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Moving to Hanoi

On top of the fact that it is Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi is also a city rich in flavour and charm. With its unique culture, shimmering city skyline and blend of old and new, Hanoi is sure to find a place in any expat's heart.

Living in Hanoi as an expat 

With new construction projects continuously springing up, the city’s western edge is expanding ever outwards. This rapid development is securing Hanoi's place as more than just a city of political importance in Vietnam.

Expats moving to Hanoi will find a city that maintains a balance between significant development that includes large shopping malls, apartment complexes and new roads, and preserving a relatively cheap cost of living. With several lakes, fantastic restaurants, vibrant nightlife and some of Southeast Asia’s best preserved colonial architecture, Hanoi is an easy choice for many expats moving to Vietnam.

With a significant diplomatic community, numerous NGOs, ESL teachers and expat-employing businesses, Hanoi also has a range of healthcare and education facilities catering for its expat community.

Cost of living in Hanoi

The cost of living in Hanoi is fairly reasonable. There is also a multitude of accommodation options to suit any budget, however, expats living in the city centre will typically pay more. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are cheap, and eating out is also largely inexpensive. Western foods and restaurants will cost significantly more, though.

Getting around in Hanoi is a breeze thanks to the affordable bus network in the city and the abundance of taxi services. Buses in Hanoi charge a flat rate regardless of the distance a passenger is travelling, making them a savvy option for long-distance commutes. That said, most expats prefer to use ride-hailing services to circumvent the language barrier, this is still a budget-friendly option. Some ride-hailing services, such as Grab, offer a monthly subscription for regular commuters, which further reduces the cost.

Families and children in Hanoi

Hanoi is a family-friendly city, offering plenty to see and do for newly arrived expats and their children. Expat parents will also be delighted to find that Vietnam offers a rigorous public school curriculum and that attendance is free for children between the ages of six to 11. Be that as it may, most expats prefer to send their children to the eye-wateringly expensive international schools in Hanoi, which allow them to continue their studies in a curriculum and language they are familiar with.

Climate in Hanoi

The climate in Hanoi is characterised by the dry and wet seasons, as is usually the case in Southeast Asian countries. The wet season (May to October) is typically hot and humid, this is also when the city experiences the highest levels of rainfall. The coldest months are from January to March, but temperatures remain pleasant.

Overall, Hanoi is one of Southeast Asia's best expat destinations, and those willing to make the move will not be disappointed by the quality of life in the Vietnamese capital.

Education and Schools in Hanoi

Expats relocating to Hanoi will find that the city has a range of education options, both public and private. While Vietnam's curriculum is sometimes seen as overly rigorous, expat parents can be sure that their children will at least not be receiving a substandard education.

Despite the good quality of public education, many expat parents prefer to send their children to international schools instead where they can be taught in their home language and, in many cases, can continue with their home country's curriculum. 

Public schools in Hanoi

In Vietnam, it is compulsory to attend school from the ages of six to 11. During this period, public school tuition is free of charge. Thereafter, schooling is optional and fees apply.

The Vietnamese government has been criticised for the short duration of compulsory attendance and the curriculum's focus on tests and essays rather than life skills. Despite this, many expat parents still feel confident in the quality of Vietnamese education and those who can't afford the sky-high costs associated with international schools are generally happy to opt for a good public school instead.

International schools in Hanoi

Although Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's main hub of international schools, Hanoi has a fair few excellent international schools on offer, too. However, like many international schools around the world, Hanoi's international schools suffer from over-subscription, and it can be difficult to secure a spot. For this reason, it's important to start the application process as early as possible.

Although there are many benefits to international schools, expat parents should be aware that tuition costs are uniformly high among them. To cover this, it is advisable for expat parents to try to negotiate an education allowance as part of their relocation package.

Special-needs education in Hanoi

In the past, Vietnam operated on a policy of separating special-needs students from mainstream schools. However, since the early 2000s, Vietnam has adopted a more progressive and inclusive approach to education for students with special needs, focusing on integration with mainstream schools and classes. Along with public schools, numerous private schools and NGOs in Hanoi offer similar services, with interventions varying depending on the level of care the student is in need of.

Tutors in Hanoi

In Vietnam, after-school tutoring is popular, with more than a third of households making use of tutors. Education is highly valued and students often face pressure to succeed, leading to a booming tutoring industry.

Expats will be spoilt for choice with everything from subject-specific tutoring to more general language and exam preparation. The right tutor can also help expat children adjust to a new curriculum, providing support as they catch up to their peers. Recommended local companies include Everest Education and International Tutor Group.

International Schools in Hanoi

Expat families looking to relocate to Vietnam will find that there are several excellent international schools to choose from in Hanoi. These schools follow foreign curricula such as that of the UK, the US and the International Baccalaureate. Though fees are exorbitant, international schools generally offer a high standard of education and allow expat children to continue with a familiar curriculum.

Below is a list of some of the city's most respected international schools.

International schools in Hanoi

British International School of Hanoi (BIS)

Students at BIS Hanoi follow the English National Curriculum from the Early Years Foundation Stage through Key Stage 3. The IGCSE qualification is available to students in Key Stage 4 and the school is a registered centre for Cambridge International Examinations. The IB Diploma Programme is offered in Sixth Form. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate, English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A-Levels
Ages: 2 to 18

Hanoi International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 4 to 18

Lycée Français Alexandre Yersin

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 3 to 18

United Nations International School of Hanoi

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18