Why I moved to Chiang Mai? – 5 Reasons to Stay in Chiang Mai as a Digital Nomad

なぜ私はチェンマイに来たのか?+ノマドが滞在してみるべき5つの理由

Hi, it’s Akane. I’m writing this in the beautiful Sunday morning with flesh air, having a cup of coffee in a terrace of the small cafe surrounded by lots of green.

It’s been quite a long time to blog in English, I know! I’ve been setting up and preparing for my new life chapter since the last English post in Japan. I moved to Chiang Mai, a northern city in Thailand about 2 weeks ago and I love the town ever since!

Today I’m gonna talk about why I decided to move Chiang Mai.

 

My friend told me ‘I didn’t think you moved to Thailand!’. Well, I’d been hopping around among English speaking countries on working holiday visas, so no wonder she said that. Some of you may wonder the same too.

So here’re my answers. I also hope it helps for those planning to stay in Chiang Mai for long-term as a digital nomad.

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Chiang Mai: One of the most populer destination for digital nomads

I’d been staying in New Zealand on working holiday for one year till last August.

※Don’t ask me ‘You only got that shirts?’. it’s just an accident…

 

When I was thinking where to head next, I recalled one place that caught my attention – Chiang Mai, Thailand: The city to be called one of the most populer destination for long-term stay among freelancers and remote workers a.k.a digital nomads, who freed from locations of work and travel around the world while making a living on their laptop.

However in South-East Asia, I’d only been to Singapore about decades ago and Bali two years ago for sightseeing. It was not easy for me to imagine living there and my head filled with questions: ‘What are infrastructures like? Does the internet fast and stable?’

 

And after making more research, it turns out that my worry might be just a waste. Chiang Mai has an amazing environment for both living and working!

Especially these articles helped for me to grasp current working conditions for nomads in Chiang Mai.

It’s high time to become full-time freelancer and live as digital nomad

Even though I’d been doing freelancing for illustration and graphic design, Most of them are one-offs or short-term contract work. And living like a digital nomad had been just a dream life ever since I heard about them.

But I thought that, ‘What If I can shift my freelance work to full-time and secure some regular source of income? Wouldn’t it be just a dream to live life which keep traveling while making a living on laptop, like other nomad workers do?

 

A card from one of my best friend always push my motivation forward.

‘Ok, I just gotta get started, move there to live and see what happens!’

 

And right after I thought that, I started for preparing to make it real. It was a great timing in my lifetime as I had to leave New Zealand due to visa expiring and already had nothing left behind. I wanted to be there as soon possible.

After leaving New Zealand I was staying in Japan temporary, meeting family and friends, and aside of it I was focusing on setting up for the next life chapter: contacting existence clients, making regular freelance works, learning SEO and self-branding, launched new portfolio website and getting rid of stuff again… and now I’m here in Chiang Mai, making a living from only freelance works.

 

And to sum up what I feel like is… My decision wasn’t wrong at all. Chiang Mai, you’re the best!!

Here I introduce 5 major reasons why, Especially from the view of nomad worker!

1. Awesome work environment

Chiang Mai has such large number of cafes everywhere from big chain stores like Starbucks to small independent cafes. You have no issue finding a place to work on laptop.

Most of cafes provides WiFi and plugs for free. Cafe owners knows well the demands of keep increasing nomad workers.

 

An upstairs of my favorite cafe is became the kind of space for nomads

If you wanna have an office-based environment to concentrate, Head to the-most-hipstar Nimman(Nimmanhaemin Road) area where many co-working spaces are available.

 

Those prices are varies. However the most populer place, CAMP is located at 5th floor of MAYA shopping centre and opens 24/7, and It basically doesn’t cost anything if you don’t order drink/food!

※You can only get 2 hours WiFi ticket with over 50THB of purchase, but it has an another way of using WiFi. Detail explained in this article.

It jam packed with local students and nomad workers in the afternoon.

 

I’ve heard some news that new co-corking spaces are coming up. I’ll update about it when It opens!

2. Warm weather

At the time of writing this article, December is winter and dry season in Thailand. It said the most pleasant season to stay in a year. Absolute blue sky spreading above the sky everyday, the air is dry and no need to ready for sudden squall.

It gets a bit chilly in the morning and evening, But daily temperature is still around 25℃-39℃ and it just feel comfortable to stay in shade or indoor.

 

Blue sky and warm air comfort your hectic body from laptop work

Some indoor places blasting aircon and it’s super cold. But these days it’s getting okay to work on laptop somewhere shady in outside. Once you experienced working outside with breeze wind and natural sunlight, It’s hard to go back to an office…

Even if you have to stick with a laptop screen all day long, there’s sun shining above the sky and warm air comfort your body whenever you head outside.

 

I haven’t yet experienced other seasons in Thailand, but at least this season is wonderful!

3. Cheap cost of living

Despite having sufficient life infrastructure, Everything is still so cheap comparing to Japan. Earn the same amount and live better lifestyle than home country is the obvious secret of keep attracting nomads from around the world.

 

A cup of coffee while working costs 40-80THB(approx. 1.20USD-2.50USD) and a plate of Thai food in a local canteen costs 40-60THB(approx. 1.20USD-1.80USD). And those cafes and restaurants are literally everywhere that you never get out of battery.

A cup of Americano coffee costs 40-80THB.

 

Plenty of monthly apartments designed for foreigners staying in long-term are available. The rent costs around 6,000THB-8,000THB(approx. 185USD-245USD)/month and mostly it includes basic furnitures. Huge condominium with modern facilities such as pool and gym costs around 8,000THB-16,000THB(approx. 245USD-490USD)/month. If you don’t care about facilities and room conditions, you can choose the room from 3,000THB(approx. 90USD)/month.

 

If you overworked and need a massage, You can get it cheap as well! 1 hour Thai massage costs from 180THB(approx. 5.50USD). In the outdoor market, you can even get it at 80THB(approx. 2.45USD) for 30 minutes!

 

4. Time differences are Just 2 hours (from/to Japan)

Well this is my case… because I’ve got many clients in Japan as well as friends, and family. There’s just 2 hours time differences between Japan and Thailand.

If I was in Europe or North America where there’s huge time differences for example, I have to calculate the time differences, then plan the exact time and date for Skype calls to check availability with clients.

It’s pretty stress-free and efficient to not need to care much about time differences!

 

I can find stable and fast WiFi in town that no issue on broadband communications such as Skype video chat and FB live streaming.

5. Meet other Digital Nomads from around the world

There’s so many opportunities to got to know other nomad workers. It worth socialising and swapping informations with someone work for the same role or industry.

The majority of them are IT-related workers such as programmers or engineers. Followed by those working on visual aspects such as designers and animaters, and the rest are bloggers, writers and entrepreneurs (I guess).

 

Lots of outside tables are available on Chiang Mai cafes. It's quite relaxing on a sunny day.

It’s ideal place for those who’s seeking someone to collaborate with.

 

Sometimes I have a small chat with other nomads when we on the same table. I enjoy it and works well to refresh my mind, since I sometimes feel lonely and tired working alone for long time.

There’s a lots digital nomad groups on Facebook and public events and meeting are planned occasionally, so check it out if you are interested.

Summed up: I’m absolutely happy with Chiang Mai

Although I’d never been to Thailand, I made up my mind to move here by referring online resources, word of mouth and most importantly as well as simply, following my heart.

And the result is: I’m absolutely happy living in Chiang Mai so far. I’ve got nothing to ask more!

 

When I research where to eat, do and go in Chiang Mai, I often check this website: GIRLS NOMAD LIFE(Japanese), is running by two Japanese girls Maya and Taira who also lives in Chiang Mai. It’s very informative website about living, sightseeing and working in Chiang Mai!

 

I hope this article is helpful for those interested in or planning to work as a digital nomad in Chiang Mai!

 


 

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