Location Independent Guide to Renting a Serviced Apartment
What to Look for and What to Avoid when renting an apartment in Da Nang, Vietnam
If you’re a digital nomad or remote worker considering making Da Nang your latest home base, here’s what you need to know about how much it costs, what’s included, what internet speed is really like, the reality of power outages and what to do about them, and how to avoid the most common mistakes.
One thing everyone hates about Da Nang is the ever present construction. The whole place can feel like one big work site. There’s a positive side to this though — a huge supply of brand new serviced apartments for rent. New beds, new appliances, modern aesthetics and easy lease terms.
You’ll have no trouble finding an apartment to suit your needs and budget –and by using the following tips, you’ll secure a great place to live while avoiding common misunderstandings and mistakes.
Where to stay while you’re apartment hunting
You’ll need a week or two to get a feel for the different neighborhoods and find the right serviced apartment to rent. Plan to secure initial accommodation through Airbnb or one of the many hotels or resorts in Da Nang. Da Nang’s economy is driven by tourism, and you’ll find a wide range of accommodation — everything from very basic homestays to luxury beach resorts.
What to look for in your temporary accommodation
If you need to work during this one or two week house hunting period, make sure your temporary accommodation has strong wifi. It’s totally reasonable to ask them to do a speed test in your room or apartment and send you a picture of the result. Keep in mind that using a VPN will reduce this speed, so make sure the base speed is adequate for your needs. If you are comfortable working in cafes, there are plenty of them around with decent free wifi. (here are some of my favorite cafes to work from in Da Nang)
Make sure you will not be near a construction zone. Ask them if you can hear construction noise from the apartment or hotel. Make them agree, in writing, to release you from any agreement and return any deposit if you need to find a new place to stay due to construction noise. Be firm on this.
You can rent a suite in a 5 star hotel, only to find there is construction noise happening 7 days a week, from just before dawn until after the sun goes down. It’s not uncommon for hotels or landlords to lie when asked directly if there is any construction nearby. Make sure you will not be penalized in any way for leaving ahead of schedule if this is the case. Everyone here knows this is a huge issue.
How to find an apartment
Find an apartment online
The easiest way to find fully furnished, serviced apartments in Da Nang is through Facebook groups. There are several Facebook groups specifically for advertising and requesting furnished apartments in Da Nang. Have a look through what’s listed and contact the owners or agents.
There are many more apartments that don’t list on Facebook. If you find a neighborhood you like, make some time to drive around and look for For Rent notices posted to the buildings. They’ll have a phone number or other contact information. Many times you can contact the owner and be shown the apartment on the spot. If not, they will arrange a time for you to return.
This is a great way to find an apartment in an area you like, and you’ll have a good idea from driving around what kind of amenities and services are available within walking distance, what the construction situation is really like, and what kind of people live nearby. This is especially the case if you want to live outside the usual tourist beach areas of An Thuong/My An.
The only drawback is the language barrier. Lots of people speak English in Da Nang, but your landlord may not. Many savvy landlords who don’t use agents speak adequate English to communicate and have leases drawn up in English as well as Vietnamese. But there is no guarantee of this. Make sure you are able to communicate clearly with your prospective landlord — Google Translate is not an option when it comes to legal agreements.
There are a ton of western rental agents who will show you apartments in Da Nang. There are also English speaking Vietnamese agents who can do the same. Some agents are better than others.
Agents can provide a very valuable service and make your apartment search easier and quicker than if you did it on your own. Sometimes they will pick you up and drive you to see several properties at a time. They can smooth over any language issues. If you give them a list of your requirements and your budget, they can narrow down the search. There are lots of reasons to use an agent.
But you absolutely don’t need to use an agent to find a great rental. And when you do use an agent, keep in mind that they are trying to sell you something. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it’s balanced and professional.
Agent fees are paid by the landlord, not by you.
What to watch out for when dealing with agents
Lack of professionalism
Your agent is not your best friend. If they are inappropriately familiar and casual, either they are just plain unprofessional or they are using a manipulation tactic.
When you’re in an unfamiliar country, it’s natural to gravitate toward the familiar, to trust someone who looks like you, speaks your language, understands your culture. Without even realizing it, you may have an underlying expectation that such a person will steer a fellow foreigner in the right direction. This isn’t always the case.
I had a western agent who talked non stop as if we had always been the best of pals. She insisted on giving me hugs and talked about her menopause as if she was my longtime girlfriend and not a property agent I just met. And though I kept telling her I wanted to avoid the ground floor and being near construction, she tried to convince me to rent several ground floor apartments that looked out onto a construction area. She tried to downplay the construction…calling it something else, even as we were both staring at heavy machinery in a construction pit.
If your agent doesn’t present and behave professionally, get another agent. If you’re new here, you might think things are just done differently and this overly casual behavior is normal. It’s not. Vietnamese are formal, especially in business dealings.
I’ve had agents try to pressure me to sign a lease when I said I wasn’t quite sure and wanted to keep looking. I’ve had agents try to pressure me to sign longer leases than I preferred.
If your agent pressures you at all to do anything, don’t give in to it. Hold your ground and insist on what is important to you and fits your needs.
In another rental environment, it would be the right thing for your agent to urge you to commit and lock in a lease, because good apartments are hard to come by and competition is fierce. They’re rented the day they get listed.
Da Nang isn’t like that. There are so many brand new apartment buildings, and more being finished and coming onto the market every day. This is a renter’s market. If you give yourself a week or two to look around, you’ll be able to find what works for you at the price and lease terms that fit. There is no urgency to ink a lease right away if it’s not what you want.
Lying + Gaslighting
This goes for landlords as well. You could be standing on the balcony of the apartment in question, looking down on a massive construction project across the street, or a karaoke bar (more on that later), and have your agent or prospective landlord tell you it’s something else.
“No construction, they are only trimming trees today.” As we’re both looking down on a giant restaurant construction project spanning most of the city block across the street.
The apartment was really nice, and in an area I particularly liked. It would have been so tempting to believe this lie. After all, who would tell such a lie? It makes you question your reality and judgement. Maybe it’s not what I think it is. Maybe it’s not what it looks like.
It’s more likely to be exactly what it looks like. Trust your eyes, ears and your own good judgement.
What’s included in your serviced apartment rental?
Terms vary, but not much. There are standard features and amenities included in most rental agreements.
Utilities & Services
Water, wifi, weekly cleaning, trash collection
These are standard.
The water out of the tap is non potable (not safe to drink or cook with).
The wifi may or may not be adequate in your apartment. Be sure to do a speed test in your actual unit with a computer or your mobile to confirm.
Is wifi fast enough?
Internet speeds in Da Nang are generally really good. But that doesn’t mean it will be fast in your apartment. Often, there is one router on each floor of an apartment building, out in the hallway. Depending on how close to it you are, the wifi speed in your apartment may vary. Many apartment listings will specify that you have a router in your unit. If not, you should get the landlord to agree in advance to install one if you have problems with slow internet. They will usually agree to do this.
I just avoid the whole issue and make sure there is a router in my apartment in the first place.
Local cleaning standards are not the same as western standards. So, yes, someone will come in and clean your house (once or twice a week, depending on your contract), but before you get too excited about this, just know your apartment will not actually be clean, though it may look superficially clean.
If you want your house to be clean, you will need to either do it yourself or hire someone with an understanding of your standards and pay them yourself.
If you opt to have your apartment cleaned, be aware that your whole bathroom will be sprayed and dripping wet, including everything on your sink top (including your toothbrush) and your toilet paper. It will look like someone took a hose and just sprayed the entire bathroom from ceiling to floor. If this bothers you, remember to move your toilet paper and other items out of the bathroom before the cleaner arrives.
Also, it’s common for cleaners to use the mop to clean the outside area first (hallway, balcony), and use the dirty mop and water to then clean the floor inside your apartment — leaving your floor so dirty, your feet will be black if you walk barefoot.
Furnishings, bedding, basic kitchen utensils
Your apartment will be furnished. It will come with at least the following:
- table and chairs for eating
- flat screen smart tv
- window coverings: curtains or blinds
- bath towels
- a shoe rack (this usually sits just outside your door)
Assuming you are renting with a complete kitchen and not just a kitchenette, these items are also included in standard rentals:
- induction stovetop
- basic pots and pans
- basic cooking utensils
- cutting board and knife
- drinking glasses
- electric rice cooker
- electric kettle
- basic table wear
Also, almost all apartment buildings will have a rooftop you can access, and many have tables and chairs where you can hang out and enjoy a view in the early morning or at night (daytime is too hot).
Non standard amenities to look for
These don’t come with every apartment, but are common amenities included in some rentals at no extra charge.
Built in water filter
This water filtration system is built in under the kitchen sink. It filters tap water and you can access it through a separate faucet. I can’t overstate how nice it is to have a constant and ready supply of cleaner water available. If your apartment has one of these, the landlord will change out the filter on schedule for free. A huge convenience perk, and worth keeping an eye out for.
A lot of rentals will include secure parking for your motorcycle or bicycle.
Many rentals include some kind of laundry facility — whether shared or private. Some even have a clothes dryer, though this is much less common.
Standing fans are fine, but if you can find an apartment with a ceiling fan, they work much better.
Oven or toaster oven
Finding an apartment with an oven isn’t too common, and you may not miss it that much. Some apartments do come with toaster ovens, which you’ll be glad to have.
Pools & gyms
Many larger apartment buildings have them. Pools are usually on the rooftop.
Balconies and views
With a river snaking through the middle and the beach on the eastern edge, there are ample opportunities for views when renting in Da Nang. There’s little reason to settle for an apartment with no view, if that’s important to you.
Traditional showers are not separated from the rest of the bathroom by a shower curtain or glass door. You literally just take a shower right in the same space as your toilet and sink. Trust me, you don’t want this. You will quickly grow to hate this setup.
It’s very easy to find apartments with separated showers, but it’s definitely something to specify when describing what you want to a potential agent, or to clarify with a landlord before scheduling a showing so you don’t waste your time.
Miscellaneous things that are generally included with your rental:
Basic small hairdryer + clothes iron. If they are not in your apartment, you can just ask they will normally be provided.
What’s not included
Apartments do not include electric usage. Your apartment will have its own meter, which you can usually access if you wish to see it. Every month when you pay rent, your landlord will send you a picture of your meter reading and let you know how much you owe that month.
You might be surprised at how high your electric bill can be, especially in the sweltering summer months when you’re running your AC nonstop. For instance, I rack up a 2 million dong electric bill in mid summer, to cool a small studio apartment.
Your AC use will be less in the winter months, but not as much as you might expect. When it rains for days or even weeks at a time, the humidity is so high, you’ll either need to buy a dehumidifier or run your AC once in a while in order to keep everything in your house from growing mold. And high humidity is terrible for your computer. AC units usually have a dry or rain setting for this purpose, and you’d be wise to use this, along with a fan to keep air circulating and remove humidity — even when the temperature drops.
Some apartments have solar hot water, which will bring your bill down since you’re not paying to heat your water. The downside is that your hot water supply will fluctuate a lot.
If you rent an older apartment that has a gas cooktop, you’ll need to pay separately to have your gas tank refilled.
You must have a contract before you move in to an apartment. It’s not done on a handshake, nor does the contract come some time after you move in.
It is customary to pay a deposit equal to one month’s rent, plus your first month’s rent, in order to move in. These are your only move in costs.
In order to sign a lease, you will need to provide your passport and visa. Your landlord will need to take a picture of these to register you with the police. This is required, and not only can your landlord be liable, but you can also be fined or have issues if your landlord doesn’t register you properly with the police. If they don’t ask for your passport and visa during a lease signing, something is not right.
Your landlord also needs to register you with the police every time you get your visa renewed.
Be sure an English version of the contract is supplied to you, and that you read it carefully before signing it. Before you get to the contract stage, make sure you get the landlord to agree to release you from the lease term if construction noise becomes an issue during your stay. This clause needs to be included in the contract.
Even if there is no construction nearby when you sign your lease, you could move in and the next day, you could wake to the building next door being demolished to build a new one. This is not a rare situation, it is a common nightmare renters face in Da Nang.
If this happens to you, your landlord will not release you from your lease term, even if it’s obviously unlivable and you can’t work because of the constant, deafening noise, dust and chaos.
It can happen overnight, without warning. If you don’t negotiate this clause into your lease, you will be forced to endure it or take financial losses.
Da Nang is notorious for day-long blackouts (which are planned), as well as sudden, unscheduled power disruptions that last a few hours to half a day.
Theoretically, your landlord should warn you ahead of time about the planned blackouts, because they are told well in advance. In practice, you might get no warning, or get a message at 5:30am that there will be a blackout that day. Blackouts usually start at 6 or 7am, so this is not very helpful.
If you are doing time sensitive client work, you’ll need to have a ready list of cafes that are good to work in that are not in your neighborhood. Blackouts are usually scheduled for specific districts, so the cafes in your neighborhood will most likely have no power as well — though some plan ahead and arrange for a generator for that day. They will usually post this on their social media.
The easiest is to plan to just go to another part of town. If you’re in the beach area, head over the river to the city and get cozy in your favorite café.
If you don’t absolutely need to work that day, maybe head out to spend the day in Hoi An or up in the forests of Son Tra. Power is usually out from early morning to early evening. Even if you have a power bank to supply your computer and internet access through your mobile plan, you won’t have AC and your apartment will be an unbearable hot box.
If you do get advanced warning, be careful not to stock up on perishable food — you’ll have to throw everything out of your freezer and fridge after an entire day without power.
How much does renting an appartment cost in Da Nang?
Assuming you are able to sign a minimum 3 month lease, you should expect to pay $220-$300 for a studio, or $350-$400 for a one bedroom in a newly built apartment complex with private laundry and secure parking. Prices might be a little higher if you are only staying one month. This is the average cost of a new or new-ish apartment. There are “luxury” apartments available if you are willing to increase your budget.