture. They are very kind and generous people.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Vietnam? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: Making friends is easy if you are willing to meet people. I socialize with local Vietnamese that I have met as well as other foreign expats. I meet people through friends or social functions.


Q: How does the cost of living in Vietnam compare to your home?

A: The cost of living in Vietnam is very cheap compared to the U.S. but the standard of living is also a lot less. Living here is easy as there are a lot of international restaurants and imported groceries.


  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: $0.85

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: $2.20

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: $25

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine $12-$20, not sure.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Vietnam?

A: In order to open a bank account, you need to provide a contract and other supporting documents. Some banks may not want to open a bank account if you are an American as there are many reporting rules that they must follow. It is a relatively easy process.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: My experience has been very smooth as I have a local agency that sorts everything for me. They are very knowledgeable and helpful regarding visas and relevant paperwork.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Vietnam is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Healthcare in Hanoi is not great as there are not a lot of options. For serious healthcare related issues, many expats go to Thailand or Singapore. The French Hospital is reliable and decent as well as Family Medical and SOS Clinic.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in USA or Vietnam?  What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: There are many different companies that offer health insurance options and it is relatively inexpensive (compared to the U.S.). I do not have a particular company that I recommend for health insurance as it is very personal and depends on many different variables.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Vietnam? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: Prior to arriving in Vietnam, I was living in Chiang Mai Thailand. I am a big advocate of traveling and living with not a lot of luggage. Hence, I moved here with a duffle bag and backpack. Obviously, if you are moving from the states or with a family then you will have a different circumstance. I have heard that Asian Tiger Mobility is a good service but I have never used them personally. http://www.asiantigers-mobility.com/


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: The biggest challenge to moving to a new country is language and communication. English is widely spoken here but you should not assume that everyone speaks English. I have learned a lot about patience and my Vietnamese is decent for normal everyday communication.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Vietnam?

A: There are many positives that Vietnam offers. Depending on what you do professionally, there are many upsides. It has one of the largest growing economies in the world. The cost of living in relationship to the U.S. is very affordable. You can easily travel to close neighbouring countries. Vietnamese food is really delicious.

I would say my two least favourite things about living in Vietnam are the traffic and the pollution. Commuting can be very frustrating, depending on your mode of transportation.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: There are many things to do in Hanoi. I would say if you choose to live here, don’t forget to leave Hanoi and explore the surrounding areas as there are a lot of hidden places.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: My plan is to leave abroad into the foreseeable future. I am content at the moment but I have a long bucket list of countries that I would like to travel to and live in.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: I would encourage expats to try and learn some Vietnamese as it makes communication much easier. Even learning to count to 100 can make bargaining much easier. It can be easy to only socialize with expats but Vietnamese people are very sociable and kind. I am very thankful to all the local people that I have been able to meet and share time with.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Vietnam?

A: http://www.wordhanoi.com/ and my blog http://nathanvandermost.com/