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Curious about housing costs in Thailand? Before moving to Thailand, we were always excited to learn about the different long-term housing options and what we could expect to pay. It helped to confirm our desire to move to there! Now it’s time we share our experience with you. Here’s a look at the two-story townhouse in Chiang Mai we’ve called home for the past year.
Before moving to Chiang Mai, we budgeted 10,000 to 15,000 baht per month ($330 to $500) for rent. We wanted a place near the Old City that had at least one bedroom, a small kitchen, and was pet friendly.
We managed to find a brand new townhouse in Chiang Mai, just outside the Old City’s moat for 15,000 baht per month ($500 USD). For being so close to the city center, we thought this 150 sq m (1600 sq ft) townhouse with two bedrooms and three bathrooms was a good find.
Welcome to Our Townhouse in Chiang Mai
Some of the things we immediately loved about our townhouse in Chiang Mai was that it was private. We liked being tucked at the end of a small moo baan (neighborhood). We also had our own gated patio where we could park our motorbike and sit outside.
Our townhouse was huge, but only came furnished with basic Thai-styled furniture. The downstairs living room furniture was functional but could have been a little more comfortable. Sometimes we missed having the big soft sofa we had back in the US!
As with most homes in Thailand, ours didn’t have central air conditioning. We ended up buying a small wall fan that kept the living room comfortable most of the time. The tile floor also helped to keep things cool, which provided us with a nice place to get work done.
We had several English channels to watch on our small TV. If we needed a break, we’d sometimes watch movies or American cop drama marathons. Yes, we’re guilty. We often looked forward to CSI and Law and Order reruns…especially during Chiang Mai’s rainy nights or its hot and hazy days!
After searching for a place with a Western kitchen, we admittedly used ours much less than we thought we would. We had a single burner, which required a lot of effort and creativity to cook familiar meals from back home. It was actually more convenient to simply buy prepared food from our local market or go out to eat at the many nearby Thai kitchens. However, having a kitchen with a tall fridge, dual microwave/conduction oven, plenty of counter space, and a sink all within arm’s reach (and not outside) was a lot more than what your average Thai home would typically offer.
Upstairs was the bedroom area. Both of our bedrooms were very large and came with king sized beds, air conditioners, and balconies. We’ve noticed that king sized beds are not uncommon in Thailand, even in some of the smallest studio apartments! We had a decent view of Doi Suthep from the back balcony, which was also where we hung our laundry out to dry.
Both upstairs bedrooms had on-suite bathrooms with Western toilets and hot showers. The bathrooms reflected a little Thai style, with quirky tiles, no shower curtains, and bum guns. One of the bathrooms was built with the toilet right next to the shower head, which was something we never got used to.
In addition to the 15,000 baht ($500 USD) monthly rent, our monthly bills weren’t much extra. The landlord paid for our TV, but our high-speed internet cost 540 baht ($18 USD), water cost 120 baht ($4 USD), and electric bill was 660 baht ($22 USD) on average per month.
We lived in a quaint little Thai neighborhood that had a mini-mart, a place to do laundry, and a filtered water dispenser within a short walking distance of our place. The mini-mart in our neighborhood was perfect for grabbing some cold drinks or packaged snacks if we didn’t want to venture out too far. Across from the mini-mart was where we did our laundry (about 30 baht per load) and bought our drinking water (1 baht per 1.5 liters). We also had friendly neighborhood dogs, cats, roosters, and even a well-loved long-haired rabbit that would hop around without a care. Yep, that’s right, they all roamed around freely and never once got aggressive with us or each other.
After living in our place for a year, we admit that weren’t unhappy to move somewhere new. Although it served us well, and accommodated our visiting friends and family on many occasions, there were some quirks about our townhouse in Chiang Mai. We learned a lot about some of the oddities of homes in Thailand as the year progressed.
Partially Furnished (Uncomfortable Wooden Furniture): We though about re-furnishing and decorating the downstairs area with comfortable Western style furniture, but it being our first year in Thailand, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money just in case things didn’t work out. This being the case, the townhouse remained fairly bare with its original heavy wood furniture.
Poor Plumbing: One of the bathrooms emitted a funny smell from the shower drain and sink. Proper U-bend piping would have made a big difference.
Thai-Style Wet Bathrooms: Our master bathroom’s toilet was always wet from the shower spray. We also wished the builders would have installed ventilation fans.
Bug Invasions: The front doors slid open and had a wide unsealed gap at the bottom. This allowed the occasional creepy crawly to find its way in (much to the pleasure of our cat).
Karaoke Bars: Although our neighborhood was quiet and peaceful during the day, it was another story at night. Had we made a late night run to the neighborhood, we would have saved ourselves a year of off-key wails from the dozen all-night karaoke bars on the road 100 meters behind us.
Finding a Townhouse in Chiang Mai
Although we searched many online listings, we found our townhouse in Chiang Mai through word of mouth. A Thai friend of ours, who worked at a restaurant we often visited, told us about it after we were asked to move out of our studio apartment. The townhouse fit our budget and was pet friendly, so we moved right in.
We definitely recommend speaking with a Thai local when looking for a place to live. Being that this was our first townhouse in Chiang Mai, we were happy with its cost, condition, and close proximity to the Old City. With that said, by the end of the year we found the size to be a bit too much for us and decided to find something more appropriate for two people.
We’re happy to say that as of April 2014 we’ve moved into a smaller and less expensive two bedroom two bathroom detached house. It is fully furnished, modern, and more our style. The best part is that we live near the same neighborhood we have grown to love and appreciate over the last year. We will miss many things about our first long-term home in Thailand, but we are looking forward to a new beginning!