Why We’re Living in Chiang Mai

Why We’re Living in Chiang Mai

Friends and family ask us all the time why are you living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. So, we thought we’d further explain why we like this place enough to call it home for a few months this year.

It’s Thailand, but it’s not ThailandWhy we live in Chaing Mai-2

It may seem like a strange thing to hear, but once you have been here you’ll know what it means. There is a higher standard of living in Chiang Mai, there are lots of wealthy and highly educated Thai people that live here. There is just about any modern convenience you could need here. However, if you want the real Thailand just go a few blocks and you can find yourself in a bustling night market like anywhere else in Thailand.

Related Article: Getting A Sak Yant Tattoo in Chiang Mai

It’s EasyWhy we live in Chaing Mai

You can easy feel like you are at home here in Chiang Mai. We have everything that we are used to and at a very low cost of living. Without trying too hard we spend about 75% less than we would in the US. Chiang Mai is big enough to have everything you need but small enough to walk everywhere. On average, we budget ourselves $1,100 per month. This covers our rent, utilities, food, too many beers with friends, some regional travel, and everything else. We live comfortably for that amount and we could easily make some cut backs to save more money, but that’s not really why we come here. We come here to live well for little money, the cost of living in Thailand is affordable all over Thailand.

The Internet is Great

prAna - Day in the life of a travel blogger-1

There’s a reason why a ton of ‘Digital Nomads’ call Chiang Mai home, the internet is very fast. We pay 899 Baht ($30) per month to have a dedicated Fiber Optic line that is 30mbps download, and 10 Mbps upload. There are lots of free wifi spots across the city and cafes with speeds around 2mbps and higher. It may not be important to some, but we rely on the internet quite a bit and it’s a big deal to us and anyone that works online. Of all the 66 countries we visited on this trip only two places have had better internet. Strangely, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, and Riga, Latvia have had better internet speeds. Also, cell phone service is very cheap and fast data, for 399 Baht ($12) we have unlimited data at fast speeds.

Related Article: Christmas in Thailand

It’s Safecop car malaysia

Of all the places we have traveled, Chiang Mai just feels incredibly safe in every sense. I don’t feel like I am going to get hit by a motorbike crossing the street like most of SE Asia. I have no problem with Hannah going across town by herself, even after bar close there just nothing bad going on. This surely can’t be said for most of the rest of the world. We often work on our computers at the coffee shops around town and people will just leave their computers at a table while they go across the street. No one even thinks twice about it, and nothing happens, no one steals the computers. Maybe traveling has made us too paranoid, but Chiang Mai is just different. Feeling safe is key, it lets us spend some much needed time not right next to each other like we have for the last 500 or so days straight.

Good International CommunityThailand Floating Market-5

There are people from everywhere in the world and everybody is here for the same reasons, and most people are very like minded. There are so many interesting and creative people that make Chiang Mai their second home that it makes it a very diverse city. In the few months we have been here we have had beers with people from 30 different countries or more.

Many people get sucked into Chiang Mai and stay for a lot longer than they planned for all the reasons above. Time passes strangely fast here. It often comes up while talking to other people staying in Chiang Mai long term how easy it is to live here and how fast the time goes.

Chiang Mai is good, but it’s not perfect.

Some of the same things that make it so good also take away from the experience too. Sometimes it’s too easy, too much like home (a warmer home). A few other low spots for Chiang Mai is the pollution. Still light years better than Bangkok, but the emissions regulations in Thailand are very low and even the moderate amount of traffic that Chiang Mai sees makes hard to breathe near traffic. There is always a construction project and businesses are quickly whipping up condos, bars, and restaurants that all kinda look-a-like and very cheaply made. Most places in the city are very new and lack character.

When you weigh it out, the positive far outweighs the bad, and that’s what makes Chiang Mai a great place to base ourselves. So, that’s why we are back in Chiang Mai until the end of April before heading back to Africa in May.

For More Articles On Thailand Check Out:

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29 Comments
  • Katie
    Posted at 17:43h, 17 February Reply

    Sounds like an awesome spot to base yourselves but it’s a shame it isn’t anywhere near the water. I love living by the sea so it would be hard for me not to

    • Hannah
      Posted at 04:53h, 21 February Reply

      Katie is the best place for us right now. I wish there was a sea nearby…but you can’t have everything I guess!

  • Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe
    Posted at 20:00h, 17 February Reply

    Just from visiting Chiang Mai for a few days, these reasons totally make sense. Seems like a great place to call “home” as a traveler/blogger! (BTW- I’m headed to Riga this May so I’m going to have to hit y’all up for some tips)!

    • Hannah
      Posted at 04:54h, 21 February Reply

      Yeah Karisa Chiang Mai is great. How long you planning on going to Riga? Lovely little town, I can have my cousin show you around too!

  • Rashaad
    Posted at 20:09h, 17 February Reply

    Since you’re living in Chiang Mai, where are you going to make your customary beach visits? I associate you two with the beach (especially, Hannah) so I certainly hope you continue to enjoy sun and sand.

    That said, Chiang Mai certainly seems like a great place. I can’t say I’ve spent too much time there but the last time I was in Thailand, I visited the city and had a great time.

    • Hannah
      Posted at 05:00h, 21 February Reply

      Well we just went to Koh Lipe, which is our favorite island in the world. Yes I love the beach, I do still layout at the pool at our apartment to make up on lost beach time!

  • Maddie
    Posted at 13:05h, 18 February Reply

    Chiang Mai is fairly high on our ‘places we could live list’ it’s easy to see why the expat community is so large there. For me it was the perfect blend of Western convenience but with all of the fantastic things that Thailand has to offer, glad to hear you’re enjoying your time there.

    • Hannah
      Posted at 05:11h, 21 February Reply

      See you know exactly what I am talking about! We are loving life here.

  • Meg Jerrard
    Posted at 19:02h, 18 February Reply

    YOu had me at “the internet is great” 😀 That’s all I need to satisfy me that a place is great to live in lol!!

    • Hannah
      Posted at 05:07h, 21 February Reply

      LOL yes solid internet, that is all you really need to survive!

  • Kendra Granniss
    Posted at 06:27h, 21 February Reply

    I left Chiang Mai after 3 days to go up to Pai. I only spent 2 nights in Pai before turning around again! I missed Chiang Mai so much. It was instant love for me. I can see why you love it so much!

    • Adam
      Posted at 03:43h, 26 February Reply

      We haven’t made the trip up to Pai yet, did you like it? Chiang Mai is our new home and we love it!

  • Bob
    Posted at 19:33h, 22 February Reply

    Have heard nothing but good things about Chang Mai. My only concern would be I get there and it’s full of foreigners.

    • Adam
      Posted at 03:45h, 26 February Reply

      There are a good amount of foreigners and tourists, but the tourists mainly are in the moat and foreigners are spread out. We really like having our expat friends, and western amenities here.

  • Nathan
    Posted at 00:49h, 25 February Reply

    If you haven’t already I would be interested in reading a thorough account of how you went about finding an apartment to rent. I’m considering renting apartment there within the next month or so. Where do you find apartments that are available to rent? How did you decide what area to rent in? What can you expect per month for what you pay? I would be interested to read an article that covered these topics.

  • Nigel
    Posted at 01:19h, 07 March Reply

    I did a complete 180 on Chiang Mai! I couldn’t fiigure out why people liked this place so much. I thought it was bland and had no atomsphere. But then I gave it some time and came in contact with some cool people.

  • Sari | Pakkasesta Paratiisin
    Posted at 23:49h, 22 March Reply

    Oh I so agree with you, thanks for a great post! Chiang Mai feels like home! I’ve been here 2 months now with my boyfriend and we are so sad to leave the city. We lived 4 months in Phuket last year and I was ready to go back home after 2,5 months… But CM is so different and like you said it’s not Thailand, especially when living in Nimman.

  • Daniel SabbaticalBackpacking
    Posted at 05:46h, 09 May Reply

    hi , chiang mai is my favorite Place in Thailand. Its big enough but not polluted as in Bangkok but you have all convenience and the nightlife is amazing. I love the redcars and the many temples and live music. It’s really a must see if you are in Thailand and not for a day or two, rather for some weeks. Have you guys been to a Muay Thai Fight?

  • Wayne Seto
    Posted at 12:33h, 29 May Reply

    Great post. I agree with all your points. After travelling steady for almost 3 months, I decided to settle down for a bit in Chiang Mai. I love it here. It’s got a good balance of everything that you need. It’s very relaxed. Perhaps too relaxed, as I find it hard to have any discipline and a get anything done. I shouldn’t complain…I love the place.

  • Krystsal
    Posted at 00:03h, 15 October Reply

    Can you recommend any good places to stay for just a few short days….primarily good in location. Also a recommendation of the top 3 or 4 things to see/do in Chiang Mai….and top 3 or 4 places to eat?? Thanks so much!

    • Hannah
      Posted at 01:25h, 17 October Reply

      First decide if you want to be by Nimman or Old City. We have never stayed in a hotel so can’t suggest any in particular. For sure I would eat at: Food 4 Thought (7 min walk from Nimman), The Cat House (block outside walled city), Beast Burger Truck (nimman), and honestly Tops supermarket food court has tasty cheap Thai food! To do: hit up loads of coffee shops around Nimman, Doi Suthep, Ladyboy show in the night market is fun and only $5, Sat/Sun night market, massages, massages, and more massages!

  • Tony Hallman
    Posted at 14:27h, 14 January Reply

    Does Thailand require foreigners to have health insurance? Are there many basic employment opportunities foreigners can find?

    • Adam
      Posted at 11:39h, 15 January Reply

      There is no requirement for health insurance for visitors to Thailand. Travel/health insurance is always good to have, but if you’re tight on budget the medical care in Thailand is very affordable and high quality in the big cities. I can’t advise you to take or not take insurance, but I hope this helps a bit.

      As for work, working is not permitted without special visas which can be difficult to get. Many people work under the table offering English lessons or working at hotels & bars but it’s not legal and you could get into trouhttps://www.gettingstamped.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-formble.

      • MarkDeafMcGuire
        Posted at 15:49h, 11 April Reply

        Is working on your blog as a business conside red a visa requirement?

  • Anthony Hallman
    Posted at 15:05h, 15 January Reply

    Thank you for your response.

    I’ve found many volunteer opportunities at workaway.info, and would like to find out how the government restricts long-term volunteering (could you provide a link?), that is, for how many months or years and any restrictions. Thank you for your time.

    • Adam
      Posted at 16:18h, 15 January Reply

      You should be able to get a visa letting you visit Thailand for 6 months if you apply for it beforehand and get them the correct documents, but that won’t legally let you volunteer (but there is a lot of gray area here). Technically the Thai government requires you to get a work visa even for volunteering. There is a lot of misinformation on the web and lots of sites trying to sell you visas and things. The only way to get a straight answer is to contact the Thai embassy near you. For you, it would probably be the one in Chicago. Address: 700 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611, United States
      Phone:+1 312-664-3129

      They will be able to answer your questions accurately.

  • Jo (The Blonde)
    Posted at 22:16h, 21 January Reply

    And let’s not forget: the bars close at midnight.

  • ChinaMatt
    Posted at 23:48h, 10 June Reply

    Sounds a bit like why I moved to Taipei. It was almost entirely an economic decision. Wish I had the Thai food you have though.

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