New city

New City

I just arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam. It’s not a new city to me, I came to Vietnam before for a week to “scope it out”.

This time I’ll be living here for a month. And, I’m quite excited.

For months prior, I spent a lot of time living and exploring China. I like the country, a lot. Even though it can be tough to live in because of the language barrier, the cultural differences, and the internet firewall, it’s a pleasant place to be once you figure things out.

However, it’s because of those difficulties that I left China to begin working, traveling, and living in a new city somewhere in South East Asia.

Building a Base in a New City

For me to survive in Asia, there are a few essentials I have to have to build a base. Those are…

  1. Decent Apartment. When I say decent, I mean the apartment has a bed, access to WiFi, a place to cook, and a desk to work at. These are vital and some countries have better apartments available than others. To find these, I typically use Airbnb or to search for the best deals. Keep reading to see some of the prices I spend on apartments based on the countries I’ve been to.
  2. Cheap & Delcious Food. It’s not hard finding food in a new city but it can be difficult to find cheap eats I can rely on to sustain my body. In places like Indonesia, you can eat at a buffet style restuarant and choose from a variety of delicious foods and pay only $2 to $4 for a more than filling meal. Once I’ve scoped out a few good places to eat, I become a regular until I leave.
  3. Strong WiFi. Unlike my country (Canada) which has HORRIBLE data plans, Asia is a great place to find monthly data plans that cost between $10 to $30 per month. Sometimes it’ll be unlimited high speed data while other times I’ll have 30 to 50 GB to do my thing. The one country that has an added layer of difficulty when it comes to WiFi is China. You’ll need a VPN to survive when you go there (I recommend Express VPN, it’s the most reliable and they’re always winning the fight China’s internet police ).

That’s all, just 3 things and my new base is good to go!


If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can use the special link in this post to receive $45 toward your first trip (What’s the fine print? Spend $95+ on a trip to get $45 off).


Finding Friends in a New City

Loneliness has a tendency to creep in and kick your ass if you don’t find a few friends when you’re visiting a foreign country. Whenever I arrive to a new city, there are things I do to find new friends.

  1. Couch Surfing. Not only is this a great site to find a free place to crash when you’re travelling, it’s also a good way to make friends. If you go to the Events Page, you can find local festivals, parties, and gatherings to attend and meet new people. You can also join a Group to meet new people and invite them to join you on a trip or a coffee where you are!
  2. Dating Sites/Apps. This is my favorite go to for meeting new people in a new city. You can use them for dating, which is probably the most common thing to do, but don’t be afraid to set your boundaries and use it to make friends while you travel. Be up front. Less flirtatious. And don’t invite every person you meet back to your decent apartment and they may be able to survive the friend-zone. My two favorite dating apps/sites that I use are:

    *I hate using Tinder because its designed for instant gratification (a sure path to failure), plus, I’m banned from it — Hmm… if you wanna know how I got banned from Tinder, I’ll write that story when I hit 25 subscribes. Deal?

  3. Standing on Street Corners. There’s no better way to meet people in a new city than by standing on a street corner. You don’t just have to stand. If you move around, smile a lot, and make random observations about the world around you its very possible to find someone you’ll click with on a deeper level.

Summary of Costs in Cities I’ve Been To

CityRent (Monthly)Food (Avg. Meal)Mobile Data (Monthly)
Shunan, Yamaguchi, Japan$300$8 to $13N/A*
New Taipei, Taiwan$250$6 to $11N/A*
Manilla, Philippines$200$4 to $9N/A*
Jogjakarta, Indonesia$35$2.50 to $4$20
Cyberjaya, Malaysia$550$3 to $7N/A*
Kunming, China$175$2 to $5$30
Hanoi, Vietnam$250$2.50 to $10$17


* I never had a phone during this part of my travels. If you’ve been to those countries and purchased mobile data for a month, send me an email and tell me the amount you paid. After, I’ll update this chart and give you a shoutout to your social media or website if you do (Optional). Thanks!

Jef van de Graaf
Canadian Copywriter & World Traveler
Business | Travel Blog | Connect

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