Hi, it’s Akane. I’m writing this on a beautiful Sunday morning with fresh air, having a cup of coffee on a terrace of a small cafe surrounded by lots of green.
It’s been quite a long time to blog in English! 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 it!
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.
- Chiang Mai: One of the most popular destinations for digital nomads
- 1. Awesome work environment
- 2. Warm weather
- 3. Cheap cost of living
- 4. Time differences are Just 2 hours (from/to Japan)
- 5. Meet other Digital Nomads from around the world
- Summed up: I’m absolutely happy with Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai: One of the most popular destinations for digital nomads
Let me explain first how and why I came to Chiang Mai.
I’d been staying in New Zealand on working holiday for one year until last August.
When I was thinking about where to head next, I recalled one place that caught my attention – Chiang Mai, Thailand: The one of the most popular destination of long-term stay for freelancers and remote workers a.k.a digital nomads, who freed themselves from the 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 doing some research, it turns out that my worry might be just a waste. Chiang Mai has an amazing environment for living and working!
Especially these articles helped me to grasp current working conditions for nomads in Chiang Mai.
- Chiang Mai for Digital Nomad | Nomad List
- (Japanese) 2014年 タイ・チェンマイの生活費と物価 | Kumi-Log
- (Japanese) 【ノマド】チェンマイで１ヶ月ほど生活しつつ、仕事をしてみた | manablog
It’s high time to become a full-time freelancer and live as a digital nomad
Even though I’d been freelancing for illustration and graphic design, most of them are one-offs or short-term contract work. And living as a digital nomad had been sounds like a dream 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 a life which keeps travelling while making a living on the laptop, like other nomad workers do?
‘Ok, I just gotta get started, move there and see what happens!’
Right after I thought that I started taking action to make it real. It was one of the best timing in my lifetime as I had to leave New Zealand due to visa expiring, and I had already nothing left behind. I wanted to be Chiang Mai as soon possible.
After leaving New Zealand, I was staying in Japan for a while to catch up with family and friends. Aside from it, I focused on setting life infrastructure up online. I contacted with existing clients for upcoming work, made a regular source of income, learned SEO and self-branding, launched this blog and new portfolio website, got rid of stuff again… and now I’m finally here in Chiang Mai, successfully making a living from only freelance works(so far).
And to sum up what I feel like is… My decision wasn’t wrong at all. Chiang Mai, you’re the best!!
Here I state 5 major reasons why, especially from the point of the nomad worker.
1. Awesome work environment
Chiang Mai has such a large number of cafes everywhere from big chain stores like Starbucks to small independent cafes. You have no issue to find a place to work online.
Most cafes provide WiFi and plugs for free. Cafe owners know well the demands of increasing nomad workers.
If you want to have an office-based environment to concentrate, Head to the-most-hipster Nimman(Nimmanhaemin Road) area where many co-working spaces are available.
Those prices vary. However the most popular co-working 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 another way of using WiFi. The detail explained in this article.
It tends to get jam-packed with local students and nomad workers from the afternoon.
— Akane (茜) @ Chiang Mai (@hive_aka_en) November 22, 2017
2. Warm weather
At the time of writing this post, December is winter and dry season in Thailand. It is said the most pleasant season to stay in a year. Absolute blue sky spreading above the sky every day, the air is dry and no need to ready for a sudden squall.
It gets a bit chilly in the morning and evening, But daily temperature is still around 25℃-39℃ and it just feels comfortable to stay in the shade or indoor.
Some indoor places blasting aircon and it’s super cold. But these days it’s getting okay to work on a 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 the better lifestyle than the home country is the obvious secret of attracting foreigners 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.
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 furniture. 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.
— Akane (茜) @ Chiang Mai (@hive_aka_en) November 24, 2017
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!
— Akane (茜) @ Chiang Mai (@hive_aka_en) November 26, 2017
4. Time differences are Just 2 hours (from/to Japan)
Well, this is my case as most of my clients are in Japan, as well as friends and family. There are just 2 hours time differences between Japan and Thailand.
If I was in Europe or North America where there are 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 are so many opportunities to got to know other nomad workers. It worth socialising and swapping information with other nomads.
The majority of them are IT-related workers such as programmers or engineers. Followed by those working on visual aspects such as designers and animators, and the rest are bloggers, writers and entrepreneurs (I guess).
It’s the ideal place for those who are 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 working alone for a long time.
There are a lot digital nomad groups on Facebook and public events and meeting are planned occasionally. Check them 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 and word of mouth. And most importantly, as well as simple, just followed my heart of direction.
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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