It is only 2 pm, but already this has been the best day so far.  I woke up around 4:30 am after almost 5 whole hours of sleep!  My best night so far.  I went out for a run at about 6 am after studying the map more carefully so that I was sure to end up in the neighborhood that I wanted to explore rather than the construction zone I found yesterday.  It was a few degrees cooler, and it was a Saturday which meant there was less traffic.  Perfect running conditions.  I ran down to a park that I loved, and one of the streets by the park was blocked for traffic so that people could play tennis on the street.  There were tons of families in the park doing yoga, tai chi, and other cute little exercises.  I loved how busy the area was so early in the morning, and how active the community seems.  This is an area that I will want to run around often in the future, no matter where I live.  

Except, I actually know where I will live, because I put a deposit on a place today!!!!  Before the big reveal, I want you to predict which I chose from the 3 best places I found.  Remember that I looked at about 32 different places and these were the best ones.

First, I will show you a map of Phu My Hung area (District 7).  I have made 4 circles on the map.  The one at the top left is around Sky Garden 3 complex.  The one in the lower left around the red area is my school.  On the right side, the circle further to the right and a little higher is Cahn Vien, and the one lower and further left is Riverside.  I will describe the apartments in the order that I first saw them.  Please excuse my photography.  I am sure that I am not presenting any of the places in the best way.



 I have an $800 housing allowance each month separate from my salary.  I was hoping to completely pay for housing including utilities with this $800.  I am finding that to be a difficult task.  Also, you should know that we have been told that rent is usually negotiable up to 10% of the asking price and that you can negotiate changes you want to be made to the apartment or furniture.  


Apartment 1 – Sky Garden 3 – Asking price $750 – 2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms

About half of the apartments that I looked at were in Sky Garden 3, and they ranged from terrible to this kind of goodness.

Pros – only a 15 minute walk to school; close to many restaurants, bars, smoothie shops; many of my colleagues live in the area; a huge complex filled with many convenient stores and services for residents

Cons – not much green space; no balcony; complex does not have its own pool or gym, but there is a public pool nearby for only $2.50/day; really small kitchen

Changes that I would want – paint the cloud wall; to have more storage or something visually interesting in the master bedroom on that wall where there are only the 2 awkwardly low drawers

al's table and entry

entryway and dining table

living room of alisons

living room

al's bath

small bath with cute outside sink between entryway, living room and study

al's tv

other side of living room

al's study

study with built in desk and bookcases

al's kitchen

kitchen with door to laundry room

al's bedroom

entry and closet of guest bedroom

al's wall

bed and ugly wall of guest bedroom

al's master

master bedroom

al's storage

master bedroom, the wardrobe is behind the open door, and the entry into the master bath is on the right

al's m ba

master bath

al's washroom

laundry room Every apartment that I looked at had an area like this off the kitchen that had an open air space with a washing machine and some kind of clothesline

al's view

view from the living room window

Apartment 2 – Riverside – Asking price $900 – 2 bedroom/2 bathroom

Prior to arriving in Vietnam, I thought the photos I saw of this complex were the prettiest.  

Pros – right on the water; huge pool, gym, and tennis area; peaceful

Cons – distance from school and going out areas; higher cost; very dark interior spaces and ugly curtains

Changes I would want – recover couch in a different fabric; change curtains; try to bring in lighter colors; replace some ugly lighting fixtures (which I didn’t really capture in photos)

r entry


r living room

living room and balcony from entryway

r tv

tv and living room built-ins

r couch

couch with ugly wood panels behind it

r balcony

balcony and view

r dining

dining room from entry way

r dining room built in and bathroom 1

layout – from the dining room, the master bedroom and bathroom are to the far left, the guest bath is on the left side of the built in, the study is to the right of the built-in, the guest bedroom is on the right, and the door to the kitchen is unpictured, but beside the door to the guest bedroom

r layout

this one includes the entry to the kitchen which is just a narrow hallway


the study

r window seat

master bedroom with a window seat and a decent view – this whole apartment faces opposite of the river though

r bed 1

master bedroom

r bed

entry to master bedroom with lots of storage

bath 2

master bath

r kitchen 2


r kitchen


r guest

guest bedroom

r guest closet

wardrobe in guest bedroom

r bath 1

guest bath

r laundry

laundry room

r gym


r pool

pool area overlooking the river


Option 3 – Cahn Vien – Asking price $900 (although one realtor quoted me $850) – 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms

Pros – 2 balconies overlooking the park that I ran to this morning; lots of natural light and breeze; high ceilings and lots of space; pool and gym included; very open and neutral; not overcrowded with furniture

Cons – don’t really need a 3rd room;  higher cost; dark, small and ugly kitchen; ugly tile/counter in master bath; missing some furniture that might be helpful

Changes I would want – touch up some paint in the living room; replace a missing cabinet door in the kitchen; paint the kitchen cabinets to brighten it up; rearrange & supplement some furniture

cv entry

entrance into apartment building from the inside

cv entry way

entrance of apartment & dining room table

view from living room

view of living room from dining room table

cv living room & balcony

view of living room from entrance

cv dining room

layout – from the entryway, the living room is straight ahead, the dining room is to the right, and then down the hall that you see to the right is the 3rd “bedroom” and the guest bath. Unpictured here but to the immediate left is the kitchen and a hallway that leads to the guest and master bedrooms.

view from balcony

view from balcony – this is the park where I ran this morning

master bed

Master bedroom

master bedroom with balcony

master bedroom vanity and empty space; there is a wardrobe to the left on that back wall as you approach the master bath, but somehow I didn’t photograph it

master bath tile

master bath – close up of ugly tile and counter

master bath

master bath

cv view from 2nd balcony

view from master bedroom balcony

cv tv

tv stand in living room

cv kitchen

kitchen – it does have a cut out to provide some sight access to dining room/living room

cv kitchen & laundry

kitchen into laundry room

cv guest bed

guest bedroom – this has one of the only dressers that I saw in all 32 apartments

cv 3rd bed

the 3rd “bedroom” without a bed? This is just a couch, not a futon

cv 3rd bed furniture

a random table and bookcase opposite of the blue couch in the 3rd bedroom

cv wardrobe outside 3rd bed

wardrobe outside the 3rd bedroom and beside the guest bathroom

guest bath

guest bathroom

cv gym


cv pool


In a day or two, I will reveal which apartment I chose, but in the meantime you should guess.  If you are brave enough, you can even express your guess as a comment.  I actually did like all 3 of these places, and if the school had just dropped me off in any of them, I would not have complained.  However, when you look at 32 places, you can find fault with all of them and positives about most of them.  I feel like I got more picky as the week went on, and while I am not sure that I made the “best” choice (if there was one), I feel really confident that I will be happy in my new home.  




  1. Comment #5
    I would like to think that you stayed within your budget and picked #1 after you found out that your school has an outstanding gym you can use anytime. After all, even MWHS and MWMS each have a terrific workout room. I would eliminate #2 because it’s too dark and just not you. However, if you selected #3, at least tell me that you got it for the quoted $850 as this one is definitely you.
    Comment #6
    Jeff says “just pick one because you won’t be spending much time in your apartment anyway.”


  2. I’m guessing 3 as it’s the brightest and closet to the park. I almost guessed 1 due to proximity to smoothies (a key part of life) but you can always grab smoothies on the way to school!


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