I am moving to Hanoi next year and I was looking through the housing on this site. I see there are many houses available for $200-$500. This seems extremely cheap even for Vietnam. Are these places for real? Where I live we have to watch out for leasing scams. Is this sort of thing going on in Hanoi?
Depends on luck and depends where you want to live. I have a very nice, new 4 storey house for $250 a month. It's a great deal. Several other people i know have similar setups.
Then again - i also know people who are paying 700 and even over a grand for an apartment. For me that seems like a total waste.
Yep, it's for real, and nope, not a scam. I'm sure leasing scams do occur here, but I'm paying $170 a month for a room in my house, and a lot of places are around $200/mo.
The cost of renting here doesn't seem so cheap when you consider that the average monthly salary in Hanoi is 4,837,500 VND, according to salaryexplorer.com (other websites list even lower averages). Many places also ask that you pay 3 months rent up front, which is expensive in almost any country.
What type of accommodation do you need? A room in a house, a house, an apartment ... ? You can find a really nice room in a house for that price range, or a small one bedroom apartment, or a decent house. You could also pay a lot more.
Where you live is important. Most newcomers prefer to live near their work. Some districts are more expensive than others, for example the Tay Ho (Westlake) district.
Due to the sluggish economy, Hanoi is now a renter's market. You can often negotiate a $50 - $100 reduction in rent. I've never paid 3 month's in advance during the 2 years I've lived here. There are plenty of vacant apartments and houses. Landlords need renters.
However ... be warned ... do not trust the real estate agents. The more rent you agree to pay, the more they walk away with in their pocket. They have families to feed ...
Drive through the neighborhood you'd like to live in. Landlords often post for rent signs. Call them. If the landlord speaks English, you may not need an agent.
I hope these few notes are helpful. If you search 'Ask ANH' you will find a lot more information.
Another thing to consider is if your landlord has registered or is willing to register you with the police. This is most often a problem in places like the $250 per month house lcagaiden is bragging about. It may never be a problem or the police may show up and sweat you for cash or flat out tell you to be out in a day. This can also make the getting you police check for a work permit more complicated. In my case I was renting a $250/month house and I needed proof of residence for a marriage certificate. The cop wasted a lot of our TIME and it cost about 800.000 VND.
I think the house shares are great if you can stand your roommates and because of the cheap cost of labor you can all split the cost of a maid which removes the cause of probably 50% of room conflicts with money being the other 40% :P. Another demand to always refuse is to pay in US dollars. I never minded paying 3 months at a time but you can use that as leverage to negotiate lower rent. Ask to pay all bills such as electricity, water, ect. yourself. (Too many scamming landlords with utilities.)
Rent is all over the place in this town. Shop around. You can find dump renting for the same price as a palace nearby.
Most place is 1 month deposit, 3 months rent. Most prices quote and write in a contract in USD, and will calculating to the sell-rate of any given bank if you want to pay cash VND.
And to answer your question, yes 200-500 is normal, currently it's a renters market.
Except around 200 for a single room, 300 for a 1bed room apartment and 400+ for a 2bed apartment. Houses are from 350 upwards (But keep in mind the stairs eat space, so living surface area is not necessarily bigger then an apartment).
Biggest important things to check out for any apartment is:
3) If applicable, roommates.
Really do not underestimate the importance of number 2!
well, if you consider the Opera House is center of Hanoi (or maybe you have a need to visit Opera House on daily basic), you must feel so great. Anyway, if you ever have idea to move to some districts in the other side of Red river, be prepare to pay at least 50% more.
I mean, I was supprise that you have such a good deal, but actually everything has a reason.