When I tell people I’m moving to Thailand their usual reaction is something like this:
“Thailand, you say? How beautiful, I loved it there, where is your favourite place?”
Uhm, well…. I’ve never actually been there, but I’m sure I’ll love it once we get there!
What follows are usually confused stares and polite silence. You’ve been travelling for a year and a half and you haven’t been to Thailand? And now you are MOVING there?
Well yes. The thing is, I’ve been wanting to visit Thailand for forever! And I want to become a digital nomad, and it seems every blogger worth their salt is living in Chiang Mai now. There are more web developers and drop shippers here than you can shake a stick at!
Sounds like exactly the right place for us to settle down for a bit and try our luck at becoming location independent! Even if we’ve never actually been there…
But for reals now, why Chiang Mai?
1. It’s cheap
Yes, let’s not kid ourselves, the number one reason why Chiang Mai is so popular with digital nomads is its extremely low cost of living. And the quality of life you get for your buck. Nomad list places Chiang Mai on top of the list of destinations for digital nomads to live and work from, with a perfect nomad score of 100% (based on cost, weather, internet speed and other metrics such as safety and fun).
It is possible to live here (comfortably) for $750 a month per person, even less as a couple. This will get you rent in a nice-ish studio apartment, wifi, 3 meals out a day, scooter rental and left over money to enjoy yourself. Not too lousy if you ask me, especially after living in London and Sydney for the last 5 years of my life!
2. Great places to work
The only thing a digital nomad needs for work is their laptop and a good wifi connection. Chiang Mai has many co-working spaces and cafes with excellent wifi connections. Treat yourself to a glass of iced tea for $2 and enjoy unlimited wifi all day. Happy working!
3. The food, oh my god, the food!
Ok, it’s no secret that Thai food is amazing. You don’t have to visit Thailand to know this, or so you think! But, once you’ve been here, you’ll realise that Thai food in England (or Europe in general) is like Oktoberfest in Japan. It might look and sound the same but oh boy, does it taste different! I’ve been here for just over two weeks and I’ve had so many dishes I’ve never even heard of.
Be it creamy Kao Soi (a thick soup famous in Northern Thailand, with yellow noodles, coconut milk, usually chicken or beef, and topped with crispy noodles), delectable green, red, or yellow curries, spicy papaya salads, or fresh fruit you’d never even heard of (mangosteens, rambutan and lychee are in season right now), the food is excellent and usually won’t set you back more than a dollar or two per meal. Foodie, heaven!
4. The great outdoors
Despite not being located on one of the bazillion beautiful Thai islands (sigh…) Chiang Mai is conveniently located in the mountainous North of Thailand. Surrounded by lush mountains, waterfalls and rice paddies, Chiang Mai makes a great base for exploring the northern regions, including trips to Pai.
5. The other nomads
The last, and maybe most important reason that Chiang Mai is so popular, are all the other successful and aspiring digital nomads you can meet and network with (yes, that horrible word) here. In my first week I’ve already met three web developers, two travel bloggers, one drop shipper and a partridge in a pear tree!
Ok, maybe not the partridge.
But I find it super inspiring to finally meet so many people who just get it when you tell them: “no I don’t currently have a job but I am here to try my luck in e-commerce, blogging, or as a freelancer”, and don’t look at you like you’ve lost your mind.
As much as I love and miss my family and friends at home and I know they want me to be happy, it’s just very refreshing to meet people who actually get what you’re trying to achieve.
There you go, these are the five main reasons why most digital nomads choose to spend time in Chiang Mai. For us, however, there was a sixth….
Our friend Martha from California, who we’d met at the very beginning of our trip in Central America, moved to Chiang Mai last year where she now lives with her new husband Tee! Finding out that Martha was settling here for a while sealed the deal for me, what’s better than moving to a brand new place and already having a friend (or two) there? Exactly!
P.S.: I was a little slow and we’ve actually moved here already and loving it, too!
Your turn! Have you been to Chiang Mai? What do you love about it? Are you planning on visiting?