Retire To Nha Trang, Vietnam

Why Budget-Conscious Retirees Should Be Paying Attention To This Country Right Now

“This is a country worth your attention right now, especially if you’re a budget-conscious retiree with an adventuresome spirit,” writes Asia Correspondent Wendy Justice.

Vietnam boasts gorgeous scenery, a high standard of living, a very low cost of living (this is currently the least expensive country in Southeast Asia…more on this tomorrow), and, importantly, lax visa regulations, meaning long-term stays are quite simple to organize.

“Specifically, Vietnam is graced with over 2,100 miles of coastline, making it a paradise for the beach-goer, the adventurer, and the seafood lover.

“The northernmost Vietnamese coast is absolutely spectacular. The north’s most famous attraction, Halong Bay, covers an area of 600 square miles studded with thousands of jagged limestone karsts rising like castles out of the ocean. There are dozens of caves, deserted beaches of fine, white sand, and almost 2,000 islets extending far into the Gulf of Tonkin.

“Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is Vietnam’s most popular tourist destination. Monkeys and other wildlife are the only inhabitants on most of the tiny islands. There are only two towns of any consequence on the larger islands, along with a few small floating villages where permanent residents farm fish and tend pearl-producing oyster beds, traveling by boat to visit neighbors.

“Gorgeous at any time of day, the islands of Halong Bay become stunningly beautiful in the evening, when the silhouettes of the karst formations morph into a vision of surrealistic splendor.

“On the central coast, the China Beach area between Da Nang and Hoi An is increasingly popular. Da Nang is Vietnam’s third-largest city, located about 600 miles south of Halong Bay. Most people stay along the beach or travel 20 miles south to Hoi An, which is a well-established tourist destination. Hoi An is a charming town steeped in history–so much history that it, too, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Hoi An to experience one of the prettiest beaches in Vietnam. I’m traveling there next month to explore this region specifically as a potential retirement haven.

Nha Trang‘s immensely popular white-sand beach stretches for six miles. Other peaceful, quiet beaches and small resorts can be found just a few miles to the north, the south, and scattered among the outlying islands. In addition to offering perfect beaches for sunbathing, Nha Trang is famous for excellent diving and snorkeling. But this is more than a beach resort. Nha Trang is also a vibrant small city, with plenty of parks, good roads (especially for Vietnam), and most of the amenities that foreigners want. This is a great food town, with a huge selection of seafood restaurants, from funky street-side grills to opulent, international-standard fine-dining establishments.

“Enterprising vendors comb the beach toting lit braziers and supplies of fresh-caught seafood. They will grill fresh crab, lobster, squid, and prawns for you as you relax on the sand and listen to the waves caress the shore.

“The weather here is perhaps the best in Southeast Asia. It’s warm with soft coastal breezes in the summer and delightfully temperate in the winter.

“Perhaps the best part, especially from the perspective of the would-be retiree trying to stretch his retirement nest egg, is that the cost of living is exceedingly low. You can live what can qualify as a five-star lifestyle for well under US$1,000 per month. I’ll detail a budget for your tomorrow.”

Kathleen Peddicord