Here are the ‘Top Condo 10 Tips’ that I wish I knew when hunting for a monthly apartment in Chiang Mai
If you’re like me, then there’ll come a time when the excitement of hotel hopping wears off. And if you’re in Chiang Mai, then there’s no easier place to find a cosy little apartment to relax in between Sangsom parties and bike trips into the mountains.
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After a month of island hopping in Thailand, I made the ritual digital nomad journey up to Lanna land (Chiang Mai) in the north. My idea was to establish a base, save some money and make some longer-term friends.
I’ve been living on Chiang Mai, on & off, for the last 4 years now, so feel I’m lived in enough condos to share my top tips.
Some of the tips won’t be exclusive to only Chiang Mai, but I’ve tried to keep it as specific to this beautiful town as possible!
To Pool or not To Pool?
If you’re looking to move to Chiang Mai then at some point you’ll probably be weighing up the Pros & Cons of several condos.
A big factor for us when moving to Chiang Mai was that it HAD to have a swimming pool. We actually gave up on our favourite apartment in favour of a much smaller condo that came with a nice swimming pool & sauna (yes I still love sauna’s in the tropical heat!).
Don’t be like me, and think that having a swimming pool on-site is an absolute necessity. There are some really good pay-as-you-go options that put our tiny condo pool to shame.
Top Tip: Often in December & January swimming pools can be very cold, especially pools in the shade.
Loads more information on: The Best Swimming Pools in Chiang Mai
Get your GoPro / Camera out
Chances are you’ll be visiting 5-10 condos or apartments over the course of a day. If you film or take pictures of each one, you can grab a coffee, sit down and look back over the footage of your favourite places.
Trust me, after the 4rth condo you visit they’ll all start blurring into one. Having the video footage to look back on can really help to decide on the winning condo.
Private Landlords Vs Privately Owned Condo
If you visit a condo where each flat has been sold privately, you’ll be dealing directly with the owner or with an agency.
- This means you’ll be getting the cheaper 4baht per unit electricity rate which adds up quickly and saves you a lot of aircon money during summer months.
- You might also need to visit immigration 24 hours after leaving the country to update your TM30. You landlord should do this for you the first time.
This is where the whole condominium is owned or managed by the jurisdiction on-site. This makes things like deposit returns and problems dealt with much faster & on-site.
- The downside is that you’ll often pay much more for your electricity, up to 8baht per unit.
Get a Feel For The Location
Thanks to a bit of early research online, we decided that we wanted to live in the Nimman area of Chiang Mai. We were staying in the Sleep Hotel (Fantastic, with great owners & breakfast) which is based in Old Town (inside the walls) so we jumped in a TukTuk to Nimman (70 Baht) then walked from condo to condo.
Walking around rather than jumping in the back of TukTuk’s or Songthaew’s lets you get a feel for the areas, check out the local shops, and find other hidden nearby condos.
While riding a scooter is a great way to beat the heat, you’ll often miss hidden gems or newly built condos.
Top Tip: Watch out for construction works. Make sure to visit in the daytime before signing any contracts. Nimman area is notoriously for constant construction noise.
Don’t worry about getting in touch, just turn up
It’s completely normal to walk up to a condo and ask to see the room, no booking required. If you’re like me, then you’d want to call ahead or make on online viewing reservation. Well in Chiang Mai this isn’t the way it’s done, Cha-Cha as the Thai’s say.
Things to ask when you’re viewing a condo
You’re in a new country, you’ve just rocked on up to a condo and now you’re viewing the apartment. Don’t forget these important questions to ask and don’t forget to grab a pen and pad from 7/11 so you can write down all the information.
- What is the rate for: Water, Electricity & WiFi?
- Ask them to do a quick Ookla WiFi speed test / or ask for the WiFi code.
- How much is the deposit?
- Does that swimming pool I can see outside the windows belong to this condo?
- Is the swimming pool open to the public? Is it free for residents of the condo?
- What’s the minimum rental period?
- What discounts do you have on currently? (Cheaper for 3/6/9 months?)
- Does it have a washing machine / access to onsite machines?
- Are bedding & towels included?
What’s included with the condo?
Depending on the Condo, you might be shown a showroom rather than your actual room. If so, make sure to ask what’s included in the rental price? (Pots, pans, cutlery, etc).
It’s normal for condos to rent bedding and towels as well. Depending on how long you are staying, it can often be cheaper to head to Tesco Lotus.
It’s going to be a long day
7/11 is your friend. Don’t be afraid to stop at every 7/11 you see and absorb the cold cold air. Stay hydrated, and remember to enjoy yourself!
Watch Out For Building Works
This is where you need to get your spy hat on. Thailand has a habit of throwing up buildings without any notice so it’s super important when picking a condo that you survey the surrounding area for signs of building work.
The last thing you want is to sign your 3/6 month contract only to find that you’re being woken up every day at 8am by building works. We visited condos that were surrounded by building sites that had clearly only appeared very recently.
On the bright side, Thai’s build building with superhero speed. We watched an entire community centre go from a field to working meditation building in just over four weeks.
Chiang Mai is one of the nicest most peaceful cities I’ve ever visited but if you want peace of mind it’s worth asking what the security is like at the condo’s your visiting. You’ll find a lot have an on-site 24/7 security guard.
My final tip is to just enjoy yourself!
If you’re returning to Chiang Mai or visiting for the first time remember to just enjoy yourself! It might seem a big challenge but finding somewhere to live in Chiang Mai couldn’t be easier!
Chiang Mai is one of my favourite cities in the world and I’m sure it will be for you too!
I’d love to hear what your top Chiang Mai Apartment Hunting tips are! Let me know in the comments below.