Chiang Mai Moat and Doi Suthep Mountain

Moving to Chiang Mai, Week One in Thailand

Everything was at once familiar; the hot slap of humid air, the lemon-and-lime coloured taxis with tiny Buddha statues perched on the dashboards, the sparkling spikes of temple tops poking out amongst the malls and city blocks and the occasional orange-robed monk padding down the pavement. After over a year, we were finally back in Thailand.

Sunset in Bangkok from the roof of Rambuttri Hotel

Sunset on our first night in Bangkok

After a disorientating 23-hour door-to-door journey we arrived at our hotel in Bangkok. All my emotions were muted by a haze of jetlag, exhaustion and flight-induced nausea. Bangkok is so familiar to us after the dozens of visits we’ve made at different stages of our journey; part of me felt that the year we’d just spent in the USA and Europe hadn’t happened, like we’d never left Asia, as if it was inevitable that we’d end up here again.

Koh San Road in Bangkok

A quick trip to Khao San Road

Moving to Chiang Mai

We didn’t have time to pause and absorb our new reality as the very next day we were back on a plane flying towards our new home, the place we’d pinned all our hopes of finding happiness in: Chiang Mai. We checked back into our usual guesthouse along a quiet, leafy backstreet and immediately set about the task of building our new life, starting with finding a home. I have a whole post about this coming up next week (here it is!) but for now I can tell you that after just a day and a half of searching, we found an apartment!

Us at the pool in Chiang Mai

An afternoon by the pool in Chiang Mai

We’ll be moving in on the 31st to our new home in the north of the city, near Nimmanhaeman road. We immediately knew the apartment was for us when we walked in and saw the view of the mist-topped green mountains through the windows. The whole apartment is filled with light and at 90 square metres, it is bigger than any flat we’ve ever rented back in the UK. There’s space for both of us to work, a sofa and TV, two balconies and even a washing machine and a huge kitchen with an oven – something we definitely weren’t expecting to find!

The moat in Chiang Mai

Our estate agent is sorting out the paperwork and helping us to get high-speed internet hooked up. The only drawback is the mattress, which is rock hard, but since we’ll be spending six months in this apartment we’re planning to buy a softer one. The monthly rent is at the top end of our budget at 18,000 TBH at month (£396) but we figured it was worth paying since we’re going to be working from home a lot and because the area is so convenient we won’t need to rent a motorbike. Did I mention the building also has a gym and swimming pool? We’re so excited about moving in!

Starting Our New Life in Chiang Mai

We both feel stunned by how easy it was to find an apartment in Chiang Mai, especially after the frustrating weeks we spent fruitlessly looking for one in Madrid a few months ago. This all feels a bit too good to be true and it’s daunting to be signing a six-month contract, especially since we have to pay a wad of cash upfront (three months rent plus deposit). This is a huge commitment in terms of time and money for us and I’m not sure the reality of it will sink in until we finally get the keys to our new home.

Massaman Curry from the Cat House in Chiang Mai

With the apartment search over so quickly we’ve had time to buy a Thai SIM card and get some work done. Since our guesthouse isn’t very laptop-friendly we’ve been searching out co-working spaces like CAMP in the Maya mall near Nimmanhaeman street and coffee shops around Tha Pae Gate where we’re staying. Even though I’m looking forward to working in the comfort of our apartment, I can see how it would be easy to work remotely in Chiang Mai while staying in a hotel. One afternoon we took a break at the roof-top pool of the Orchid hotel, which we discovered last year.

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This week we’ve been slowly reacquainting ourselves with Chiang Mai, revisiting our favourite restaurants from past visits and seeking out new ones. This is probably the most vegetarian-friendly city I’ve ever been to and even though we plan to make use of the kitchen in our apartment I know we’ll also eat out regularly here. We’ve been enjoying lots of spring rolls and fruit shakes, veggie curries and rice dishes as well as treats like vegan brownies and quesadillas. We’re also looking forward to heading back to the Sunday Night Market this weekend.

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Chiang Mai is such a travel hub that we’ve already been able to meet up with a couple of fellow travellers who contacted us through the blog. As time goes on we hope to make more connections in the city so if you’re ever in town, let us know! We plan to publish weekly vlogs about our new life in Chiang Mai, if you want to follow along you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here – here’s our first one!

The Next Six Months in Thailand

When we left Asia last June we didn’t think we’d be back for a very long time and even though things have gone remarkably smoothly so far, sometimes being here just feels utterly surreal. On top of that, we’ve been trying to get over the long flight, adjust to the time difference and deal with the now unfamiliar heat and humidity. Although Thailand is a soft landing compared to other parts of Asia (I remember moving to Hanoi was much more of a shock), it’s still going to take a while to feel totally at home here.

Moving to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Pinterest

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In the meantime, we will move into our apartment and begin trying to make a proper online living, which is our main goal for the next six months. I know it won’t be an easy task, but that’s what we’re here to try.  We’ll also continue getting to know this city, exploring its hundreds of gold-tinged temples and tree-lined streets, wandering alongside the murky moat, climbing into the back of red songteaws and dipping into the city’s hundreds of cafes and restaurants. I only have to look up to spot the mountains in the distance, looming tantalisingly to the north-west; once we’ve settled into our new life we plan to head up there and explore.

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19 Comments
  • Chris Donnington
    Posted at 10:12h, 26 August Reply

    Which guesthouse in Chiengmai do you stay in?
    Chris x

    • Andrew
      Posted at 13:24h, 26 August Reply

      Hi Chris, we stay at Baan Jaja, which is on a road just off the Sunday night market street. It’s great but we are looking forward to moving into our apartment!

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 10:53h, 26 August Reply

    Amy, sounds like you have landed on your feet there in Chiang Mai? Like with any new beginnings there is always a little bit of trepidation and anxiety, but at least you are in familiar territory and sounds like you found a great HQ? The food there is so amazing and so cheap I will look forward to some food posts. Good luck with starting up your new business which I am sure will be a success. I am so excited for you ?

    • Amy
      Posted at 13:28h, 26 August Reply

      Thanks for the luck Gilda, although things are going well at the moment I think I’m going to need a lot of perseverance on the work front! Yes, at least we do have a great HQ to work from, we’re so excited about moving in! I will schedule some food posts for the near future 🙂

  • Esme
    Posted at 17:09h, 26 August Reply

    Hi Amy, glad it has worked out in Chiang Mai after your time in Madrid. It sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to hear more 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:45h, 27 August Reply

      Hi Esme, thanks for reading. So far so good, I’ll keep you updated on how things go 🙂

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 22:23h, 26 August Reply

    So excited for you! I have to admit that I am so missing SE Asia right now 😉 Can’t wait to hear how things go. I will email you an update on my writing attempts!!!

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:48h, 27 August Reply

      Thanks Rhonda, yes I will be seriously cracking on with the writing in September so we’ll keep in touch about that. Hope all’s well on your end 🙂

  • Patti
    Posted at 23:16h, 26 August Reply

    Yay! So glad all of the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. I want those spring rolls!!

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:48h, 27 August Reply

      Thanks Patti! Yes, the spring rolls are great, you should come out here and try them, we’d love to see you both again!

  • DLR
    Posted at 20:27h, 27 August Reply

    I hate heat and humidity, so I’ll probably never make it to that part of the world. That makes me especially glad to follow someone who is there so I can see all the cool pictures and live there vicariously.

    Best wishes to both of you.

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:01h, 28 August Reply

      Thanks so much Donna, we appreciate your kind words and I’m glad we can share a slice of Thailand with you.

  • Alyson World Travel Family
    Posted at 09:34h, 01 September Reply

    I’m insanely jealous! Hopefully we’ll see you there soon but we’ve had so much STUFF lately. Once the car is fixed and the ironman out of the way and Romania sorted out…we’re off. By the way, what do you plan to do about visas? Just regular visa runs? I think we make enough online to support ourselves there now, but I’m always growing it.

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:26h, 01 September Reply

      Hi Alyson, sounds like you have a lot to sort out but I hope you make it over this way soon. Yes, we have 60 day visas at the moment which we’ll extend for a further 30 days in Chiang Mai. Then, in November we’ll do a visa run. We’ve signed an apartment lease for six months so far, so that will cover us until then.

  • DavetheRave
    Posted at 15:08h, 12 September Reply

    Hi There, Thanks for the blog, may I ask which real-estate agency you used to help find such a great pad.
    I will be making my move to Chiang Mai early next year!
    Please keep the posts coming.

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:50h, 13 September Reply

      Hi Dave, thanks for reading. We used Perfect Homes, the woman who worked with us was so helpful and professional. We have a contract, inventory and everything is above board. I’d recommend them. Exciting news about moving to Chiang Mai! I’ll keep the posts coming, check out our YouTube channel if you haven’t already as we have weekly vlogs about life in Chiang Mai. If you have anymore questions let me know.

  • Louisa Klimentos
    Posted at 00:11h, 14 September Reply

    I am so happy that you are in Thialand now and loved your travel blog.For any upset tummy buy some ginger chop them fine,and make a hot tea from it ,but allow to brew in boiling water for awhile.Ginger is also antibacterial.Enjoy your adventures please.love louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 02:47h, 14 September Reply

      Thanks for the tip Louisa, I have some ginger from the market so I’m going to try that today!

  • Pingback:Life in Chiang Mai, One Month Update - Our Big Fat Travel Adventure
    Posted at 11:05h, 07 October Reply

    […] Moving to Chiang Mai has finally allowed us to do what we’ve been trying to all year: stay in one place, earn money and lay the foundations for a sustainable future. Now that we’ve actually started this process, so much worry and doubt has lifted from my mind. I now believe that we can do this. We’re working, we’re earning money, we’re living well and we’re planning for the future. I can firmly say that after what feels like a year of mistakes, we made the right choice by moving to Thailand. […]

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