View over Chiang Mai from our apartment

Settling into our Chiang Mai Apartment

We’ve been in Thailand less than two weeks and already we’ve made big steps towards establishing our new life in Chiang Mai. Despite grappling with illness this week we’ve managed to move into an apartment, set up a wifi connection and make the place feel like home. So, ready for a peek at our new Chiang Mai apartment?

The View from our New Apartment in Chiang Mai

The view from our new apartment in Chiang Mai

I’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve visited Chiang Mai and we’ve always loved the idea of living in this northern city. We stopped for a rest here back in 2013 after the first extremely hectic six-months of our travels. After looking at a number of fairly cheap, studio-style hotel rooms around the city we eventually found a month-long apartment rental through Airbnb on the outskirts of the city (you can read about that apartment search here).

Searching for Chiang Mai Apartments

Since we plan on living in Chiang Mai for at least six months this time, we decided to contact some estate agents to help us find an apartment. Back in the UK going through an estate agent is a complete headache and can cost hundreds of pounds in fees; in Asia the process is straightforward and free. When we moved to Hanoi, we were amazed that our estate agent picked us up in a taxi, drove us to a number of viewings and sorted out all the paperwork for us free of charge. We were hoping for a similar experience in Thailand, so we spent our first afternoon in Chiang Mai contacting the following estate agents:

The Maya Shopping Mall in Chiang Mai

The Maya shopping mall near our apartment

We sent a brief outline of what we were looking for: a bright apartment with great wifi and space for both of us to work on the outskirts of the Old Town, preferably around Nimmanhaeman Road in the north-west. We set a monthly budget of between 14,000 and 18,000 THB (£300 – £400) and set up several viewings for the next day.

The lounge in our new Apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The lounge in our apartment

The first two apartments we saw were in an old, rundown building on the east side of the city near the train station, an area we weren’t keen on. Next, a lovely agent from Perfect Homes took us north to Nimmanhaeman, our preferred area which is filled with cafés, close to the Maya mall and is more accessible to the Old Town. It was here that we found our apartment; we knew it was the place for us almost as soon as we walked in.

Entrance and dining area in our Chiang Mai apartment

Space to work

Finding our Chiang Mai Property!

Firstly, at 90 square metres the flat felt huge and bright, with large windows and two balconies looking out to the mountains. There was an open-plan living area  with plenty of desk space to work and a separate bedroom with en-suite. The Korean owners had tastefully furnished and maintained the flat in an immaculate condition and there were bonus features we hadn’t been expecting like an oven a washing machine. There was even a pool and gym downstairs! The only drawback was the rock-hard mattress in the bedroom which we decided we could deal with by buying a new topper.

The Bedroom in our New Flat in Chiang Mai

Our new bedroom

Although we’d found an apartment we loved after barely 24-hours of searching, we were suddenly struck by indecision. Shouldn’t we look around a bit more? What if there’s something better and cheaper out there? In the end we decided to just bite the bullet and put in an offer rather than risk losing out.

The kitchen in our apartment in Chiang Mai

The kitchen – with an oven!

Cost of our Chiang Mai Apartment

In Chiang Mai rental prices vary a lot depending on the length of the tenancy; you can get great deals if you sign up for a year but you’ll pay significantly more and have less options if you’re looking for a one-to-three month contract. We wanted to go for six months to begin with and because of that we managed to get the rent down from the 20,000 THB (£­440) advertised online to 18,000 THB (£396) per month. To get this price, we also agreed to pay three-months’ rent in advance, plus a two-month deposit.

View over Chiang Mai from our bedroom

One of the views from our bedroom

To us, this was a huge commitment in terms of money and time; we haven’t stayed anywhere for longer than a month since leaving Hanoi over a year ago. When we calculated in that we’d have to pay for electricity, water and internet too, we also found that the apartment was at the top end of our budget. We’ll let you know after the first month how much our bills come to, but from the looks of things it should be less than £100 per month. You can definitely find cheaper apartments in Chiang Mai but since we’re going to be spending a lot of time working at home we reasoned it was worth the extra cost.

Trio Condo pool, Chiang Mai Thailand

The pool in our apartment building

Moving in and Settling Down

Now that we’ve moved in we definitely don’t regret our decision, we love it here. The apartment owners bought us a kettle and toaster and agreed to reimburse us for a soft mattress topper which we bought from Baan and Beyond by the Airport Central Plaza; it cost 3,990 THB (£85). We also went to the big Tesco Lotus to pick up cleaning supplies, an extension lead and HDMI cable so we can stream TV from our laptop when we need a break. We also had wifi installed the day we arrived from Sinet; it’s fast and perfect for work. Our plan costs 599 THB per month (£13) plus 500 THB (£10.50) deposit for the router.

You can find out how we’ve settled in and take a video tour of our new apartment in this second instalment of our ‘Life in Chiang Mai’ vlog; you can follow our videos by subscribing to our YouTube Channel.

Now we’ve settled in our thoughts are turning to work, we need to get cracking with our goal of creating a sustainable online income. We also need to get fit and healthy again as we’ve both been suffering from colds and stomach problems since arriving in Thailand and our diet is all over the place after a summer of fast-paced travel in Europe. We’re happy to be working on those goals for the next six months here in our comfy Chiang Mai apartment!

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29 Comments
  • Steven Martin
    Posted at 11:34h, 03 September Reply

    Hi Amy and Andrew,

    Really enjoying following your adventures, particularly as me and my girlfriend are considering doing the same thing one day (as I may have mentioned before)! One question: Why did you choose Chiang Mai? Did you consider working from a more remote but picturesque location, e.g. a Thai island, or somewhere in the countryside in southeast Asia?

    Also, as you establish yourselves as digital nomads, are you going to work towards hitting a daily or weekly income target? Or are you thinking longer term than that? I’m wondering how much you think you’d have to make in order to ‘break even’.

    Anyway, best of luck and looking forward to continuing to read about your journey.

    Steve

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:59h, 03 September Reply

      Hi Steven, glad you’re enjoying our journey and I’m sure you guys can do the same in the future. We chose Chiang Mai because we knew it would be an easy place to get set up and we love the city. We didn’t really consider anywhere else because we just needed a safe, easy option after the mess we made in Madrid earlier this year. We also prefer cities and mountains to beaches and we get access to both here. At the moment things are starting slow and we’re just hoping to build our earnings over the next six months, hopefully by then we’ll be covering our living costs and perhaps adding a bit into our savings pot again. We anticipate that our living costs are going to come to around £800 a month, but we’ll see how things go. I’ll probably publish an earnings/digital nomad update every couple of months to let you know how we’re doing.

  • Loes
    Posted at 13:57h, 03 September Reply

    Damn! It looks good!!!

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:53h, 03 September Reply

      Yep, we’ve done well 🙂 Just have to earn some money now! x

  • Mel
    Posted at 02:51h, 04 September Reply

    Great to hear it’s all coming together for you both, especially after Madrid. Personally I’d spend money on nifty travel accessories that don’t cost too much but I understand that might be a bit costly to set up. Good luck!

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:09h, 04 September Reply

      Hi Mel, thanks for reading and commenting; things seem to be coming together nicely at the moment. We would definitely like to invest in some new travel accessories, especially camera equipment, maybe when we make some money!

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 19:56h, 04 September Reply

    I love your new pad, it will be a great base to explore the area, but most importantly somewhere comfortable and nice to call home. I am enjoying the Vlog since it gives another dimension on following your adventure. I am already looking forward to the next one?
    Gilda Baxter recently posted..La Digue, a Brief Love AffairMy Profile

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:07h, 05 September Reply

      Thanks Gilda, glad you’re enjoying the vlog. It is so nice to have a comfy place to call home and crack on with some work 🙂

  • Donna
    Posted at 01:48h, 05 September Reply

    Not sure how much I’d get done with a view like that. Thank goodness I work in a cube farm (never thought I’d say that! Hope you both feel better soon.

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:10h, 05 September Reply

      Ha, good point Donna! It is very easy to stare out the windows and procrastinate! We are starting to feel a bit healthier now and making progress with our huge ‘to do’ list.

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    Posted at 07:57h, 05 September Reply

    […] road trip we took through New England this time last year. Although I’m currently happy here in sunny Chiang Mai, my thoughts periodically transport me back to that world of autumn leaves, scenic drives, […]

  • Patti
    Posted at 22:49h, 05 September Reply

    Those are some nice digs! Clean, modern, convenient – and before I read the caption on your photo I thought, “An oven” how great is that? As you know, I’m pretty particular about where I sleep, so I think you made a fabulous choice in the apartment, maybe a few more $$ each month but well-worth the comfort while you build your vast empire! 🙂 I pinned your yellow apartment poster to my Blogger Peeps board, thanks for sharing!
    Patti recently posted..The Atlantic City Beach & Boardwalk ~My Profile

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:35h, 06 September Reply

      Hi Patti, thanks for sharing! Yes, at this point in our lives an oven is really a luxury, in fact, the whole apartment is! We are so enjoying having our own space right now, so much so that we have to drag ourselves out of the apartment sometimes!

  • Victoria @The British Berliner
    Posted at 08:33h, 08 September Reply

    I think your new home is delightful!

    A swimming pool, cheap rent, and fast wifi in a wonderful country, is fabulous. You’re going to have a great time! xx
    Victoria @The British Berliner recently posted..Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!My Profile

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:55h, 08 September Reply

      Yep, we’re definitely having a great time here so far Victoria, it’s so nice to have a home again for a while!

  • Living in Chiang Mai: The Lowdown | World Travel Family
    Posted at 17:38h, 11 September Reply

    […] as 5,000 THB for a one-bed studio to over 20,000 THB for a one/two-bed luxury condo. As an example, Amy and Andrew from Our Big Fat Travel Adventure are currently paying 18,000 THB a month for a one-bed condo in the Nimman area. If you’re […]

  • Louisa Klimentos
    Posted at 14:01h, 17 September Reply

    Your appartment looks awesome! You will have a confortable stay,love louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:34h, 18 September Reply

      Thanks Louisa, we are very happy here so far!

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  • Our First Digital Nomad Report - Our Big Fat Travel Adventure
    Posted at 12:45h, 28 October Reply

    […] summarise our digital nomad journey to date; in August we arrived in Thailand, rented an apartment in Chiang Mai and immediately began toiling away online. We had a plan of creating a few different income streams […]

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    […] well now we’re living in Chiang Mai. We’re lucky enough to have a full kitchen in our amazing Chiang Mai apartment and tons of restaurants and cafes in our local area Nimman. However, we still venture into […]

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    […] Our Chiang Mai Apartment is spacious, comfortable, has a washing machine, western kitchen, free pool and great view of the mountains. It’s at the higher end of the price scale for Chiang Mai, but we don’t mind because we love the apartment and spend so much time at home working. Our bills are crazily cheap compared to western standards. We pay our electricity bill at the local 7/11, our water money to the building manager and our internet bill at the Sinet branch in Maya Mall, just down the road. […]

  • 33 Things to be Thankful For - Our Big Fat Travel Adventure
    Posted at 08:12h, 15 December Reply

    […] – how incredible is it that I can put on my bikini, ride the lift down to the 5th floor of our apartment building and jump straight into an outdoor swimming pool every day? That’s the kind of luxury I could […]

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    […] a routine – no matter where you are, try to get into an exercise routine. When we lived in our Chiang Mai apartment we’d do some yoga stretches every morning, go to classes twice a week and try to swim every […]

  • Kat
    Posted at 01:36h, 27 July Reply

    Is that apartment really 90 square feet? That’s about the size of my small apartment living room. It looks a lot larger than that.

    • Amy
      Posted at 16:07h, 27 July Reply

      Hi Kat, yes, that must have been a typo! It was 90 square metres rather than feet, I’ll change that in the article 🙂

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  • A Digital Nomad Guide to Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand - Goats On The Road
    Posted at 19:35h, 27 June Reply

    […] Prices vary a fair bit for rental properties depending on how long you are renting for, the location and type of property you are after. For a newer apartment you can expect to pay $400 – $500 per month. Some friends of ours are renting an incredible place for 6 months for $480 per month with a gorgeous kitchen and swimming pool included – you can check it out here. […]

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