House Hunting in Chiang Mai

Our 12 month rental contract will expire at the end of October at our current apartment.  That’s why we’ve been quite busy spending much of our time in recent weeks hunting for a house to rent.  Wow, we’ve been living in Thailand for 15 months now and absolutely no regrets.

Although we’ve preached about the benefits of downsizing from our 3 story town home in Houston, we have come to terms with the realization that we needed a house, for a few important reasons.

For one, it is our desire to have ample space for an English tutoring center, and it wasn’t going to happen in our current one bedroom apartment.  We’re in a great location, very close to the old city, but it’s just not suitable for students or guests!

Second, A’s family will be visiting this fall and we want to make sure that we’re able to host them while they are here.

Third, A loves to cook and share meals with friends and family, so we needed a house with space and  proper kitchen.

Last but not least, M’s play time and opportunities with her BFF have been reduced significantly since school started this year.  It was THE reason why we stayed here in this very building so that  M has a regular playmate right after we moved here over a year ago.

We made a list of priorities as we looked for our new home here in Chiang Mai for at least one more year of rent, or longer.

  • Close to M’s friends and school.
  • Quiet neighborhood where M has space to play, ride a bike, etc.
  • Close to the city so that our potential Burmese students will have easy access to our home, and ample space for computers, tables and a small library of English books.
  • Close enough to the city so that we are close to our friends, favorite coffee shop,  fresh markets and eateries.
  • Owner who is reasonable to work with.
  • At least two bedrooms.
  • A little cave for J to geek-out in.
  • Air conditioners in the bedrooms. A/Cs on bottom floors (living room/kitchen) are rare.
  • Natural light throughout the home (as much as possible!)
  • View of the mountain.
  • Budget: 12K baht ($400) Rent
After weeks of hunting, and visiting 20+ properties (oh, the variety!), here’s the home we have chosen:

 View from the balcony in our future home


  • Three story, 4+ bedrooms (“+” is J’s Cave), 2 full bathrooms, 3 balconies (woo hoo), large front porch
  • Only 6 minutes from M’s school and 10 from the old city
  • Quiet neighborhood
  • Plenty of space to convert into a English tutoring center and library on the first floor
  • View of the mountain from the 3rd floor
  • Great natural light into the home
  • New air conditioner in M’s room
  • Friendly landlord
  • Rent:10,000THB ($334/ mo.). $34 more than what we are paying in rent for our one-bedroom apartment.


  • Needs a new coat of interior paint
  • Need to remove wall-paper on first floor
  • MB Air conditioner may need replacing (owner is checking now!)
  • Partially furnished
  • Needs a fridge
  • Needs a washing machine
  • Needs wardrobe storage
  • Needs mattresses (Three mattresses already there, but we’ll just have to see if we want to keep them)
  • Needs dining table/chairs
  • Needs cooking range top
  • Needs new curtains

Some we will buy new and others we will buy second-hand.  We’ll do an update on this later.


  • Energy consumption: We’ve seen a lot of houses during our search (~20+ homes)
  • Met 3 different agents and also directly with owners
  • Location and price were big factors as well as the owner with whom we will be dealing with for a year (or longer)
  • We found beautiful homes, fully furnished, lovely/cooperative owners, but either too far from school, friends, or the city
  • We also found not so pleasant owners…(see examples)
  • One owner preferred to keep their home with no one in it for yet another year rather than reducing 2000b or $60/ month guaranteeing income for a year.  Very strange.
  • One brother and wife of the owner met with us for less than 30 minutes and told the owner we were not fit to be their tenant.  The location was perfect, we thought the rent was in our budget, but we felt the owners were not so perfect to deal with after all. (We cannot be 100% certain but a very strong gut feeling tells me that it is because we are Asians! Yes, this happens to us more often than we’d like to admit! It was a real disappointment.)
  • Another home had no furnishings, but beautiful space and yard.  It was far but we considered renting anyway. Owner was not only NOT willing to negotiate, but wanted a two year contract.

In general, our experiences with home owners have been positive except the ones above. One owner contacted us and told us she prefers a family like ours in her home.  She got to know us, interviewed us even.  As landlords ourselves back in the US for our town home, we can tell right away that she took good care of her home and wanted someone who will do the same. Another man has a beautiful home with nice furnishings, perfect lay-out for our family.  He repainted and cleaned the house, to get ready for us to come back to take a second look.  However, it was just too far for us.

Our realtor, Nisa, has been very professional and patient with us.  We just gave a 2-mo. deposit yesterday and hope to sign a contract in a week after a walk-through.

Much like our DIY projects in our first home in Texas, we’re a little excited about potential DIY projects in our first home in Chiang Mai as well. We’ve also heard that labor is quite cheap and well we’ll be  creating jobs for some of the Burmese workers.

We will definitely need to record our journey for our family memoirs here on this blog, as there are exciting times ahead with projects, travels, and family visits.




18 thoughts on “House Hunting in Chiang Mai

  1. Congrats, that is exciting. I really want to visit Thailand, well I want to travel Asia in all but first is South America. Yet if you have a home in Thailand, I’m guessing you’ll call it home for at least a little while. Maybe a monkey and his mate may have to make Chiang Mai a must stop spot on our list.

  2. Congrats on finding your new house! I think it’s so hard to find something that’s already built that is completely perfect…all the best with the moving process and settling in =)

  3. Extra rooms, eh? Enough for two people who may have to come to Thailand every 10 weeks (cough, cough) 🙂 Either way, I could use some geek cave time.

    1. Hey Kyle!

      You know you and B are always welcome, as long as you’re not coughing- literally. A said you are not getting your own cave, so we’ll just hide out in there with wifi and beer…

    2. What’s with all the coughing. Do you have a cold, Kyle?? You better take quick care of that! And by the way, if you bring me Pone-yay-gyi (NOT the powder) you may check out the geek-cave. 🙂

  4. Wow – how exciting that you have found a house to rent for a year! Amazing how cheap the rent is over there. Last year we rented at Glasshouse Mountains for the year. Weekly rent was $410.00 (aussie dollar) – crazy I know!

    Looking forward to following your new journey of new projects, and hearing about you enjoying your new adventures.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for your supportive words! It is quite amazing how affordable CM is, and we can’t wait to get our tutoring center going, but it will take time to set up, for sure.

      Keep in touch,

  5. Awesome!

    Think you guys will love the house despite all the challenges and the draw backs can easily be overcome for all and even easier for you guys, I’m sure.

    All the best from Canada!

  6. Wow! That sounds like such an amazing spot, and all of the space you guys are going to have now is wonderful. 🙂 Can’t wait to see the community areas and help you launch some tutoring, sign me up for that!

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