Moving house, jobs, country, and continent all in one go hasn’t been an easy ride. But we’re slowly putting together the foundations of our new life in Hanoi, and finding a place to live is a massive part of making it feel like home. We couldn’t wait to move out of the hellhole hotel room that was buried somewhere underneath curriculums, activity books and our tears. 7 days was long enough to be cooped up in there, even though we did get fresh towels each day and a free breakfast.
Luckily Minh, a WLC employee who helps teachers find an affordable place to live with an English-speaking landlord, came to our aid. We viewed a grand total of 2 flats before making a decision. The winner was a one bed flat in the Hai Bung Trung District (please send gifts, cheese and wine to 5, Ngo Ba Trieu, Hanoi, Vietnam) just 2km from Hoan Kiem Lake, a 15 minute walk from the school we both work at, about a 30 minute walk from the other two and very close to the Washington Language Centre. It’s also nestled between lots of coffee shops, the biggest shopping centre in Hanoi and plenty of restaurants.
It’s very spacious, light, relatively modern and came fully furnished. We’ve even adopted the responsibility of 4 houseplants. However we also inherited 2 sweaty, limp pillows. Our first priority was new bedding and towels.
The rental procedures in London could take a few tips from Hanoi. In Vietnam, rent is paid in cash, internet is already set up when you move in, your move in date is the day after you put in your offer, laundry is taken care of twice a week, and your landlord also becomes your body guard. Nguyen (pronounced like you’re swallowing some phlegm lodged at the back of your throat – we call him Will/Wilbur/Wilberforce/Gwynn/Gwendolyn etc.) is our landlord and now good friend. He is also the unofficial WLC moped rental man, so when we decide our stress levels have stabilised, we will also be having lessons from Nguyen, but right now this isn’t top of our priority list.
Nguyen took us out for dinner and to watch the football in a nearby coffee shop after we’d settled in. Nguyen (much like the rest of Vietnam) is an avid Manchester United fan, so it was a tense 90 minutes trying to chit chat and get to know him whilst United were losing to City in the Manchester derby. However everyone soon cheered up at the final whistle, and the three of us piled onto his moped and went round the corner to eat some delicious Pho Bo.
We can’t wait for the first pay cheque to come through in October so we can finally replenish our savings. This month has been an expensive one with all of the pillow purchasing and household equipment we’ve stocked up on. But we’re only paying roughly £160 each per month (including cable TV and internet) and if we have to spend a little more during the first few weeks in order to make Hanoi feel more homely, then it’s worth it.