How to Find and Rent Apartments in Chiang Mai
We’re happily writing this How to Find and Rent Apartments in Chiang Mai guide in the comfort of our own shiny apartment which we moved into just 3 days ago. We flew into Thailand last Friday night and by the following Monday morning, we had the keys, well key cards, to our amazing modern Chiang Mai condo. If you’re on your way to the city, with a bit of pre-planning you could also have your very own place as quick as we did. Keep reading for tips and contacts!
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So let us show you how we found our Chiang Mai 3 month rental apartment so quickly by reading the below successful stages we took.
Research the City’s Areas
Have you been to Chiang Mai before? Do you know the different areas in and around the city? If not, then we suggest doing a bit of research before looking for apartments in Chiang Mai. One of the questions realtors will ask you is what area would you like to live in.
We visited Chiang Mai for one week about four years ago. So in that time, we got to know the key areas of the city. Plus what each of those areas offers and roughly how long it takes to walk from one area to another. However, in four years Chiang Mai has changed a lot so there were a couple of new popular areas that we weren’t familiar with. We were keen to check them out!
If you have not been to Chiang Mai before then get online. We suggest reading blogs by people who have visited the city before, or even better, have lived here. Like us! 🙂
In our experience the main areas with the biggest selection of expat apartments in Chiang Mai are:
Nimmanahaeminda Road – The newest and hippest area to the west of town which offers the most amount of modern apartments in Chiang Mai for expats. The area is full of trendy cafes, bars and boutique shops. Plus the new Maya Shopping Centre with designer shops, food halls and multi-screen cinema.
Chang Klan Road – To the east of town near to the daily night bizarre and many other tourist facilities. It’s a busy area, a bit trashy but easily walkable into old town.
Riverside – Again to the east of town and by the Ping River. We felt this area was a bit too far out for walking into the city centre. It also doesn’t offer much in the way of cafes and restaurants etc on your doorstep. However, it’s a great area if you want to feel away from the city and you have your own transport to get around.
Santitham – A good location due to being walking distance to both old town and Nimmanahaeminda Road area. The area is popular with students so there are many little cheap cafes, bars and street food vendors. It has the most local feel out of the four areas so won’t see many tourists around here. Santhiham offers the least amount of apartments in Chiang Mai for expats so they go quickly when they come up.
Work out your Budget
Another question you will be asked is what monthly budget you have. It’s best to provide a budget range so you get sent more options. Plus in our experience, we found that more expensive apartments in Chiang Mai were not always better quality. So it’s sometimes worth checking out cheaper options.
We gave our realtors a budget range of 10,000 – 15,000 baht per month. Which is about £200 – £325. For this range, we were sent details of around 15 properties which were all ready to move into. Out of these 15 we chose to view 8. The selection was a mix of studios and 1 bedroom condos in all the four key areas mentioned above.
Choose your Length of Contract
Another factor which will affect your budget and options is the length of contract you can commit to. Anything less that 3 months and you’re probably wasting your time looking at apartments through realtors. Realtors usually deal with landlord owned properties and most landlords understandably do not accept contracts for less than 3 months.
If you’re looking for less than three months then we suggest getting a reduced long stay rate at a hotel, guest house or serviced apartment block by contacting them directly.
Due to our visa, we were looking for a 3-month contract. Not all landlords will agree to such a short contract but there are still many that will. There are many other travellers like us wanting short term apartments in Chiang Mai so thankfully a lot of landlords see us as good potential tenants.
In most cases, the longer the contract, the cheaper the rate. The most expensive rate will be for 3 months, then a bit cheaper for 6 months and cheaper again for 12 months. The difference between each contract length is around 1000-2000 bath per month.
Start Contacting Realtors Before you Arrive
We’d suggest doing as we did and contact some realtors well before you arrive. We contacted around eight realtors three months before arriving in Chiang Mai. The reason for this was because we wanted to know which realtors were the most responsive and helpful. When arriving, we needed a quick turnaround due to our short visa so it was helpful to know which contacts would get back to us quickly with results.
About 50% of them replied promptly with friendly emails. Most told us to contact them again a week or two before we arrive and assured us that our budget range would be enough to find what we needed. Some even sent us examples of what we might expect to find when the time came. This helped to manage our expectations of apartments in Chiang Mai for our budget.
Feel free to do your own research into Chiang Mai realtors but we can recommend a few for you now who found us many apartments in Chiang Mai.
Perfect Homes – These guys found us our chosen apartment and were super helpful. The owner Simon is English and our Thai agent Gam was really lovely. Gam spent four hours with us on our viewing day showing us the majority of our filtered properties. Really friendly and professional service. You can reach Gam on Gam@perfecthomes.co.th. It’s also worth checking out the Perfect Homes Thai website for even more property options.
Chiang Mai Properties – They also have a lot of apartments in Chiang Mai on their books but the service was not quite as good as Perfect Homes. Their portfolio is not always up to date so we got sent some properties which were not available. But if it’s numbers you want then still get in touch with them as they manage a lot of properties. Our realtor was Alice on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Land & House Realtor – We weren’t sent as many options from these guys but the service was OK. We didn’t get to meet anyone from this company either due to finding our chosen apartment before our viewing appointment with them. Our realtor was Mam on email@example.com.
Arrange a Day to View Apartments in Chiang Mai
So you’ve informed your chosen realtors that you are arriving in Chiang Mai on X date. It’s time to view some apartments in Chiang Mai! As mentioned at the start of this post, we arrived on a Friday night and had viewings arranged with two realtors for the next day. All down to that important pre-planning!
Viewings can be done on weekdays and weekends. You just need to give the realtors enough time to fit into their schedule and inform the landlords etc. We emailed them just 5 days before arriving.
It’s best to try and see as many as you can over one or two days because apartments in Chiang Mai go quickly due to a high demand. Decisions may have to be made quickly on the same day so you don’t miss out on somewhere you like. This is more important during the highest season from November to January.
The great thing about Chiang Mai realtors is that they do not charge tenants a finding and admin fee like they do in the UK. They are happy to pick you up from your accommodation, spend hours driving you from property to property, ask the landlord any questions you have and sort all the paperwork for free. They really do make it easy for you if you find the right realtor as we did.
Paperwork and Moving in!
Once you’ve found your perfect apartment all you have to do is pay a deposit and arrange dates for contract signing/moving in. They will ask for one month’s rent deposit and ones months rent in advance. You’ll get the deposit back, minus a cleaning fee of around 700 baht, providing you look after the property during your stay. Once they have received the deposit they will stop showing the property to other clients.
The deposit can be paid via bank transfer or cash. Our realtor Gam from Perfect Homes was happy to meet us back at our guesthouse on Sunday morning so we could pay her in cash. Now that’s service! They also take a copy of your passport and departure card for their records.
All that’s left to do is sign the contract which is short and simple compared to contracts in the UK! You may get to meet the landlord as we did on moving in day. Luckily our landlord speaks perfect English which will help in case we have any issues.
Our Chosen Condo
So less than 3 days after arriving into the country we were moving into our own Chiang Mai condo which we now call home!
Here are some pictures of our condo called D Vieng based in the Santitham area. We’re paying 14000 baht (£300) a month on a 3-month contract through Perfect Homes. The building is only a year old, has an amazing pool, small gym, excellent security, service team, bicycle hire and on-site atm. The condo is quiet, clean, with modern furnishings, has two air con units, TV, separate bedroom, separate kitchen and a small balcony.
Bills for water and electricity are not included but we’ve been told that they will not amount to much. We’ll update this post later on that.
If you’re reading this because you have plans to search for and look at apartments in Chiang Mai then good luck. Feel free to ask us any questions by sending us an email or commenting on this post! 🙂 You may also be interested in – Cost of Living in Thailand while Living in Chiang Mai