Living in Chiang Mai

Living in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Province

Thailand’s second largest city, Chiang Mai is known as the ‘Rose of the North’ because of the outstanding beauty of its surroundings, the charm of the old city and, we would argue, the grace and kindness of its people. The former seat of the Lanna kingdom – Thailand’s last independent dominion – Chiang Mai has a proud cultural heritage and, despite the rapid growth of more modern urban attributes, it retains the relaxed, friendly atmosphere it has long been famed for.

A short drive in any direction out of the city will soon take you to lush mountains and rainforests, stunning waterfalls and traditional villages. Whether you like to relax at a spa resort, go cycling or hiking, visit elephant sanctuaries or peaceful temples, organic markets or trendy shops and cafes, Chiang Mai has it all. You will find a lot of people who came here to visit 10 years ago and are still here!

Meritton is situated just 10 minutes form the old city and, in the other direction, 10 minutes from the countryside. We are surrounded by excellent residential areas as well as a wealth of great cafes and restaurants. We couldn’t really be better located!


Finding a Home

Accommodation in Chiang Mai is beautiful and of great value. Rent ranges from 10-15,000 baht/month for a small (2/3-bed) house to 35,000 + baht/month if you want something larger and better equipped. Prices vary depending on location, distance from the city, mod cons etc. It is possible to get short term rental contracts (3-6 months) but most landlords expect a minimum 1 year contract plus one month rent in advance and one month deposit. Serviced apartments are available on a monthly basis.

1. Rough price guide
  • Apartment 5,000 – 15,000: expect to pay more for a serviced apartment.
  • Budget Home 10,000-15,000 Baht/month: 1-3 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, small garden (old-style, traditional houses may be cheaper)
  • Standard Home 15,000-20,000 baht/month: 3-4 bedrooms, western style kitchen, living room, garden
  • Large Family Home 25,000-35,000 Baht/ month: 3-5 bedrooms, western style design, kitchen, living room, garden, en-suite bathrooms, etc.
2. Housing Agents

Renting from a housing agent tends to cost more than directly from a landlord, but for a newcomer they may be more convenient.

3. Areas to live

The old city centre is around 10-15 mins from school, depending on traffic.
The Canal Road runs from the new part of the city (‘Nimmanhaemin’ area) past the turn off to the school and is a good route to live close to. The other route between the school and city is the Chiang Mai-Hang Dong Road which is more congested but also good if you want easy access to the school.
There are many residential areas near the school. If you want to be close by, Mae Hia, Nong Khwai and San Phak Wan sub-districts are the best, being 5-15 minutes away.
Housing in Chiang Mai is either in gated residential areas (called moo baan, which tend to be more expensive but have extra facilities like pools and gyms), or in regular villages and sub-districts.

Some newcomers choose to get a weekly/monthly rent AirBnB or service apartment when they first get here, then get to know the city and speak to other parents or teachers before deciding on somewhere, which is a worthwhile strategy.


Getting Around
Public transport

Public transport is not great in Chiang Mai, but there are several ways to get around.

  1. Public taxi service. Rót daeng (literally ‘red trucks’) operate as shared taxis. There are both fixed routes for the public (very cheap) and non-fixed routes where you ask the driver to take you to your destination (journeys start from 50-100 Baht for a short trip). Regular taxis are also found but limit themselves to the airport run and private calls. There are also Tuk Tuks which usually gather in tourist areas and cost around the same as red trucks.
  2. Your choice of mobile applications. Cheaper than taxis or tuk tuks.

Car rental starts from 800 to 1,000 Baht a day, with monthly lease rates from 15,000 baht. Second-hand cars are expensive compared to Europe and a used family car will cost anything from 100,000 baht (10+ years old) to 300,000 baht (5+ years old).

Drivers’ Licence

Getting a drivers’ licence is fairly simple. You need to get a medical certificate for a driving licence (available at most hospitals and clinics) and then tkea this and the following documents to Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office on Hang Dong Road (near BigC).

a. Licence from original country
b. Passport and copies
c. Medical report for driving licence
d. Fees for photo and licence
e. Resident certificate

Motorbikes and bicycles

Mopeds/scooters are not expensive to run. A bicycle will cost you anything from 3,000 to 20,000+ depending on what kind you want.

Scooter rental (125cc, or similar) costs around 3,000 baht a month. A second-hand one may cost about 15-20,000 baht and a new one 40-50,000 baht. Bigger bikes cost upwards of 50,000 baht second hand or 150,000 baht new.

Thailand has a very poor vehicle accident record, so great care must be taken, especially on two wheels.

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