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?
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:
- Chiang Mai Properties
- Satihoga Tropical Homes
- Perfect Homes
- Open Realty
- Chiang Mai House
- An independent estate agent called Roberta.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
What do you think of our new home in Chiang Mai?