If you are coming to Thailand to live for six months or more – chances are you will want to lease or rent a condo or house and get greater value over living in monthly accommodation. Condos and houses are more luxurious than the standard apartment, usually fully furnished and come with all the mod cons of your home country – only much much cheaper. Assuming you have decided you want to rent or lease your own condo or house – lets look at how to go about this.
OK. first let’s make a distinction in what is an Apartment VS what is a Condo. (I assume you know what a house is)
Apartment: In Thailand this refers to a monthly accommodation complex that you rent on a monthly basis. All the units in the complex are usually owned by the same person or company and standardized to look the same. Most can be rented on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Apartments generally come equip with a bed, a TV, a writing desk and a closet. Some will have basic kitchens and the more elaborate have separate bedrooms and kitchens.
Condo: In Thailand this refers to a unit that is individually owned within a condominium complex. Condos usually have larger areas, and are fully furnished including a bathroom and kitchen. While it is possible to rent a Condo for 3 months, more typical is a minimum 6 month lease, with a discount in price for longer term rentals.
In a Nutshell
- Condo for single people and inner city life
- House for couples and families or the quiet peaceful in nature living
- Prices range from 6000-25,000 baht (see below for examples)
- Leasing provides cheaper and better than Serviced Apartments (6 months+)
- Plenty of both Houses and Condos available
- Location is Important for lifestyle
- Real Estate Agents are free for you to use
- Best deals come from Thai owners who do not speak English
- Read the Lease contract and understand the ‘odd’ bits
Availability of Condo’s and Houses for Rent and Lease in Chiang Mai
Over the last 5 years there has been an increasing number of newly constructed buildings aimed at foreigners. This includes both luxury condos and gated communities of houses. These complexes more and more are being constructed with gyms, swimming pools, community areas, convenience stores and a few restaurants located within the facility or close by. Many of the newer communities fill the 49% foreigner owned quota (everything must be 51% Thai owned) and while Thais own the majority they are able to rent to westerners. One of the benefits of living among other westerners is the formation of housing associations that ‘motivate’ owners and property managers into taking action on maintenance.
There are of course older places, that are available for cheaper rent. These places (both homes and condo’s) usually lack the western kitchens and features that you are used too, and have fewer westerners living there. . While these cheaper places are available this article will assume you can afford the US$250 to get the basic luxury accommodation option.
With the massive amount of building taking place over the last few years, and older places being remodeled, there is an abundance of both Condominiums and Houses available
Location, Location, Location
There are 3 areas in Chiang Mai where the majority of new arrivals tend to populate, depending on their specific requirements, but mostly because of the number of other expats living in the local community. Obviously there are Expats spread around the city, many choosing to live in the more remote areas, (because they like solitary living or moved in with a Thai person); and sometimes because they want the peace and quiet.
The Nimman area is located to the east of the old city, and is a thriving and more upmarket area of town. This is the prime location chosen by the digital nomad community and has many better quality condos occupied by expats. Close to everything, including 3 shopping malls and many supermarkets the Nimmanhemin (Nimman) area and it’s surroundings is an inner city type vibe. Mostly Condo’s in this part of town, many new developments finishing each month waiting and ready for lease or purchase.
Hang Dong Area
The Hang Dong area is located just a 10 minute drive from the Old City and the Nimman area. This area is popular with retiring expats because of the many Moo Baans (gated community developments) and rural vibe. Beautiful housing developments with lakes, club houses and gyms are located here, along with many large home improvement stores.
Chang Kang Area
The Chang Kang area is located close to the Ping River, which has long been a favorite location for western styled restaurants and night life. It is also close to the red light district, and the tourist oriented Night Bizzare market. This area of town is populated by many single men, and has a much larger local population that speaks English.
Obviously there are many other places where you can choose to live, The areas above are just a guide, but it is suggested that before you commit to a long term lease, you spend a month or so in a monthly apartment closer to the main city and then explore the various areas.
How much does it cost to Lease a Condo in Chiang Mai?
A 30 sq.m Condo with kitchen and modern amenities will start at around 6000 baht (US$180), increasing in size to 45 sq.m you are looking in the 9000-12000 baht range. (US$270-360) per month. Larger 80-120 sq.m 2 bedrooms places are around 18000-25000 baht (US$549-760). One of the first things many new arrivals notice (especially from America) is how small the condos are here compared to where they are from. You very quickly adapt and begin to enjoy the smaller units, with less cleaning required, ease of getting around from kitchen to bathroom etc. Price will often depend on the extra facilities of the condo, Gyms, Pools, Massage and location will all add to the price.
The Advantages of Renting a Condo
Renting a condo or an apartment in Chiang Mai will provide you with greater access to amenities and better security. Most complexes will have electronic key cards, security guards and CCTV monitoring, it can be difficult for visitors to reach you without arranging to meet them in the lobby. Condo’s will often also have gyms, shops, pools either inside the complex or located close by to service the people living there.
Living in a condo provides a greater social life, with the opportunity to bump into and get to know the other 50-500 tenets living there (depending on the size). Staff at Condominiums will often help you with bills or letters that you do not understand in Thai, and are used to dealing with westerners and any of the little and niggling complaints we might have.
Condos can be leased for shorter periods of time (3 months plus) with the price in rent going down the longer you stay. For example a 12,000 baht a month place for 3 months, might be 11,000 for 6 months and 10,000 for the year. Condos are usually located in the heart of the action, just a short walk to your local community and the activities you will spend the majority of your day doing.
How much does it cost to Rent a House in Chiang Mai?
Houses are available in the inner suburbs and city itself, and these tend to be older (often Thai style) and can start from as low as 5000 baht maybe 8000 baht for a two bedroom. The further out you go the bigger and newer the houses become with more western features. Many expats decide that they want to rent a house in a Moo Baan (gated community) which are usually located in the Hang Dong and surrounding areas. Older styled houses are found closer to the city areas (and also outside the city) which are smaller and basic sometimes with a yard, but usually close to the neighbors.
The Advantages of Renting a House
Renting houses in Chiang Mai is a better value for money often for the same price as an inner city condo you can get a 3 bedroom house with gardens, patios, and if located in a Moo Baan, community pools, gyms and club rooms. The city is only 10-15 minutes away and usually you have tropical scenery around to view.
The house offers you space!, either for yourself and your family or if you decide to get a live in maid or home help. Many come fully furnished, others do not, and you will be expected to take out a longer term lease (most are yearly).
Living in a house allows you to potter around in the gardens, and not sacrifice having to live in a minimalist style (you can fit more ‘stuff’ in a bigger house compared to a Condo).
How to Rent/Lease a Condo or House in Chiang Mai
Finding a Condo to lease or a House to rent is easy. There are flyers on lampposts, websites with English-speaking agents and they good news is their services are free. Real estate agents are paid a percentage of your lease in commission (which can sometimes mean they do not have an interest in negotiating the price on your behalf). There are also Facebook groups for buying and selling property that each and everyday have fantastic places on offer.
Here are a few links that we at Guroo Asia have found to be reliable over time.
Second Hand and Real Estate – Second hand furniture and real estate properties for rent lease and purchase
Chiang Mai Real Estate – In this group anyone can post their classifieds or general information about real estate in Chiang Mai. It is a way to get people to find each other. Buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants. Everyone is welcome. Agents, buyers, seller, tenants, landlords, you name it.
Chiang Mai Properties – a local business that provides a variety of searchable locations, price ranges and types of properties
Hints and Tips for leasing property in Chiang Mai
Finding Cheaper Prices
Many of the cheaper properties are owned by Thai people who do not speak English well. The better your English, the more you can sell to westerners and the higher the price. This is not a great concern for most people as in reality we are only talking about an extra $50-200 a month. For short-term leasing of up to 6 months this is your best option. Dealing with another westerner who has investment properties or a company that speaks English means that you know what you are getting.
Websites such as DD Properties tend not to have agents, rather they are the property owners who are selling direct. The prices and properties on this website are generally much cheaper and if you can speak Thai you can find amazing deals.
Guroo Asia Advantage
Our Online Concierge Service includes connecting with Thai Properties owners and arranging for visits to the properties, lease and contract negotiation and negotiating price vs lease time terms. We are charging you 200 baht an hour to work on your behalf, so we tend to get better deals than an agent working on commission
Get a Lease in English or read by someone if in Thai
Many of the standard lease agreements have some rather odd terms and conditions. One of which is to notify within 30 days of leaving the property in order to get your security deposit back. While most of us assume that a 3 or 6 month lease implies termination of the lease, this is sometimes used to withhold your deposit for a month for your personal collection. If you have left the country – you never see your deposit. There are many other odd clauses that can be placed in a rental agreement – so get it checked!
Don’t set your heart on just one website listed property
Often the place you really love, has been leased already or the landlord has not asked if the tenant is going to renew the lease. If dealing with a property agent, often someone in one of their other offices has rented the place but not removed it from the website listings. So get a selection of reference numbers, and arrange for the agent to take you to have a look at the properties in a morning or afternoon.
If you are using DD Properties website and the owner does not speak English, we can call and find out if the property is available, a viewing and sort out a security deposit to ensure you have a lease agreement.
Get the Electric and/or Water in your name if staying longer than 6 months
This little detail can be used to open bank accounts and provide you with evidence for numerous other handy little bits of paper and services not available to the average tourist.
Location = Lifestyle and Price
The closer to the city you are, the more expensive the property. Usually inner city life is done in Condo’s and if you want a house (while they are available close to town) the bigger and more modern are on the outskirts of town about 10 minutes away. A house further away will require planning for shopping and social activates, and a car. Living closer to the city means you can walk or get public transport whenever you wish to do just about anything you want. You can easily live in town and not need a car.
For the same price as an inner city condo you can find a 3 bedroom home.
Property Checklist – check before you sign the Lease
Experience shows that many people will view a condo or property and take it based on visual appeal and price (and sometimes limited time). If renting or leasing a property for the first time we often assume things are the same as back home. Often they are not. You can read and print out a property check list here and make sure you do not get caught out by little surprises after you move in.