Two years ago when I first discovered a lifestyle called Digital nomadism, I heard the place to be was Chiang Mai.
From then on this was my dream destination.
I’ve been here for three days so far and I am in love with Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is a very affordable place to live, a breathtakingly beautiful city in the mountains of Thailand. An apartment can be rented from as little as £120 a month and that comes with a pool, maid service, a gym, and walking distance to Punspace, a coworking office space.
back then it was just a fantasy. I dreamed of being there every day for two years. Its how I got out of bed in the morning.
during my days in the factory, I listened to podcasts. After work I watched youtube videos wishing I could be with the nomads working at Punspace and living in Paradise.
It was just a silly dream, I mean how could I possibly sell everything, leave my loved ones behind and live like the digital nomads?
But sometimes if you really want something so bad, you make it happen no matter what.
A few days ago I got off the train from Bangkok and placed a foot on Chiang Mai.
And this is where this story begins.
I’m not going to lie, I cried as I walked out of the train station.
Not sure if it was the relief to finally get here after a week of traveling, the two years of dreaming finally over or the sheer beauty of Chiang Mai. It was probably a mixture of all three.
I was totally overwhelmed to step foot on Chaing Mai soil.
Passing the tuk-tuk drivers and taxi guys I stood by the road away from the station and I pulled myself together. I had a few hours until I could check into my hotel and I was in no rush. I just stood there, taking it all in.
I made it, I made it.
I pulled out my phone and called an Uber, turns out android pay doesn’t work in Thailand.
After playing with the app I realized that I could pay by cash with Uber and finally got a car to pick me up.
Now I have always found it funny that every Uber I have taken back home turned up in a Toyota.
I was not surprised when my driver rocked up with one.
When I say rocked up, I mean it. I heard him before I seen him.
Since I used to teach guitar back home and played in a few rock bands we instantly hit it off, it turns out my driver learned English by singing rock songs, and boy can he sing.
He is now my driver and I call him up every time I need a lift. The guy is awesome.
I dumped my bag off at the hotel and checked google maps, yup just as I had planned, I was 5 minutes away from Punspace.
I found a cut through that took me on a walk down a private road, at the other side was the road Punspace was on. In less than an hour after getting off that train I had my month-long membership to the coworking space I dreamed of visiting one day.
Now, this picture has a very special meaning to me, you see it is exactly like the picture on my toolbox in the factory and on my desktop wallpaper on my pc back home. The only thing different is that I am in this picture.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train
Now that train journey was an experience. For the grand total of £15 to travel over 500 miles, it was cheap. From the videos on YouTube, I was expecting a private first class cabin with my own toilet. It turns out there are different trains and different experiences. Mine was not the one with LCD screens and private cabins. I was lucky however to share my cabin with a friendly guy called Roy from the UK who I had a lot in common with, and we got along great. Also the guys in the next cabin I had already befriended at the station and one of them also came from my hometown. I slept early and woke in time to watch the Sunrise over the mountains.
After being on a train in Thailand heat for 12 hours and hanging around a station in Bangkok for 5 hours beforehand, I needed a shower before I joined the rest of the location independent digital nomads. So I started to walk.
I walked every road and side street in the Nimman area and the surrounding parts. For four hours with my rucksack on my back weighted down by my laptop and camera equipment. By the time I could check into my hotel room I was definitely ready for that shower.
I woke up on the second day in my hotel with the feeling that I had to find my own apartment and quick, you see the following day the Nomad Summit starts and I wanted to be settled before I spent the weekend going to the different events that are being held around Chiang Mai.
Remember a few words ago I mentioned the private road that I walked down to get to Punspace? Yeah, that’s where I rented my first flat!
Finding an apartment in Chiang Mai
I left my hotel at 8 am and by 9 am I was signing the lease for my very own apartment in Thailand! It’s that easy. No 6 months up front, no proof of income, no references from previous landlords and employers, no hassle what so ever. England, you need to learn from this!
Just walk around the area you want to live in and look for big apartment blocks. There is normally a reception area where you can get a place to stay on a monthly rental, you move in right then.
oh and it cost me £142 for a months rent including bills.
My rent plus bills back home were £1400 a month and I’m still trying to get my deposit back after paying out for professional cleaners….twice.
And I have a pool, Aircon, TV, maid service, gym the list goes on.
So I am settled for the next month here in Chiang Mai. I have already booked my next flight down to the islands the day after my lease finishes. Chiang Mai airport is expensive to fly from and it was 3 times the price of any other flight I have booked inside Asia. It is cheaper flying from Bali to Bangkok than it is flying from Chiang Mai to Krabi and that trip is 3 times as far.
Later today I am heading out to the pre-registration of the Nomad Summit, one of the main reasons I chose to come to Chaing Mai now and not later into my trip. I am sure I will post about that after the weekend.