A Little Expat Living… Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand (2017)

cost of living in chiang mai, thailand

three on motorbikeWhen I first set out traveling, information was scarce about what it actually cost to live and travel around the world. Nearly a decade later, there’s information, forums, blogs, and books. So much that it’s hard to know what’s hype and what real. Expats the world over talk about Thailand as an expat and retiree spots. It’s one of the most popular places to expat in the world. And for good reason. It’s wonderful. I first moved to Thailand in 2011 and have been back since then.

But what is life actually like once you live in Thailand? It’s also hard to know the hard and fast costs for living in Thailand. When I first moved here, my family couldn’t even conceive of what it was like. This post demystifies the cost of living in Thailand, as well as covers a range of opinions on what it costs to live in the different areas. This is the hard and fast nitty-gritty details on everything from food to transportation to rent. As a traveler, I had always heard that it’s so incredibly cheap to expat yourself in the developing world — and it’s true, it’s cheap! As with many places, there is a trade off in some areas. Political stability, road conditions, and smog are just a few of the downsides, covered more later.

I’ve paid rent in both Orlando and Los Angeles, and my Thailand living costs averaged a third of my previous U.S. living expenses. My cost of living for Chiang Mai came in at $485 baseline in 2011 and about $700 total with all of my quality of life added on top! (Adjusted for 2017, I would say $545 is a better baseline now, considering the rise in motorbike prices and food). And I’m not the only one who has found Thailand a reasonable place to live — this place was popular with Western retirees for years. In 2010, a shift started. Alongside the rise in freelancers workers and those building online business, Southeast Asia became a hotspot for entrepreneurs and digital nomads. By 2017, it is a veritable hub of entrepreneurial and digital nomad activity for those looking for a cost-effective place to start their businesses. And, retirees still love it too. It has a huge, varied, and vibrant expat community. I first landed in Chiang Mai in January 2011 with a one-way ticket and discovered why so many other expats and digital nomads so love Thailand. I’ve been back many times since.

It has that magic combination of low living costs, a rich culture heritage, and a high quality of life. This piece will look at the hard costs of living in various parts of Thailand. Then I drill down into what that price gets you in terms of quality of life. And though I lived in Thailand for a bit more than a year, throughout the piece I share anecdotes from friends and the hard costs they report on what it costs to live everywhere from the Thai islands to Bangkok to Chiang Mai. At the end of this post, I share a huge list of resources for getting started in Thailand — either visiting or living.

(Keen to access this information offline? We offer this as a downloadable PDF for $3.)

What Does It Cost to Live in Thailand?

Living in Thailand comes down to two things: your baseline costs (fixed monthly expenses), and your personal lifestyle, which you add onto the top of those costs. Foreigners will have baseline living costs of USD $485 minimum. That’s in a place like Chiang Mai, and it will cost more to live in the Thai island, Bangkok, or retiree hotspots. This figure is used as a minimum these estimates do not include the visa runs you’ll need if you’re on a tourist visa. Even with the double entry visa, border runs are necessary every 60-90-ish days. Retirees will have their own specific minimum social security and living income they need to prove before they will receive the retiree visa.

Minimums Costs Living in Thailand

Monthly Expense Costs (USD$)
Rent & Internet $160
Electricity & Water $20
Maid $15
Food  $175
Scooter & Gas $125
Evenings Out $50
     Total  $545

For me though, I’m not yet old enough so I do the tourist visas. And the border runs add to the spice of living here! Chiang Mai is a great launching point to other areas in Asia for in-depth explorations of Burma (Myanmar)Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and other quick flights and bus rides around Southeast Asia.If you’ve retired in Thailand, you don’t have to do border runs. And some friends have student visas for studying Thai, and they also don’t do visa runs. The international flights bracketing my stay in Thailand were roughly $800 each way, so factor that into my “fixed” costs as well.

Then you have the cost of unexpected life. I’ve had some medical check-ups, my computer cord broke and had to be replaced, toiletries and that type of thing. My medical expenses are under $100 for women checkups and basic blood work and I pay that at Thai hospitals and out of my pocket. I pay about US$600 per year for my annual travel insurance. The occasional and personal expenses are not included, just the base-line rock bottom costs. If you will need to obtain Thai health insurance, this expat breaks down that process.

When I first moved to Thailand, these stats held true. Over the years, it’s still very low, but you have to search a bit more. The cost of living, and food-related costs in particular, rose over the past few years (around the world, but also in Thailand). As of 2016, I would factor in another $100 per month to your baseline costs. This will account for the rise in food costs, as well as the fact that Chiang Mai is becoming increasingly popular — there is more competition for the budget expat flats.

What’s the Quality of Life?

This section is a close look at what I get for the price of living in Chiang Mai. The quality of life will be similar in other areas of Thailand, it’s just the costs that will change. And the islands, of course, have beaches nearby and some other perks. The north, on the other hand, has mountains, hill tribe cultures, and different foods than you will find elsewhere in the country.

What Do You Get for Your Rent?

Roughly $160 a month in rent pays for my portion of a two bedroom house in the heart of Chiang Mai, within the moat of the downtown inner city (and the $15 maid was provided by my landlord and not optional). I share the house with a roomie and fellow blogger, Jodi of Legal Nomads. We jointly paid 10,000 baht monthly for the house and wifi. The house has tiled floors, one and a half baths, a tiny kitchen (no stove, those are very rare in Thai houses), a sturdy dining room table perfect for working, and a comfy living room. It’s Thai-style; a Western-style apartment will run you a good deal more.

Elsewhere in Chiang Mai, studio apartments run the gamut between 3,500 and 8,000 baht a month. These work well for solo travelers looking for something nice but budget. Nearly all apartments offer wifi. The internet in Chiang Mai is better than many places, but can wildly fluctuate throughout the day (my house has super speedy internet in the am, but not so much in the evening when everyone watches TV and thus slows the cable internet down to a crawl).

Chris and Angela are a 30-something couple living in Chiang Mai long-term. They report a lovely house rental outside of the moat with good amenities. One of the benefits of living in Chiang Mai is that your money stretches far and you can maintain a very nice life with just a bit more luxurious budget.

Other expats report that Bangkok has a similar quality of accommodation, but the costs of living is higher in the big city. Karsten gave the most detailed budget you’ll find for Bangkok, and he very open about sharing what it takes to maintain his life in the city. It’s a realistic look at what a solo 30-something expat can expect when living in Thailand’s capital.

Rental house in Chiang Mai, Thailand

silver temple chiang mai

thai island life

Tasty Local Eats

I regularly chow down on pad thai and pad see ew from the street stalls around town for about 30 baht a meal (a buck!). I add a fresh fruit smoothie to that for a mere 20 baht and call it a meal – totaling out most nights at less than US $2 for fresh, made to order Thai food from smiling street food vendors.

The occasional Western meal jacks the weekly food costs up quite a bit; a thin crust pizza from a farang restaurant sets me back at least 200 baht. I mostly eat Thai food … but I confess, coffee is a daily habit and ice cream is a weekly addiction. iBerry, a trendy ice cream shop more fitting on a chic corner of Los Angeles than a side-street in Chiang Mai, shakes things up with tangy tamarind sorbet, a spicy roselle, and a cooler full of other flavors. Always different, always worthy of my undying affection.

Update: Food costs across the city rise over time; between 2011-2012 food costs rose about 10 baht per local dish. That is a bit more now. Factor in $50 for general increases as a baseline cost, and adjust more if you have a different standard of living. 

chiang mai food

vegetarian soup from ming kwan



Chiang Mai’s small enough to either walk, push bike, or take local songthaews around town, but I prefer a scooter. The rental was cheap enough and zipping around town makes me feel that much more like a local. Plus, the local Thais burst into giggles when I ride up to the night markets with my roomie on the back. It’s easier for us to take one bike when we’re hitting up the same spots, so we ride Thai-style, with two farang on one bike. And they love us for it.

If you’re moving elsewhere in Thailand, then consider the different types of transport options. In Bangkok, you definitely won’t have to buy a motorbike. It’s easy to catch a motorcycle across town for a buck or two, and Thailand’s metro system is operates across some of the more important areas of town. When all else fails, you’ll just grab a taxi and head across town. Bangkok transport costs can, for this reason, vary a lot depending on how often you go out and need to use the various forms of transport.

Most expats in the Thai islands use personal motorbikes. Although the small beach communities are walkable, it’s often a bit further to get groceries, and you won’t likely live in the downtown areas since the beach communities have gorgeous, quiet communities spread throughout the islands.

UPDATE: Costs on motorbike rentals went up $40 more per month as of 2017; it’s still cheaper if you rent from a local though, instead of a shop. And way cheaper if you sign a longer contract. The best rates come when you rent for six months to a year.

renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai

tuktuk songkranthree on motorbike

New Friendships & The Thai Expat Scene 

Chiang Mai has a vibrant expat scene. This is one of the key reasons I returned again in 2011 with my niece. I loved the mix of expats and locals and how accessible the entire town feels. Chiang Mai doesn’t lack choices for evenings out on the town. The city has a bit of something for any mood: karaoke, dance clubs, quiet rooftop bars, and bowling. In the years since I’ve left, there is also a much more vibrant digital nomad community, which has meant some new trendy bars to cater to them too!

It’s important to note that my entertainment budget for Chiang Mai is conservative. I’m not a party animal, so those who are will definitely find this portion of expenses quite a bit higher if they really like to get their groove on regularly. In fact, add at least $100 per month if you go out 2+ times per week and drink.

For the rest of Thailand, the community really differs. Bangkok has a much larger expat community. You can find expats of all ages and styles. There are communities of retirees, a startup and entrepreneurial scene, and a good number of digital nomads who want a big city feel. The Thai islands also have a contingent of expats, though I found this scene to have a much smaller community of long-term young expats. There are older expat families and retirees, and then there is a large number of short-term parties in the region for just a couple months.

expat friends also living in Chiang Mai

loy krathong

Why Thailand?

When I moved to Chiang Mai in 2011, I had this suspicion that I could maintain a fun and full life without obsessing about my expenses. To make this travel life work, I needed to lower my cost of living to keep in line with my online income. I’m still building my marketing consulting work, I was paying off student loan and medical debt, and I also wanted the experience of living overseas. I knew that I could move back to Florida and likely save some costs if I pinched pennies, but it’s not an awesome life to live poor in Florida — I did that for 20+ years. Frankly, the best way for me to not go further into debt is to stay outside of the US.

There are other reasons I love Thailand. The country has great hospitals, checkups are affordable, and dental care is on par with the US. In Thailand, I don’t live in fear of getting sick and being buried under more medical debt. Many of my long-term goals are fulfilled through living here and continuing my travels and volunteering. I live in a Thai neighborhood, I volunteer locally, and I eat locally.

I first published this post about living in Thailand back in 2011. Since then, the post went truly viral. Half-a-million people have read it. I know there are others considering a move to Thailand, and everyone’s circumstances are unique. Some are retirees hoping to stretch their nestegg. Others are digital nomads looking to bootstrap a business from Southeast Asia. And others come for the culture, food, or some combination of it all. More than many places I’ve stopped over the years, Thailand has a truly unique range of expats. The community is huge and varies in each region, which means most expats can find something to love and a place they’ll enjoy calling their new home.

Thailand offers great hospitals and an affordable life. Checkups are affordable, and dental care is on par with the US. In Thailand, I don’t live in fear of getting sick and being buried under more medical debt. It’s just nice.

I am a traveler. My stories span the globe and I’ve been traveling and expat-ing steadily since 2008. Though I no longer live in Thailand (I moved to Mexico and wrote a cost of living post about it too! Check out all my Cost of Living Guides here), I return frequently. Since my first visit, I returned to Thailand with my niece for our year of homeschooling and travel.

This page represents my research and experiences over the years. Many of my friend live similar lifestyles in the region. They live and work in the city long-term, and they live simply (and locally) on this budget. It’s about your travel style. I don’t party and I love Thai food, so it’s easy for me to eat cheaply and enjoy the many, many free local festivals that happen monthly around Northern Thailand. It’s a wonderful spot for socially responsible tourism. Thailand has a compelling quality of life and culture. One of my favorite parts about Chiang Mai was the ability to jet off on the weekend for trips around the region.

As a freelancer, I enjoy knowing that Thailand is a wonderful spot to live, work, and play. Below are the resources I have collected over the years to help with a move, living there, researching, etc. Updated last in May 2016.

If you’re still researching various expat spots, check out our other Cost of Living Guides for a look at what it takes to move to the world’s most popular expat spots.

Resources for Moving to Thailand

The Basics of Moving to Thailand

  • Startup Guide Thailand: Hugely in depth guide to starting a business in Thailand — it covers everything you need and is thoroughly researched and a valuable resource (guides for most major Asian countries too). Another classic reader for business owners is How to Establish a Successful Business in Thailand, though it has no e-version so it gets minus points.
  • Thai for Beginners: An integrated program for reading, writing, and speaking Thai. In person learning is best, it’s a complex language, but with the CDs here you can get a good head start before you hire a tutor.
  • Travel insurance: World Nomads is the perfect for insurance for covering your health and belongings while you’re in the transition phase of moving overseas, or visiting to scope it all out. It’s a solid company and the insurance plans are designed for extended stays. I’ve used them since 2008.
  • The Tax Book for U.S. Expats: This is well-priced and unique to expats and retirees filing abroad. It gives a granular look at forms, terms, and sorting out exactly how to file — good for those with complicated tax situations. More recently released, U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans goes broader and is aimed at younger expats and digital nomads still working and handling how to earn income overseas, pay taxes, and live a nomadic life. It doesn’t explain the terms or niche situations/forms as well as the other book, but instead acts as a guide for younger travelers. Depending on your situation, pick up a copy of one of these guides before you leave so that you will have a tax system in place that maximizes the opportunities to easily file.
  • You’ll also want property insurance once you’re living overseas — I’ve used Clements for many years now.
  • Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America: There are a lot of these general guides. The book above, Better Life is about where is a good culture fit, whereas this is the better of the lot of “move overseas” books that covers the practicalities and very hands-on information you need as someone considering living anywhere outside the U.S. If you’re new all the researching, this can kick-start your process. And if you are laser focused on the retirement topic, versus moving overseas at a different state in life, this retirement guide has great advice.
  • Move to Cambodia: In case you’re weighing the thought of Cambodia, it’s a destination that is hard to find covered online, and this expat’s book is one of the best resources you will find.
  • Sightseeing: A thoughtful and intriguing look at the two sides of Thailand. The one for tourists and the one plagued with economic and societal issues. If you’re interested in better understanding Thai culture before you move there, start here. The short-story format makes it an easy but compelling read.
  • Private Thai teacher: My niece and I took lessons from Lah in Chiang Mai — she’s great. If you’re learning Thai for the student visa, however, you have to go through a language school.
  • Securing Thai expat health insurance: Once you’re in the country living there, you might want local insurance. This expat laid out a really great guide to getting Thai Health insurance.
  • Finding Long-Term Accommodation

    • For long-term Chiang Mai spots, check out these condominium listings on Chiang Mai Grapevine and consider Chiang Mai House if you are looking for help on a long-term house rental. I also collected a list of long and short term accommodation — all places friends have stayed, I have stayed, or I have seen recommended.
    • One ALA reader shared that Huay Kaew Residence is the best wheel-chair friendly accommodation in Chiang Mai (and perhaps the only).
    • In Bangkok, you’ll likely want to find a real estate agent once you arrive, it’s the norm and is affordable. They will help you pick a neighborhood and find something in your price range.

    Planning a Research Trip to Thailand?

    how much does it cost to live in Thailand?Where to Stay

    If you’re moving to Thailand, it’s best to arrive in and book at least a week in a guesthouse. And definitely consider just doing a reconnaissance trip to scope it all out. Before you book long-term, you’ll want to all the options in person.

    What to Do

    Other Essentials

    • Nancy Chandler Maps: These are a must buy for the city you move to in Thailand. They are simply amazing. Detailed, thorough, and essential. I have the Chiang Mai one and it’s all creased and saggy and well-loved.
    • Smog in Northern Thailand in the Spring: Jodi gives her take on a particularly bad smog year. Make sure you time your visit well since you’ll be out and about. And for checking the smog levels right now, go to the Thai government site.
    • Volunteer in Thailand: both short and long term options. Can also search volunteer opportunities and responsible tourism ideass for all of SEA.

    Want to read this offline? Download as a handy PDF.

    Cost of Living PDF: Thailand
    Access this information offline along with additional information detailing the questions you should ask when comparing multiple destinations.

    It’s all wrapped up nicely in a shiny PDF to make your cost of living research easier.

    Buy the PDF for $2

    Cost of Living Comparison

    Still researching the right spot to live? Our Cost of Living Guides share extensive resources or all the major expat spots around the world. These guides include thorough breakdowns of the culture, quality of life, vibe, and — importantly — budget breakdowns so you can better plan which spot in the world best meets your needs.

    Cost of Living in Bali, Indonesia

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    Cost of Living Guide for Amsterdam & Berlin

    Cost of Living in Eastern Europe

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    If there is ever anything that I can do to help, please do reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let’s talk about how we can make your travel dream a reality. 

    This post was last updated in January 2017.

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    304 Responses to A Little Expat Living… Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand (2017)

    1. Ann March 6, 2018 at 12:27 am #

      Thanks for sharing, this is very useful information.

      • Shannon March 6, 2018 at 2:28 am #

        So glad you found it helpful!

    2. Vero Thomas January 7, 2018 at 4:52 am #

      Hi, you mention doing volunteering work when you were there. What kind of project was it? That is something I’d be interested in. I am a teacher and qualified translator, though I’d be happy to help with a range of activities. Véro

    3. Cat December 6, 2017 at 11:00 am #

      Can I recommend our favorite hotels and hostels? =) I think there are not more than 20 of them, but it really is, in our opinion, the best hotels and hostels in Chiang Mai.

      • Shannon December 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

        Always happy to have additional recommendations!

        • Cat December 6, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

          Ok! Thanks!

          These are good (it’s important) hostels and hotels. But they may not seem quite cheap. But I hope that not only those who value the price, but also those who care about quality, come to Chiang Mai. At the same time, one must understand that a high price is not always a high quality, and high quality is not always a high price =)

          Best hostel Old City area: Hostel by BED, Sherloft Home, Eden
          Night Bazaar area: Plearn Hostel, Tawan Hostel Club, Monkey Toe
          Nimman area: Bed Addict Hostel, Bake Room

          Best 3 star hotel (swimming pool include) Old City area: iLanna House, BED Phrasingh
          Chang Moi area: My Chiangmai Boutique Lodge, Chedi Home
          Night Bazaar area: Villa Thapae

          Amazing 4 star hotels Old City: Pingviman Hotel (number 1 in my rating), Tapae Gate Villa, 99 The Heritage Hotel
          Wat Ket: Rimping Village, Riverside Floral Inn
          Arount Thapae Gate: De Chai the Deco Hotel, Tamarind Village

          5 star 137 Pillars House and The Dhara Devi (I like their cakes so much, but they also have an excellent hotel)

          Also, very good guesthouses in Old city: Green Tiger Vegetarian House, Pissamorn House, Thongran’s House and Baan Siwali

          • Shannon December 19, 2017 at 10:16 am #

            Thank you for sharing Cat! I appreciate all of the really great recs. :)

    4. Samantha Taylor November 4, 2017 at 8:34 am #

      Thank you Shannon, I have lived in Thailand once before and loved it! Not Chiang Mai though, that would have been an amazing experience!!!

    5. Stereo March 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      Just searching google for things about Chiang Mai and came across this. I never lived there but I have been there twice and am seriously considering “disappearing” for a year or so and CM is my first choice for living on a budget. Very reassuring to see you have the same experience with the city and the prices. This just inspired me even more. Thanks :)

      • ShannonOD March 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

        So glad you found the information useful Stereo, and that we are on the same page with CM. If you’re looking for a place to really just disappear and sink into the local pace of life, I think CM is tops for that. Good food, as many activities as you might want to do, and good expats all over the city! Good luck on making the transition! :)

    6. Maria Levin February 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

      Great blog. Thank you!!!

    7. NATATAT February 16, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Hi! Liked your blog! Can you tell me where you think is the best place to live there, for about $200 or $300? :D

      • ShannonOD February 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

        I think inside the moat can be great if you want a monthly guesthouse rental and to be walkable to a lot of things, or there are a *lot* of apartments off the Northwest corner of the moat, near Kad Suan Keaw mall and the Santitam area. Those all should have places in your price range! :)

    8. Veronica Grace January 29, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

      I love visiting Chiang Mai. I run my own internet business and I’ve often thought of just packing up and moving there because it’s a great way to live cheap and save on expenses… Only thing is I have a cat and I don’t know what I’d do with him. I’m going to spend 5 weeks in chiang mai next year and working a bit as I travel with my boyfriend. I am very excited. I love finding articles like this and sharing them with my family because they can’t believe how cheap you can live in Thailand. I would probably spend much more than this for a bigger place and kitchen (I write recipe ebooks) but I love how all other expenses are so low. :)

      • ShannonOD January 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

        That cat is tough Veronica, I understand that it can be hard to tidy up things up home enough to be able to travel long term. Five weeks is a great length of time to figure out if you like the town. You would definitely need to spend more on rent, but you could get a *beautiful* place with a full kitchen and then still have affordable food for your cookbook work! If there is ever anything I can do to help, please let me know . Happy planning and safe travels :)

    9. Shannon January 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      I was researching the cost of shipping Thai food to the US and on google I saw my name next to a link for this site(my name is Shannon O’Donnell) I just thought that was funny! Have fun in Thailand :-)

      • ShannonOD January 29, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

        Thanks Shannon! I hope you found a way to get yourself shipped some Thai food, it’s delicious!

    10. ralph bellange January 25, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

      I’m planning on visiting thailand with my friends in march, where do you suggest we stay if we want to party and have fun..

      • ShannonOD January 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

        CM Bluehouse is in a great location ) and all of the great party spots are walkable from there, and I think it is clean and safe for your belongings. There are a lot of great guesthouses, but that is the only one I have expereince with really! Also, my post on recs for the city is here: http://alittleadrift.com/2011/08/best-places-in-chiang-mai/

    11. Terry January 23, 2013 at 3:52 am #

      Shannon, thanks for your great blog and good luck on your blogging. Great going so far. I have been living in Thailand now for 10 years and ready to give BKK the push-off. I was thinking Chaing Mai might be a good alternative so planning an exploratory trip. I noticed your very modest price for a motorcycle rental. Where did you find one so cheap? Is it monthly, weekly? I did find Tony Big Bikes rents automatics for 210 baht per day. Your expert advice sought. Terry in BKK

      • ShannonOD January 29, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

        Hi Terry, I rented from a friend of a friend and that surely is why I got a lower price than it looks on the surface. If you rent from Bikey or Tony, the big ones, the prices are harder to negotiate. But even with them, if you are renting for six months to a year you have real room to bargain. A friend found similar rates with a year renting, I managed my rate for five months. Once you are there ask around, see if friends of yours in BKK have family that are keen to rent–that’s how I found a good rate. I know my friend who had the year managed to get it for about 2000b for the 6+ months. Hope that helps and best of luck moving north! :)

    12. Meghan King January 14, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      I’ll be going to Cambodia in a few months to teach english and really didn’t even consider Thailand because I only ever hear party stories about peoples visits there and I am not a big party person. But after reading this article I am definitely going to make sure I visit Chiang Mai and maybe I’ll even look for a teaching job there! Thank you for the article.

      Best regards,

      • ShannonOD January 15, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

        Thailand has some really wonderful areas! The north is more of the cultural center, and the partying you heard about happens down in the islands mostly (and BKK of course). Good luck finding teaching jobs, there are many in the region and each city can have such a different vibe from another, so be sure to explore! And let me know if I can help in any way :)

      • TravelingFirefighter March 13, 2013 at 1:07 am #

        Hi Meghan, Just got back from a 6 week solo trip to Thailand. Never had a sip of alcohol, only 2 nights out past 10pm, and I still had a great time. Do the trip that YOU want, not what other’s want. TravelingFirefighter@yahoo.com

    13. candace December 26, 2012 at 12:21 am #

      Do you still recommend Chiang Mai for older people? I need to quit working. I am 67 and just can’t do my job well anymore. It’s time to leave but I don’t have much income for retirement. Do you think health care is decent? Do you know any older Americans there? I’d be interested in their perspective. thanks

      • ShannonOD December 26, 2012 at 10:51 am #

        Hi Candace! Your question is great, and yes, I think Chiang Mai is a really wonderful spot for older people–I know many of my expat friends were 50+ and they had a vibrant community and routines they enjoyed. Transportation is such that you can either use the shared open taxi-trucks, or you can buy a bicycle (one friend does this to get around) or even a motorbike–the city is small enough that a bike is a great option if you’re fit enough for it. As for healthcare, they have several US quality/certified hospitals, and I have always found them clean, efficient and to tell the truth, if I was diagnosed with a major illness I would likely go to Thailand for treatment, that’s how good they are. Hope that gives you some new things to look at/think about! ~Shannon ?:)

    14. Bill December 19, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Shannon, I would like to hire you to get me settled in Thailand for three months and thereafter I’ll handle it. How do we do this?

    15. bill December 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

      Hello, thank you for taking time to post some of your know how to live comfortably in Thailand. I am interested in living in Thailand for at least three months (get out of cold in michigan ) and maybe longer. ‘ve l worked and lived in Africa and have done some travel around Europe and Africa and enjoy the international annuities. I’ve heard about Thailand and would like to try it. I don’t need to work but volunteering sounds good.
      Thank you,

      • ShannonOD December 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

        Thailand is a great place to go for three months– you can get a feel for the country, see a lot if you are keen to explore, or settle into a three month apartment rental and begin to feel like a local by the time you leave. Work visas are tricky and require some extra obstacles to jump through if you are keen to find work in Thailand, otherwise you could definitely find volunteering to do nearly anywhere in the country! :)

    16. Isabel November 25, 2012 at 1:20 am #

      Thanks for all that useful information Shannon. I’m a Canadian teaching in Bangkok since 4 months and fell in love with ChiangMai. I’m looking into ways to break my contract here and move up there with my freelancer boyfriend (who is back at home also looking into ways to take a year off from work). Do you know if there’s a lot of teaching or web design jobs over there? We wonder how much savings we should take with us to cover for the first 2 months of job hunting… Bangkok seems to be more expensive but with more job opportunities. Maybe I’m wrong about the work though. Would be nice to get your opinion on that. I miss rock climbing in Bangkok and know that Chiang Mai got lots of climbing spots so I would be happier there I’m sure. How many hours a week do you need to work to live that lifestyle? Seems like I got the same in Bangkok but things are more expensive.

      • ShannonOD November 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

        Hi Isabel! Thanks for commenting and sharing your situation. There are definitely teaching jobs in Chiang Mai, I have several friends who work as teachers, but it is competitive and you should give yourself time and perhaps time your move to when schools hire new teachers (after breaks maybe, not sure when that is). Web design is a lot harder — there may be companies needing that, but at the same time Chiang Mai bussiness-wise is a lot smaller market. Has your boyfriend considered freelancing for any past clients he had so he is making a stronger currency? Rock climbing is available in CM for sure, it’s not a huge community, but I know there is a rock climbing wall and often trips outside of town. Networking is a big part of it all, if you have connections, start asking them about friends and opportunties in CM, it’s a small country and there is a lot of overlap in the businesses and people in many ways. And lastly, consider the non-profit community for opportunitites–CM has MANY more non-profits and organizations like that and you or your boyfriend could look into that route as well.

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