When I first landed in Hanoi I had a booking.com hotel booked for 2 weeks. I figured I don’t need more time to find an apartment in Hanoi. This turned out to be absolutely true. In fact, I could have had an apartment after only a couple of days, but I decided to look for something nice and convenient. Also, close to shops and the Tay Ho lake. The good thing about the booking.com hotel was that they were great at accommodating my needs. When I needed extra 2 days, they were happy to extend the stay for that period, but when I came back the same night with the keys to my own apartment, they were just as happy to refund the last night’s rent.
Where was my apartment in Hanoi
I ended up staying on To Ngoc Van street, near Tay Ho lake. This was a very convenient place. Close to CircleK and Vinmart and other local shops. There is also the Syrena shopping center just 10 minutes walk from my apartment. I was also about 2 minutes walk from Tay Ho lake. It could not have been more convenient. To Ngoc Van is a street with the greatest concentration of foreigners in Hanoi. There were I think 7 restaurants close to my apartment and none of them offered local food. All were burger joints, Taco stores, Sandwich shop, etc. The closest local Vietnamese restaurant was about 5 minutes walk from my place, but it was a really nice one, so I was happy.
I would recommend To Ngoc Van for someone who needs western food and western shops but be prepared to pay the foreigner tax. I remember checking the prices of egg coffee on my street. It was 55K vnd. Not much when we think about it, but the most famous egg coffee place in Hanoi Old Quarter has the same coffee for 25K vnd. That’s more than half the price.
How did I find the apartment in Hanoi
I found out about To Ngoc Van from the Facebook group. I heard that there is a lot of apartments available there and many agents have an office there. it’s true. There are maybe 6 different agents on that street and all of them speak good English. If I was desperate for an apartment, I could have had one on the very first day, but I wanted to see what’s available.
The agents took me around on their motorbikes because I wanted to see what’s available and to check what sort of prices I should be paying. There are also signs on many apartment blocks in the area, with a phone number to call. I went into a couple of those and the maintenance/security person was happy to show me the apartment. Unfortunately, none of them spoke a word of English, so a phone call to the agent was still necessary to communicate with the men.
I recommend seeing the apartments and not just looking at the pictures online. The building code in Vietnam is not the same as in Australia or USA. Apartment blocks are built wherever there is space, and often as close to the other building as physically possible. I saw apartments where it would be easy to shake hands with a person in another building over a balcony. I wanted a little bit of space between buildings. Maybe I’m claustrophobic.
Negotiating the price is always an option. You can get 50$ off the rent just by asking for a discount. If you sign a lease for more than 3 months, ask for a 20% discount and see what they say. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and they will not be offended …
Another way to find an apartment in Hanoi
Another option to find an apartment in Hanoi is AirBnb. Many apartment owners offer huge discounts for longer stays. A room may cost half price if rented for a month, compared to a daily rate. If I was to stay in Hanoi for just a few weeks, I would use Airbnb. It is just easier to do. No need to sign a lease contract and no need for a month deposit.
Also, try Facebook. There are many groups on Facebook that offer housing in Hanoi. Search “apartments for rent Hanoi”, or “housing group Hanoi”. Just join the group and once accepted post a message in the group that you’re looking for an apartment. Specify your area from a Google map screenshot and your budget. The agents will come to you.
Final note about finding an apartment in Hanoi
Using a real estate agent is an easy way to find an apartment in Hanoi. On To Ngoc Van street, there are plenty of them representing different leasing companies. Most leasing companies also have a website. There is no central place for all agents to offer their services, that I could find, apart from maybe a Facebook group. AirBnb is a good option too and one I would recommend for over 28 days’ stay as the monthly discounts are often enormous. For a much longer stay, 6 months plus, I would try to find an agent that caters for locals, not for foreigners. I paid $500 for my apartment, but a local person who saw my place concluded that I was grossly overcharged. I did like the convenience of the place. Twice a week cleaning, high-speed internet, etc, but they said, they would not pay more than 350 for all that. Foreigners tax.