Oh and I recently signed a one-year lease on a beautiful one-bedroom condo in Chiang Mai. We snatched up this pad after I came back to Thailand from my five-week nightmare in Kuala Lumpur.
The condo’s location is absolutely perfect. It’s in the prime spot in the Nimman neighborhood.
Within one square kilometer, we have hundreds of restaurants, a major mall, dozens of coffee shops, shopping plazas, night markets, a movie theater, live music venues, three gyms, etc.
Everything I use on a daily basis is less than five minutes away by foot. My gym, for instance, is 100 meters away from the condo. The coffee shop I create and consume content from every day is less than 200 meters away.
As someone who loves to walk everywhere, it’s phenomenal. I’m able to live a vibrant, urban, walkable lifestyle here in Thailand for pennies on the dollar.
In the United States, dense, urban, walkable environments tend to be extremely expensive. Not so in Thailand, however. It’s one of the things that attracted me to Thailand in the first place.
Most of the savings, of course, comes in the form of housing.
Accommodation is usually one’s largest expense. Housing disproportionately affects your entire monthly budget, especially in the US. If you can figure out a way to cut this single expenditure by a large amount, you’re well on your way to lowering your entire monthly outlay by a significant percentage.
The furnished one-bedroom condo we have now runs 13,000 baht per month. Based on the current exchange rate, that translates to $410/month for our 35-square-meter place.
$410/month won’t even get you a room in any of the desirable US cities.
But it buys a pretty swanky pad in Chiang Mai.
This is one of the benefits of geographic arbitrage, which is a powerful concept I discuss at length in 5 Steps To Retire In 5 Years.
A furnished, well-located condo of similar size and quality in a nice US city would run at least four times as much as I’m paying.
Let’s check the condo out.
This is the view when you walk up to the condo from the driveway and pass the guarded gate:
Before you head upstairs, feel free to check out the small fitness center:
The fitness center looks out at a nice pool:
Then take the elevator upstairs:
The front door to the condo doesn’t require a key. Just a pin or a wave of a card:
Upon entering, there’s a small kitchen to the right:
Then you look straight ahead into the main living area:
The living room is small but cozy, which has a nice desk for me to work from:
The bedroom is probably a bit too large for us:
Oh’s happy about the large wardrobe:
Then we have the ensuite bathroom, which offers a rain shower:
We have a balcony attached to the bedroom, which is where the washer is. It overlooks a nice courtyard:
We’re super happy with the new unit. It gives both of us exactly what we want.
I think it’s quite an improvement over the one-bedroom apartment we were renting before.
The condo is cheaper on the order of 1,000 baht per month. It doesn’t include wi-fi, unlike the apartment. However, a blazing fast plan costs us less than 500 baht per month. Plus, the electricity rate is cheaper at the condo. It’s 4 baht/unit, compared to 7 baht/unit. Overall, it’ll run at least 1,000 baht less per month total. And I’ll personally end up spending much less than before, as Oh volunteered to cover the basic utilities. She wants to contribute something to the household, which I’m perfectly fine with. As such, my expense reports will be mostly recognizing just the 13,000 baht per month for the Rent & Utilities budget line (other than the occasional cleaning). Score!
I actually looked at this same condo building when I first moved to Chiang Mai in 2017. But the units were running 18,000 baht and up back then. A unit just like I’m now renting was going for 20,000 baht back in late 2017. Due to the unique Thai real estate dynamics that I’ve discussed before, rent tends to go down here (instead of up, like in the US). This is a perfect example of why I don’t worry about inflation anymore.
The dividend income from my FIRE Fund is organically growing and outpacing US inflation, but my local expenses aren’t really rising on a like-for-like basis. Life continues to get economically easier here. It’s a wonderful situation.
I think the condo also offers a superior standard in terms of the build and furnishings compared to the apartment. Everything feels higher quality, from the shower to the counters. It has sturdy feel that we were lacking before. We feel even more at home.
In addition, the location is better. The condo is about 500 meters closer to everything we both use every day. 500 meters might not sound like much. But it adds up, day in and day out. Plus, I do like spending less time in the direct sun in the early part of the day. My walk is shorter and offers more shade now, and I don’t have to cross a major street anymore. It’s just more pleasant across the board.
However, the condo does have a couple key drawbacks.
Chiefly, we had to sign a lease. The old apartment was a month-to-month rental. I like that flexibility. But Oh and I plan to remain here in Chiang Mai for a long time to come, so it’s not a big deal.
The bigger drawback, in my view, is that small repairs are now our responsibility. The contract stipulates that anything under 1,000 baht is up to us to take care of. This would include stuff like replacing light bulbs. It’s not the end of the world, but I do prefer having someone else handle everything.
Overall, Oh and I couldn’t be more pleased with the condo.
We’re in probably the best location in the entire city. As soon as we step outside our door, we’re immersed in all of the vibrancy that Chiang Mai has to offer.
Life is good!
What do you think? Like the new condo? Does this kind of value on housing shock you?
Thanks for reading.
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