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Is Chiang Mai The Perfect Digital Nomad Haven?

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Chiang Mai Digital Nomad HavenOur 5 week Thailand trip is starting to wind down and I left Chiang Mai a couple of days ago. I’m typing this post in a small hotel room in Phuket. It’s way too hot in the middle of the day to be at the beach so we usually hide out in the afternoon. We hit the beach in the morning, have lunch, hide out until it’s a bit cooler, and then head out again. It seems most tourists don’t mind the hot sun, though. Lots of them are out at the beach getting a nice sunburn. 😀

Anyway, the beach is really nice, but I already miss Chiang Mai. I had a great time in Chiang Mai this trip. We were there for 20 days and I got to experience life as a digital nomad. It was not bad at all. There, I could work in a nice coffee shop and enjoy affordable food and drinks anywhere. Phuket is quite a bit more expensive. The food costs about twice as much as in Chiang Mai and tastes about half as good. I haven’t seen a nice café where a digital nomad can sit and work yet. Kata has more of a beach town feel.

Life of a digital nomad

Chiang Mai changed a lot over the last 10 years. Back then, it was a tourist town, but not really a digital nomad haven. Since then, many businesses were started to support the digital nomad lifestyle. I’m not really sure how this came about, but it’s quite different than other cities in Thailand.

This got me thinking – could I be a digital nomad in Chiang Mai? I think so. I have a special advantage because I speak Thai and I have family in town. But there are other things I need as a digital nomad. Let’s list them.

  • A modern gym – I saw quite a few gyms when I was in CM. They look very similar to my gym in the US. I usually exercise in a gym so I need one to stay in shape. The other option is to go exercise in the park early in the morning. That’s a good option, but it never worked for me before.
  • Internet and cell phone service – The other essential ingredient for the digital nomad is the internet. Luckily, we live in the age of smart phones. I could get unlimited data service for 299 baht/month (less than $10) and enable the wifi hotspot function. I think this is 512 mb/second which is perfectly fine for managing a blog. If you want higher speed, you can pay more. From my experience, the coverage is very solid in the city.
  • Nice coffee shops – There are many nice coffee shops with wifi in the Nimman area. I worked at 3 different cafés and they were all perfectly fine. This is unusual in Thailand. I haven’t seen working coffee shops like this in other areas.
  • Library – I love the library and I need one nearby. There are a few Thai libraries around CM, but I didn’t have a chance to check them out. I can read Thai so I think I’ll be happy with the books there.
  • Universities – There are quite a few universities in Chiang Mai. You can go and take various classes there. They also have lessons for seniors like painting and dancing. My mom took some classes a while back.
  • Affordable cost of living – The cost of living in Chiang Mai is much more affordable than in the US. I think we can live very comfortably on about $2,000/month. In Portland, we spend about $5,000/month.
  • Walkability and public transportation – In general, Chiang Mai is pretty walkable. It’s a compact city and you rarely have to go far to find what you want. The public transportation is okay. There are red songtaew You can hop on and pay about a buck to go to the other side of the city. There are buses and ridesharing services, too.
  • Activities – Chiang Mai is a tourist destination so there are lots of things to do. You can go to movies, listen to live music, hike, visit temples, attend a festival, and more. There are lots of stuff to do there.

Okay, that’s what I’d need as a digital nomad. Chiang Mai has them covered. It’s not bad at all. Did I miss anything?

I think you’re probably interested to hear more about the lower cost of living. Let me write a bit about that.

Lower cost of living

As expected, the cost of living in Chiang Mai is lower than in the US, but it really depends on your lifestyle. If you eat local food, take local public transportation, and keep the rent at a reasonable level, then it will be very affordable.

  • Rent – You can rent a studio for $300 to $400 month in my dad’s building. A bigger place costs more. I think we should be able to find a comfortable 1 bedroom condo for $500 to $600. The price is all over the place so it really depends on the location and amenities.
  • Local food – $1 to $2 per dish at the market, scrappy local restaurants, or food court.
  • Restaurants – $5 to $10 per person at a modern restaurant, usually at the mall and in the touristy area. These restaurants usually serve international cuisine.
  • Fancy restaurants – $20+? I don’t know. I didn’t make it to a fancy restaurant.
  • Haircut – $2 for kid and $3 for men at the local beauty shop.
  • Transportation – $1 to ride across town. I’m not sure how much ride sharing costs, but not much more.
  • Grocery – This one really depends on what you buy. If you go to the fresh market to buy local fruits and vegetables, then it’s cheap. However, it is expensive if you go to the supermarket to buy cheese, orange juice, wine, potato chips, and other packaged food. I’m pretty sure we’d spend quite a bit less on groceries if we live in Chiang Mai.
  • Cellphone – A sim card cost about $2. The cheapest unlimited data plan cost less than $10/month.
  • Internet – I’d just enable the hot spot function on the cell phone. Alternatively, you could get wifi service from the phone companies for about $15 per month.
  • Clothes – I got a few shirts and shorts for about $7 each. I think that’s midrange price. You can pay a lot more, but you can also go much cheaper.
  • Gym? – Oops, I forgot to ask how much it cost. Sorry! I assume around $20-$30/month.
  • Café – A cup of cappuccino cost $2-$3 in a nice café.
  • Massage – It cost about $8 for a 60 minute Thai massage.
  • Healthcare – I’m not sure about the cost of healthcare. From what I’ve heard, it is much less expensive than in the US. It seems like if you’re relatively healthy, you can pay as you go and it should be fine. Sorry, I don’t have a solid number here.

Okay, I hope these give you an idea about the cost of living in Chiang Mai. Let me know if you’re curious about how much something cost. I can ask my dad.

Cons

Are there any cons to living in Chiang Mai? I don’t think there are many. Here is my short list.

  • Culture shock – It might be too difficult to live in a foreign country if you haven’t tried it before.
  • Weather – The weather was pretty good when I was there in the middle of winter. It cooled down at night and didn’t get too hot in the day time. Summer will be a different story, though. It’ll be hot and humid.
  • Crowd – It’s pretty busy in Chiang Mai now. There are a ton of tourists everywhere. The traffic is pretty bad too. If you like a dense city environment, then you’ll probably be able to handle it. If you need more personal space, it might be tough.
  • Tiered pricing – Attractions charge foreigners more. Thai people don’t make as much income so they keep prices low for them. I think this is fine. I’ve seen tiered pricing in quite a few developing countries.
  • School – I don’t like the schooling system in Thailand. The kids study way too much. I like our school in Portland so we’ll stick with that for now. The international schools in Chiang Mai are probably pretty good, but they’re quite expensive.

Ahh.. Here’s one from Mrs. RB40.

  • Social* – Mrs. RB40 doesn’t speak Thai so she’s wondering if she’d be able to make friends in Chiang Mai. There are quite a few digital nomads in Chiang Mai, but they’re mostly in their 20s. We’re quite a bit older so I’m not sure if we’d share the same interest. The other common type of foreigners is the old retired guys. They’re living in Thailand to stretch their retirement savings. There must be some foreigners in their 40s working and living in Chiang Mai. I think we’ll have to settle down there first before we can search them out, though.

Moving to Chiang Mai?

So, am I moving to Chiang Mai? No, not right now. RB40Jr is still in school and I want him to have a stable environment. Once RB40Jr is done with high school, I’ll evaluate it again. I plan to live in Chiang Mai for a few years to help my parents out because by then, I’m pretty sure they will need more assistance. That’s 10 years out, though. Lots of things could change.

As for Mrs. RB40, I’m not sure if she’d want to live in Chiang Mai full time. Maybe she can split her time in Thailand and the US. That way she can keep an eye on her parents in California too. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

What about you? Have you thought about moving to another country? Where?

Starting a blog is a great way to save money on your therapy bill, build your brand, and generate some extra income. Check out my tutorial if you’re thinking about blogging – How to Start A Blog and Why You Should 

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he couldn't stomach the corporate BS.

Joe left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle. See how he generates Passive Income here.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 57 comments… add one }
  • Mr. Tako January 14, 2019, 12:31 am

    Well, Chiang Mai certainly seems like early retirement heaven with all the warm weather, good food, and low prices… but I agree it might be difficult for foreigners to settle in permanently.

    But now that you’ve written a positive blog post like this, the early retirees are going to flood the place. 🙁

    Other locations on my list include Costa Rica and Panama.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:32 am

      Costa Rica is really neat too, but Chiang Mai is a lot more convenient. I didn’t see nice gyms and coffee shops when we visited Costa Rica, for example. Chiang Mai seems a lot more modern (and busy.)

  • Andrew Taylor January 14, 2019, 12:42 am

    Come visit us in Malaysia

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:33 am

      Definitely. Malaysia is on my list. It’ll be easy to visit from Thailand. Cheers.

  • David @iretiredyoung January 14, 2019, 1:10 am

    I really liked Chiang Mai when we visited and I’m pretty sure we could live there for a while. Although my wife is taking a career break now, she still thinks that she would like to go back to work, and we certainly put Chiang Mai on the list of possible places where that could be. I didn’t do the same research as you, but we kept an eye on prices and your list seems about right. I’m certain that medical costs are a fraction of the US. And most importantly to be a true digital nomad, the coffee shops were great!
    The only downside for my was the high temperatures and humidity during some parts of the year.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:35 am

      The heat and humidity are tough, but most people can adjust. I think it takes 2-3 months for your body to get used to that kind of humidity. Chiang Mai is much better than Bangkok. It’s hot all the time there.

  • Helen January 14, 2019, 1:16 am

    Hi Joe, very good information. In the future, I like to visit Thailand, and definitely consider going to Chiang Mai. It should be a lot of fun. About living in a different country, I’m not that sure, but like to keep the option open. I might want to live in Mexico or Vietnam for several months.

    The weather in Thailand must be too good right now. Who wants to go back to the winter from the summer? Enjoy the time there.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:36 am

      I think you’ll like it for a month or two. It’s pretty nice here. I’m looking forward to coming home, but not really for the cold weather. Hopefully, it will warm up very soon. I never liked the cold rainy Portland winters.

  • Jason Fieber January 14, 2019, 2:18 am

    Joe,

    It was great to meet you while you were in Chiang Mai. It’s crazy how many people I’ve run into over here in less than two years. Could hardly meet a soul while living in the US all my life.

    I do L-O-V-E living here, although the “digital nomad” scene leaves a lot to be desired. I think it comes down to the “three C’s”: culture, climate, and cost of living. The food, weather, and people are all amazing. All wrapped up in a very affordable package.

    Don’t see myself coming back to the US ever. I’ll probably be staying in Thailand for as long as they’ll have me. 🙂

    Best regards!

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:38 am

      It was great to meet you too. I’m looking forward to staying in Chiang Mai longer next time and settling in more. We’ll get our own place and try to establish a routine. This trip was too short.
      I read your post about the digital nomads. That’s too bad.
      See you soon. Take care.

  • Xrayvsn January 14, 2019, 3:46 am

    It really is tempting to move to the Indonesia region to retire. Great food and low cost of living is very enticing.

    For anyone considering doing so I would suggest going and spending some time in the non seasonal tourist area (typically when it is very hot and humid) to see if you can handle the weather. If humidity doesn’t bother you (and you do eventually get acclimated to it) you can really raise you standard of living quite a bit due to the lower costs.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:39 am

      That’s a great suggestion. But I think you need to spend 2-3 months there so your body can adjust. The humidity becomes more tolerable as you stay longer. Thanks!

  • Young And The Invested January 14, 2019, 4:58 am

    Have you been to New Orleans during the summer, Joe? Is it as hot and humid as it is here? The humidity is quite intense here- walk outside in the morning and within minutes your shirt sticks to your back and you feel the need to shower all over again. The only way to survive is by being indoors in the artificial A/C. I wonder if Chiang Mai is anything like that. If so, hard pass.

    But the cost of living there sounds a lot better than New Orleans. We’re not extravagantly expensive. We’re probably closer to the national average in terms of cost. Regardless, geoarbitraging from Portland to somewhere more affordable would be a smart decision if you can handle it. I’m not sure where we would retire, honestly. We’d likely keep our place and just travel extensively.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:41 am

      We visited in September. It wasn’t too bad then. But, I think it’s probably a similar level of humidity.
      Chiang Mai isn’t too bad right now, but it will get hotter and more humid soon. Winter is very nice there.
      We’ll continue looking at different places. Portland is still pretty nice, but there are many nice places in the US. It really depends on families…

  • Tom @ Dividends Diversify January 14, 2019, 5:07 am

    Interesting perspective Joe. I have not seriously considered moving to a foreign land. I will stick to the states. Tom

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:42 am

      That’s a good choice. If you enjoy it here, then it’ll be hard to change.
      Thailand is nice, but it’s a lot different than the US. In the US, everything is predictable.
      Thailand is a lot more chaotic.

      • Joe January 14, 2019, 9:50 am

        It’s interesting that you said Thailand is a lot more chaotic, I’m wondering in what ways? It seems that cost of living there is more stable than in the US, is that true? Thailand doesn’t have skyrocketing costs for housing, tuition, healthcare, entertainment, dining out like in the US right?

        • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:15 pm

          For example, the sidewalks are all a mess. You have to walk on the road sometime and people just cross the street wherever they can. The fresh market is super busy. There are motorcycles, push carts, and people everywhere. It’s just less organized here.
          I don’t think the cost of living is more stable than in the US. The housing price seems to be increasing in Chiang Mai. Healthcare is more stable because there is cheap government care. My dad thinks everything is getting more expensive. It’s hard to say how inflation compares to the US. Probably on par…

  • Yanisimo January 14, 2019, 6:00 am

    I just learned yesterday that if I choose to retire in Mexico instead of the US, then I can retire in 8 years instead of 17!! That cuts my required work time in half! Most of my family is in Mexico, but unfortunately they live in the middle of nowhere, so I doubt I can convince the husband to move. Still… this is the first time that I saw the effect of geo-arbitrage in numbers. Very impressive.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:00 pm

      That’s great. Maybe you can live in a nicer city in Mexico. You don’t have to live right near your family, right?

  • Pennypincher January 14, 2019, 6:15 am

    Under ten bucks a month for unlimited data? I’ll be right over!
    This digital nomad stuff is very interesting.
    More pics please!

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:01 pm

      I took mostly tourist pictures. 🙂 Let me look through them.

  • Lazy Man and Money January 14, 2019, 6:28 am

    I would have never thought about Thailand if you hadn’t mentioned it. I don’t think it would work for me due to the culture shock and language barrier. The tiered pricing might hit me as I look like one.

    I’d be curious if the libraries offer free wifi like some of the coffee shops. In the US, I like working at libraries more where I can bring my own cheap drink and I’m not feeling guilty for not purchasing anything.

    I do like the idea of living in Spain for 3 months over a summer school break. That’s not for digital nomad cost of living purposes, but broaden the family culturally. We could also look to do something in Central or South America.

    I am curious if you feel that the cost savings is really necessary for you. It doesn’t seem like it to me. (I understand you have other good reasons and why spend more than you need to?) If you were saving this money, what kind of lifestyle inflation treats might you indulge in that they have there? A few messages a week? Maybe some of the money goes to travel back to the U.S.?

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:04 pm

      I’m not sure about wifi in the libraries. I would guess so. Next time, I’ll make sure to visit one.
      Living in a foreign country over the summer is a good plan. It’ll have to be Thailand for us because I want to help with my mom. We’ll try to do excursions to other countries in the area.
      I don’t think the cost saving is really necessary for us. The big lifestyle inflation would be eating out all the time. It’s just so affordable in Thailand. There are so many places to visit in SE Asia. We probably would travel more often if we live here.

      • Lazy Man and Money January 16, 2019, 6:54 am

        I recently came across an article (I think it was on Marketwatch) about retiring overseas. One part that caught my attention is that it mentioned Thailand is a place where Australians are going and that there are some growing communities of English speakers there because of it. I think I’ll still keep Thailand on the radar – it was a fun place to visit (even though it was mostly in the Americanized Marriott resort).

        • retirebyforty January 18, 2019, 11:54 am

          Yes, I met an Aussie retiree on the train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. It’s pretty neat to see older retirees making it work in Thailand. Seems to be lots of older single men looking for younger girlfriends, though.

  • Adam January 14, 2019, 6:40 am

    Thanks for the pro/con list! As I write this, the DC area is digging out from under 10″-12″ of snow. I spent fifteen minutes this morning shoveling my walkways. And right now it’s 74° in Chiang Mai… that’s a strong argument.

    But we like our neighbors and our small city too much. Once we pay off the house and pull the FIRE ripcord (less than twelve years!) maybe we’ll rent it out for a couple months each in winter and summer, and spend our time someplace more pleasant. I might be able to convince the wife…

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:05 pm

      That sounds like a good plan. I’m not looking forward to the cold wet Portland winter, but we’ll get used to it. I wouldn’t mind living somewhere else over the winter.

  • Mrs. 50 January 14, 2019, 6:49 am

    Wow, less than $10 a month for an unlimited data cellphone service. That’s a really appealing for a digital nomad lifestyle. It’s been over 20 years since I visited Chiang Mai. I bet it’s completely changed now. One thing I like about Thailand is that we can get food anytime & anywhere.

    Since the cost of living there is so low and the medical expenses are a fraction of a cost here in the US, we’ve thinking about our retirement in Thailand as well. I heard that they (the authority, some law is being changed) plan to not allow people over 65 year-old drive a car. I hope it’s not true…

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:07 pm

      Chiang Mai has changed a lot. It’s a big international destination now. Lots of tourists everywhere.
      I’m not sure about driving. My dad still drives so it’s not true yet.

  • Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early January 14, 2019, 6:59 am

    Speaking the language definitely helps. Has Mrs. RB40 ever considered learning Thai? I do love languages so any place I was seriously interested in I would be all about learning how to speak with the locals. Then again, I find it a fun challenge to do even for short visits 🙂

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:08 pm

      Yes, she considered it. I was thinking about enrolling them in a Thai language class if we’re there for a longer period in the summer. It should be helpful.

  • Susan @ FI Ideas January 14, 2019, 7:58 am

    Chiang Mai is a place I had never heard of prior to joining in and reading/listening to the FI community. Now I’ve heard different early retirees or mini-retirees going there. Jason Fieber’s account of going to an emergency room was really a great example of the cheap and excellent health care available. Now that I’m learning about Travel Rewards, possibly this is a good destination to try a trip abroad.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:09 pm

      Jason is a great resource. He really enjoys it there. It’s working out very well for him.

  • Randy @ Emusements January 14, 2019, 8:25 am

    I have been to Thailand only once in 1994, while in my twenties, to visit a friend teaching English in Bangkok and then to backpack around for about six weeks. The islands and Krabi coast were gorgeous, but my favorite place by far was Chiang Mai. The food was awesome, it was cheap and easy to get around — and the people were awesome. I am not much of a drinker but I became a regular (a la Cheers) at a small roadside bar and befriended the owner and staff (who were Thai). I was there in February so the weather was mild. Great memories but I could never live there due to the summer humidity. As a native Californian, I am a weather wimp — I can take dry heat but am allergic to humidity.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 5:10 pm

      Unfortunately, Thailand changed a lot since the 90s. There are so many people now. The beaches are overrun with tourists. Oh well, that’s life. Chiang Mai changed a lot too. I don’t think there are many roadside bars anymore. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jim @ Route To Retire January 14, 2019, 10:24 am

    Wow, that’s certainly an intriguing place, Joe! It has a lot of the fundamentals of what makes a place possible to move to – especially the low cost. I’m not big on crowds or traffic so that would be a struggle for me.

    Are you telling me that you guys aren’t going to move to Panama with us or is that still on the table? 😉

    — Jim

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance January 14, 2019, 10:49 am

    Wow I can’t believe it’s been 5 weeks already! I’m glad you’re having fun in Thailand. The digital nomad lifestyle sounds like fun!

    Mr. FAF and I have also talked about moving to Asia when we retire too! That’s when we’re done raising kids and hopefully won’t need to worry about their education anymore. We’ll also be done with our careers and hopefully will have a nice nest egg to fall back on.

    Language might be an issue since my Chinese is not so great and Mr. FAF doesn’t speak Vietnamese. But learning the language could be a nice project for retirement though 😀

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 10:20 pm

      Time really flies, but we are so ready to come home. It’s not the same when you’re away.
      I need to relearn Spanish too. We want to stay in South America for a bit. That’s still a long way off.

  • Dr. McFrugal January 14, 2019, 11:43 am

    It’s funny. 15 years ago in my early twenties I fantasized about living the life of a nomadic backpacker. Then 10 years ago when I realized that people make a living off of being a digital nomad, I fantasized about it even more. That life seemed like a dream, a stark contrast from what my then current situation was– medical school and residency. Now that I’m in my mid thirties, married, and have a baby… I’m not fantasizing about it as much. I like the roots that I have set for my family and I can’t see myself being a digital nomad at the moment. But when my kid(s) our out of high school… that may be different!

    Thanks for breaking down what it would be like to be a digital nomad in Chiang Mai. I actually imagined it would be much cheaper, but it’s not.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 10:22 pm

      I understand. Your life is settled and you have lots to do. We’re much the same way. I don’t want to make too many changes while our kid is still in school. Once he’s done, then we’ll be ready for some adventures.
      Chiang Mai isn’t cheap anymore. Well, I guess it really depends on how you live. The local people can live on much less than expats.

  • GK January 14, 2019, 3:21 pm

    We lived 3 months in Chiang Mai last year. Looked at so many data plans and found AIS unlimited data+voice SIM Card to be the best one for us at 650 THB/month. Can we ask where you got the 299 baht/month deal?

    Another thing to keep in mind is air quality during burning season. It can be a huge concern for those with breathing issues.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 10:23 pm

      I got it from True, but I think AIS has a similar deal. It’s just unlimited data. I’ll have to add money for calling, which I rarely use.
      You’re right about the air quality. Even outside of the burning season, the air quality isn’t great. Too many cars.

  • Scott @ Costa Rica FIRE January 14, 2019, 4:27 pm

    Great and thorough assessment, as usual! I’ve been to Thailand on business a couple of times, and if you can ‘stand the heat’, it is such a great place to be. The people are so nice and friendly and the prices are certainly easier to live on!

    My concern is a potential political situation. Things are good now, but there have been incidents of political unrest where things can get a little dicey. I guess as a digital nomad, since one would not really be putting down too many roots, it would be easy to pick and and leave at any time if needed.

    Today I wrote on my blog about how Costa Rica has moved up The Economists rank into ‘full democracy’ this year, ranked #20 of all countries in the world, so in that country, or others higher on the scale, I’d at least feel more comfortable I won’t have to scramble at a moments notice to get away from some political issue. Thailand is pretty far down the list at #106.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2019, 10:26 pm

      The political unrest is an issue. But we never really had to deal with it. If you’re not actively protesting, you’re probably fine. I don’t think foreigners are in danger even with the unrest. You just need to avoid the dangerous areas.
      Costa Rica sounds good. I wouldn’t mind living there for a few years. It’s quite nice and seems much less crowded than Thailand. Thailand is very crowded now.

      • Pennypincher January 15, 2019, 1:33 am

        I would think political stability would be a real consideration when packing up and moving to some places.
        But then again, I guess our own govt. here in the US isn’t the best model of stability, ha,ha! Sorry, it’s not funny, that’s for sure.

  • Buy, Hold Long January 15, 2019, 1:46 am

    Fantastic, I love the insight and thank you very much for sharing. There are a few people I follow through blogging (Jason – Mr Free @ 33) and Cheap Charlie on YouTube who have a similar lifestyle. It is a very interesting way to live. Thanks again for sharing. Cheers

    • retirebyforty January 18, 2019, 11:47 am

      I’ve been following Jason for a long time now. He’s a very interesting individual. I don’t think many people can live like he does. He’s very disciplined and has very good control over his expenses. I’ll check out Cheap Charlie. Thanks!

  • John Morris January 15, 2019, 11:52 am

    $300 t0 $400 f0r a studio apartment is a steal. I live in South Florida and as you may know the prices here are overwhelming lol. Chiang Mai is perfect for me. I’m thoroughly thinking about going to live in foreign country for a while so thanks for the heads up lol!

    • retirebyforty January 18, 2019, 11:49 am

      Of course, you can pay more for nicer apartments. Chiang Mai is pretty nice. Check it out.

  • Craig January 15, 2019, 7:11 pm

    Any issues with air pollution while you were there?

    Chiang Mai has notoriously bad air quality in the winter months due to the unregulated crop burning.

    • retirebyforty January 18, 2019, 11:50 am

      Yes, the emission standard are not as strict as here. You can feel the pollution in the air when you’re walking around.
      The crop burning is from February to April, I think. That’s not good either.

  • WTK January 16, 2019, 3:16 am

    Hi Joe,

    Chiang Mai has been one of my options for retirement. The only con is the hot weather though I experience it in my current place of residence which is in Singapore. One of the pro is that Chiang Mai is near my current place of residence. It will be easy to connect with my loved one personally since the flight time is a couple of hours.

    WTK

    • retirebyforty January 18, 2019, 11:52 am

      Chiang Mai was much better than Bangkok and Phuket on this trip. The winter is pretty nice there, but summer is very hot and humid.
      I thought Singapore has similar weather like Thailand. Is it cooler there? I’d love to visit someday.

  • Justin January 18, 2019, 4:34 pm

    We’re spending 3 weeks split between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and looking forward to getting to know the city better. I’m in the middle of looking for a place to stay in CM and I can tell there’s a strong presence of budget tourists / digital nomads living on very little. Tons of places to stay for under USD$20/nt but most look like very basic and not necessarily clean accommodations.

    I doubt we would ever live there but you never know! I’m looking forward to CM weather since it’ll be “only” as hot as North Carolina summers while we’re there in July. It will be a nice break from Cambodia and Vietnam and Bangkok where it will be 5-10 degrees hotter (at least heat index).

    • retirebyforty January 21, 2019, 10:00 am

      Chiang Rai is a lot quieter than Chiang Mai. It feels more like Thailand than Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is overrun with tourists now. It’s not the same city I grew up in. Chiang Mai was much cooler than Bangkok in December. The weather was quite pleasant. Summer will be different.
      Hope to see you there this summer. Our plan is not solid, though.

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