07 Oct Life in Chiang Mai, One Month Update
It feels like we’ve been living in Chiang Mai forever. We’re already beginning to take for granted the fact that we wake up in the same bed every morning, can nip downstairs for a swim whenever we like and go out and eat dinner for less than £5. In another sense, time has quickly dissolved and the weeks have slipped effortlessly by as we’ve settled into our comfy cocoon. So what have we achieved and learnt during our first month of life in Chiang Mai?
Life in Chiang Mai, mental changes
Every day, I am surrounded by views of the mountains. Sometimes they’re almost totally obscured by typical rainy-season mist, and on others they stand out crisply against a backdrop of denim-blue sky. Yet, I can step out of my apartment block and be in the centre of the city in less than 20 minutes. Our new home has the perfect mix of peace and convenience and just being here makes me happy.
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.
This lifestyle feels amazingly simple. We actually have time now to read and I’m devouring books in a way I haven’t in years. Being able to cook and swim everyday is improving our physical and mental health. We’re meeting new people and getting to know Chiang Mai, searching out new markets, restaurants and temples and taking trips into the nearby mountains. My mind feels healthier than it has all year.
This time three years ago we were also renting an apartment in Chiang Mai and attempting to make some money online. We’d been away from the UK for just six months and were pretty clueless about working remotely, so subsequently we made barely any money. It’s a big comfort to look at how much we are achieving this time around in Chiang Mai and realise that over the last three years we’ve somehow developed the skills, experience and confidence to actually make this lifestyle work.
True, we’re not making tons of money and we are working hard, long hours, but we’re making good progress in establishing multiple income streams. We’re covering our living costs through a combination of freelance writing, blogging, online teaching and recruitment work. Despite the challenges of trying to work digitally, we’re learning and surviving. We’ll be putting out a detailed income and digital nomad report at the end of October (here it is!) so you can follow our progress.
Living costs in Thailand
We’ve spent a terrifyingly huge amount of money since arriving in Thailand. This includes over £2,000 on advance rent and deposits as well as buying household necessities, extending our visas and booking flights to Malaysia for a visa run in November (find out about our visa run to Penang here). It also feels like we’ve had barely any money coming in yet, but this will even out in October when a lot of our outstanding work payments are due.
Luckily, daily life in Chiang Mai is working out to be as cheap as we’d hoped. Here’s a proper living cost breakdown and video, but in September we spent £240 on food and £33 on transport. We’ve just received our first monthly electricity bill, which came to just £16. September’s internet cost £14 and the water bill for two weeks came to just £1.60! Now that we’ve settled in and are finding cheaper places to shop and eat in Chiang Mai, we anticipate that our living costs will decrease even further in the future.
Exploring Chiang Mai
September has been all about finding our feet and working hard, but we’ve still found time to explore Chiang Mai. We’ve discovered new markets and visited Wat Umong and Wat Ched Yod temples as well as revisited an old mountain-top favourite, Doi Suthep. We also took a day trip by motorbike to the Sticky Waterfalls and found an amazing massage place in our local area, Nimman.
We also have a new favourite eatery, Taste from Heaven, which has the most incredible, cheap vegetarian and vegan food. We’re also weekly regulars at Why Not? Restaurant where we gorge on thin-crust pizza served straight from a wood-fired oven. This week we’ll be testing out a dumpling place and Mexican restaurant and we have plans to take a Thai cooking course. In November, we’re excited to experience the famous Yi Peng lantern festival and Loy Krathong celebrations.
During the first part of this month we experienced a bout of extreme wanderlust. Although this has died down now, we still have a few trips planned over the next couple of months. Firstly, we want to hire a car and drive up to the tea plantations in Mae Salong in late October. In November, we’re taking a week-long trip to Penang in Malaysia to renew our Thai visas. We’ve spent very little time in Malaysia so we’re excited to explore a new part of the country; we hear the food there is amazing! In December we’re taking a short trip down to Bangkok where we plan to do some sightseeing and visit the Amphawa Floating Market, which looks like an incredible slice of local life.
Do you have any questions about living in Chiang Mai? Let us know in the comments below. You can also follow our weekly vlogs about life here on our YouTube Channel.