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After two months of keeping an eye on listings and one month of pounding the payment, I’ve finally moved into a new apartment in Chiang Mai. When I went home to visit in May I finished the lease on the place where I had been staying. While it was a good (cheap!) deal for a lot of space, I was sick of the cockroaches always waiting for me in the kitchen and bathroom, and desperately wanted a place with more sunlight.
Chiang Mai has a ton of rooms. A ton. It’s a pretty major tourist hub and new ‘luxury’ condo buildings are going up every day. On one hand, it’s very easy to quickly find an affordable room to stay in for a while. Unfortunately, these rooms tend to be of the furnished ‘serviced apartment’ kind or, basically, a long-stay hotel room with a fridge. They can be great for the number of long-term travelers or ‘digital nomads’ passing through for a month or two. Food in Chiang Mai is so cheap, that many locals eat out on the streets anyway instead of cooking in their homes, and when you’re only going to be in the place for a few months you don’t want to spend your time searching for furniture and investing in kitchenware.
If you’re planning on just living in Chiang Mai for a little while a serviced apartment is the way to go. Often the names of these places include the words ‘Place’ (i.e. PP Place Chiang Mai), ‘Residence’, or ‘House’ and can be found either by simply looking around, or even on hotel booking sites like Agoda to quickly compare prices and rooms, as many hotels offer monthly rates. After I was back in Chiang Mai looking for a place to live, I stayed a month at one of these types of places. It was comfortable, but I spent more than double what I had spent for my previous rooms and had about half the space. I didn’t feel like I could actually live in it.
If you’re looking to stay here more permanently the search gets a little bit harder. There are still a lot of options, but you’re probably going to have to be more flexible with your budget. While many basic serviced apartments will run around 4,000 – 7,000 baht (currently 31 baht = $1), decent apartments with kitchens (many places do not have them) can easily be more, unless you’re willing to stay in a cramped, dingy room. When I was searching it felt like I could either stay in a serviced apartment, a house 20 minutes outside of town, or a nicer apartment in town for 9,000+. Since I know several people who pay less than 11,000 baht to live in full houses, and I used to pay just 4,000 (including a kitchen, internet and satellite television), I can’t justify spending that much on a rented apartment. Add to that some conflict of interests and requirements between me and my boyfriend – I wanted a kitchen and to be a little out of town, he wanted a pool and to be close to his shop in town – it took a while, and some compromising, to finally find something.
This post does a good job outlining what it’s like to search for an apartment in Chiang Mai, as well as this one. However I did want to share some of the best sites I used for trying to find apartments, houses and sublets. You’ll start seeing several listings duplicated over several sites, and there are definitely more property search sites for the city out there, but these are the ones I checked regularly (daily) and found to be the most useful:
One last piece of searching advice, remember to talk to people. Just ask anyone and everyone if they know of available places. Chiang Mai is a small, well-connected place and chances are you’ll come across someone, who knows someone, who knows someone…who has a room available.
Have you stayed in Chiang Mai long term? Where did you stay and how did you find the place?