Yesterday was mostly uneventful. I started with a great home cooked breakfast of fish noodle soup, then off to the coffee shop to write the blog of the day. The rest of the day was spent doing some maintenance and repairs. We installed an air conditioner, set up a bed, did a little shopping, and entertained family for supper. Today, no marriage proposals… I almost feel disappointed. Today I will address a question asked last week about housing in NhaTrang, and the rest of Vietnam. I will use US dollars, as trying to convert billions into your own currency so you can understand is confusing. First off, real estate is and has been skyrocketing. Many people here are finding themselves house rich, but unable to sell because many family members share the house, and many are too poor to go on their own. To us, the foreigner, property is still affordable. The problem is finding a way to get ownership. First let’s address the ownership rules. (as far as I have been told or know of) They have what is called a red book. The red book is like a deed or a land title. Having this book in your hand is power. The easiest way for a foreigner to get this Redbook is to marry a Vietnamese and put into his or her name. If you have a relative that you trust, you can put in their name and then draw a contract, witnessed and stamped by the Government that if anything happens to them, the decisions on the property are yours. Another way is to incorporate a business in your home country and purchase a house as an office. One more way is to volunteer for 6 months or more and get a government certificate of your volunteer status, lastly, you can apply to become a dual citizen if you have moved here. (If I am misinformed or am missing information, please comment.) I have heard on the news that condo’s can be purchased by foreigners because there are no actual land ownership issues, but I am not clear on that issue. There are condo’s being built around town, and in the tourist area. As for housing and prices? Most of the pictures are from the area where I live as I can give the most accurate pricing. The cheapest way to get a house is to buy a lot and build. These houses are built from brick and then covered with a layer of cement. The insides are cement, marble, and ceramic tiles. If you are building, make sure the wiring and plumbing is done right. Changing anything after will mean punching holes in walls. Scaffolding is made from chunks of board, bamboo, tree branches and anything else the can scavenge. A crew of 6 or more people can erect a house in a week. A lot towards the mountainside in my area can still be had for about 25000.00 US The cost to build a simple house to our standards can cost as little as 20,000.00 but 40 to 50 would get you something great. The houses are generally priced by the square meter of the property, so the bigger the more expensive. To purchase a built house is around 60-80,000 for a small place. Up to 150000. for a nice middle upper class, and up to 300000. for a mansion like place. Also, the closer to the ocean you get, the more per square meter. The easiest way is to rent. Until recently, it was against the law to stay in a Vietnamese home. Now it is possible to rent a home stay, where you will share accommodation with a family or other renters. All property owners are required to get a blue book to register guests and renters. Their name is entered and it is stamped by an official. I am told that this is to protect the renter so that the authorities know who is where and how to keep them safe. You can decide for yourself if that is indeed the case. I myself have a blue book for My wife and I, or anybody else that we wish to stay with us. A small crudely finished but solid Vietnamese house next door to my house is rented to a foreigner for 35.00 per month. A nice livable house can be anywhere from 100-300 dollars a month. I have two places, one luxurious with a car port, and another 6 bed room, I will rent one of them and expect that the rate will be about 400.00 per month. I have talked with an American who is renting a penthouse in a building in the tourist area for 600.00 a month. Where to live in NhaTrang is a personal choice. If one chooses to rent or buy near downtown or the tourist area, they will have the convenience of being able to walk anywhere. The downside is the constant noise and the constant watching of hustlers, and opportunistic thieves who are always on the look out for that foreigner buck. Just two days ago, a Dutch fellow who rented a home only a week ago, was broken into robbed of his computer, cell phone, and other electronics. Yet in my area, I could leave the door open all day and the only risk is maybe a kid seeing an opportunity. That may change as the area grows. My area though has no bus service at the moment and taking taxi’s everyday can get expensive. You need a bike or Motorbike, or be prepared for a 15 minute walk everyday to the closest bus stop. I think anywhere north of the river, south of the airport, or west of the main drag through town offers the best combination of security and privacy. Myself? I am partial to north of the bridge and closer to the ocean. You get the cool breeze from the water, have beautiful scenery, and are still close enough to the fun. NhaTrang is not too big a city and you can get almost anywhere in 15 or 20 minutes. One final option is to just stay in a hotel. A person can easily make a monthly rental deal for 5-7 bucks a night. I personally know someone who does this and he is satisfied with the arrangement. Always remember that wherever you stay, your passport or id has to be registered at the local police station weather you are a foreigner or a local.
I have just learned that the news was just announced that a foreigner can purchase property in Vietnam. It is taking effect now in Hanoi and Saigon as we speek and will be available in NhaTrang and other cities in 6 months or so.