Bảo Hoa & Vân Nguyễn
HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội has been named the most expensive city in Việt Nam in terms of the cost of living, but for residents it’s still a good choice.
A report published by the General Statistics Office last week shows the capital has the highest spatial cost of living index (SCOLI) in 2020 among 63 localities.
The index compares the cost of living in different regions, to which the cost of living in Hà Nội was kept at 100 per cent.
HCM City came second at 99.05 per cent, and Hải Phòng third at 97.38 per cent.
To some people life in the capital is comfortable despite the high living cost.
Hugh Ellis from the UK said: “As a UK citizen living here, I would say it’s a pretty good value for money in the coffee shops, the restaurants, bars, it’s very good value.”
He added: “I travel on a local bus. I think VNĐ7,000 (30 US cents) is very good to go from one starting point to the other. I am very happy with the frequency of the bus. If I go on Grab or Be, I think it’s very good price and it’s easy to get either one.”
Phạm Thị Thu Huyền has been living in the capital for nearly 40 years. She said: “I travel a lot to other provinces for work, and I don’t think Hà Nội is the most expensive.
“The report must be talking about the cost of leisure activities. In terms of the cost of living, I think Lai Châu would be the most expensive. It’s so far away, so expensive. Or Quảng Ninh is also expensive.”
But some do find goods are more costly in Hà Nội than in their hometowns.
“In my country, you can have breakfast for VNĐ10,000,” said Kiran Thapa from Nepal. “If you spend VNĐ10,000, you can have a good breakfast. But here for a cheap breakfast you at least need to spend VNĐ30,000 or more.”
Nghiêm Thu Hà from Bắc Giang Province agrees. “The cost of living in Hà Nội is higher than rural areas,” she said. “For example, vegetables’ price doubles in Hà Nội compared to rural areas.”
In 2019 the capital also surpassed HCM City, Việt Nam’s largest city, to become the costliest place to live.
But despite the statistics everyone has their own way of making it in the big city.
“Food supply is plentiful here. Rice is transferred from all places to Hà Nội, all types of rice. We can choose what to buy in accordance with what we earn,” said Hà Nội resident Phạm Thị Thu Huyền.
“We also have lots of supermarkets and local markets,” she added. “For people with average incomes the local markets are very affordable. Food at supermarkets would be of higher quality so it can be more expensive, and not everyone can afford to shop there.”
Nghiêm Thu Hà from Bắc Giang said: “I share the room with another friend, so it costs me nearly VNĐ1 million a month for rent, electricity and water bills. For students, Hà Nội is totally affordable for those who can manage their money well.”
And for expats the capital also seems to be a good place to live.
Hugh Ellis said: “I don’t know a lot of English teachers here but I would imagine a lot of English teachers here would have a more comfortable life teaching English here rather than back in the UK, because I think the đồng would go further to the pound or the dollar. So I think it’s a good place to live.” — VNS