Unlike on the show House Hunters International (which is fake by the way) Sarah and I set out to find an apartment on our own in Chiang Mai. Some organizations or schools help people find a place or have have their own residence halls but that was the case for us. Some other people even hire a realtor to take them around the city and help with any language issues.
We decided to do it on our own though and waited to start the process until we actually got to Chiang Mai. It made the process much easier than trying to make a decision based on unreliable internet pictures and language barriers. Before starting to see places we had read a lot online and talked about what we were looking for in a place. It basically came down to this:
What we needed:
- Fully furnished- we came here with 3 bags of stuff and didn’t want to have to buy any furniture
- Easy access to restaurants, bars, and fun nightlife
- Safe and secure building/ room
- Stay within our budget of under 8,000 Thai Baht per person
What we wanted:
- I prefer a 1 bedroom layout over studio just because I think it makes it feel more like a home than a hotel room
- Half Kitchen- Fridge, sink, microwave
- Close to other young people whether that’s Thai college kids or other ex-pats
- A pool- It’s really hot here and I’ve never had a pool before…
- Workout room- Stay in shape and save money on gym memberships
- A balcony/patio to ‘escape’ the apartment (a good view of the mountains was a big plus)
What we didn’t need:
- Full kitchen- There is food at literally every corner and everyone we talked to said the significant increase in cost for a full kitchen is never worth it in Chiang Mai
- 2 bedrooms or an abundant amount of space- we just don’t have that much stuff
We did quite a bit of online research and had a list of places we wanted to check out. The first places we went though were actually a couple houses that the staff at our guesthouse wanted to shows us. They had heard we were going to live here and knew a landlord. They were all incredibly helpful and showed us some beautiful homes. Although they were really nice and relatively cheap, they were in more Thai family type neighborhoods and we decided a house would have been too much upkeep.
We went back to the apartment search and must have looked at 15-20 places in the first few days. We came close to deciding on a place called Life in Town which was on the south side of the moat but decided to keep looking for places that were slightly newer and in a younger neighborhood. So we were back at it and at this point Sarah had to begin going into school to prep for the new school year. I spent a few days visiting more places, taking pictures, and reporting back at the end of the day.
Finally one night we were driving around town and decided to stop into a very modern looking apartment building called Punna Residence @ CMU. Punna Residence has many buildings around town and we had actually come close to renting a room in one of the other buildings. We were shown 3 gorgeous rooms, all with spectacular views of Doi Suttep mountain.
- 1 bedroom style with good layout
- Room was incredibly clean and felt brand new
- Awesome pool and workout room
- Close to the Nimman area and lots of young people
- Amazing view of the mountains from our room
- Within our budget
- Pretty far away from our work and not necessarily ‘close’ to the moat
- Bathroom and kitchen sort of small (not really an issue)
After a quick discussion over some beers, Sar and I decided that it was the right place and were going to go for it. The next day we talked to the management and were able to talk them down in price to get the room actually below our budget. We signed the paperwork and moved our stuff in the day after (talk about a quick turnaround)
We are really excited about the apartment now and it is way nicer than what we would get back in the states. Also, you really can’t beat the view, and oh yeah… there’s a pool!