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Shocked That Hanoi Is Waaaaaaay More Expensive Than Cebu

hanoi expat lifestyle expenses

A sneak peak of my tiny place, so to speak. Those fortune plants are from the dumpster, baby. "J for Juggle" is a DIY.


I’m tired. Work-wise, I haven’t done anything today. Sikkim. Preston. Taichung. Sunday rambling. WikiHow exam. They all remained unchecked on the back of a credit card receipt from yesterday. The THINGS TO DO is paperclipped on the white metal grid I bought today. Among many other things. Ten plants. Five pillowcases. Craft papers. Knife. Three Ocean glasses. Two white Luminarc plates. A blender. Wooden ladles. Two sets of spoons and forks. Two fake rattan stools. A mat. Four small industrial containers. Three pop-up jars. A frying pan I just found out I could not use. Two mugs. Two trash cans. And fruits and vegetables. A 1/4 kilo of pork and fish. Eggs. One blouse. A pair of jeans. Two cardigans. One lovely square pants. One stripe shorts. A broom. A dust pan. The list goes on.

I’m tired. And I splurged. I need a good massage. Another splurge.

My apartment, you see, is actually fully furnished. Well, except for the plates and cups. But I have a certain taste on things that I want to see when I walk in a place I now called my own for the coming months. One thing I learned from hopping countries for the past ten months is that, it is not for me. Despite my affairs with traveling, I realized I actually desire a base—a Point A. Back then, Point A was Cebu City. It perfectly worked for me. My super tiny studio apartment back then was my little place, my little map I knew too well: the chipping bathroom ceiling, the distressed vinyl floor, the orange and green dining chairs, the shelves after shelves of books.

I wanted something similar. Desiring so costs me a price here in Hanoi.

I was actually shocked that Hanoi is way, waaaaaaay more expensive than Cebu. Every Grab Bike ride, I calculate the costs in Philippine pesos. My god, sixty pesos for a ten-minute habal-habal ride. My god, this plant costs 80VND (Php160), it only costs Php30 in Carbon! You kidding me, Php120 for a pop-up jar?

But I want to own my place. I want to see Jona in this space. So splurged I did. I spent at least Php15000 for the past two days on top of 1 month rent and 1 month advance to my apartment. That’s about $1000.00 (Php50000.00). I know!

But I see it as an investment. My place nows feels brighter and more functional. Plants are everywhere. It should motivate me to keep on juggling and hustling.

I just cooked adobo. I almost burned it. I was Whatsapping with Tobi while it was simmering on the provided induction cooker. Remember I said I bought a pan I could not use? Let’s see your attention to details to this Sunday rambling.  Well, an induction cooker only functions with induction pots and pans! Huh! Vietnam, you’re too classy for this probinsyana. The snobby cooker kept on beeping and did not heat up at all when I tried making scramble eggs at four in the afternoon. That’s lunch. Super fucking late lunch for a super hungry me who spent the entire day shopping. And voila! The brand-new cooker did not work!  Oh well, I’m pretty good at improvising. I fried the eggs in the rice cooker. Proud of myself. Haha!

hanoi expat lifestyle expenses

A sneak peak of my tiny place, so to speak. Those fortune plants are from the dumpster, baby. “J for Juggle” is a DIY.

Settling in is costly, especially in a place where people see you as an idiotic foreigner who could not understand a single Vietnamese yet have the guts to go shopping in a big wet market. I also shopped at Lotte and Big C! Tse! Lotte was my biggest mistake. Everything in that supermarket screams overpriced!

I love my neighborhood. Big C is fifteen minutes away by Grab Bike. The local market is five minutes on foot. There are small shops and restaurants around. There is ukay-ukay too. Hehe. I spotted three cats in the neighborhood. I know where to buy my stuff from now on. Haha!

On my last leg of shopping today, I looked funny and embarrassing, I guess. The locals looked at me with amusement in their eyes. Well, I was carrying five potted plants. One huge Pepito bag [shopping bag from Bali] with 3×4 straw mat inside and fortune plant cuttings I rescued from a nearby dumpster. And oh yeah, I was carrying the white metal grid too.

My back and legs are aching. My eyes are drooping already. I’m pretty sure there are at least thirty grammar mistakes in this rambling.

I have to shower. Sleep. Then continue on homifying this apartment tomorrow. And work.

I can’t possibly keep on investing in this tiny place without working.

Tired and sleepy.


Needing a massage,

Jona in Hanoi

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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  1. Teesh says:

    I am super looking forward to future posts of life from Hanoi, Jona. Wish there’s a work around for your frying pan!

  2. […] October 2017 with a heavy heart and wheeled backpack, ballooning body and credit card bill, and a very light savings barely enough to cover rent and essentials for the coming two months. I told myself I would only […]

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