Years ago, most apartments were located in duplexes or fourplexes, but some were in larger complexes – and many of those included a swimming pool. Apartments close to campus were primarily inhabited by students; those further away were for families. Most apartments had two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living area, and a kitchen. Some had small patios or balconies.
Rent was calculated according to the amenities and the size.
Some things haven’t changed at all: apartments near a college campus are still usually full of students; rent is relative to size, locale, and amenities.
What is now considered a “good” apartment in Hanoi is one in a huge, gated complex, with not only a pool, but a workout room, an Internet room, grilling area, volleyball court, tennis courts, and indoor gyms and spas. Many of these include high-speed Internet, cable, all other utilities, social hours, pool parties, etc., as well as have one bathroom for each bedroom, walk-in closets, enclosed courtyard-style patios, and other very nice things. Many come furnished and have excellent security and keycoded gates.
So how does one save money when renting a condo in Hanoi? For starters, one must look away from those dazzling complexes.
A decent apartment for rent in Hanoi can be found for around $2.00 per square foot (rented from an individual or an landlord). In contrast, an apartment in a ritzy complex can cost upwards from twice that amount. The second step is deciding what one can live without, and accepting that for an individual just starting college or a career, less is probably more.
Of course everyone wants all those previously listed amenities – who wouldn’t? But are they affordable? How often, really, will you play volleyball or invite a gang over to play basketball or to barbeque? Sure, hanging out at the pool is appealing, but since free time will be spent working to pay that rent, free time will be minimal.
If you are absolutely set on one of these overpriced monstrosities, consider shopping around carefully before signing a lease. Many of these complexes offer “move-in” specials. If you find one that perhaps doesn’t include certain accommodations, ask; in other words, if the complex wishes to sell more leases, you may have an edge simply by stating what you are comfortable with, what will or will not be a deal-breaker and letting management know that a competitor has made you a better offer. Do keep in mind, however, that once the “special” has run its course, you will be liable for possibly a higher rent each month.