Aug 02 2011
So you’ve got an idea of the Hanoi district you might want to live in from our last post. Now onto the types of housing available and what you can expect to pay.
There are a few different options. Let’s begin with sharing a house with other likeminded, usually single, souls. Hanoi has plenty of large houses perfectly suited to sharing with a group of old or new friends. They typically have sufficient communal space downstairs and on the roof; they’re spread over numerous levels, usually housing a bathroom on each floor; and they’re cheap. Expect to pay upward of US$200 a month for a room.
Most people I know who live in shared housing are here on volunteer programmes and live around Doi Can / Hoang Hoa Tham (Ba Dinh district) or to the south of Hai Ba Trung district.
Another alternative is sharing a house with a family. This is a far less popular option, although a friend of mine spent a year living with a family while here on a volunteer programme. It’s cheap, but less social than shared housing — don’t expect to have as many big nights out with friends.
Apartments range from a traditionally decorated studio in an old house down a tiny alley through to a three-bedroom, ultra modern place with gym and pool. As you’d expect, prices differ accordingly, and also by district, so it’s tricky to give a guide, but a basic one-bedroom apartment in Hai Ba Trung district will be around US$600 with an extra bedroom adding US$200 or so. In Tay Ho you’d be looking at around US$1,200 for a modern, spacious two-bedroom place with balcony.
There is so much construction going on in Hanoi at the moment that new apartments are springing up all the time. Be warned though: shiny new apartments don’t tend to stay shiny and new here for very long.
Houses are a great option if you need more space or want to share with a group. They also tend to be cheaper than apartments and are likely to have some outside space – even if it is only a small yard or roof terrace. The downside is that they are usually more traditionally decorated and the layout won’t suit all lifestyles: it’s common to have the living area and bathroom on the ground floor and then for each of the floors above (usually two or three) to have one or two bedrooms and a bathroom.
You will find houses in most districts, but perhaps less so in Hoan Kiem and Truc Bach (Ba Dinh). Standard two-bedroom places in Nghi Tam village (part of Tay Ho) are currently going for $700 or $800.
Villas are primarily found in Tay Ho and the outer districts and are spacious, detached houses, with outside space, gated entrances and sometimes even a pool. Prices are in excess of $2,000.
It’s important to be clear on what your inclusions will be. Most expat-orientated accommodation will include hot water, WiFi and cable TV as standard. Electricity will be charged monthly and gas is bottled, so you just buy another when it runs out — and they last for ages. Ovens and draining boards aren’t common and shower cubicles are a rarity in older places. Places are available furnished and unfurnished.
Serviced apartments are quite common, although the interpretation of what this means can vary. Be sure to check exactly what’s included – for example, security, maintenance, housekeeping – in advance.
Should you use an agent? Be warned that agents can be a bit sneaky — advertising places that are no longer for rent, taking you to places outside your specified budget — and you will pay a bit more than you would if you managed to find a place directly. But that’s not so easy. I can recommend two agents: VietLong Housing and Fair Real Estate.
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