Danang, Vietnam, is emerging as an excellent place to retire comfortably on a small budget. Clean and modern, Danang is both cosmopolitan and seaside. This city of nearly a million people manages to retain a small town feel. New skyscrapers give the downtown a decidedly developed look, but you won't find the hustle and bustle here that you find in other Vietnamese cities.
Danag is quite different from many other parts of Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Danang has an active recycling program, and the city is virtually litter free. Few cities in the developing world are as clean as this one.
Danang is also home to a visible and upwardly mobile middle class. This is partially due to a relative lack of corruption. Unlike many cities in Vietnam, good jobs in Danang are filled by qualified applicants, rather than being sold to those who can afford to buy them.
Wide roads make driving safe, and wide sidewalks make the city pedestrian friendly. The Han River runs through downtown, and the heart of the riverfront is flanked by two new bridges so stunning they have won architectural awards. Other than along this riverfront, you'll encounter few vendors or beggars. The city as a whole has the look and feel of a comfortable, safe and economically viable place to live.
Then there's the beach, one of the cleanest, safest and most attractive in all Southeast Asia. The beachside promenade spans the length of the city along the coast of the South China Sea, with parks and playgrounds along its wide, well-maintained walkway. The popular stretches of soft sand are supported by lifeguards and litter barrels. Yet, Danang is not a "beach town." The beaches receive surprisingly little use, and no matter the time of year, it's generally easy to find a deserted stretch of sand.
Danang hasn't completely escaped discovery. Nearly 4,200 foreigners have settled in the city and the beachside developments. Expats and retirees who have chosen to settle here love the friendliness of the local people, the high quality of life, the low cost of living and the weather. Danang boasts one of the nicest climates in Vietnam. Temperatures are warm but not too hot, and there's always a gentle ocean breeze.
How might a retiree in this city spend his or her days? In addition to the beach, there are two outstanding golf courses nearby, both about 20 minutes south of town on the coastal road to Hoi An. Montgomerie Links features 18 holes and a driving range designed by European golf great Colin Montgomerie, and the Danang Golf Club, with its rugged, seaside links intended to be reminiscent of the first golf courses in Scotland, was designed by golf legend Greg Norman. In 2014, the Danang Golf Club was named the best golf course in Vietnam by "Golf Digest".
Danang is also located within 100 miles of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites -- the ancient towns of Hoi An and Hue and the Hindu ruins of the Champa Kingdom at Mỹ Sơn -- making the city a perfect base for the history buff. Danang's proximity to these major attractions also means a nice selection of restaurants, spas and other amenities. Yet, Danang isn't a tourist town.
UN-Habitat Asia awarded Danang the title of "Cityscape Asia 2013," recognizing the city for its safety, convenience, sustainability, respect for regional culture and history, high artistic quality, contributions to local development and capability of becoming a model for other cities.
Danang is attracting increasing attention for many reasons, not least of which is the lifestyle it offers retirees on a budget. All that this remarkable yet still mostly overlooked city brings to the table could be enjoyed by a retired couple with a budget of as little as $1,200 per month.
Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 28 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her newest book, "How To Buy Real Estate Overseas", published by Wiley & Sons, is the culmination of decades of personal experience living and investing around the world.
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