Searching for Home in Chiang Mai

Well, it’s taken us about five days, but we’ve finally signed a lease agreement for three months on a condominium just outside of the Old City! This post will mainly be a chronicle of our process of searching for somewhere to live; Julia and I each wrote a post in parallel and posted them at about the same time, so make sure you scroll down to Julia’s post!

On our last night in Bangkok (Wednesday the 13th), we had done some research and came across this blog post of another American couple that underwent a similar experience. In that post, the writer mentions several different agencies that she contacted and which ones responded. We sent a short email to each agency introducing ourselves, and detailing what we were looking for – a one bedroom condo/apartment with a kitchen, pool preferred, not too far away from the city, for three months. Chiang Mai Properties (CMP) was the only agency of the bunch that has an online search feature, which gave us an idea of how much money we would need to spend in order to get what we wanted. Based on that, we thought we’d like to spend no more than $500/month (about 18000 Baht).

We landed on Thursday night in Chiang Mai and checked into our hotel, The Simply Room, that we had reserved for two days. By then, we had only heard back from one agency, and they told us that because we wanted a lease for only three months, they only had one apartment we could look at. We had no other leads, and wanted to get our feet wet, so we made an appointment for the following morning to see the apartment. The apartment was only a couple kilometers away, so the next morning we rented a couple of bicycles and met her there. The apartment was very soulless, especially compared to pictures we had seen of other apartments on CMP’s website. We took the opportunity to ask some basic questions about renting in Thailand. Our agent told us that water and electricity are both added costs, though they are very cheap – around fifty bucks a month total, even with A/C running often. Almost all apartment buildings have free wireless internet, though it’s pretty slow since it’s shared with other tenants in the complex. Running your own private cable costs around fifteen dollars per month (get it together, Comcast!). We tried to ask if there was any red tape or bureaucracy involved since we are foreigners (or “Farang” as many Thais put it), but it sounds like the process is very swift.

We still hadn’t heard back from CMP, but according to Google Maps, they had an office very close to where we were. We would soon discover that although Google Maps is very accurate in America, businesses in Thailand change addresses very often, and Google is slow to catch up. Whether or not CMP was once at the listed address, they weren’t there anymore. Because this was our first journey outside the “Old City” of Chiang Mai, and since we had nothing else to do, we decided to explore the area. We quickly discovered that Chiang Mai is growing very rapidly. Every street we walked down seemed to have at least one new apartment complex, or one in the process of being built. So, we started apartment hunting the old fashioned way! The first two apartments were really more like motel rooms or really old dorm rooms. For a little over a hundred bucks a month, they were better served for students than for us. A little further down the road in a nicer district, we found some upscale apartments that had everything we wanted and then some! The apartments were very modern-looking, and judging by the interior, you’d hardly guess that you were in Thailand. However, the upscale three apartments we saw in this area were all $700 a month or more. We could stretch to pay that much if we really wanted to, but we knew that quality apartments could be had for a lot cheaper.

We got back to the hotel late that day, and still hadn’t heard from any other agency. We looked on Google Maps for CMP again, and saw another listing in a different part of the city, this one with a phone number. We had our receptionist call the number and verify that they were open the next day, and at their listed address. Success! We made plans to go talk to them in person on the next day, Saturday. We were (admittedly, way too optimistically) hoping to have found an apartment by Saturday, so we had to find a hotel for the next couple of days. Unfortunately, The Simply Room was completely booked for the next night, so we were forced to find something else. We decided to get two nights at the Seven Suns, which was close to our first hotel and much nicer (it was on sale since it was a last minute booking!).

On Saturday morning, after checking in to our new hotel, we set off to go to Chiang Mai Properties. We rode our bikes to the listed address and finally found the office that we were looking for! We walked in and introduced ourselves to one of the agents there, Alice. We told her what we were looking for, and she said she would send us a list of apartments that fit that criteria, and we would tell her which ones we wanted to visit. We were a bit skeptical at this point since we had sent multiple emails to CMP with no response. I mentioned that we had done so, and she looked back at another employee, asked her something in Thai, got a response, and then didn’t explain the exchange. Our guess is that someone probably dropped the ball somewhere, but either way, we were in business!

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We finally contacted Chiang Mai Properties! Celebratory selfie!

We narrowed down her list of ten down to five based on the pictures that were sent to us, and were told that we would have to wait until Monday to view them, since they had to verify with each respective owner that they were available for rent. By the time Monday morning rolled around, only four of the five properties were confirmed to be available, so we set out to look for them.

(Warning: incoming mini episode of “House Hunters International”)

On Monday morning, we met a different agent, Khun, who looked to be about our age. He picked us up and drove us to Condo #1, which was near the area where we had looked a few days prior. We really liked how it had a washing machine and bathtub (even most new apartments don’t have those amenities), and we loved the location. However, the price was 20,000 Baht (~$550) per month when doing a contract of three months. Condo #2 was a bit further away from the city center, but we loved the interior. Bathtub, washing machine, and an OVEN!!! We were prepared to only have a “Thai Kitchen” which is basically just two burners and a sink, but an oven would allow us to make a wider variety of food. The price was better too, at 17,000 Baht (~$450) per month. Condo #3 was in the same area as Condo #2, and much larger. However, it had a lot of space that we didn’t need, and didn’t have some of the amenities of the other condos. It was also 20,000 Baht, so this one was easy to cross off of our list. Condo #4 (no link, sorry) was a much smaller condo, but it was back in the same area as Condo #1 that we liked. The apartment complex was very nice, and it was the cheapest apartment that we looked at, 16,000 Baht (~$425) per month. The main downside of this condo was that it was still under construction, so we would have to live with the sounds of hammers and saws for our stay there.

In the end, we chose (drum roll please…) Condo #2! We both liked this one better than all of the rest, and it was almost the cheapest of the four, so it was an easy decision. We drove down to the CMP office and signed the lease right away! The condo got cleaned up that afternoon and we moved in the next day at noon! Here is a map of where it is, and here is the condo’s website. Just in case anyone out there wants the address, here it is:

Mountain Front Condominium Unit 202N
220 Chonpratan Rd
Tambon Changpuak Muang
Chiangmai 50000
Thailand

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So excited to finally have a place!

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Washing machine and an oven!

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A great pool, and view of the jungle!

Now that we’re all moved in, we can focus on relaxing, doing a little decorating, and exploring Chiang Mai, Thailand, and the rest of Southeast Asia! If anyone wants to come visit, the condo has a pullout couch that we’d love to share!

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