The Search for an Apartment in Chiang Mai

We came to Chiang Mai planning to rent an apartment for three months and focus on getting lots of work done. The huge amount of travel bloggers and digital nomads that have made the city their temporary base is testament to its attractions. It’s much more laid back than Bangkok but has all the conveniences you might need, the food is delicious, the weather hot and sunny, it’s surrounded by hills, the WiFi is fast and the cost of living is low.

We’d read so many articles about how it’s possible to find an apartment in Chiang Mai for $150-200 a month that we were sure we’d be able to live here really cheaply. When we arrived we realised that in fact those low prices are for small studio apartments without kitchens – basically glorified hotel rooms. We spend most of our life living out of hotel rooms, and wanted more space and comfort to work from for 10 hours + a day. We set our sights on a one bedroom apartment with a kitchen.

And watched our budget go up and up.

It turns out a kitchen isn’t easy to find in Chiang Mai. Most people eat out at the markets because buying a meal for $1 is cheaper than cooking for yourself. As vegetarians, the choice of meals for us at the markets is limited and although there are lots of vegetarian restaurants the prices are at least double than eating on the street. Plus I like cooking and wanted to take advantage of the fantastic local markets and learn to cook Thai food.

The Search

We began our apartment search with Google and these helpful articles on Kaypacha Travels and Got Passport. We put together a list of apartment buildings that had apartments with kitchens, rented a moped for the day and set out to see as many as possible. Our search focused on the area around Nimmanhemin Road towards the University, and just north of the old city, as there aren’t many apartment buildings within the old city (and you’ll pay a lot more). As well as the places on our list we also stopped and asked at any buildings we saw along the way.

The moped gave us the freedom to cover a lot of ground in one day. We must have looked at at least ten different apartments. The lack of a kitchen was the biggest problem. Those that did have kitchens were expensive and we didn’t like them enough to justify the price.

The search continued the next day and we looked on the other side of town – along the river and down Chang Klan Rd. Still nothing.

It was time to get some help so we contacted a number of real estate agents. Most had nothing for less than a 12 month lease, but Chiang Mai Properties sent us a list of places and we arranged to see them. The benefit of an agent is that they pick you up in a car and take you around to show you a number of places, and the service is free.

Success?

With our agent’s help we finally found some apartments we liked. The problem – he’d shown us places that were over our budget (it had crept up to 15,000 baht ($488) a month by then). Our favourite apartment, in the Karnkanok 3 building, was a duplex with a spiral staircase leading to the big bedroom. The bedroom and living room both had sliding glass doors with a gorgeous view over gardens and hills beyond. We loved it, and after some agonising decided to increase our budget to 18,000 baht ($587) and put in an offer.

We thought the search was finally over. But the next day our agent got back to us and said the owner didn’t want to rent it for less than six months. We were horribly disappointed and annoyed that we’d been shown the place at all.

After more agonising and indecision we decided to go for our second choice – a spacious apartment with a gorgeous pool and much closer to the old town, but even more expensive at 20,000 baht ($652). We never planned to spend that much, but we just wanted the search to be over. Initially we tried bargaining the price down but were told by the agent that this wasn’t possible. When we decided to go for it at 20,000 we had another unpleasant shock when the agent told us that for three months it would in fact be 22,000 baht! Now we were annoyed and realised the agent hadn’t even asked the owner to consider our initial low offer.

In a last ditch effort we offered to pay rent three months in advance, plus a one month deposit (usually it’s two months) if they gave us the 20,000 baht rate. Thankfully, they accepted and we could move in the next day.  It was a relief for the search to be over – we felt we could breathe again – but we still felt uncomfortable paying that price. I couldn’t help but feel guilty. We were paying so much more than everyone else does in Chiang Mai, it felt so extravagant.

After a few days of swimming in our lovely pool, cooking our own food and lazing on our comfortable couch we didn’t regret our decision though.

Our Apartment

Our apartment is in the Twin Peaks Condo building just off Chang Klan Road not far from the Night Bazaar. We can walk to the old city in 20-30 minutes or whizz there in five on our rented moped. The building is pretty swanky and there’s a mix of tourists in holiday apartments and longer term residents.

The pool sold it to us and I swim every day. Mostly I have it to myself. There’s also a gym (I will get there!) and a sauna (in this heat?).

Twin Peaks pool

Twin Peaks pool

We have a one bedroom apartment with a spacious kitchen/living/dining area, plus a balcony. The kitchen is well equipped with luxuries like a blender and rice cooker. There’s a two plate electric hob and no oven, but that’s impossible to find. We have air con throughout, a hot powerful shower, bath, and even a washing machine. When you are living in cheap hotels most of the time these things become big luxuries.

Our kitchen at Twin Peaks

Our living room at Twin Peaks

All the apartments we saw in Chiang Mai charge extra for water and electricity depending on usage. Some include internet and some charge extra. Annoyingly we have to pay 500 baht ($16) a month per computer. Water is cheap but if you use the air con a lot the electricity bill can really add up. We heard of some people spending $120 a month with their air con on all the time.

Other Apartments in Chiang Mai

To help you out in your search for an apartment in Chiang Mai here’s a list of some of the apartment buildings we looked at and our thoughts.

Apartments with Kitchens

Green Hill Place
This would probably have been our third choice. There are two buildings and we only looked in Green Hill Place 2 which is cheaper. We looked at the suite room deluxe which is a very spacious one bedroom apartment with a kitchen that costs 18,000B or 18,500B on a higher floor with better views of the hills. We could have lived there but found the furnishings rather soulless, the couch uncomfortable and no kitchen equipment is provided so you’d have to stock it from scratch. There is a great big pool but it annoyed us that it would cost 50B per use.

The Airport Greenery
The Superior room (14,375B) is a studio with a kitchen, and the Suite (17,825B) is a one bedroom with a kitchen. They are well equipped and comfortable but the furnishing is very chintzy. The pool isn’t very attractive and looks like it’s always in the shade. We didn’t like the location on a big highway just opposite the Central Airport Plaza shopping centre.

Touch Hill Place
We were shown a nice one bedroom apartment here for 20,000B. There’s a big pool but it’s quite far from the old city and has ugly views overlooking building works. If I were staying that far from the centre I’d want views of the hills.

Huay Kaew Residence
This is quite cheap at 13,000B for a one bedroom with kitchen but we found the apartments a bit grim and soulless and didn’t like the pool in the car park. It’s worth a look if you are looking for something cheaper though.

Galare Thong
Warren and Betsy from Married with Luggage stayed here when they first arrived. Their main complaint was that the bed was very hard and it’s quite far from the old city if you don’t have a moped. There is also no pool. The apartments were nicely furnished though and had kitchens. A studio apartment is 10,500B and a one bedroom 21,500B.

Smith Residence
We didn’t look at apartments here as the apartments with kitchens were already booked up. It’s a popular place though and is good value with a pool and close to the old city. Rooms start from 6500B a month and suites with kitchens from 14,000B.

Note: if you are looking to rent a place for 6 or 12 months then you’ll have many more options and will be able to find a whole house for less than a short term apartment rental.

Some of the apartment buildings above may have cheaper options with a kitchen if you are happy with a studio apartment rather than a one bedroom.

Without a Kitchen

We didn’t bother looking at most places without kitchens but if you don’t need one this seemed a decent option.

The Dome
These apartments are quite nicely decorated and a one bedroom is 12,000B a month while rooms are 6000B or 10,000B if you rent for three months. There is no pool though.

If we were going to rent an apartment or room without a kitchen (which is definitely a lot cheaper) we would stay at a guesthouse in the old city. It’s a much more walkable area without the traffic of the big highways outside the city walls. It’s also more convenient for the many restaurants and street stalls.

When we first arrived in Chiang Mai we stayed at the Na Inn. The king room costs 650B a night and is very clean and spacious with a large fridge, lots of storage, a big table and small couch. It also has air con and hot water. The staff are friendly, it’s quiet and the location is good. The downsides are no garden and the décor is rather plain.

Finding an apartment in Chiang Mai was more difficult than we expected. If you want more than one room, and a kitchen, and you are renting for less than six months, then you need to be prepared to pay substantially more. If you are happy with one room and no kitchen then you’ll be able to pick up some great deals from around 5000B ($163) a month. Shannon from A Little Adrift and Todd from Globetrooper were both able to live very cheaply in Chiang Mai.

UPDATE: We returned to Chiang Mai in November 2013 for three months. Our search was a lot easier this time—read about it our article on finding apartments around the world.

Yi Peng T-shirt image

Trail Wallet

Leave a comment and let us know your tips on finding an apartment in Chiang Mai.

179 thoughts on The Search for an Apartment in Chiang Mai

    • It definitely helps to spend longer at a computer when the chairs are padded! Although I tend to spend most of my time working from the couch as it’s sooo comfortable!

  1. Thanks for the great compilation of info! I ended up in one of the kitchenless wonders during my time in CM and, as much as I loved it, I did suffer as a vegan. ;) Next time, I’m finding my way back to this post and doing it right.

    Fistbump! Have fun out there.

    • That makes us happier with our decision! I do loving cooking here – the markets are full of fresh, cheap produce. Although we do love that there are so many vegetarian restaurants here too. Nice to have both options.

      • We are looking for a one bedroom apartment with kitchen for 2-3 months from January, 2015. We are also vegetarians and could you please suggest a few places in Chiang Mai. We are in CM until Thursday, 20 February, 2014.

  2. Wowza! Your apartment looks AMAZING. I ended up in one of the glorified hotel rooms while in Chiang Mai (well, not exactly “glorified” really… because a hotel room would have probably had a more comfortable bed) and I really missed being able to cook.
    How long are you in the city? I’m hoping to stop by in January if my schedule permits. Hopefully everyone will still be there when I get there!

    • Yay! Come to Chiang Mai! We are definitely here until 19th January, maybe a bit longer, we have no plans.

      I thought you’d approve of our quest for a comfortable couch!

  3. unbelievably great timing! we’re transitioning from europe to southeast asia in a couple of days. the plan is to island hop for a bit and then rent an apartment in chiang mai for a couple of months.

    thank you so much for the details, it’s a huge help.

    maybe we can buy you some beers after we settle in. it will be our pleasure.

    see ya
    russ
    michrusstravel.blogspot.com

  4. We seem to be very similar in our quest for comfort – if we’re going to be inside working for hours, we’d like a cushy couch and some extra workspace! Thanks for listing some of the other properties you researched — we’ve decided to book a hotel for the first few nights we arrive, then look around in person for something more long term. I’ll definitely be using your list. :)

    On another note – what’s it like renting a motorbike? Did you have previous experience driving one? Is the traffic intense? Do most people rent one to get around in Chiang Mai?

    • Getting a hotel for a few nights and looking around is the best plan. Renting a motorbike was the easiest way to search, and many people do rent them (150B a day or 2000-3000B a month). Most of the apartment buildings (all on the list except for Smith Residence) are quite far from the old city and it would be a bit of a pain not to have a bike.

      Simon does the driving and he did have some experience in the Cook Islands (but there is no traffic there!) and then he did a one day training in the UK. There is a lot of traffic but we haven’t found it too much of a problem – everyone tends to stay out of our way. Not sure it’s the best place to learn though.

      • Motorbikes in Thailand ???!!! Beware ….. at my last information, there are 26 million m’bikes in Thailand – and most of them seem to be in Chiangmai at the rush hour !!! And according to Thai police stats, most traffic accidents involve m’bikes. My good friend Davit is presently in hospital (so far 3 weeks) with a shattered ankle requiring extensive surgery – probably another month on crutches at home and another 3 months before he’s expected to be able to walk un- assisted !!! So do beware of traffic issues in Thailand – the time and expense of recovery is NOT worthwhile. Davit is well experienced in handling m’bikes and is not a reckless driver. Luckily, he had excellent overseas health insurance to coverall his costs. Additionally, now is the wet rainy season making m’cycling extra hazardous. SO – do be aware – AND beware!!! ML

        • It is true that many foreigners have accidents but we hired a moped for 6 months in Thailand, were careful, and never had an accident. It is a risk but for us it was worth it.

    • I lived in Chiang Mai for over 6 months. I rent a nice studio at The Donne for 7000 month including cleaning once a week an Internet, rent a bike for 3000 a month with the insurence for me as single was great way of living, never had a problem
      :-)

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  6. Thanks for the detailed post guys, heaps of information for people in our position.

    Im looking into accommodation in Hanoi and only want to stay a month (or two), but everywhere wants at least a 3 month contract. Very frustrating!

    I would like to visit Chang Mai – do you think it would be easy to get a room in a shared house with other foreigners?

    • That can be a problem in some places. I haven’t heard of anyone sharing a house in Chiang Mai. Most single people take a small studio apartment without a full kitchen in an apartment building (the Smith Residence is very popular with other travel bloggers). These range from 5000B – 10,000B a month.

      • Good post. We love Chiang Mai and are thinking about a move there next year. It really helps to know what someone is dealing with to find a place to live there. Chris Schwarz asked about a shared house option. The last time we were in Chiang Mai we stayed at a nice little guest house on the south side, just inside the moat. It was called Smith Place and had 3-4 rooms in an old teak house with a shared kitchen. Most of the time we would eat out, but it was handy to have that kitchen space to do our own thing once and a while. There was a nice German couple staying in town for a year while attending the university. Nice proprietors, too.

        • Thanks for the info Mark – I’m sure that will be useful for people. Is it related to the Smith Residence that is so popular?

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  11. Wow great article! I stumbled in from the Lonely Planet site and am really enjoying your blog! Great info and great details, much appreciated!

    Happy holidays from wet and windy Nova Scotia!

    Morgan

  12. Hi Erin,

    I was wondering how happy you are with your appartment and its location after being there for more than a month?

    I have arrived in Chiang Mai but had to check in in a hospital, because of a nasty bug caught in Madagascar, instead of an appartment (altough the rooms are very nice). Will start appartment hunting as soon as they let me go.

    Sylvain

    • Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that Sylvain! I hope you are feeling better.

      We love our apartment and have no issues with it, except that now it’s getting busier here and the internet gets quite slow in the evenings. The location is good for us as we can moped into the centre in 5 minutes or walk there in 20-30 minutes. If you want to be nearer to town the Smith Residence is a popular option. We have some friends who recently rented an apartment in Peak Garden, the apartment building next to ours. They also used Chiang Mai Properties to find it.

      Get well soon!

  13. Hi all,
    When looking for a nice place in Chiang mai, on huay Kaew road (minutes walk from Suan Kaew shopping mall and nimmanhemin road) maybe also try Hillside 4. Normall prices between 10,000-15,000 baht for studio/1 bedroom condo’s. My mother stayed there for three months lady year. Nice place, beautiful rooms.
    Otherwise little further on the road, just before junction canal road (junction with Dunkin donuts) is quite a new building (next to clothes outlet, in front of building an ‘illy’ coffee shop) with rooms starting at around 11,000

    Just for your information

    Pascal

    • It really depends on the time of day. During the day it’s approximately 500 kilobits which is roughly 62 kilobytes/s. It gets pretty slow at night sometimes.

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  15. Wow, 20,000 Baht for an apartment?! I’m gobsmacked! I have a friend living in a Lanna style teak house with 4 bedrooms for that amount. And we managed to find a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with kitchen for 8,500.

    I had no idea the prices had gone up so much in the last few months.

    At least it’s cold now so you don’t need to worry about air-con at all! :D

    • Would love to know how you found your place. We know a few other people who have had to pay over 20,000 for a place with a kitchen. If you can rent for a year though that changes the prices considerably.

      • We did a lot of searching around on the local real estate websites including a few Thai-only websites. Then checked out a short-list of ten places.

        Our old place was in 107 – 3. It was a single bedroom place with a small kitchen area, no appliances though, but a gas camping stove is mega cheap, same with pots and pans. Asking price was 6k p/m but we only wanted 6 months so they bumped it to 6.5k which we were fine with.

        My tip is don’t be afraid to look at the cheaper places, especially around the university area!

        Enjoy your stay in this excellent city :)

        • We did look at some cheaper places around the University area but we were happy to pay more for comfort, an extra bedroom, a well equipped kitchen and a nice pool and gym. There are some great bargains to be had though.

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  18. Hi, i am renting my condo in Chiang Mai, it is 5 minutes walk from Big C Xtra, 4 km from Tae Pae Gate. I do have a kitchen corner, and internet, cable tv, water, are all free of charge. Also you can rent for whatever period you like, from 1 week-end to a few months. All my customers are very satisfied with the studio untill now.

  19. Hi,

    My girlfriend and I are teachers and we have got a job teaching at Lanna International School starting in August. We are looking for a 1-2 bed apartment with seperate kitchen ideally with facilities of a swimming pool and maybe a gym but they would both be an advantage. We get 8,000 baht between us for accommodation. We are just wondering if anyone knew of any apartments with that criteria that are available and/or might be available for August. We understand that we might have to add to up our budget as well. Any help or advice will be great.

    Many thanks,
    Carl Hebbs.

    • We couldn’t find anything meeting that criteria for that price but we were renting short term. You’ll be able to get a better rate long term. Your best bet is to contact an agent like Chiang Mai Properties (linked to them in the post) and see what they come up with.

      • We have rented a beautiful 3 bedrooms 3 baths house w/a salt water swimming pool, for one year. We found ourselves paying close to $600 a month for taxi, no other transportation in our area near the new Promenade shopping center. In two weeks we are moving to Twin Peaks, centrally located to walk to a lot of places. You were lucky in 2011, prices have gone up and we are paying in the lower thirties for a two bedroom, two bath place w/3 times a week cleaning included in the rent. We are retired, so we intend to live there a long time. It is a beautiful, peaceful place w/swimming pool, fitness center and sauna. I am glad you experienced the place while you were in CM.

    • Carl – Lanna IS – is that outside the city area – near the Lanna Hospital and Lanna Colleges on the Superhighway ? Prices should be lower than in mid city ? Have you already found a suitable place ? If not, let me know and we can help… ML

  20. Ok will look into it, thanks very much. Anyone else got any help or advice that would be great.

    Many thanks

    Carl

  21. Thanks for publishing your experience. I have never been to Thailand, but loving Chiang Mai allready. Looking at the possibility to have an early retirement there, I have seen many ads for condo’s on the net. I noticed too that long term is much cheaper, and I find the Thai meaning of “furnished” not to be what I mean by furnished. 8-) Thanks very much, your info on buildings is very helpfull.

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  23. Guys, thank you for the post :)

    But where are those good deals for B5000/month (or less) you’re talking about? I’ve searched all over town and can’t find any place that’s well looked after…

    Any ideas?

    All the best

    • I’m not sure exactly as we weren’t looking for those kind of apartments but we know friends who paid around that much and I remember seeing some as we looked around. For that price they aren’t going to be amazing though. Possibly Huay Kaew Residence had some studios at that price.

  24. I’m always amazed at how much (especially) Westerners will spend to replicate a non-local lifestyle wherever they go. I’d rather have a $100 a month studio (oops, I do! Heh.), and spend the other $500 of food and weekend trips to the islands. That place looks pretty sweet, though!

  25. Thanks for a great post. You are definitely right about there being a very limited choice for short term rentals in Chiang Mai. Most owner want a 6 month to a twelve month lease.. Everybody coming to Chiang Mai wants cheap, cheap cheap… Which is still available but if you are staying a while it is worth spending that little extra as you will spend a lot of time in the room.

    If you are willing to live that bit further out of the town, again there are some great deals on some short term rental homes but you will need to hire a motor bike..

    The top deals are still there but are definitely becoming harder to find..

    Enjoy Chiang Mai!!!

  26. The place your staying at is fantastic, it’s also the first place I stayed at when I came to Chiang Mai a few years ago. I wish there were more developers in Chiang Mai making great apartments like the Twin Peaks but as the previous guy said, people want cheap even though when you think about it it’s still a steal for what you get.

  27. Jake: I’m not sure what you mean by well looked after but there are plenty of places around for 5000 baht a month but they are basically a studio room with a bathroom and toilet and perhaps a balcony. I put a friend in one in the Jed Yod area and she was happy in it for a month.

    If people are willing to put up lump sums then landlords can be more flexible. I pay my landlord in 6 month lump sums and have a 2 story town house on the outside of the moat down a quiet moobahn. Surrounded by greenery and other town houses I can’t even hear the noise of the traffic around the moat and yet I can walk to the old town in 5 minutes or less. I also have a western style kitchen, two large bedrooms, 2 wide balconies with couches on them, 2 living rooms and 2 bathrooms. It works out at 72,000 Baht for 6 months.

    Before this I was at Viangbua Mansion which has rooms with kitchens for 22,000 baht a month. It’s a great place and I love the location but no pool, not much of a gym and probably a bit pricey considering other options around. They have smaller studio rooms without kitchens for 12,000.

    Some people may be interested in http://www.emporiumchiangmai.com/room-rate.html

    It wasn’t for me but it says it has rooms with a kitchen for 7000 baht as well as just studio rooms for 5000 baht. It’s in the Santitham area near YMCA and Tops supermarket. I like the area but it’s popular with Thai students and may be a bit too out of the touristy areas for some.

  28. I looked at tons of guesthouses while searching for a place to stay in Chiang Mai. Don’t know about contracts/6month-stays, but here’s my tip.

    If you’re looking for a short-stay at a decent price, I’d recommend Ban Ruan Jai – specifically the room on the roof.

    http://www.bankongrao.com/banruanjai.html

    The view and fresh air from the huge open air balcony makes it worthwhile. And it’s clean. This is what it looks like from the top:

    http://goo.gl/CzRTs

    It’s a small room with no kitchen and a tiny bathroom, but the guesthouse itself is peaceful and the owner Tom is a great guy with a welcoming family. I even went to their mango field in Chiang Rai with his dad. Their mangos are simply amazing.

    Unlimited electricity, internet and cleaning is included for B7000/month but you could probably reduce that if you talked to him a bit.

    Another decent alternative (and a much bigger room) is View Doi Mansion:

    http://viewdoimansion.com

  29. boy, does this post have some staying power! i responded to this back in november 2011. great job, erin, this information has helped a LOT of people. it helped us back then, too.

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  31. Thanks so much for this great post. It really helped my me and my wife get a grip on some realities of our dream of finding a 5000B two room apartment with a fully stocked kitchen :) Fortunately, we lucked into a whole two-story house with a live-in housekeeper for 10,000B…but that was through a friend and pure luck!

  32. Baan WinRada is new open. Monthly rate is at 13500 baht a month (single standard with shared kitchen)
    It’s amazing that you can negotiate the price between Aug-Oct for daily rental.
    See photos on facebook.com/baanwinrada

  33. Honestly, this is not good example to set for those of us trying to work. what you pay is tantamount to a full month’s salary here or more. If you are here for a holiday, then I suppose I can understand it -other than this not many of those working here can afford more than 6000 baht a month.

    • Well, we weren’t earning a Thai wage so we were only writing about our experience. And as I said in the post it’s much cheaper if you are staying long term rather than just 3 months.

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  35. I am heading to chaing mai late october. I appreciate your comments re apt hunting, but looks like if you are willing to pay upna little finding a place not too difficult. It sounds like staying in old town is the way to go. I was concerned that the weather would be fairly cool by nov-jan but you indicate that is not the case. Could you advise re the type of clothes to bring as be very helpful. Thx.

    • I hate the cold, but it’s really not that cold. Around Christmas we ended up wearing jeans and a jumper when we went out at night but that was mostly because it gets breezy on a moped. Almost all the other foreigners were still wearing shorts and tshirts. So summer clothes are fine with a warmer layer for evenings.

    • Steve – pack clothes minimally – and buy from the plethora of shops when you get here- cheap, cheerful, warm enough, stylish, colourful (whatever your preference)- if in doubt, email me for any further advice or comments (in – Thailand; Bangkok and Chiangmai 25 years).

  36. I always tell people who come to Thailand and think they can live on $500 a month that it’s just about impossible now. There are still websites that will tell you that you can rent an apartment for $150 a month (that gets you a teeny tiny Thai-style nowith a Thai-style shower) and that you can eat three meals a day for $50 a month. Do NOT believe them. Even most Thais, at least those with any kind of education, don’t live on that low of a salary nowadays.

    The minimum amount to have a relatively decent standard of living in Thailand is now $800 a month (around 25,000 baht) and that still doesn’t allow for many beers, trips or luxuries. $1,000 will give you a better lifestyle and $1,400 and above and you’re loving life.

    But please, please, please don’t be conned by the “You can live on $500 a month in Thailand” sites. They are nothing more than one big con, as many a farang who has arrived in Thailand on a shoe-string budget has realized.

    And btw, LOVE your apartment :)

    • I’ll second that 100%, quality accommodation is not cheap at all, especially now in peak season. We’re not having an easy time finding somewhere good, and definitely going to spend over 20,000 baht on it. Low season is obviously better to find cheaper prices. You will also find that street food many times is not hygienic at all, so if you want quality food, be prepared to pay more for that.

  37. Thanks for this really useful advice. We’re in the Old Town in CM right this second and are looking for a place to stay for a month or so (rather than spend time in yet another hotel) – this article has provided some really useful information to help with the research (and that pool looks great!). PS: best of luck with your ongoing voyage – hope it’s everything and more than you hoped it would be! Cheers, AA

  38. Thanks for the great post- just decided to go to thailand for 6ish weeks! We need good internet at night for UK work hours- especially using VOIP- did you use skype much at night- was the quality good/ok/bad? We will be ringing a lot of customers so it has to be good!
    we are willing to pay to upgrade the internet line if thats a possibility too….

    One other question I had for you Erin- can you shop there for summer clothes (t shirts etc) as tall (female) westerner or is it just teeny tiny thai sizes lol?

    • You should be fine- we always skyped in the evening. It depends on your apartment though so you’ll want to check it before you commit.

      I didn’t shop for clothes there and although it is mostly tiny sizes there are places in the night markets that cater for western sizes. I didn’t look that closely though I’m afraid.

  39. Hi Erin

    Like ur blog. I am intending to stay in cheng mai for 3-4 weeks in December, need to get out of Singapore, v. Stressful. The last I was in cheng mai was 20 years ago. Meow is weather in December ? Possible torrent a 2-3 bedroom apt or house? Is it safe? How much am I expected to pay? Thanks thanks.

    • The weather in December is cooler than the rest of the year. Usually warm during the day and cooler at night. A light sweater and summer clothes are fine. We found it very safe. I think you’ll struggle finding a house for that short a period but you may find a larger apartment. We didn’t look at places that big so I can’t really advise about the price. It can be difficult renting apartments for less than 3 months though. I would suggest looking at the places listed on this post and contacting an agent.

  40. You can rent one of those cheap “hotel like” rooms and put a hot plate in it to cook on.
    Thats okay for a month, yeah but for the long term its not too dandy…

  41. Thanks for publishing your tips on this.. found it v. helpful! We’re heading to CM for a month in November and scouting for a place. We actually found Twin Peaks condo on Airbnb but it’s being sublet for 60k/month :-S so think we’ll end up checking out Smith Residences!

  42. I just spent two weeks in CM and can understand why you insisted on a swimming pool!
    I wish the hotel where I stayed had one.
    Enjoy Thailand!

  43. Oh what a good post! We are looking in Chiang Mai at the moment. You have certainly done a lot of ground work for us.

    We rather favour Huai Kaew Road towards CMU and the people at Chiang Mai Property Sales are helping us. They have shown us a few in Nakorn Ping, Hillside 4 and Punna. We want 4 months and are not really bothered about having a kitchen, so long as there is a pantry which takes a lot of the work out. We have been clear with our requests and have seen some nice places – nothing East-facing yet, which is what we really want, but we haven’t had our time wasted at all. Give them a try: http://www.cmpropertysales.com Not everything they have is listed on their site. I think that is because their focus is more for long-term but they have places which they manage for owners who are away and can fix short-term rentals that way.

  44. Thanks very much for the informative webiste on accomodation in Thailand. I found it very useful; always best to learn from others! I too am looking for a place in 2013. As a matter of interest, how do foreigners get to stay long term and what visa is required? Thanks. Doug

    • It’s best to get a double entry tourist visa before you arrive in Thailand, or you can go to Laos or Malaysia to get it. This gives you two months which you can renew for an extra month, then you need to leave the country (literally just walk over the border and return) and you get the 2+1 months again. You seem to be able to apply for this visa multiple times and many people stay for years this way.

  45. Thank you very much for sharing such useful information. I’m going to Chiang Mai with my friend in Dec. from China. Will stay there for 2 months, trying to look for an apartment with 2 bedrooms with a fridge and an espresso machine, not sure if it’s possible though, fingers crossed! ^_^

    Steven

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  47. hey
    are you still in chang mai…im a web designer from the uk…been in thailand a while but will be heading to CM end of jan possibly for 6months+ (student visa as have used 2 extended TV) any tips on good schools?? and if still in that same apartment, are there many available ATM and still 20k? if so im in :)

    • We aren’t in Chiang Mai any more so I don’t know about the availability of the apartments. I think they are all individually owned so prices can vary and I’ve heard people quoted much more at the reception desk than we paid through Chiang Mai Properties.

      I’m afraid I don’t have any experience of Thai language schools. You could try contacting Daniel at http://www.canvas-of-light.com/ as he lives there and has taken Thai classes.

  48. Thank you for your excellent informatiom.
    I am thinking to go to Chiangmai for a year to study Thai. I need a place with a kitchen. I appreciate your suggestion.

    • You should be able to get a good deal for a year. I would contact an agent or have a look around the buildings listed here when you arrive in Chiang Mai. Good luck with your search!

  49. Hi there !

    Your article is excellent ! I’m also travelling with my boyfriend (who’s called Simon too :-) ) and after almost 6 months around Asia, we are now looking for a condo in Chiang Mai to stop going around and be able to work, work, work (we’re digital nomads too).
    We did many researches on the internet and we are now looking for appointments to start visiting some places.
    Our budget is of 30000 baht/month so I hope we won’t have to go up …
    Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience, and by the way, your apartment looks great ! (I also want a nice kitchen so fingers crossed).
    Cyn

  50. Thanks for sharing your Chiang Mai apartment hunt experiences. I’m moving out to CM in the new year, so it’s helpful to get a realistic perspective on what’s available.

    Like you I’d rather have a kitchen and, as they don’t seem to be available in many apartments, I’ve been wondering about small houses. There seem to be lots available between 10 – 20k baht, I’d be interested to know why you didn’t consider this option. They seem to have more space and better kitchens, with more choice than apartments. Were there none around, or perhaps not available for a 3 month lease?

  51. Hi there! Headed to Chiangmai for some research and writing and REALLY appreciated this post. Hope your travels are going well and thanks so much =)

  52. I live about 14 km from chiangmai centre, it is about 20-30 minute drive depending on time of day. For anyone who doesn’t specifically need to be in the centre of town everyday, there are many rental options further out such as small new houses for under 10K baht, even cheaper food at the local markets than the in town markets. Especially for the guy who is thinking of studying Thai for a year, living out of town will enhance his learning of Thai insomuch that the opportunity to use what he has learnt will be at every corner.
    Also, I often wonder why so many english language teachers on fairly tight budgets continue to remain holed up in a small condo???? But each to his own !!!
    Great blog Erin, glad you had a good experience in CM

    • Thanks for the tips! It sounds like a great option for those who are staying longer. We really liked the idea of having a house but it wasn’t possible for the initial 3 months we were looking for.

  53. There’s also a fairly new property agent at Panthip plaza, 4th Floor, More Properties http://www.more-propertyagents.com/index.html some readers may find them useful…..whilst they cater to more perment rentals (6 -12 months) most things are quite negotiable.
    I haven’t actually had dealings with them, so not recomending, just noticed because I saw there advertising outside Pantip which I drive past every weekday….and the website seems quite good. Hopefully someone may find it of use

  54. Pingback: Our Search For an Apartment in Chiang MaiAlyona travels

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  56. Love this post on your search for the right apartment. I’m looking to move overseas and just started looking for a place to live and will admit that it’s a little overwhelming.

  57. Lovely Apartment. I ve been to Chiang Mai twice..most recent was in 2010. Lovely place. Not a very hotch potch place, which I like too. I am planing migration with my wife and 3 kids. But in start max i can spend is 8000 Bhat /mo. for house rent. And what about business ? Is it good place for somekind of Indian Style food business ?

  58. My wife and I stayed at in a 1 br condo at the twin peaks for 3 wks in Feb 2013. We paid tourist prices of about $45/ night. The location is perfect if you are vacationing. The property is pristine. Very up-scale.

  59. Hi Erin – I love your post and it was so helpful. My family is thinking of traveling to Thailand again in 2014 (for a year). We have to be able to get high speed internet for our work. (upload videos). Do you know if it is pretty common to get in Chiang Mai? We know that Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya and Bangkok have ADSL but we don’t know how common it is to find it. It’s a must! Thank you so much. I have pinned your blog and intend to follow it. (This apartment looks amazing and the budget is less of a concern than internet speed; it’ll be much cheaper than living in America).

  60. Hi Erin!

    This is a great post! Thank you so much for writing it :D My partner and I are new to the digital nomad game and it’s great to read about another pair of wandering vegetarians. :) We are heading to Chiangmai in three weeks to get serious about our digital products.
    I think you just became my new favourite, inspirational bloggers! :)

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  62. I recently read your article about renting an apartment in Chiang Mai. I found it to be right on. My wife and I have just returned to Canada after spending over a month in Chiang Mai, we ended up at the Chiang Mai Lodge and found it to be very satisfactory, the only regret is not having a pool. For that pleasure we had to cross the street and pay 100 baht at the Lotus Hotel to use their larger than olympic size pool. All in all we fell in love with Chiang Mai and hope to return this winter. Have a great trip to South America. We’re going to Colombia for a couple of weeks to visit our daughter and her husband. Thanks again. Take good care.

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  64. It is interesting that some folks complain about hard beds. First time I experienced a really hard bed was in a business hotel in Taipei in 1994. The bed was so hard I thought at first it was a wooden platform without a mattress.

    Slept 6 nights on that bed, most relaxing wonderful sleep I’ve ever had. Since then I have always sought out the hardest beds I can find. Now staying in a condo in Chiang Mai with a wonderfully hard bed.

    Thanks for all your work to make this great blog.

    Regards, Rand D.

  65. Hey Erin….great writeup.

    I have been looking for a new condo to rent here in CM as the place I’m in now (Punna Residence @ CMU) is directly next to the MoCMoL restaurant/nightclub and I’m tired of listening to their music every night until 1:00 AM. I’ll certainly miss the view of Doi Suthep and the condo, being new is also pretty nice. 50sm for 14,000/month.

    I recently looked at many of the buildings you had including Mountainfront, Mountainview, Touch Hill Place and Karnkanok 3 and had the same feelings as you did about them although I felt they were a little too far out and I’m afraid I’d feel a bit isolated after a while. I also looked at a studio at Twin Peaks and really liked the building itself. I’m just about sold on it. I just had a couple questions if that’s ok…I hope you’re still replying to posts here :^)

    First…was the neighborhood quiet at night? I know that I’ll have to deal with the sound of the air conditioning units at the Shangri-La hotel next door but that is 1000 times better than listening to Gangnam Style every night. The unit I’m looking at is in the east building and is looking towards the Peaks Garden condo.

    Also…how do they bill for electric there? Many apartments want 7-8 baht/kw but most privately owned condos are at the government rate of 3.xx baht/kw.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write up this post. It’s probably the most descriptive one I’ve come across on the internet.

    Best regards,

    Ellery

  66. Really great write up of all the apartments you looked at, thanks! I really like the Nimman area so I’ve mainly been looking up here. I can’t believe Green Hill Place makes their residents pay 50 baht per use of the pool, that would turn me off enough not to stay there.

    • We ended up staying at Green Hill Place so thought I would share our experience if you’re looking in the Nimman area. If you’re willing to brave crossing the Huay Keuw road you can walk to the heart of Nimman from Green Hill in 5 minutes.
      The pool charge is annoying but you can buy monthly unlimited passes that make it more worthwhile… we just considered it part of the rent and it still worked out cheaper than many other condos. The nice thing about the pool that isn’t mentioned here is that it’s salt water not chlorine treated so a lot nicer as you don’t stink of chlorine after a swim. We loved the pool as it’s a good size for swimming and it was a real focal point of the building for meeting other residents etc. There is also a cafe by the pool.
      The kitchen was fairly basic. We had to buy all our pans and utensils, even a thing to drain plates on! We just went to the Tesco Lotus and spent about $50 to buy everything and once we’d done that it was really functional and we cooked a lot.
      Also they only have LAN internet so if you want wireless you need to buy your own wifi router. Basically it’s more setup for longer term residents.
      Overall we really liked Green Hill Place. It is fairly new so still clean and modern. We’re going back to Chiang Mai in October and can’t wait to stay there again!
      Pro tip: The poolside apartments are brighter and have the better view.

  67. Thanks for writing down your adventures in finding a place. This is really useful info. I’m heading out to Chiang Mai this November as the first leg of a long (possibly indefinite) walkabout through Southeast Asia. Aiming to get there in time for Yi Peng, then stick around for a few months to get my CELTA before I head off to whatever’s next. Cheers!

  68. Thought I would add my experience for those still arriving & consulting this invaluable article
    Being basically lazy we thought we’d let Erin & Simon have done the legwork for us and go straight to Twin Peaks. Sadly the only condo we were shown there had been knocked about & was not well designed.
    Son from Chiang Mai Properties was helpful & showed us Convention (great setting near the hills but too far out for vehicle-less us as no songthaew to hail this far, same goes for Karnkanok) and Peaks Gardens (many here have no balcony & an unappealing outlook onto an internal ‘well’. Otherwise a lovely condo if you score a rare balcony).
    We saw 2 condos in Green Hills, in the older & newer parts, but both were dated & shabby.
    Hillside 4 was also very dated & the outlook from balconies over industrial areas.
    Angkana at Satihoga showed us Punna Residence which became our fave: modern, clean, good size for 22k/mth, well furnished, nice pool.
    In search of perfection we kept going and met the lovely Roberta whom I cannot recommend enough (robertametta@gmail.com). A Californian of Thai heritage with US real estate background, she is a wealth of information. She showed us some characterful townhouses (too far out or too rustic in each case for us but a very authentic experience if that’s what you wanted).
    We took the Punna & enjoyed dealing with Angkana who kickstarted our fridge stock with mangoes from her tree. A week in we are so happy: the block is well managed and the pool lovely. To have all the trendy bars/cafes/restaurants/shops of Niemann on your doorstep (plus the truly local roadside stall dining) is wonderful.
    Thanks so much Erin & Simon for the really helpful article.

  69. The other choice of apartment with kitchen and complete white goods is The Unique condomenium around nimman road surrounded by many western and japanes-korean resturants. monthly abt 500 dollars.

  70. Hi,
    We operate Lanna Moon Apartments and yes, we are one of those “glorified hotel rooms” The difference is, as we are apartments under lease and subject to Thai law, the cost is so much lower (5,500 THB per month) than hotels.

    One thing you note correctly, Thai food at streetside restaurants is actually cheaper than cooking yourself.

    The other thing to note about traditional Thai culture, is that cooking is considered to be a strictly outdoor or open air activity.

    Old School Thais are mortified that westerners cook indoors in enclosed kitchens.

    Keep up the good work, it is informative and mostly correct, unlike many “blow-in bloggers”.

  71. One more thing, I love the Ronald Searle – St. Trinians font – cool!

    And BTW, since Lanna Moon is located between the moat and the Night Bazaar our tenants can get away with walking pretty much everywhere – another big saving.

    And, with respect, one last comment,

    Thais and the manufacturers call them Motorcyles. A MoPed (European term) is a vehicle with a motor that can also be pedalled…a few elecrtic ones floating around town these days, but my guess is you dont go two-up on one of them

  72. Hey guys! Thanks for the awesome blog post.

    I’m planning to be in Chiang Mai for a stay of about 90 days, starting in January. I know that’s a busy time, and there’ll be lots of demand for long term stay apartments like the ones you’re talking about on this page.

    Would you recommend somehow booking my apartment in advance (maybe paying a deposit sight unseen)? Is that even possible? I feel like the risk of the place not being as advertised would be fairly low if I did enough online due diligence beforehand and talked to various people who had stayed there.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  73. Nice apartment! We will have that one checked out soon!

    We live in CM 8 months a year and we once rented from Chiang Mai Properties, and we just couldn’t believe the way they did business. So unprofessional and not cut to the foreigner’s need, even though they advertise with “understanding expat’s need”. Promises were not kept and communication was just :-( Don’t want to give Chiang Mai Properties a bad review, but since our experience with this agency we just rent directly from the owners.

    Sometimes it is even worth to rent sublets. From apartments, small houses to villas from people who are out of town for some time. 40,000 expats are living there, and many of them want to rent out their houses when they visit their home country.

    Be happy!
    YB

  74. Thanks for the rundown on apartment hunting in Chiang Mai. I’m a retired US Marine who is coming to Thailand end of November and plan to stay for a year, traveling throughout the region. Having a safe, secure home base is number #1 for me. Checked out the website for Smith Residence and appears to be suitable – anyone with experience staying there get in touch by all means. Thanks again guys…..

  75. I have found this page accidentally but that reminded me both of you. I used to work at ChiangMai properties a while ago. I picked you up to see properties from some guesthouse in the old city. I bet you cannot remember hahaha!!!…. Anyway nice to see you again.

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  78. My wife and I would like an extended stay in Chiang Mai, ~ 4 months from 11/14 until 3/15. We have been to Thailand several times, mostly to Phuket and once this year in the spring to Chiang Mai. We loved it. We would like an apartment/condo in or near the city center. It has to be safe and secure, nicely furnished, one or two bedrooms, but with flatscreens, pool, parking, washer/dryer etc. Cost is not as important as being tastefully furnished and comfortable and in move in condition, meaning sheets, towels, dishes, etc.

    We are retired and in our mid-sixties so comfort and convenience is more important than price. I would appreciate any/all advise you could provide.

    Our plans would be to use CM as a base if you will to travel to Hong Kong, Phuket, Singapore, et al and just see the world a bit while we can

    Kind regards,
    Mark Koth
    Lexington, SC, USA

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  81. This is a great article! It is indeed tough to find something cheap (or, something at all) when you either want more than a basic studio shoebox, or cannot commit to a year.

    Since the article was written I think these days the AirBnB site has more to offer when it comes to Thailand and Chiang Mai in particular, specifically for short stays that are however still longer than typical hotel stays. (Say a couple weeks or a couple months.

    I’ll be shamelessly plugging my wife’s place at the end, but in general it’s worth contacting an AirBnB host and ask for discounts for longer stays. (Longer being anything more than a month.)

    And of course the monthly rates will typically still include electricity, water and Internet, which is different from apartment rentals where it’s not just excluded, but also charged at an inflated rate per unit. (So this is something to pay attention to with apartments specifically.) And check if bedding and towels and the like are provided. With the right place all you do is drop your bags, with everything ready to go including your dinner plates, glasses and cooking utensils.

    For multi month stays via AirBnB and similar holiday rental sites you could likely negotiate a rate where you pay the electricity bill directly, which cuts a big ‘unknown cost’ for the host. (Because some guests run all air conditioners 24/7, while others don’t even touch them.) So excluding that you’ll cut something like 3000 baht from the rent and end up with the actual government bill, likely around 1000 baht for typical use, or less in the cool months.

    As promised the shameless plug, but I do think it’s typical for an actual place that offers a couple bedrooms, a kitchen and generally some more private space. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1521972

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  83. Many people who do research online get suckered into the ‘Chiang Mai/Thailand is dirt cheap’ line when it comes to apartments, and it’s because a lot of information online is written by what we call ‘sexpats’, who are only in Thailand for the girls (or boys!) or by people who have no money so are forced to live on less than $500 a month, which is almost impossible even in Chiang Mai (and yes, I’ve seen the articles by people who say they do and I’ve also seen the photos of where they live…..um……no thank you. Not for longer than a few days :)

    They tend to live in pokey one-room apartments with no kitchen, Thai-style showers (which flood the entire bathroom so you’re forced to paddle for 3 hours after you take your showers) and a teeny tiny room at that. They then tell you they are ‘living in the lap of luxury for 4,000 baht’. NOT possible in Chiang Mai or just about anywhere else in Thailand if you want something more than a glorified box.

    What you ended up renting is absolutely gorgeous though and, I’d say, well worth the money.

    I pay 10,000 baht a month for a large one-bedroom apartment in Bangkok. Awesome location near Chatuchak Market, 3 big malls, movie theaters, bowling alley etc. and it comes with maid service once a week for that money. I’ve lived here for 12 years :) Interestingly too, in 12 years my rent has never gone up, so it’s even cheaper now than it was back when I first moved in :)

    Anything below 10,000 in Bangkok, though, and you pretty much are living in a glorified box. For longer than a couple of weeks, I wouldn’t recommend it. Not if you want to feel like you can relax at home.

    • Hi Rachael,

      Very timely post as I am currently in Chiang Mai and headed to Bangkok on Saturday, March 29. I will be there for one week and will be looking for a serviced apartment, preferably on a month to month basis, for when I return in October.

      Would you be kind enough to mention the name of your apartment complex, or can you recommend some in that same general area so I may begin my search here in a few days?

      Thank you very much!

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  85. Hello Simin & Erin,

    Thanks for this blog and sharing the information for others. Just one question – are there apartments with washer & dryers in Thailand? How did you wash your clothes? I currently live in NYC and frankly tired of hauling my clothes to the local coin operated laundromat, so just curious to know. Thanks!

    • The places we have rented in Chiang Mai have had washing machines and clothes dry quickly in the sun. Otherwise there are many laundry places that will wash your clothes for you for only 30 baht (around $1) a kilo.

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  88. A quick thanks for your recommendation to use Roberta as an agent to help find a place in Chiang Mai. She is such a fantastic woman, super helpful, very dedicated and a real joy to work with.

    Even though we lived in CM for quite a while before and knew our way around, it was really nice to have help from Roberta to make it happen quickly and efficiently. She found us a nice apartment really fast and kept in touch with us to make sure all is fine with our new home and to share some interesting places to experience around where we live.

    You won’t find a better real estate agent to help you find a place here. Very highly recommended!

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