Da Nang was the first place I visited the moment travel became possible, and it had many things I wanted in a tourist destination: beaches, a laid back way of life, and cheap goods and services. These things don’t just appeal to the tourist in me, and I was also looking at a possible place to live in for a bit, even retire in.
Call it “slow travel” or “digital nomadism”, this year I’m intending to work and live in other countries for a bit, and Da Nang was the first time I went on a holiday with an eye on whether the destination was somewhere I could spend a considerable amount of time in.
Cost of living
Cost of living has to be the biggest pro Da Nang has to offer. It’s possibly the first time I’ve been to a country where I felt things were truly inexpensive. Really nice, fancy coffee go for S$2 a glass at quaint coffee joints, beachside cocktails cost me S$7 to S$9 each, and even more touristy gastropubs have mains for barely S$10 to S$12 each.
Like most countries, there are also fancier dining spots to suit more spendthrift budgets, but you can get away with a pretty comfortable life with a modest amount of money.
From massages to food deliveries, services are also low in cost. S$4 to S$6 gets you to most places around the place via a Grab car, and the motorcycles which you can also hail from within the ride-hailing app are even cheaper. Food delivery fees cost about S$1 or so, and massages could be as cheap as under S$10 per hour.
Accommodation and work spaces
The low cost of living also translates into affordable rents. I didn’t have the chance to view many apartments, but the couple I did look at seemed okay and the monthly rental was really cheap at around S$330 a month for a 1-bedroom apartment. Something larger was just over S$500 as you can see in my video, and it was just a few minutes walk away from the beach.
Perhaps I’m looking at this from Singaporean-tinted glasses, and anything lower than our country’s pricey property prices comes across as affordable, but I’m sure it should be fairly easy finding a place that’d suit one’s budget.
I didn’t have the chance to visit a co-working space, unfortunately, but it was perfectly fine doing work at one of the many cafes found across Da Nang. Grab a coconut coffee (or five) and you’d usually find the WiFi credentials printed on the receipt. Vietnam is a highly online country and there wasn’t any problem with connectivity most places I went.
I’m not a coffee person, but being in Da Nang changes that. The Vietnamese love their coffee, and it shows with their variety of coffee joints. Some are modern with décor you’d expect from hipster cafes while others are charmingly rustic. Depending on the nature of your work, cafes may not be a suitable replacement as an actual office, but that is nothing a coworking space wouldn’t solve, and such places are sprouting across the city. Still, part of the fun of working in Da Nang, I feel, is hopping from cafe to cafe to enjoy the drinks and ambience. Starbucks in Singapore feels sterile in comparison.
Like most in Southeast Asian countries, the people are generally reserved but not unfriendly, and English is commonly understood here. It is not the most popular tourist destination by far but you should not encounter too much of a language barrier.
Things move slower here and a drink with an umbrella it in is always around the corner. It could perhaps be too mundane for some, and while I didn’t spend too long in Da Nang, I did get a sense of boredom after just 5 days there. A colleague of mine shared the same sentiment, having lived there for a month.
If getting away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore is the intention, however, perhaps that is the point.
What do you look for in a remote working location?
To be clear, these are just thoughts I have having spent only under a week at this place. It can be quite hard to get a real sense of how a location in in such a brief period of time, and I’ve only just started to embrace the concept of remote working so there might be many blind spots I have not considered. Already, the YouTube comments in my video are talking about healthcare, crime and safety etc. and I can’t be a fair judge of those things yet given my inexperience.
Nevertheless, Da Nang feels like a great place to live for a bit, and I would definitely be back here again for this. Also, this year I am embarking on a few discovery trips to find more places for this purpose, and I hope you join me by subscribing to the Telegram, leaving suggestions, questions, or even tips for aspiring digital nomads.
What do you look for in a place to live in for a bit?
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