If, like us, you want to settle in Chiang Mai for an extended period of time you probably want to find a long-term rental to save some money. There’s a fairly good amount of longer term properties for rent in Chiang Mai, but with the caveat that many of them will only rent to you with minimum three, six, or twelve month lease agreements. Another caveat is that many of the good places will be full during high season. Still, with sufficient effort it shouldn’t be too hard to find a good monthly rental for a decent price. We hit the streets hard for two days looking for a place. Here is what we learned:
How to search
We used a variety of tactics to find our place: Facebook groups, VRBO, AirBnB, and a lot of good old-fashioned door knocking.
The two relevant Facebook groups are Secondhand and Real Estate Chiang Mai and Chiang Mai Condos for Sale and Rent. We made a post in the latter describing what we were looking for and were contacted by a few real estate agents who showed us a few places. If you plan on spending at least three months in Chiang Mai, this is probably your best bet. These agents will help you find a place that fits all of your requirements. (Tip: make sure you have the Line messaging app installed on your phone to communicate with them.)
VRBO also has a couple of listings for Chiang Mai, but nowhere near the amount as AirBnB. Most of the listings also required minimum three month stays.
We also did a lot of good old-fashioned door knocking. Basically, we drove around our desired neighborhood on our scooter and dropped in the lobbies of buildings that looked good. We found a few good options this way, as well as a few that were overpriced.
We ended up going with a place on AirBnB because, while it was a little more expensive than some other options, the location was great, and we were able to secure a month to month agreement, which suits our style of travel. The other benefit to this option is you can secure your place before you arrive, though we recommend getting here first so you can get a sense of the place and neighborhoods before you make a decision.
What to expect
There are some aspects of apartment hunting here that you’ll already be familiar with and others that are unique. Expect to put down one or two months rent as a security deposit. Make sure you move your funds and make withdrawals well in advance to prevent account holds and withdrawal limits from holding up the process.
An interesting aspect of renting here is that almost all of the apartments we looked at were in need of a good cleaning. They would have cleaned before we moved in but one would think they would do that before they showed us the apartment to give it the best appearance and themselves a better chance of renting it out. This is not the case. Many of the places we looked at were dirty, which confidence in us did not inspire. Chalk it up to cultural differences.
Performing a cursory Google of ‘neighborhoods Chiang Mai’ and you’ll probably hear about Nimmanhaemin. Nimmanhaemin, or just Nimman for short, is a road and neighborhood northwest of the old city in Chiang Mai. The neighborhood is chic and trendy, with a decent amount of restaurants, cafes, and bars all within walking distance. If you’re on a shoestring budget, Nimman is not where you should be looking, as many of the condos here cater to upscale clientele. If you can swing the higher price tag it is a good place to base yourself as it’s in convenient proximity to pretty much everything you need.
Another area popular with expats and digital nomads is Santitham. It’s an up and coming hood close to Nimman with a couple of nice new condominiums. It’s a little less expensive than Nimman while still being close to everything Nimman has to offer.
There are many more neighborhoods in Chiang Mai to choose from. For more in-depth info on them, check out this blog post by a long-term resident.
We picked this spot on AirBnB because of it’s great location and cozy feel. Unlike a lot of the places we looked at, it was clean when we made our inspection and the host was very welcoming and accommodating. It’s located inside the Hillside 4 condo building which is a little old and in need of repair, but the studio itself is nice. There is a gym in the building. It costs extra, but is very affordable. Internet is included and the Wifi works great. There are coin operated washers and dryers on the first floor, as well as a water station to fill your bottles.
Our budget recommendation
For those looking for maximum value in Chiang Mai, we recommend Residence SG. They rent simple but clean rooms for 8,000 Baht a month (~$250). The rooms are basic studios with no kitchen, but they were clean. The building is not as conveniently located as something in Nimman area, but it’s only a short ride away on a scooter.