Looking for an Apartment in Chiang Mai

Looking for an Apartment in Chiang Mai

Now that I was moving to a new city, it was finally time to begin my first apartment search in Thailand! I would be volunteering in Chiang Mai for the next month and needed to find a place to call home asap.

Since most Thai apartment complexes don’t have websites — or at least not ones I can read — I decided my best bet was just to walk from place to place and ask in person about rates and to see the rooms. I had a taxi dropped me off in Nimman, the neighborhood recommended by another volunteer at the foundation. I optimistically set off into the midday sun, ready to view as many apartments as the day could hold.

I started out at the large Baan Thai apartment complex. The room was sparse, but clean and bright. I loved the giant balcony, and the pool certainly didn’t hurt things.

thailand, chiang mai, apartment, baan thai, hunting, month, rent

I felt like this could be a good option. But if I could get all this for only 5200 baht ($187), what was available for a little more? I decided to go see a few more buildings.

I entered several faded high-rises and played the same game of charades when the staff said they didn’t speak English (my two Thai words of hello and thank you could really only book-end the conversation at best):

I smiled brightly and pointed to myself. I held up one-finger to indicate one month and then made my hands into a pillow, closed my eyes, and tilted my head to the side to indicate I wanted to sleep there. Then I held up both of my hands in a weighing motion, asking how much.

They usually smiled back at me and then made a big X with both of their arms. I was never sure if this meant, “Sorry we’re full” or “Get away from me crazy foreigner, I have no idea why you’re flailing around in my office.” Either way, it definitely meant I wasn’t getting an apartment there.

After walking around for another hour and sweating through my t-shirt, I earned a glass of pity iced tea from the receptionist at a building that was full, didn’t rent by the month, and out of my price range.

Finally, I came across the Yesterday Hotel with an open monthly room. But it was three times the price of the first place and felt like I was on the set of a movie in colonial India.

Yesterday Hotel

Across the street I found the Misone. It was slightly more expensive that the first building, but actually smaller and dirtier.

Misone Hotel

I stepped back into the afternoon heat and started to walk grudgingly toward another distant high-rise. I came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the street. What was I doing?? I already had an option I could be happy with, but was relentlessly chasing an undefined notion that I could find something better or nicer or more fun.  [I pause to note that that sentence could probably be applied on a deeper level…but I was too sweaty to do any profound thinking.]

I practically ran back to the first apartment complex. I laid my head on the cool tile and stretched my arms across the wall. I apologized over and over for thinking that I could do better. I could not. And it happily took me and my 5200 baht back.

Baan Thai, apartment, Thailand, Chiang Mai, hunting, move

I picked up a few decorations from the Sunday night market and the apartment is starting to feel like home. Every morning, I wake up and have breakfast on the balcony in my new camouflage lounge chair –it was the only one and it was on sale! (I assume because hunters were confused as to when they would need to be hidden from animals while laying by the pool.)

apartment, thailand, rent, monthly, Baan Thai

It’s not perfect, but I’m so happy to have claimed my own little space in Thailand.



  1. I love your blog. And, I think I see what you are doing there. Your quest does not surprise me; your insights and inquisitions were always well beyond most others of your age. I want you to know how much I love and admire what you are doing–add in a little envy, too. I hope you continue to enjoy and cherish the gift of travel and giving. Love you, C

    • Thank you, so much! I can’t tell you how much that means so much to me. I don’t know if I have a very specific reason as to why I’m doing this. I was ready to move from DC and taking some time to travel and work on some personal projects overseas for awhile seemed like a pretty good next step! I think I’ll be gone for about six months? I really appreciate your support and if you want to take a trip to SE Asia anytime soon, definitely let me know :-)

      • I would love to take a trip there and meet up with you. However, this fall is quite busy for me. I have a trip to MS to visit aging, ailing relatives, the National Dance Education conference in Miami, a wedding in MD, and, most exciting of all– a new grandson set to make his appearance in early November.
        How long do you plan to stay in Asia? My daughters have a friend who graduated from Patuxent and lives in Thailand. I could try to locate him for you if you’d like. I think he’s married with at least one child.
        I want you to know that I am taking dance classes again with an incredible former performer with Philadanco who teaches Horton technique. It’s taught at a local ballet conservatory, and all of my “classmates” are middle-school ballerinas! It’s quite daunting for me as I watch them with their extensions up to there compared to my pitiful lack of balance. But, I’m enjoying it thoroughly for it has revived my dancer’s soul.
        I will continue to read your blog and smile when I see your pictures. Keep in touch. Love, C

  2. Hey Ashley, apartment looks great and it’s so nice to have somewhere you can call home when you’re otherwise living out of a bag. I loved this post especially the communication – it’s amazing how quickly your miming skills develop on the road! I had some interesting times trying to get pork, by doing an impression of a pig and trying to get to the airport by doing aeroplane impressions more akin to a toddler! Happy new home :)

    • hahaha…loveeee it. Yes. I have done that to order chicken too. Which probably looked like your pig and airplane impressions combined. Can’t wait for you to get back over here!

  3. p.s. After the New Year, I may be ready for an adventure of my own. Keep me posted on your whereabouts.

    • I definitely will! :-) I’m so glad you’re getting back into dance. Keep me posted too!

  4. well done! at all levels! :)

  5. Hey, I just went today to Baan Thai and thought the same, the place looks great for the price! I’m planning to stay there 6 months, just wondering, how much did you pay in total with all the bills (internet, electricity, water). Did you were happy living there? Was the internet connection good? Hope you can give me some advices before I sign the contract!
    Thanks for this great post!
    Cheers from Chiang Mai…

    • Hi there! I LOVED living in Baan Thai. I honestly don’t remember what the utilities ended up costing, but it all seemed very reasonable. Check out The Burmese Restaurant two blocks down on Nimman. They have the best green curry fried rice I’ve ever eaten :-) I hope you enjoy your time in Chiang Mai! I wish I was still there…



  1. Traveler by Design It's a beautiful day in my neighborhood: Nimmanhaemin Road, Chiang Mai - Traveler by Design - […] backpackers, guest houses, and harem pants with elephant prints run rampant. But, when I started looking for my apartment,…

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