Moving in with the Binh Thanh Boys

I have to be honest: I was looking forward to moving to Vietnam and not having to move again. I spent my college years like any college student does, moving between dorms, home, and apartments depending on the season. I wanted a place that was mine, where I could leave my stuff for months at a time without having to pack it up in a suitcase six months later.

This is why I found a place to live before I had actually arrived back in Ho Chi Minh City. The place I chose was great, and I was extremely happy with it. I had my own room, was conveniently located 10 minutes to work, and close enough to all of my university friends that I could easily make last minute plans with them. I also knew the area from my previous two visits, and it felt like I was moving into a familiar neighborhood versus a new country.

The longer I was living there, though, the more I realized something was missing. While my housemates were great as housemates, we weren’t really friends. We had different schedules and rarely saw each other, and it began to feel as though I was living in an apartment by myself instead of a house with four other foreigners.

I wasn’t really looking to move, because overall I was happy with the place. But when a coworker decided to leave Vietnam and asked me if I was interested in taking his place, I only had to think about it for a few days before saying yes.

Seven months after returning to Vietnam, I found myself with all of my things packed once again into a suitcase, waiting to be carted to their new home. I was moving in with the Binh Thanh Boys, a group of boys (okay, they’re actually men) that I knew and got along with. Some of the neighbors were a little confused at first and thought I was a girlfriend, which made for some funny conversations!

Views from the roof

I never though I would live with four men, but I can’t find anything to complain about. We have a cleaning lady who cleans for us and does our laundry twice a week, so there are never any messes. And because food is so cheap, everyone eats out, which means the kitchen stays pretty clean!

I now have my own room and my own bathroom, which is a first. The house has table-tennis in the living room, a large kitchen, and enough parking space for any friends that come over. We also have two rooftops, and I’ve been spending quite a bit of time reading by the afternoon sun.

My favorite spot in the house

The neighborhood is also different, and I love it even more for that. It’s a neighborhood for the locals, not the foreigners. There are no chain grocery stores around, so when I need to buy something, I head to the market to buy directly from my neighbors. Every Vietnamese food you could want is within walking distance, so I never struggle to find something to eat. Lastly, I’m talking more and more to the people who live and work in my alley, making it feel like I actually live here and am not just a foreigner on holiday.

A view of the alley. All of the plants mean that I’m finally able to see and hear birds again!

The only downsides? I’m now 25 minutes from work (when the traffic is good) and my university friends, which mean there are less impromptu gatherings. We still manage to hang out, but it takes a little more planning from both sides!

Moving was a great choice, and although I’m in the same city it’s a brand new experience. I moved back to Vietnam for those new experiences, and now that’s exactly what I’m getting!


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