After 3 years of living in Saigon, I cannot say I’m a veteran in choosing apartments because we only moved once. But there might be some things here that might help you when choosing a place to live here.
I won’t be delving into location and neighbourhood because I think HerDailyDigest’s 6 Tips in Renting an Apartment is spot on.
1. Noise Level
If you work and you leave your wife and kids at home, you might not know it, but they deal with the constant noise from apartment construction. 😦 I have a 3 month old and getting him to sleep for naps has become especially more difficult with the incessant hammering and drilling from upstairs. So if you have kids, you might want to consider a place far from the noises — that includes the traffic.
Okay, not all expats want to have an agent. But if you’re considering one, do get someone who is highly recommended. Ask your peers, your friends or your moving company. Our agent made our life so much easier. From getting the police clearance, negotiating with the owner regarding rent, furniture, and appliances, to assisting us when we need some work done (aircon cleaning, fixing pipes, etc.).
Don’t just rely on your agent. Make sure you get some face time with your owner. I’m telling you — no matter how awesome you think your agent is — he or she might just vanish overnight. Better know your owner and get the contact details.
Our previous owner was hands on. She’d meet us once every two months to get our rent — that kept hubby and me on our toes making sure the apartment is clean. 😀 Also, whenever we needed something fixed, we call them up first and they’d send someone to do repairs.
4. Availability of Police Clearance
Some owners may be nice but don’t have any license to rent out their place. Apartment owners who have business permits will give you a blue book / pink book / police clearance. Don’t be like me — it took us so long before we were able to get ours! You need this to get your VISA or Temporary Residence Certificate renewed. Now, I need it for processing my son’s birth certificate. Remember that the police does their rounds and check apartments for this. And yes, they knock on your door when you’re about to hit the sack.
5. Not all apartments are created equal
Not because you had a big ref in your old apartment means you’d get the same in your new one. You have to reach a compromise with your owner. You may (read: TRY) request for other appliances like additional TV, rice cooker or microwave but some apartment owners will increase the rent.
6. VND or USD?
Pay in VND because the law says so. And besides, you’re in Vietnam.