Moving out a rising trend among Vietnamese youth

By Xanh Le   September 14, 2023 | 03:00 pm PT
It took 25-year-old Thuy Linh’s parents a few months to approve of her decision to move out.

"Since I’m at the age when I need to work a lot, I return home late sometimes, which my parents dislike," says Linh, who used to live with her parents and grandparents near central Ho Chi Minh City. "Personally, I did not like how I had to share common spaces in the house with my family members either."

Moving out and living independently from one’s parents, which is against traditional belief systems in Vietnam, is becoming increasingly popular among Vietnamese youth. Causes most-cited for this movement are the sake of freedom, convenience, and improvement of life skills.

Linh says she wanted to live separately from her parents to become fully independent. But her family disapproved of the idea when she first proposed it.

"My parents did not immediately allow me to move out," Linh says. "They thought it was a waste of money and they thought I did not want to take care of them anymore."

The tension in Linh’s family hit a peak the next time she mentioned her desire to move out at dinner with her folks sometime later. Her mother aggressively disagreed, and Linh stormed out of the house for some air.

Months went by and many promises to visit and care for her family later, Linh finally got the green light from her parents to move out.

The norm in Vietnam is that women live with their parents until they are married, and men live with their folks even after marriage, when the wife joins the family.

So, Linh’s are not the only parents against the idea of their children moving out.

Many young people in Vietnam are moving out to enjoy better freedom. Photo ilustration by Freepik

Many young people in Vietnam are moving out to enjoy better freedom. Photo ilustration by Freepik

Manh Quoc, of Hanoi, encountered hardships convincing his parents to let him move out as well.

"I had to show them that I was serious with the idea," he says. "For example, I invited my parents to join me choosing the place I was going to rent and proved that I was financially prepared to live alone."

Hanoian Trung Kien, 26, estimates that seven out of every 10 of his friends have moved out. And the figure is still on the rise.

Kien himself moved out a while ago and has been living on his own ever since.

Mathew Powell, CEO of Savills Vietnam’s Hanoi branch, says more young people are indeed using real estate services to find new living spaces of their own before marriage.

Nguyen The Huy, professor at the Banking University of HCMC, agrees that moving out is an inevitable phenomenon. He explains that living with their parents can limit young people’s ability to be independent, to shape their personality, and to express their real selves.

What Huy observes is confirmed, at least in Linh’s case, when the young woman considers her newfound capability to show her real emotions one of things she appreciates most since moving out.

"I do not have to pretend that I’m fine, despite being tired or unhappy at my job anymore," she says.

Still, moving out also poses numerous challenges to young people.

Huy recommends that young people prepare mentally before moving out on their own. He says people should really only consider it when they have good reasons other than simply wanting their own space. He suggests that only those who have already developed some independent life skills give it a shot.

For example, it took Linh almost a year to get herself familiar with living on her own.

"I did not have to pay anything when I was with my family, so my only expenses were the occasional VND3-4 million ($125-$166) if I would eat out with my friends a few times," she says.

"Compared to that, I spent twice that amount a month on food during my first few months after moving out. With housing rent added up, I spent VND12-13 million a month on living expenses."

The young woman also says that only after moving out did she know how to use a washing machine, since her parents would do the laundry for her when she was still living with them.

With the way in which living alone positively boosts youth’s life skills, Le Van Thanh at the HCMC Institute for Development Studies believes that living on one’s own gives young people the chance to improve their life planning skills. Thus, he concludes that parents should not resist if their children want to move out.

On top of that, moving out does not necessarily mean that young people will ignore their parents, contrary to many parents' worries. Children may actually realize how much their parents mean to them and even get to appreciate spending quality time with their folks even more.

For instance, Linh says she has become aware of how much her parents did for her and is grateful to them because of that.

Meanwhile, Kien says the distance makes both him and his parents think of the time they have together as more precious.

"As long as you can prove that you have the ability to live independently when you are on your own, your parents will be assured and, consequently, happier," he concludes.

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