living in hanoi hoan kiem

It has been an entire 368 days since we first stepped foot back in Vietnam. 1 whole year since we uprooted our lives once again and stepped into the craziness of Hanoi. So much has changed since this time last year.

Oli started a business.

I quit teaching for a job in travel.

We showed more than 20 people the joys of travelling in Vietnam.

And we made a home.

Because despite the crazy and the pollution and living so very far from our loved ones, Vietnam really does feel like home. We have the most fulfilling jobs we’ve ever had (close second to the Turing Trust!), we have a two bedroom house all to ourselves, plus motorbikes and bicycles. Oli gardens! I am painting again.

All this and we still get to travel to locations like this every weekend:

Cuc Phuong

And not only do we have wonderful friends who love doing this stuff with us, our friends and family are more than happy to travel here to spend time with us.

Life in Vietnam is charmed, that’s for sure.

For a long time we’ve been feeling completely content with being in one place. Yes, we still need to get away most weekends but that will never change. But rather than dream about the next big trip or the next job or a new expat lifestyle, we think about making plans from Vietnam.

It feels great.

So what is it about Hanoi that has us so happy and settled? We can think of a few reasons…

  • Riding motorbikes. Even in the crazy hanoi traffic you when feel like you’re in a video game but especially on beautiful winding mountain roads.


  • Easy to navigate streets that sell only one thing, especially plant street
  • Cafes. On every street corner and coffee of all varieties. Sua da, den nong, sua chua caphe, caphe trung…

living in hanoi cafe

  • Noodle soup
  • Constant foodie discoveries.
  • Bo bia bridge snack time.
  • Eating out for every meal. We used to say we missed cooking but that’s not even true anymore!

living in hanoi bun cha

  • Meeting inspirational people from all over the world, who have lived and are Iiving totally different ways.
  • Creativity. Not only with the art and music scenes, but in our jobs too.

living in hanoi live music open night

  • Random Vietnam moments. And there are plenty…
  • Crazy shit on motorbikes, including, but not limited to: cats, pigs, trees, other motorbikes and a double fridge freezer.
  • Urban chickens
  • Vietnamese hospitality

Pu Luong

  • Bia hoi
  • The burgeoning craft beer scene.
  • Northern Vietnam and it’s rugged beauty.


  • Good WiFi. It’s not Korea standard but damn it’s pretty fantastic most of the time.
  • A salary that allows for treating yourself and saving with minimal effort.
  • Coconuts for a dollar.
  • Sandwiches for 50 cents.
  • A 2 bedroom house with a roof terrace for $350.

living in hanoi house rental

  • Our garden
  • Open mic nights
  • Phlerp Tuesdays. And every other day!
  • Weekends of discovery and adventure.

living in hanoi tam coc

  • An abundance of waterfalls and caves
  • The proximity of amazing destinations just a plane ride away.

hong kong weekend escape from hanoi

  • A long, long coastline we’ve yet to explore.
  • West Lake on a sunny day.

living in hanoi west lake

  • Spa experiences (for $12)
  • Late night at the flower market
  • Buying flowers from the back of bicycles on the side of the road
  • Crumbling alleyways full of old French mansions.

living in hanoi Vietnamese colonial architecture

  • Living with less
  • The outside culture. Street restaurants, street tea shops and parks overflowing with people to name a few.

There are, of course, many things we don’t like about living here: 

  • Pollution
  • Traffic
  • Idiot drivers
  • A terrifying increase in late-night sexually driven attacks on women in Tay Ho.
  • Pollution

But most of the time we can take all this in our stride (and fight back against it too). The freedom and joy that living in Hanoi brings us on a daily basis is more than we could have imagined living anywhere…

So, we plan to make the most of it.

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