Money & Real Estate & other things

Generally speaking, the Vietnamese people do not have bank accounts and my understanding is that they do not trust banks. Understandable when you realize that the ANZ Bank Vietnam charges fees that are three times higher than in Australia and wanted to charge me double the fee to cash travelers cheques that I could get in either my hotel or a money exchange on the street. We overheard one Australian customer complaining because the bank was charging him a US$35 fee to CLOSE his account! Consequently, the economy here is completely cash driven. Very few people use credit cards and even fewer have ever used ATM?s. This makes it very interesting for the staff here that are teaching business courses that are all written in Melbourne!! The houses here are built like fortresses because most people store their wealth in cash, gold and precious gems somewhere at home and because the main investment is in real estate the price of properties is escalating and will most likely continue to do so because as the country moves to a market driven economy, there are more and more foreigners moving here who need houses to rent and they (we) are pushing the rental rates higher all the time. However, having said that a very reasonable three level house can still be purchased or built for about US$100,000. But before you all race over here to invest some dollars, only Vietnamese nationals can own property here. Many people get around this of course by having Vietnamese ?partners? in both real estate and business. At the time of writing, A$1 equals 12,386 Vietnam Dong (VND) while US$1 equals 15,693 VND. By my calculations that means that to purchase a reasonable house you would have to turn up with 1 billion, 569 million 300 thousand dong in a currency that has only in the past month or so introduced a 500,000 dong note that is generally not available because most people can?t change it. Housing loans are unheard of unless there is some personal loan, say from parents or such.