After looking for an apartment in Saigon and finally choosing a place to live in, it's time to prepare for your move. But before that, once negotiations are done, and it is time to sign the contract. If you're an expat who isn't sure of how things work in Vietnam, here are a few things you should do: take note of what is and what is not covered. Tenants have virtually no rights if not outlined in the contract, so inspect it carefully. Here are a few tips:

If the property is furnished, make sure to get an inventory of all items in the rental as an appendix to the contract. Also note any dings or defects with the furniture.

A two-month deposit is standard for rentals. Don’t agree to anything more than a two month deposit if you plan to stay for less than six months.

Put a clause in your contract about breaking the contract early. A reasonable request is to lose only one month of your deposit if you break the contract after six months.

Get receipts for everything. This includes utilities. Also, when paying for utilities always make sure to check the bill if it is not included in your monthly rent.

Make sure you are only paying for your property’s electricity. Ask for the location of the electricity meter and check it yourself. Unplug everything, and if the meter still moves, find out what is running. You could be paying for the whole block!

Make sure that you are registered to live at the apartment with the local police department.

It is always a tricky period when a contract finishes and you decide not to renew. Due to the lack of renters’ rights in Vietnam, many expatriates do not pay their last month’s rent to help mitigate the loss of their deposit if their landlord decides to be unscrupulous and not give it back. Of course, this should be a last resort and is never appreciated by the landlord, but it is ultimately up to you to make that decision.

For information on living in Saigon go to Saigon: Not Yet a Tourism Hub