27 Aug 2017 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 Thailand
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.
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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
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.
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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 Community
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.
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