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10x your income over the weekend

(by permanently moving to Vietnam)

Note: the opportunity presented in this essay could only apply to those of us living in a country or region with a higher cost-of-living, like the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan, or Singapore

who were willing to consider moving to a lower cost-of-living country.

 

 

Let me prove it to you

What I mean is this: If your current monthly income (from whatever sources) is $4000 per month in the USA, then depending on what your would need to pay for or wanted to purchase in DaNang, Vietnam, your buying power here could be as much as if your income were $40,000 per month if it were spent the USA. 

Assumptions

The following calculations are based upon certain assumptions and current conditions.

  1. Your income in USD would not vary because you were living in Vietnam, either because you would receive it regardless of whether you're working or you could do your job remotely from Vietnam.

  2. It depends on the types of products or services you would buy in Vietnam. The following analysis is based upon the use of services that I (or maybe even you) could never begin to consider making use of (like personal assistants and a private chef) in the USA because of their extravagant cost there.

  3. This analysis is based upon comparing the costs in DaNang (which are often less than in Hanoi or Saigon) with those of a somewhat comparable city in the USA (Jacksonville, Florida). The ratio would even be more favorable for DaNang if you compared it to a city like San Diego.

  4. It's also based upon current prices that I could determine in the USA (mostly using ChatGPT) and on the today's prices here (based on my current personal spending information) and on the present exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Vietnamese Dong.

  5. Although the following analysis specifically contrasts what could happen if you moved from the USA to Vietnam, generally a similar "increase in your income" could be accomplished by moving from any high cost-of-living country to a low cost-of-living country, like Cambodia, Thailand, or the Philippines.

  6. In the title "10X your income over the weekend," the "over the weekend" part is a bit of an exaggeration. But not so much so. You could fly from just about any city in the USA to DaNang, Vietnam, leaving on a Friday afternoon (and even though you'd lose about 12 hours when you fly over the International Dateline, assuming you're flying west), you could still be settled in a nice Airbnb and start to look for a more permanent place to live by Sunday afternoon. If the flights you book allow for two checked pieces of luggage (at 50 pounds each), combined with your carryon luggage, then you would already be well on your way to making yourself at home in Vietnam. Consider and embrace the fact that the world is your playground if you're willing to consider it as such.

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Why contrast DaNang, Vietnam with Jacksonville, Florida?

  • They have roughly the same number of people. DaNang's a bit more populous with 1,135,000 people compared to Jacksonville with 955,000.

  • They have roughly the same weather. DaNang's yearly highs range from 77-94 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas Jacksonville spans 66-92 degrees. Both cities have high humidity levels year-round, but DaNang's tropical monsoon climate results in more consistent humidity and heavier rainfall during the monsoon season. Jacksonville, while also humid, may have more variability with slightly drier periods, particularly in the spring and fall.

  • If I had compared the cost-of-living between DaNang and San Diego, the multiplying factor might have been as high as 15X instead of 10X. Of course, there are cities in the USA where the cost-of-living would be lower than in Jacksonville and so the comparative ratio would be less than 10X. 

Each expense, line by line

  1. The expenses are compared for one month. For expenses that occur multiple times per month or less often than once a month, the amount-per-month is calculated accordingly. The DaNang prices, although incurred in Vietnamese Dong (VND), have been converted according to the current exchange rate. Most of these expenses I know from my personal expenses. In general, the VND has been stable against the USD.

  2. As shown above, the the total cost for all my monthly expenses in DaNang is $1632. This contrasts with the estimated monthly expenses of $16,338 that I would incur if I lived in Jacksonville (assuming I could afford my current level of luxury, which I could not). Several of these estimates for Jacksonville I got through ChatGPT. I double-checked the reasonableness of its estimates. With ChatGPT, I would usually select the lower of its projections for each line item when it gave a range of probable cost in so that I would reduce the risk that I would be overstating my case. My case is that your income would increase by ten times by moving to Vietnam from the United States (you could do that over a weekend).

  3. Continue to line 4...

  4. My three-bedroom, two-bath, 1260 square-foot (117 square-meter) apartment is on the 31st floor of a 32-floor high-rise in the center of DaNang. I have a panoramic view from the living room windows as well as from the windows in all three bedrooms. As I look down over my city, I can enjoy three lakes, the ocean (just 2.5 miles away), the mountains, and the DaNang International Airport. The cost of $481 a month includes the apartment owner's monthly maintenance fee.

  5. Diep, my private chef, loves cooking (somehow combining that with taking care of her four young children). She lives on the 28th floor, three floor below me. With some back and forth consultation, she has creatively customized her cooking for my vegan, whole-foods requirements, which includes making some healthy chewy snacks for me that are sweetened with stevia. Her service to me includes delivering the day's dishes personally to me about 6:00 am each day.

  6. I pay a personal assistant 5-6 days a week (usually from 12:00 noon to about 4:00 pm). This is a luxury that I could not afford in the USA. Although these personal assistants do assist me with some things, the primary reason that I hire them is to help me keep my energy level and focus up in the afternoons (my habit is to arise at 2:00 am each day). Even if they're just watching over my shoulder as I talk about something I am doing on the computer, they are giving me that benefit of extra focus and energy. One standard thing they do for me is to count the half-flights of stairs that I climb down and up, with them speaking out loud the number of times I have done it as I step on the top step after 9 steps down and nine steps up. They count all the way up to 60, when we get to celebrate together than I have climbed down and up the equivalent of 30 flights of stairs with a 10.1-pound rucksack on my back. I have a different assistant for each day of the week (variety is nice): Vu, Jelly, Chi, Quynh, and Bao. The first four are young women.

  7. My virtual office assistant supports me in handling various personal and business tasks, which include a myriad of tasks, including such things as being my Facebook secretary (I really don't like to do social media stuff) and handling the preparation and broadcast of my weekly photo journal.

  8. Daily transportation. Nowadays, it might be a toss up for owning and maintaining your own car or relying on Uber (which is called Grab in Vietnam). For me, in Asia, it makes no sense to have a car. Since I live in the center of DaNang, I can take a Grab car (it rarely takes more than three minutes for one to pick me up), to most places I go for less than $1.50. If I take one all the way to the beach, it would be $2 or $4 roundtrip or about $200 per month. Taken Uber equivalently in Jacksonville would cost about $500.

  9. If you bought a serviceable car, considering a ten-year-life span with repairs, insurance, gas, etc, it would average out to $600 per month. 

  10. Medical can be difficult to compare because, unless you opt for full coverage insurance policies in DaNang and Jacksonville, the cost of medical will differ depending on what medical needs you have in any given month. In one afternoon, I was provided with super fast service, getting a doctor's consultation, then a full ultrasound on my legs, another consultation with a specialist, and finally picked up a month's prescription for DAFLON, all for a grand total of $26. I project that if I needed to do something like that once a year it would average to $2 a month. The same would cost about $850 in Jacksonville (on the lower side), coming out to $71 per month.

  11. The second set of procedures, all completed within 2.5 hours, involved a doctor's consultation, a chest and heart ultrasound, an EKG, and a chest Xray, and then a final consultation. All out of pocket for $49, or calculated monthly at $4. The same is estimated cost would be $2976 in Jacksonville or $248 per month. I could probably do open heart surgery here in Vietnam with a cash advance on my credit card, if needed.

  12. A root canal with a crown costs about $150 here. That's estimated at $2200 in Jacksonville.

  13. If you live at least 11 months out of the year outside the USA, you're not required to pay income taxes as long as your yearly earnings are below $112,000 per year. Also, as long as you don't have an employer in Vietnam, you're not required to pay income taxes here. I estimate you would have to pay $250 in income taxes (on a monthly basis) if you were a single person making $40,000 per year in Jacksonville, Florida (even with it being a no-income-tax state).

  14. A full body massage for an hour here in DaNang is $10. It would cost at least $60 in Jacksonville.

  15. Haircuts in DaNang, whether low-end or high-end are a super bargain.

  16. If you'd like to get into custom-designed clothes, you can go hog wild here on a shoestring.

  17. Only one cost is higher in Vietnam than in the USA (for USA citizens): the cost of getting a tourist visa every 90 days. But it's no big deal and it's an excuse for a mini-excursion out of the country.

  18. If you like eating out, it's almost as cheap as cooking for yourself. An extra is that Vietnamese food is healthier (and I think more tasty) than American food.

  19. Mobile phone service. I don't use any plan. I just put money into my sim card when needed for both calling and data service. This costs me $3 a month.

  20. Mid-tier fiber optic Internet costs me $11 per month. One time there was a glitch and the service personnel responded immediately.

  21. Although electricity costs slightly less here in DaNang than in Jacksonville, I decided that it doesn't affect much the overall conclusion.

  22. Tipping is not generally expected here, although you can. I like the optional feel about that.

Other considerations

  • Physical proximity

    • You might not seriously consider a move to Vietnam if you would leave behind people in the States where it's quite important to physically touch them or physically help them on a regular basis. If you were married and your spouse would veto the idea, that might also nix it for you. 

    • I have 12 long-time friends in the USA that I enjoy Skype voice or Zoom video connections with on a weekly, fortnightly, and monthly basis. I don't think the value of our friendships and connections would be any better if our interactions were across a coffee table.

    • Currently (November, 2023) I can buy a roundtrip air ticket from DaNang to Los Angeles for $1400. Visiting the USA (or those in the USA visiting you) is just a long skip across the pond.

  • Language issues

    • Some people are uncomfortable when others around them are speaking a language they don't understand. I am not. I am also not very good, interested, or diligent in learning another language. So far, I know four words of Vietnamese. But just the other day I had a conversation in English with an eight-year-old as we were going down the elevator together. An amazing number of Vietnamese are able to understand and speak English to a passable level. And, if you need an interpreter, you can hire one for about $2 an hour.​

  • Medical quality

    • Since the year 2000 I've made use of the medical systems in China, Colombia, and Vietnam. Perhaps the USA system excels in some areas in new technology or procedures, but for my needs all three of the systems in these three countries have served me better, even as an outsider, than I think I would have been served in the USA.​ And, this is true with seemingly no reduction in quality of service. So far Vietnam has been the least expensive of the three, even though China and Colombia were already much more reasonable than the USA. If fact, in one respect, the quality of service, especially here in DaNang, easily exceeds that typically provided in the USA. Waiting time has been minimal. As in the above example, I walked into the hospital without an appointment, I was able to consult with a doctor, get a heart and chest ultrasound, get an EKG, and get an Xray, get all the results back from those procedures, and consult with the doctor again all within two and one-half hours.

  • Money transfer

    • Set it up so that you have an interest bearing checking account (which has to be attached to a brokerage account, but that's not important) with Charles Schwab. Get a debit card. Using that debit card you can either charge expenses or get cash from ATMs in Vietnam. Schwab provides an amazing bonus with this account. If the ATM that you use charges a transaction fee, Schwab will refund to you all such fees at the end of each month.​

  • Safety

    • Although precaution in securing ones belonging is important almost everywhere in the world, I was surprised when I noticed that one of my assistants had not locked her bicycle when she parked it on the sidewalk outside my apartment for the day. She assured me that in DaNang, not necessarily Hanoi or Saigon, no one would steal your unlocked bicycle.​

  • Movie-star effect 

    • You might not be interested in this and it might even annoy you, but here in DaNang, if you are a native English speaker and you've got a white face, you're often "treated like a movie star." People are frequently eager to talk with you and become your friend just because of this, even though it really doesn't mean anything about your personally. Because of this movie-star effect, I can make friends five times faster in Vietnam than in the USA.​

  • Sanitation

    • Some people don't easily feel excited about living in a country so different than their home country. There may be some particular habits of the local people that bother you. For example, here in DaNang, if you purchase street food or food in small restaurants, the woman who prepares your food will be the same woman who takes your money and she will not take any sanitary precautions when she does that. This never bothers me and I've never gotten sick eating street food in my entire life (except one time in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico when I probably got Montezuma's revenge).

  • Not comfortable outside my culture

    • Although Vietnam does not block the Internet like China does (though they do try to prevent its citizens from accessing porn sites), if you think it would be important for you to campaign against the Vietnam government, you're going to have problems living here. You would not have the "right to free speech against the government" that you would typically enjoy in the USA and most other high-cost-of-living countries. 

    • You might have a "fairness" issues with making use of low-cost labor in DaNang. Even though the assistants or other service providers feel it's okay and fair for you to pay them $2 to $3 dollars an hour, you might believe that you are "taking advantage of them" unless you paid them more. 

Enjoying my $250,000 per year lifestyle in DaNang, Vietnam

I maintain the above lifestyle in DaNang with an outgo of about $1700 per month, which would translate to an outgo of $17,000 per month in Jacksonville. Taking into account that an income of $17,000 in the USA would likely require me to pay a higher portion of my earnings in income taxes, I would need to make close to $250,000 per year in Jacksonville in order to maintain the current lifestyle I have here in Vietnam.

Contact me

If you want more information about taking advantage of this opportunity, ask me anything in the message box below and I will respond to you. Ensure that you include your email address.

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