Renting an Apartment in Chiang Mai - How to Rent Monthly Accommodation in Thailand

I just got back to Chiang Mai and settled into my new rental condo to stay for the winter again this year. Even in 2019/2020, compared to what you can get back home, or really anywhere else in the world, the value here is insane. I've updated this blog post to include a video tour of my new $250 a month apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand that I'm staying at this year in 2019 - 2020, but left in the info from my luxury condo from last year as well so you have a good comparison of what your money can buy in both ranges. Imagine how much it would cost you to rent a designer furnished, 1-bedroom apartment with floor to ceiling windows, flat screen tvs, a washing machine, in a building with a pool, sauna, and gym. Now imagine it's within a 10 minute walk of the city center where all of the restaurants, coffee shops and cafes are. Even better, imagine if you weren't willing to sign a year lease, and wanted it short term.

How much would it cost you? Would it even be possible? In most cities, renting something like this would only be possible with overpriced executive suites or on airbnb and would cost anywhere between $1,500 - $5,000 a month depending on where in the world you are. I've also lived in rentals here for as little as 3,500 baht a month which is $108 as well as luxury rentals for 28,000 baht, so whatever your budget, don't worry, in this post i'm going to show you the best way to find monthly or yearly rentals in Chiang Mai. I just spent the last 10 months traveling around Europe and the USA and it was impossible to find places as comfortable as this for under a few thousand dollars a month. Even though I'm a savvy traveler and found some really nice places in cheaper European countries in Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Spain, none of them were as nice, luxurious, convenient or affordable. A place like this in San Francisco would easily cost $3,500 or more a month.

Best of all, it's so easy and without headache. In this post i'm going to show you a video tour of my new apartment, as well as a few of the other places I've stayed in Chiang Mai in previous trips. I'll talk about why I've chose not to buy an apartment or condo here even though they've relatively cheap, and what the best way to find a monthly rental is. Keep reading if you're interested in the best ways to find accomidation in Chiang Mai and what you can get for under $250-$500 a month in an amazing city like this and the best way to find them.

What's your Budget?

The nice thing about wanting to live in Chiang Mai is that regardless of your budget, you can find a decent place close to the city center. When I first moved to Thailand, I was paying $1,500 a month in LA to share a 3 bedroom house. I figured that if I could cut my monthly expenses in half, I would be happy. The funny thing was, the first few weeks I came to Thailand on vacation, I stayed at luxury hotels and resorts as for the first time in my life I was able to afford them. Paying $65 a night for a 5-Star hotel in the US would have been impossible, so I thought it was a bargain to pay 2,000 baht a night here which is the equivalent. It wasn't until after a I had decided to move here long term that I realized paying that much wasn't that necessary and that I was perfectly content staying in a basic room for a quarter of the price. Since I would be living off of savings and bootstrapping a new life, I chose to set my budget at 3,500 baht a month  ($108) which was the lowest price I could find without being too far outside of the main center. 

To be honest at that price won't get you that much. You'll get a small, basic, no frills room, with a hard bed. I've stayed at two different apartments in Chiang Mai for 4,500 baht a month ($140usd). The first was in the suburb of Hang Dong, just across the street from my Muay Thai gym at the time, KC, and honestly it was a pretty nice, clean place. The only problem was that it was a 25 minute to the city, and it was far enough to only come into the center a few times a month. There a ton of really nice places, including 3 bed/2 bath houses you can rent out there for 15,000 bath ($463) a month, but honestly, unless you're a family that mostly stays at home, it's just not worth being that far out from the center.

The second place I lived for 3,500 baht a month was in the local Thai neighborhood of Santitham, just a few blocks away from the CrossFit gym. It was directly across the street from a construction site, and was such a crappy room that I don't think I ever even took a photo of it. But the location was decent as it was a 20 minute walk into the center and close to the gym. Fast forward a couple of years, I've now stayed at eight different apartments in Chiang Mai ranging from as low as $108 a month up to close to $1,000. Here's a video of the first place I stayed at that I actually liked enough to make a video of. It was the place I moved into after I started working online and transitioned from "living the good life on the cheap" as I wrote about in my first book 12 Weeks in Thailand on a $600 a month budget, to becoming an entrepreneur and level up my income and lifestyle. Here's the $200 a month apartment that can still be had today even with inflation and rising costs over the year for $234 a month. The crazy thing is, my apartment for 2020 is in the same great neighborhood, in an even better location, with a bigger couch, more natural light, and it's only $250 a month.

My 2020 Apartment

What's amazing is that it's currently mid December 2019 as I'm writing this and it's the peak of high season, Christmas holidays and New Years, and I was still able to get an amazing apartment for just $250 a month, right in the Nimmanhaemin area which I'll explain below as the best location in the city center of Chiang Mai. Normally I always try to stay for 3 months minimum as that's the way you can get the best rates and also access to the nicer condos which almost always have a 3-6 month contract minimum. However, because I was all the way in Mexico hosting the Nomad Summit Cancun conference this year, I wanted to spend a good few solid months there to really get to know the country as a potential alternative hotspot for digital nomads and a possible place to live. That meant that between then and burning season which starts around February 15th each year, I only have 2 months total this year. 

That means that it wouldn't be possible for me to book a condo through an agent like I did in many previous years and since it's the peak of high season, if I waited to look at places in person, which is the way to get the best deals, they would most likely be full. So the two options were to either book a luxury condo month to month and pay $600-$1,000 a month, or to go through Airbnb which is normally 30-40% higher than local prices. Since I was trying to budget this year as i've been spending a lot lately, I decided to try my luck and scoured through Airbnb for a deal and luckily found one in my favorite neighborhood, right on Nimmanheimin road. I had to book months in advance, and unlike booking the other ways I describe in the article below, Airbnb has zero refund policy which means that if I had to change or cancel my trip for any reason, I would have lost the entire payment. That's another reason not to book through Airbnb, but if things work out and you happen to find a good deal, it's possible! You can even get $55 off your next Airbnb rental by creating a new account. Here's a video tour of my new $250 a month apartment that I found off of Airbnb for 2019-2020!

Monthly Hotel Rentals

The nice thing about Chiang Mai is that there's something for everyone. I used to think anyone who would spend more than 10,000 baht ($308usd) a month on an apartment was stupid as there are options for so much less. However, I had different priorities at that time and a different mindset. I knew that I couldn't afford a more expensive place so I put down others who could.  I loved being frugal and living as cheap as possible and honestly don't regret that part of my life as I really did enjoy it at the time. I had different priorities and was perfectly content having a small dark room and a rock hard mattress, as the alternative would have been living back in US and getting another 9-5 job that I hated just to live somewhere nice. Luckily, later discovered there was a way to get the best of both worlds. I could continue living in Thailand, but earn US dollars, and live in a luxury condo and have all of the amenities of living in California, without having to move back there or get another full time job. I discovered working online and becoming a location independent entrepreneur. 

I started setting big goals for myself, joined a coworking space, bought an online course, and started an online business. After a few months of trial and error as well as a ton of hard work, I started earning anywhere between $2,000-$5,000 a month and was suddenly able to afford nicer and nicer places. It was then I wrote my second book, Life Changes Quick that described the steps I took and what the journey was like. Here is the place I moved into next, bumping up my budget by another $100 and staying at the Pacific Cool Chic Hotel for $300 a month then naturally increasing it by another hundred bucks and staying at the Opium Serviced Apartments for $400 a month. Here are apartment tours of both places. Both are located in Santitham which is the lower cost local Thai neighborhood a 10 minute scooter ride away from the old city and the popular street of Nimmanhemin.

Both were either straight up hotels or serviced apartments with both nightly and monthly rentals. I think the reason why I loved staying at these places was because I was single, loved not having any responsibilities, and enjoyed the convenience of having a front desk reception and weekly house cleaning. If you're staying for a few weeks or less, you could seriously consider just living in a hotel or two for the entire trip. There are plenty of hotel rooms you can find on Agoda such as Chana Place in the old city that I recently stayed at for around 500 baht ($15.40) a night. I wouldn't want to stay in a hotel room for more than a week at a time as it gets a bit odd feeling, but if you're coming for the Nomad Summit and are staying for 1-2 weeks, just stay at a hotel or a serviced apartment, it's easier than trying to find a monthly apartment. Here are a few hotels/serviced apartments I've stayed at during my time in Chiang Mai. The only difference between a hotel and a serviced apartment is the amount of room inside the unit as the latter normally comes with a small kitchen.

Luxury Rentals in Chiang Mai

As my income kept increasing, I kept moving into nicer and nicer places, ultimately settling into what I think is the best apartment in Chiang Mai in terms of layout, amenities, location and service. It's a place that I ended up living in for almost 3 years, with the first two being in a smaller unit before upgrading into the larger corner unit with bigger windows, a separate bathtub, shower, and more space. But I was also paying close to $900 a month which might be a good deal where you live, but in Chiang Mai is a bit insane. But honestly, just like my Thai Millionaire Challenge where my goal was to go from having less than $1,000 in the bank to becoming a Thai Baht Millionaire and have $30,000.  I wanted a big symbol to reward myself if I hit that goal. For the first challenge it was to buy a gold watch which if you've read Life Changes Quick, you'll know that I accomplished after my first year of working online and starting my first dropshipping store.

For my Corner Unit challenge, which I never really named until now, I wanted to reward myself for getting to half a million usd in net worth and officially being able to retire at the age of 35. So I moved into the biggest unit at The Siri Condo which is the heart of my favorite neighborhood in Chiang Mai called Nimmanheimin, or often abbreviated simply as Nimman. It's a place that I dreamed about staying at even as far back as 2012 when I was living in my tiny 3,500 bath/$108 apartment 25 minutes outside of the city in Hang Dong ever since I first visited the area. There are also a ton of cheaper older building in the neighborhood such as Baan Thai, Hillside 1/2/3, or Huay Kaew Residence, but I wanted the flexibility of paying month to month during high season without a contract, and I wanted to stay at the Siri as it really does have the best layout and design of any place I've seen.

Check it out, it's 24,000 thb ($750) a month if you sign a year contract, or $890 a month if you stay there month to month like I did. By the way, even though I think this condo is incredible, the layout and location is perfect, it's honestly a bit overpriced which is why I chose not to stay there again this year. Hopefully prices will go back down if units like this start sitting empty longer as then there'll be room to negotiate it down or for the owner to lower the price on their own.

Finding Apartments Online 

My universal advice I give to all of my friends that move out here is to get a hotel room for 3-5 nights or so to first settle in, check out the different neighborhoods and then find a place in person. It's really hard to figure out if you'll like a place or not by just looking at photos online. Inside apartment itself is doable solely from photos, but things like is there construction next door that will drive you crazy, or what local shops and restaurants are within walking distance are really hard to judge without seeing it in person. Even things like laying in the bed to see if it's rock hard, or like in my most recent case, so cheap that the bed springs were collapsed on one side are impossible to tell without seeing it in person. Even during high season (Dec/Jan) there are plenty of places to be found in person, you'll never be stuck homeless in Chiang Mai. The best deals are always the places you find in person that don't advertise online, and there are plenty of them, especially at the lower end for apartments in the 7,000 baht ($215) a month or less range which are the majority of Thai apartments not the ones designed for foreigners.

My advice it to always come to Chiang Mai for a minimum of 3 months or longer. That way you can really get to know the city, build longer term friendships and relationships, have time to actually build or scale up your business and be an actual digital nomad instead of just a tourist or traveler. Not only is it much cheaper, especially when you factor in the price of your plane ticket, but also most good condos and apartments require a minimum of a 3-6 contract to rent. If you're staying 3+ months check out Perfect Homes as that's where I found my apartment to rent this time around and believe they're the best property resource for finding long term rentals in Chiang Mai. They have a huge selection of both condos and houses for rent, and since they don't charge the renter any commission, and only charge the property owner a relatively low fee, there's really no reason not to go through them for the convenience and selection. Although, like I mentioned above it's still often cheaper to find a book a place in person, even during high season, as a lot of the cheaper buildings aren't listed anywhere online, and even the ones that are, may be cheaper in person. Check out my friend Megan's video showing her experience looking for places in person here in Chiang Mai.

Month to Month Online

If you're not on a super tight budget, or you really want to book a place online as you'll only be here for a month and don't have the time to look in person, a great site to look for places to rent online is Nomad Rental. They're super transparent with exact addresses, prices and name of the condo which means you can double check they aren't charging you more than going direct. I used to link to them and recomend them but recently as they've gotten busier, they've raised their prices and have had poor customer service. I had a friend book through them months in advance only to show up with no room, terrible customer service and no refund for their $30 service fee.

Their selection is also limited and it's hard to know what the surrounding neighborhood is like until you actually get there. The other issue is that if everyone goes to the "nomad hotspot apartments" like the Siri, prices go up as the more people rent short term, month to month, the less likely the owners are to keep prices reasonable.

If you're looking at places for $200 a month or less (6,400 baht) there are actually hundreds of buildings all around Chiang Mai that aren't listed on any website or property rental service can only be booked in person by walking in and being friendly to the owner, or by calling the local thai number on the wall in front of the building. Examples include the above $200 a month apartment I stayed at just being punspace nimman, and Baan Thai which is the cheapest apartments in Nimman with a pool. Even around my building, just walking a few blocks, I've seen a few for rent fliers with local thai numbers for super cheap $150-$250 a month apartments in this great neighborhood that aren't available online and only booked in person. You can also try looking through various facebook groups for rentals but honestly, it's a huge waste of time, especially if you aren't familiar with the neighborhoods.

Whatever you do, don't book your apartment through Airbnb, Booking, Tripadvisor or Agoda if you want to save money. Prices on there are always at least 30% more than they are if you book directly through the condo or through a local agent if staying for 3 months or longer. However if you're insistent on just staying 1 month, then Airbnb or serviced apartments may be your only choice. (Use this link to get $55 off your Airbnb Rental, new accounts only.)

Map of Chiang Mai and Where to Stay

Renting Private Villas

A lot of people dream about living in a big house with a bunch of friends when they come to SE Asia. On one hand, it's possible, and can be done for a price that would be unheard of in Miami, Southern California, or wherever you live back home. However, even though they are available, just like in Bali where the trend was made super popular by instagramers and travel bloggers, to be honest, it's almost never worth the hassle of being that far outside of the city center. I would only recomend it if you plan on doing a workacation or retreat and don't plan on leaving the villa very often. As the literal definition of villa means big fancy house in the countryside, which usually means you're in the middle of nowhere. Or at least a 25 minute drive from the city center.

That being said, if you look on Perfect Homes or other local Thai Rental sites, you'll see some wow properties ranging from $1,900 a month to $4,375 a month. If you look through Airbnb, you'll find a lot more selection but at $5,000-$25,000 a month, the places are clearly overpriced.

Honestly, the charm of Chiang Mai is the fact that you can live so close enough to walk, bike, or scooter to all of the cafes, restaurants, and shops in the city center, have your own apartment, and be able to escape to nature when you want. Chiang Mai isn't a place to splash cash and show off. Phuket, Bangkok, and Koh Samui are better places for that in Thailand. But at the end of the day, it's your choice as we all have different priorities, I'm just here to remind you that the best thing in life money can buy is freedom. The best thing about Chiang Mai is that for what you would normally spend in a luxury week trip in Dubai, Maldives, or Hawaii, you can rent a nice apartment for an entire year and have the freedom of not worrying about financial stress while still living a very comfortable life.

Chiang Mai Villa
Beautiful Villa for $3,750 a month, a 25 minute drive from the center.

Villas on Airbnb are overpriced but convenient to find

Chiang Mai Neighborhoods 

Honestly, after living in Chiang Mai and having the convenience of being so close to everything you want and need, I would never live in the suburbs again as long as I'm not raising children. The only reason why people in New York would choose to live over the bridge in a suburbs is because it's too expensive to live in Manhattan. If you could get a nice 1-bedroom apartment in Tribeca or SOHO for $500 a month, I'd be willing to bet everyone would live there instead of having to commute in. The problem with "only being 20 minutes" outside the city is even if it only takes 20 minutes to get to the edge of the city, often you'll have to deal with traffic and one way streets to get to where you actually want to be. Trust me when I tell you that 10 out of 10 people who I know that moved 20 minutes outside the city end up never coming to dinner, board game nights, or meetups, as often as they used to because of the hassle, even though 100% of them promised it wouldn't change.

I made a map with the neighborhoods that most digital nomads, expats and long term travelers would find important which is broken down to these main areas:

Nimmanhaemin Road: 

For most digital nomads I'd stay near PunSpace Nimman, the coworking space, as it's where all of the coffee shops, restaurants, and things to do are. The Nimmanhaemin area is equivalent to the East Village in New York or SOMA in San Francisco. The only people I wouldn't recommend it for is for for people under 22 that want to be closer to the backpacker scene or if you're much older and want a bit more space or peace and quiet. If you're more into dreadlocks and buckets than coffee and craft beer, then check out the area near Thapae Gate. Other nice things about Nimman is that there are two malls, three gyms, a cinema, and around 50 restaurants and 40 coffee shops in the area as well as three co-working spaces, so it's the ideal idea for digital nomads.

Some of my favorite places in the Nimman area include The Siri Condo, The Unique at Nimman, Liv at Nimman, S Condo, Punna Residence and some cheaper places like Hillside Condo 2, 3, 4, Sritana 2 and PT Residence. The only downside is some of them are overpriced. There are a ton of new condos being built all of the time, but unfortunately they often hire the worst architects and have terrible room layouts like The Nimmana and Palm Springs. A lot of pools are also covered by the building making them useless to sunbathe in.

My favorite hotels near Nimman if you want to first check out the area for a few days are Nimman Boutique Resort then Baiyoke Ciao both available on Agoda which is where I book my hotels when I travel.

Nimman is the trendy cafe, university and nomad area

Airport Area:

There's not much to do around the Airport aside from a decent mall called Airport Plaza, and a few Muay Thai and MMA Gyms including KC and Team Quest. Further south down that airport main road (Hangdong Road) is a suburb with cheap houses for rent and a few schools that English teachers work at, but almost nothing to do. It's a great place for families as some of the best schools are out there, but unless you primarily stay at home, need a big place, and want to drive a car, Hang Dong is a place I'd avoid staying at.

If you stay in Hangdong or near the airport, I'd find a house through Perfect Homes, or a condo near Airport Central Plaza at Airport Resident.

South of the Airport is a popular suburb for expats with families. 

Old City District: 

This is the main tourist/backpacker area. It's easy to locate as it's surrounded by a moat and has 4 entrances/exits known as North/South/East/West gates. There's a ton of good food around the South Gate and a great Saturday night market, but aside from that, if you're going to live in the old city, try to stay around the East Gate, also known as Thapae Gate as they have a great Sunday walking street market, and most of the restaurants and bars you'll frequently including the one everyone ends up at sooner or later, Zoe in Yellow Bar.

Now that Punspace has owned their new Wiang Kaew location, that means there are two coworking spaces in the area and a great place to live around if you work online and want to experience the more touristic highlights of Chiang Mai. There are a ton of hotels in the old city but I've never stayed there long term as I never found an apartment that I loved inside the city walls. It's sometimes tempting to stay near the river at one of the new as it's technically close to the city, but since most things I do are in the Nimman area, it becomes too far of a drive.

Within the North, East, South, and West Gates is the Old City

Riverside Area:

Technically still part of the old city area, being outside of the gates near ping river, there are a lot of really nice condos built for mainly older expats. On one hand you're relatively close to the old city and a ton of restaurants and nice places. However, you're quite far from the Nimman area which means it's a bit of a pain to get to places you might want to hang out if you're under 35 and like going to trendy coffee shops and bars. That being said, new condos like the Astra Condo with it's rooftop pool or the city resort of Floral Condo both look amazing.

I'd recomend this area if you are 45 years or older and are more into the expat and internations scene than you are the mostly younger digital nomad scene. There's also some really nice hotels here such as the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort and Shangri La Hotel.

The older expat area of Chiang Mai and the Riverside restaurants

Santitham District: 

There's not a ton to do in this area aside from the few bars close to Huay Kaew road on the border of the Nimman area, but since it's close to both Nimman and the Old city, while being a bit cheaper since it's more of a local neighborhood, it's a great deal. It's also closer to GoGym, CrossFit and Fight Fight gyms which is why I stayed there. I wouldn't recomend it though unless you've been in Chiang Mai for a while and are familiar with the city, have a scooter, and want to save some money. There are some new luxury condos popping up in Santiam such as D'Vieng condo which look nice and are a decent value. There's also The Opium and Pacific Cool Chic both which I've stayed at in the past. Also on the actual superhighway there are a bunch of new mega condos such as the Wintree City Resort that look really nice if you don't mind being just off a busy highway and dealing with that. This area is also known as Chang Phueak if you cross the highway, which I wouldn't recomend as it's hard to get around if you're north of it.

There's nothing wrong with this area as it's relatively close to everything, local, cheap, and I've actually lived here three different times. However, it was never my first choice, just a great value.

A Local Thai Area with Local Prices

Suthep / Suan Dok Area:

This is a relatively unknown area in Chiang Mai even though it's situated exactly halfway in between Nimman and the west gate of the old city making it super convenient. It's a quiet local Thai neighborhood that's a nice mix of apartment buildings and old houses. It's a great area to look if you want to be close to the city but want to rent a house and not a condo. Suthep road also leads up the hiking trail just past Basecamp coffee which is a great place to get into nature. It's where I'm currently staying and think is the most underrated area in the city, one that will surely become more and more popular in the upcoming years. The road itself that connects from the old city up to the mountain is called Suthep road, but the best area to stay in would be near the temple of Wat Suan Dok as it's close by both the bottom part of Nimman at Sirimangkalajarn Road and close to the old city.

Condos to check out include all of the OnePlus Condos 1, 2, 3, 4, Casa Condo, C-One Serviced Apartments, SD Condo, Dcondo Campus, and Wing Place. You can book them through Perfect Homes for 3-12 Month rentals, and NomadRental for shorter 1 month stays.

Local Thai Area Near Nimman on Suthep Road

Central Festival Area: 

It's super far out, on the super highway and on the over side of the river so we never go there. However I think it's going to be a good neighborhood in the next 2-3 years as more and more expats are moving out there, houses are super cheap and condos are spacious and affordable. There's also Star Coworking out there, as well as really nice condos such as D Condo Nim that are much cheaper and bigger than you'd get in the center.

The mega mall, Central Festival is really cool and has everything you need including a movie theater, supermarket, and even an ice skating rink.  It's also close to the bus station and is the up and coming place to live if you don't mind driving. Personally I wouldn't live there as it's dangerous to drive on a scooter that far everyday and I wouldn't want to rely solely on Grabtaxi now that Uber has been acquired.

Nice suburb for those with a car near the Mega Mall

Driving in Chiang Mai

Even though even the furthest neighborhoods I mentioned above are technically only a 20-25 minute scooter ride away, the reason why I don't stay out there or recomend it, even though places are both bigger and cheaper is because it's extremely dangerous riding a scooter on the highway everyday. It's also not always easy getting taxis to pick you up or drop of you off there, and now that Uber has been bought by Grab, you have even less choices. I'd rather live closer to the city and pay a bit more for the convenience and safely and suggest you do as well.

Below is a map of what I give friends and property managers when looking for a place. The reason why I say not past Maya Mall is the 8 minute traffic light is so annoying and soul draining, it's not worth living past if you have the option to avoid it. That being said, I also stay inside the super highway as it's hard to cross if you're north of it. At the end of the day, my biggest recommendation is to stay close to where you you'll spend the most amount of time, whether it be your gym, coworking space, or if you're a digital nomad, the meetups and coffee shops.

Another great way to get around in Chiang Mai is through the new bicycle sharing service called MoBike (get 5 free rides when signing up). They have bicycles all around the city and best of all, you can leave them anywhere when you're done. I use them for short trips around town as it's faster than walking.

Within the green area is where I'd recomend staying

Where I Stay Now

A lot has changed in the years that I've been living on and off in Chiang Mai. The first time I came here was actually 10 years ago as a tourist when I first moved to Thailand. In 2012 I moved here again to train and compete in Muay Thai. I can honestly say that out of all of the places I've been in the world, Chiang Mai is still where my heart is and I truly love it here. I've been blogging, making videos of and podcasting about how great it is since 2013 and am grateful for all of the people I inspired to come as they often come up to me and tell me how much they love it here and are glad I introduce them to it. On one hand, I'm part of the problem of introducing Chiang Mai to thousands of people who ultimately drive up the prices of apartments in the city. 

However in the years that I've been here I've also seen nicer restaurants open up, better coffee shops, luxury apartments, coworking spaces, craft beer bars, and other advancements that only come with an influx of money. The goal now is to make sure we don't artificially drive up prices by overpaying on places like Airbnb or renting apartments month to month when in reality, signing a 3-6 month or event a 1 year contract should be the norm. This is why this time around i'm staying for 5 months until just after the next Nomad Summit and leaving before burning season starts in March. Instead of paying 24,000 - 28,000 baht a month for the Siri in Nimman, I decided to live a bit outside of the main area and support the local neighborhood of Suan Dok. I'm now paying a more reasonable $463 a month instead of close to double that amount or even the $750 I negotiated my old room above at the Siri down to by staying bit longer.

The reason why I'm renting again and not buying a place is after doing the math, mainly because of burning season, it doesn't make financial sense to buy a condo in Chiang Mai as rent is so cheap and flexible. It'll take 10+ years to recoup your initial costs and because there are no building restrictions, new condos are always being built while old ones are hardly maintained. Read my blog post about buying vs. renting a house for more info. 

Now that you've seen all of the places I've lived at in the past, here it is, the apartment tour of my new place that i'll be staying at for the next 4-5 months. 

Negotiating Prices and High Season

If you're coming in the low season (March-October) don't be afraid to politely negotiate or ask for a discount. Don't waste people's time asking for discounts on places you can't afford or aren't actually interested in, but also don't be afraid to ask for a better price. A lot of luxury condos in Chiang Mai have skyrocketed in price lately compared to rental prices just a few years ago for no real reason aside from people being willing to overpay. So next time you see a place for 22,000 baht a month that really should be 18,000 baht, politely ask the owner or ask the agent to ask the owner to see what they're willing to do.

I've done it, and know friends who have done it with success. Just make sure you're nice about it when you do ask. It's also helpful if you're willing to stay longer or if you come during the low season like I did this September after units have been sitting empty for a couple of months. If you've read my book 12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap, you'll already know all of the benefits of staying in Thailand for 3 months or longer and how much money it ends up saving you to be here long term especially when you factor in the cost of plane tickets which people seldom do.

If you really can't stay longer and are just coming for high season which is December-January, and staying for 2 months or less, the easiest thing to do would be to book a place on Airbnb even though you'll be paying more. It's unnecessary in Chiang Mai when monthly rentals are so easy to find if you look around enough in person especially if you're willing to stay for 3 months or longer, which you should anyways to get the most out of the city.  If you're looking for an even better value or a cheaper thai style unit, you can still come, stay a few nights and find a place in person as there's always something available. Even during high season, I've never heard of anyone not being able to find a place to live, there's plenty of apartments in the city.

Read my blog post, "Johnny's Guide to Chiang Mai" next for more info you'll need to know before coming to Chiang Mai.

Read the Blog Post Guide Next Up.

Wrap Up Thoughts

I hope you got a lot out of this article and it helps you find a place you truly love. As I mentioned in the video above, please don't automatically just stay where everyone else is staying or follow directly in my footsteps. Part of the adventure is carving and finding your own way, and creating your own path. Trust me when I tell you that the best places to stay in Chiang Mai or anywhere in the world won't be easily found online by asking in a facebook group, blog post or apartment booking site. Whenever people stay in popular apartments month to month and keep them full at high rates instead of spreading them out, prices increase and become overpriced. That's why I was hesitant at first to even name my favorite condos and apartments as I know many people won't do their own searches online, in groups or in person and will automatically stay there.

My recommendation is to come for a 3 or more months and get to know the different areas and enjoy everything Chiang Mai and the community we've built here has to offer. It really is an amazing place. Read my Free Guide to Chiang Mai before you come as there's a ton more info in there about visas, sim cards, where to stay and what to do once you're here. Share this post in a group or with a friend that's looking for a place to stay.

Leave a comment below and let us know where you've living now, how much you're paying, and feel free to ask any questions if you have them. Make sure you read both 12 Weeks in Thailand and Life Changes quick if you haven't already, as if you enjoyed this post, you'll love the books and get more of the backstory of how the digital nomad community in Chiang Mai first started and was built.

Read the book on how it all started here in Chiang Mai!

Listen to interviews with successful digital nomads in Chiang Mai

Read Next: 30 Must Do Things to do in Chiang Mai

With Love from Chiang Mai, 

Johnny FD

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Post a Comment

  1. Feel free to ask any questions here. Or leave a comment! Where are you currently living and how much do you pay?

  2. Chiang Mai is beyond awesome Johnny. We have been focused on house sitting in Pong Noi 2 years prior but used to rent lovely apartments in the Chiang Mai Riverside condo for $400 to $500 a month. We rented a luxury place for $700 a month that would have cost $2000 easy in Hoboken, NJ, up the road from me. Fabulous city with the best cost of living and quality of life combo going.

    1. Hey Ryan, that's crazy how much value we can get for a luxury condo here in Chiang Mai vs. back home right. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I agree about the quality of life here being unparalleled.

  3. Good post Johnny. I know that most of the Digital Nomad types like to stay in the city center but if you have a family or just like peace and quiet, don't be afraid to check out the suburbs.

    I live in Baan Karnkanok 2, a village (suburb development) in Doi Saket district. I have a 2 story, 3 bedroom, 2 bath furnished house and pay 14,000 baht per month plus utilities. The village has a clubhouse with pool and 3 parks. You do need a vehicle here but Promenada mall (where immigration is) and Central Festival mall are only about 15 minutes away. There are still plenty of houses available for rent.

    I beg to differ with Johnny about the superhighways. In my opinion, they are safer than driving around the city center. The reason is, you don't have to worry about vehicles flying out from a side street or cutting you off while they try to make a turn. Just stay out of the fast lane (far right lane) and you should be fine.

    The links to agencies that Johnny gives are good but I'd also like to recommend a friend of mine. She speaks English and knows the city like the back of her hand. You can contact Noi at:

    1. Thanks for the input Terry. I agree that for families the suburbs are great value where you can get a bit place for an amazing price. I still hold strong though that if you're going to do it, you should take taxis or drive a car. Even though most of the time driving a scooter on the highway won't have any issues, the problem is, when cars are going 100km/60mph and you're on a scooter without proper gear...which let's face it, we never wear as it's too hot and inconvenient to do so, it just takes one accident to be fatal.

      Driving in the city center may be more prone to small accidents, but they aren't the fatal ones as we're usually going pretty slow.

    2. That sounds like a great deal, Terry! Do you know if they have one and two bedroom units available at the moment?

    3. That sounds like a great deal, Terry! Do you know if they have one and two bedroom units available at the moment?

  4. This is great -- definitely bookmarking for future reference. This line cracked me up: "f you're more into dreadlocks and buckets than coffee and craft beer, then check out the area near Thapae Gate"

  5. What are your plans now that you're back in Chiang Mai? Will it be 'heads-down' on a new business venture? A new DS store perhaps?

    1. I got a few goals for my 4 months in Chiang Mai including scaling up some businesses. I'll be writing about them in detail in my next monthly income report that i've already started and will publish on the 1st of Oct =)

  6. You promised it was epic Johnny. And it was! I'd finished my Earl Grey before reading it but mainly because it was past midnight! My partner and I fall into the family category with one young daughter and another on the way so this is super helpful as we consider where to live next when the baby is born. We're here until early November and will be trying different areas so maybe see you around sometime!

    1. Hey awesome Colin! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and your Earl Grey tea!

  7. Great Article, very useful as always.

  8. Incredible article. Really detailed and useful information. Kristin Wilson introduced me to your content, and so glad she did.

    Thanks for taking your time to write this

    1. Hey awesome Rodrigo, say hi to Kristin for me. I'm glad she turned you onto my blog!

  9. Thank you so much Johny for your nice and informative guideline. I am coming Chiangmai to the next January for few months. That's the reason I am looking real info. Thanks again, man!

    1. Happy to help! I hope you enjoyed your time in Chiang Mai! Glad to provide the real info!

  10. Hi,I am old korean man. I am planning to stay in ChiangMai coming spring for about 3 months with my wife. I saw your YouTube video regarding the condo you live in. Your video was very impressive to me. The condo in the video was very good for all of my needs. So it is much appreciated if you let me know the name of the condo that you lived as of September 2018. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks in advance. Regards, Lee in Seoul

  11. Hi, I am old Korean man. I am planning to stay in ChiangMai for about three months this Spring. I saw your YouTube video regarding the condo you lived in as of September 2018. It was very impressive to me that the condo was very good for all my needs. So I would like to know the name of the condo in order for me to review in detail. It would be much appreciated if you inform me of the condo name. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you in advance. Regards, LEE in Seoul

  12. Thank you, Johnny! Such a helpful blog for location independent individuals like me. I plan to visit Chiang Mai in May and work online for a month while traveling.

  13. Hey Man. Great article. Is there a good resource for this kind of thing but more in depth on moving with a family? The a to z of finances and dealing with finances in the usa etc. Ive been really looking for a place to go for 6 mos to a year with my wife 2 kids and 2 dogs. Kids are 11 and 12

    1. I'd suggest first looking at places that would work visa, costs of living and weather wise, then see if you can find a podcast interview or blog post from someone who's lived there with a family. I know that Chiang Mai has quite a few examples, like Josh Summers from this episode:


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