Just a few years ago Vietnam was one of the easiest and nicest places for retirees and digital nomads to live. There was a thriving community of people who either did some kind of online work, mostly teaching, as well as a large group of people who were just trying to live out their golden years in a country cheaper than the one on their passport.
Vietnam was very kind to everyone during Covid and made it very easy for us to continue renewing our visas over and over again in a rather effortless manner. Unfortunately, all of that came to a stop in January of 2022 and nobody in the government has really given any indication as to why that is.
This country kind of has it all. If you like the big city life you can have that in a number of cities such as Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or Hanoi, if you want the medium sized city experience there are a number of options available to you including where I live in Da Nang. If you want the smaller city type feel with traditional roads and a slower pace of life, Vietnam has that in spades as well. It all comes at a fraction of the cost of living in western countries as well. For example, I think that most people can manage to live in a furnished and serviced apartment is a pretty nice area and after they pay all of their bills and go out to eat and drink a bunch they are still going to be spending less than $1000 US per month. This is very difficult to pull off anywhere else in the world that I have heard about.
I really don't understand the move to get the foreigners out because outside of some fringe groups like Chinese workers, the foreigners don't compete with or take Vietnamese jobs. There is very little in the way of criminal activity among foreigners, and we get all of our money from outside sources and then pump it into the economy here. This is especially true of the retirees who are living off of pensions that they spent 30-40 years generating.
These days people are very afraid that their visas are going to be denied and any longer-term visas have all but been completely eliminated. In the past almost all countries were eligible for 90 day visas and Americans were eligible for 1-year visas. These are gone now and the only visas that remain outside of work visas are 30 day tourist visas.
This wouldn't be so bad for some people because some people don't mind going on a government-enforced vacation to a nearby SE Asian country every 30 days, but now there is the fear that their re-entry to the country is going to be denied....and here is the silly part: It is NEVER permanently denied it is just delays so that you end up needing to stay out of the country for a week or 10 days instead of just an afternoon or a day or two.
Vietnam had a real opportunity to become SE Asia's leader in attracting relatively wealthy expats to live here and spend money but they seem dead-set on throwing that away. Perhaps I am looking at this through rose-colored glasses because I am a foreigner, but I can't think of any good reason why a country whose economy is seriously struggling would ever want to kick out tens of thousands of people that all make 3-4 times the average wage of a local. We aren't taking jobs from them. If anything many many jobs are created to cater to the expat population. Most of the bars and restaurants that I go to on a regular basis will cease to exist if the expat population departs en masse and this is something that I believe the government should take very seriously.
At the end of the day I feel as though your average politician who is in charge of these rulings is extremely detached from everyday society and doesn't realize the economic implications of a mass exodus of foreign residents. Already people are talking about moving over to Thailand who is in the process of easing the process of getting in and staying long-term.
It's times like these that I feel as though the various governments over here are all working in lockstep to benefit certain countries at the expense of others. Thailand has always been number one in expat population and Vietnam looked to be taking that number one spot. Just when they were gaining steam in that direction the government puts a stop to it.
At the moment I am still going to stay here because I like to stay put. I don't like to move around all the time. But i fear that even for me the time is soon-coming where I won't really have a choice but to GTFO. Pity.