Expat Location Spotlight: Chiang Mai

As the amount of travelers working in foreign countries increase each year, so do the number of locations for them to settle in. Chiang Mai, one of these locations, is in a mountainous region of northern Thailand. It’s often rated one of the top 10 most livable cities in Asia. It has started attracting a large amount of travelers who come to visit, and end up settling there for months. There are several reasons for this.

Cost of Living

The cost of living is much lower than in other countries around the world. Even compared to Thailand’s popular cities Bangkok or Phuket, it’s cheaper to live in Chiang Mai. For a studio apartment on the outskirts of the city, you can expect to spend about 5400 Thai Baht (equivalent to $150 USD). Factor in basic utilities and the cost of food, and you’re only at $500-$600 USD per month, not including entertainment or any extras.

Increase of English Speakers

Due to a large amount of English-speaking workers coming in the past 10 years, there are now many businesses catered to those that don’t speak Thai. Although it’s recommended to attempt to learn some Thai, you can go to stores or even doctors’ offices that speak fluent English. Expat meet-up groups have also popped up all around the city, making it easy to meet fellow travelers. It provides a social outlet, and lets you connect with others in the same situation to meet up with in the future.


In case you don’t have a job where you can work remotely, teaching English is a very common choice for foreigners.  You need to apply for a non-immigrant visa, good for up to one year. You can then apply for a work visa, and an extension of stay if needed.

There are a few items to factor in before considering an extended stay in Chiang Mai. A tourist visa is required, which can be used for up to 6 months depending on how many times you leave the country. You need to exit the country every 60 days though, which will run you around $30 USD each time you enter the country. Visa fees and transportation costs aside, it’s easy to see why Chiang Mai is an affordable, livable city for expats.

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Marissa Pedersen

Marissa is a freelance writer, travel blogger, and social media marketing manager from Seattle. She runs the travel blog Postcards to Seattle, which captures all her journeys from around the world. She likes to stay active wherever she goes, from kayaking in Italy to snowboarding in the Alps.

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