Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers to share their thoughts on whether they would plan to come to Viet Nam for a short-term or long-term stay during their retirement. We received dozens of readers' replies. Here are some of them.
Chas Lehmann, American, Da Nang
I am a retiree, and Viet Nam has much to offer to any retiree. The number one resource here is the Vietnamese people. A culture that encourages respect for others, honors parents, is friendly to foreigners and humble in attitude is a culture of virtue that is difficult to find in American society.
I vacationed here during the eight years before my retirement. After my retirement, I was on a plane three weeks later to make Viet Nam my new home.
Here is what I have to say concerning the policies of Viet Nam towards people like me. I have, in the past year and a half, met retirees and they are in the same dilemma as I am.
Here is the problem. I came here to retire – not to work. Many of the foreigners who desire to live here have to work – many teach English to obtain a work permit. We don't want to work – we're retired. If we don't have a work permit, why do I have to continually renew my visa? Why do I have to fly out of the country to renew it? Why can't Viet Nam issue a long-term retirement visa? I look forward to receiving an answer.
Gary Morris, American, Albuquerque, United States
I retired on December 13. It was also my 62nd birthday. I have a family in HCM City. If it were not for my kids and grandchildren living in California, Viet Nam would be at the top of my list.
I had the opportunity to work and travel in Viet Nam in 2004 and 2005. An absolutely wonderful land and people!
Scott Sheppard, Australian, Ha Noi
Viet Nam has such an opportunity to attract foreign retirees for all of the reasons listed, but I'm afraid that these chances will be missed out on. Compared to its neighboring countries, the paper work involved and obstacles that come because of that make it so difficult for people to consider moving here.
It is the same for those who are not retired but want to move here — the paperwork is so daunting. Then there are the laws surrounding ownership of land, houses and apartments for foreigners.
The fact that even if we do buy something, but only in an area that the Government specifies, we can only own it for a determined period and then it has to be sold, which scares a lot of people away.
Also, the fact that if the Government decides it needs to take your property for expansion, then you rarely get true market value, goes against the retirees, as well. I really think that for Viet Nam to take advantage of this, they need to revamp their immigration laws and property laws to make it more secure and viable for those who want to move here.
James Dannock, a tourist
Having lived in retirement in Ha Noi for about seven years, I find the biggest inconvenience is having to constantly maintain my visa. I am 70 years old. I do not want to own property. I bring money into the country and support a Vietnamese family. Yet, the government will not introduce a retirement type visa (1 year) for an aged person with proven financial resources.
Thailand has this type of visa and gets great benefit by encouraging retirees. It is discouraging for me to have to leave the country every three months just to re-enter and obtain a visa.
Surely the Vietnamese government could introduce yearly renewable visas after a probationary period, provided the applicant has sufficient proven finances and presents himself every three months at an immigration office. I am sure Viet Nam would benefit greatly from such an initiative.
David, a tourist
I have also been considering a move to Viet Nam. I have a Facebook friend who was born and raised in Viet Nam and I was in Viet Nam in the 1960s.
I am single and don't need much to get by. I am concerned about the river water problems there, but do know how to clean my water.
These little homes can be built there or even shipped in! Tell me what you think. Yes, Viet Nam is the Pearl of the Orient! Love the gentle people and way of life!
Robert Fries, American, San Antonio, Texas, USA
Regarding the concern about owning property and having it taken away by the government, it is no different than the "right of eminent domain" in the United States where anyone's property may be taken away for building roads, schools, hospitals, etc.
One big problem in many nations is that wealthy people buy many properties for the sole purpose of speculation. That seems very selfish to me. I agree with some of the points made by 19th century American author Henry George in his book "Progress and Poverty". His idea was about land being shared by everyone.
If you "improved" land by building a house and living in it or built a factory to produce products, then you get to use the land for those purposes. Further, he recommended a "single tax"...if you create something, you pay no tax. If you profit from something we all own, like oil, timber, minerals, etc, then you or your company pays a tax. I would like to retire in Viet Nam and look at the challenges here.
I have visited here many times during the past decades. I have married a Vietnamese woman, love her and her family and have many friends from HCM City to Ha Noi–. An American expression says "Home is where the heart is." My heart is in Viet Nam. Viet Nam is no exception when it comes to challenges facing nations, and I want to make positive contributions in my modest way.
Living in Viet Nam, I want to learn all I can about its history, culture and customs. I prefer to be part of society, not some expat living in an expat compound. Conditional residency, rather than limited visas (it is only reasonable to ensure the person has sufficient income to support himself), and home ownership (for personal residence, as opposed to speculation that is not beneficial to local citizens) are two examples I recommend considering.
Kimo, a tourist
I am interested in living in Viet Nam and having a business of manufacturing clothing. I am interested in improving the water quality and helping villagers cook with ovens. I am also interested in helping child orphans. — VNS