How to find an apartment in Chiang Mai
When we moved to Chiang Mai, we knew that we wanted to rent an apartment for 3-6 months. After living in a small, old apartment in D.C., we also knew we didn’t want 75 layers of lead-based paint on the walls, nor did we want to live on the fourth floor without an elevator. We needed a furnished apartment, too, and we wanted to be close to the Old City. So we were faced with the question of how to find an apartment in Chiang Mai.
After asking around, we learned that Huey Keaw Road off the northwest corner of the Old City has many condos and apartments with all the amenities we were looking for. It is also a popular area among digital nomads and has a good selection of wifi equipped coffee houses. As we explored the area we noticed that apartments seemed to be advertised everywhere; on billboards, in magazines and on flyers in restaurants.
There seemed to be a few options for finding an apartment: walk from building to building, search listings online or use a realtor service. Using a realtor in Chiang Mai had been a common recommendation on several other travel blogs, but we started our search by taking a couple days to wander up and down the roads, stopping in to view a few available apartments on our own before we caved and contacted Chiang Mai House. Our experience turned out to be nothing short of wonderful.
We decided to use Chiang Mai House, a local realtor service located near the northwest corner of Old City, because they had positive reviews and were highly recommended by our friends who used the same service. We emailed them our requirements and received a prompt response. Friendly Intira was quick to send links to a few listings fitting our requests and offered to set up an appointment. A day later we met her at the office and she took us out to see two condos. I have to admit I was surprised that we were only visiting two, but each one fit every detail we mentioned to a T. In retrospect, I’m glad she didn’t waste our time with anything that wasn’t perfect.
Even though we had a seen a few places that we really liked and were almost ready to sign for an apartment at the Prestige, we were immediately thankful we had contacted Intira once we stepped into the first place. It was priced well under our budget and was better than anywhere we had seen up to that point. She candidly told us she liked the next apartment better, and it turned out that we did as well! It was 2,000 baht below our max and had everything we wanted and more (except a gym).
We are so excited to have found an apartment that will feel like home and especially that has a soft bed. If you’ve ever stayed in Thailand you’re probably familiar with the term “Thai firm” in reference to mattresses, and if you’re not, the phrase basically means they have the same plushy-ness as a hardwood floor.
To sum up what we learned from our apartment search: contact Chiang Mai House and ask for Intira! The realty service is free and it’s great to have someone drive you around and show you the area. Their office is easy to find and right outside Old City. Working with them saves a lot of time and literal legwork, and a realtor will help you negotiate the terms of your contract and answer any questions you might have about the apartments you see. A realtor can also show you listings for rent by owner in buildings where most condos are privately owned. You won’t be able to walk into these without a realtor and an appointment.
If you are still convinced you must seek out apartments on your lonesome, here are some descriptions of the buildings we visited to help you narrow it down. Keep in mind our top requirements: under 12,000 baht, pool, gym, security guard, close to Old City, kitchen area (sink, refrigerator, microwave) and available wifi.
Our apartment is located in Nakornping right across the street from Kad Suan Kaew (the older mall near Old City). It is a fully furnished studio with a stocked kitchen (some utensils, microwave, toaster oven, rice cooker, refrigerator, water filter), and a breakfast nook. We have a view of Doi Suthep from our window, a pool and motorbike parking (100 baht/year). There is a security guard, cafe and western style market on the first floor. There is no gym, but there is a gym across the street in the mall and the Chiang Mai Orchid gym is available for use by the public for a fee.
The Prestige on Huay Kaew Road consists of 3 older apartment buildings and a new hotel/apartment building with high ceilings and modern designs. The new building offers two story condos of modern design with lofted bedrooms and large balconies for 19,000 Baht per month. The older buildings have a mix of studio, suite and VIP apartments for 11,000 – 14,000 baht per month with floorplans from 30 to 80 square meters. All the buildings have rooftop pools and small workout rooms in addition to access to any of the new building’s facilities (larger pool and gym). The suites, VIP, and modern condos have washing machines, bathtubs and kitchen areas. Wifi is free but you will need to purchase your own router. Studio apartments do not have a kitchen sink. Condos are available on a month to month basis. Rooms are fully or partially furnished.
This building is set back about 100 meters from Huay Kaew Road and has condos available for rent from 9,500 baht to 39,000 baht in both studio and one bedroom layouts. Some rooms have great mountain views and washing machines, and all have kitchen areas. The building is brand new so the units are very clean. The building has a good size exercise room, sauna and large outdoor pool and lounge area. Wifi is free in the common spaces but you will have to set up and pay for service on your own inside the unit. Rooms are fully furnished.
This building is located on Ched-Yod Road directly next to the Maya shopping mall. Condos are available from 12,000 – 18,000 baht per month for a 12 month lease or 13,500 – 19,000 baht for a 6 month lease. The building is brand new and is still in the final stage of construction as of august 2014. The building has a medium size pool with water features and a good sized fitness room. Parking is available. The most interesting aspect of this building is that the condos feature pull out walls with built in drawers and shelving to divide up the space. The condos are all on the small side with about 29 – 39 square meters of floor space. Rooms are fully furnished. Internet needs to be set up on your own. Most rooms had a washing machine (some may have not yet been installed). Only some units are available for rent, others are for sale only.
The Dome is a serviced apartment building off of Huaykaew Road about halfway between Maya shopping mall and the northwest corner of old city. Apartments are available from 9,500 – 13,500 baht per month or on a nightly basis. Rooms are on the small side between 24 and 45 square meters of floor space. The apartments include free wifi. There is a laundry room, a small coffee shop and a lounge area on the first floor. Rooms have a small private balcony.
The Huaykaew Residence is a large complex located next to the Orchid Hotel on Huaykaew Road. They offer long term rooms from 3,500 to 16,000 Baht with 24 – 47 square meters of floor space. The rooms were underwhelming and the buildings were a bit older. The fitness center was under construction and we had to duck under tape to see it when we visited in August. The pool is medium size and is located at ground level near the center parking lot. This place offers huge savings potential, but didn’t seem overly comfortable or well-kept. However, if price is your number one priority, give this place a shot.