How To Live (Comfortably) in Chiang Mai for $750/month

Yes, that includes having a swimming pool in your building (Baan Thai Apartments in Nimman)

There are many reasons why Chiang Mai is seen by many as the unofficial capital of the “digital nomad” movement.

For one, it’s in South East Asia — a region popular for its year-round warm weather, general safety, well-developed tourist infrastructure and ease of travel. Whether you’re in Bangkok or Bali, just about any other destination in the region is within easy reach.

There’s also a bit of a “goldilocks” effect in Chiang Mai — it’s a mid-sized city, the temperature is not as extreme (a sweater would not be out of place on a winter night), and there seems to be a balance between local culture and international influence. To many tourists and expats, it feels “just right.”

The main reason, however, is the low cost of living. Your dollar/euro/pound simply goes much further here, with few compromises. Serviced apartments for under $250/month? Check. Reliable internet connectivity? Check. Hundreds of cafes and restaurants, for every budget? Absolutely.

Now for some actual numbers. A cost of living estimate for a month in Chiang Mai, assuming single occupancy and no visa costs:

8,000 BHT for a studio apartment in the Nimman area
1,000 BHT for utilities (electricity and water bills)
9,000 BHT for food (based on eating out 3 times a day at 100 BHT/meal)
1,000 BHT for transportation (including taxi to/from the airport)
3,000 BHT for entertainment (e.g. movies, going out for drinks)
2,000 BHT for cafés or co-working spaces (20 visits at ~100 BHT each)
1,000 BHT for basic supplies (e.g. toiletries from 7/11)
600 BHT for a SIM card with data (we recommend the AIS Super Wifi plan)
400 BHT for two cash withdrawals (200 BHT fee per ATM transaction)

That’s a total of 26,000 BHT, or 748 USD (670 EUR, 568 GBP, 987 AUD).

Of course, actual expenditures will greatly vary:

  • Housing can be had for even less, especially if you share an apartment with someone. Alternatively, expect to pay more if you need a place with a full kitchen and modern, designer furniture.
  • Food, just like housing, can be found at any budget. If you stick to just eating at the Burmese Restaurant in Nimman, for example, you could get by on 100 BHT/day. Yet there’s nothing stopping you from eating great Italian, Japanese, American, or even Mexican food here — for a bit more.
  • For some, 2000 BHT may be just the entry point for a proper night out.
  • The breakdown above doesn’t include any other activities you may want to try (e.g. cooking classes, massages, day trips to nearby towns).
  • Staying longer than 30 days? For many with a Western passport, this will mean applying for a visa stamp extension at the immigration office (expect to shell out 1,900 BHT for that, exclusive of photocopy and passport photo costs).

You get the idea.

For many, this blog post may seem like it’s preaching to the choir — thousands of expats, tourists, and nomads (whether of the digital or analog variety) have already discovered that Chiang Mai is an excellent choice to establish a permanent or semi-permanent base.

And for those still seeking a safe, warm, low-cost city with great food and entertainment options — you could do a whole lot worse.

If you’re looking for a month-to-month rental in Chiang Mai, we’ve got you covered. Check out apartment listings and reviews at: