We have a single travel videographer bachelor at the time and a father of 5 video editor discuss the pros and cons of Bangkok VS Kuala Lumpur and family life. This is a fun Digital nomad to nomad chat that explores the differences between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur and how our earlier journey’s started in Chiang Mai, but progressed to Kuala Lumpur
Biggest differences between KL and Bangkok
Kuala Lumpur you’re more likely to find english more widely spoken
KL has a better food variety
KL and Malaysia offers 3 month visa for most Western passport holders
Bangkok has cheaper massages
Bangkok has a better and more affordable cowork space scene
Bangkok’s BTS transport is better to understand and navigate than KL’s
I just wrapped up living 3 months at a luxury condo in nimman, Chiang Mai. Was it worth it? read on. Since leaving Vancouver in 2013 I haven’t slept on a bed I’ve owned for the past 5 years. Why? Because I relocated in Taiwan and Thailand where it is common to find fully furnished apartments. I’ve since obtained a level of time and location freedom where I have a choice of which city to live and where I want to live. In western cities like Vancouver this isn’t really the case because it is more of a landlord/property owner market. It’s a job interview to find a place to live and the high costs limit which area and type of accommodation you can pick.
Once of the best benefits of Chiang Mai is vast amount of selection that people have choosing where to live on a short-term basis. Most apartments are ready to move in, some have weekly cleaning, and there is no interview process as long as you have money. The most desirable area is Nimman (Nimmanhamen) because of dense amount of coffee shops, cowork spaces, restaurants, and bars. Even when my out of town friends come to visit we end spending time in Nimman. I’ve lived in Nimman since 2015 in a variety of apartments from basic studio to upscale apartment. However the Siri Condo is in a more luxurious class and feel due to the pool, image, and construction of the condo.
I paid $550 US a month for my 1 bedroom apartment, which is considered expensive for Chiang Mai Thailand. To put things into perspective I can find a nice studio nearby for $300 US. You can pay even less if you live further away (1km). So what do you get for that extra $250 US? For starters you get a decent pool and usable gym. It wasn’t the nicest pool or gym, but it was functional and convenient. Because it was so convenient over the period of 3 months I’m at a very good level of fitness. I would have need to pay at least $50 US to use equivalent facilities outside of the condo.
The interior has a luxury feel and is built with high end finishings. Marble flooring, and solid construction in the walls meant it was fairly quiet living here. I didn’t hear noise from the neighbors. I had a small functional kitchen with microwave, which allowed to cook. Since I had lots of practice cooking in Vancouver, I ended up cooking a lot of breakfast and late night meals for myself. The apartment included a quality washing machine (luxury), which allowed me to do laundry in my room instead of going to the public area or a shop to do it. I mentioned the amenities, but haven’t mentioned access to the sky garden area. I used this area to journal and have coffee in the mornings. I occasionally shot some talking videos on the top and some skyline scenery from the rooftop.
The business impact
The wifi in the apartment was a private connection clocking in around 30/20mbps. My first 2 years I only used the shared free wifi in my apartments. I only later gave in to get a private connection. This condo included it and having this fast reliable connection in my room allowed me to produce a lot of content. As I’m a Youtuber, Stock footage videographer, and online instructor I upload a lot of videos to the Internet. Sometimes it’s difficult to finish uploads at a public space because it may take an entire night. The fast private connection allowed me to do my work and even do uploads while going out for massages or drinks with friends.
Most apartments these days include an HD LCD tv with hdmi connection. This room was no exception and gave me access to a 40inch HD tv to connect to my laptop. It also gave me a nice dining table with solid chairs. All this added up to a great environment to work from home. During my stay in Chiang Mai I probably worked from home 70% of the time. I probably was more productive overall than going through the cafe circuit. I was also able to do voiceover recordings from the apartment because it was so exceptionally quiet for Chiang Mai. I had to make some adjustments like unplug my fridge and turn off the AC, but I effectively turned my living room into a workspace and recording studio. I would have to pay at least $100US or more for access to cowork space and to use a room as a studio.
Chiang Mai is very much a motorbike city although access to Uber and Grab are making it more convenient. As I don’t ride a motorbike anymore living in a central area of Nimman still allowed me to hangout with friends without riding a motorbike. There have been so many times I’ve gone out in Nimman where I’ve had the luxury of just being able to walk home within 7 minutes. This also ends up saving you some money on a motorbike, gas, and taxis.
As you can see I got a lot of value for the extra $250 US. Yes I was able to justify the cost. It was worth it for me. I had pretty much everything I needed except for regular cleaning for this price. I think the combination of the location of the condo and on-site luxuries ended up saving me time. Chiang mai offers a range of accommodation from $200 for basic to $550 for luxury. Somewhere in this range I’m sure you’ll find where you are looking for. Lifestyle is a personal thing and varies from person to person. I think if you live in Chiang mai too long you start to compare prices in local currency. 5000 baht extra sounds like a lot, but if you convert it to US currency it is $160 US it isn’t. The beauty of Chiang Mai is that you have choices, and usually if you’re looking for something cheaper you can find it. This being said I believe you get what you pay for, so you have to make sure you’re not trading off something that is important to you. Do you need that pool? maybe not. Do you need the private wifi? No question here. As a location independent entrepreneur you have to make sure that you’ve got everything you need to live a healthy life and be productive.
Where can you find comfortable upscale accommodation in Chiang Mai?
You can then visit these apartments in person and ask to see a room. If you’re comfortable you can rent a motorbike for a day and drive up to these apartments to look around. I usually keep the email or facebook contacts of the apartments I like so I need to to repeat this for repeat visits.
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In this 4 part video series I’m going to chat with Johnny FD about Chiang Mai and Taipei digital nomad lifestyle. If you read the current blogs on the web in 2015 and recent years there seems to be a consensus that Chiang Mai is the digital nomad capital of the world. Some of the factors include the low cost of living, weather, great food, and large digital nomad community. Taipei offers most of these benefits as well to varying degrees including friendlier visa policies. After my interview I came to the conclusion that the largest difference between the two was the lack of a digital nomad community.
My research about the Chiang Mai lifestyle led to me finding Johnny FD, and American who came to Chiang Mai and built his new life and business.
As March and April are the 2 months to avoid Chiang Mai I managed to connect with him during his visit to Taipei for a 4-part series video interview filmed at the Maker Bar.
I will be traveling to Chiang Mai during April/May 2015 to sample the lifestyle first-hand in Chiang Mai.
In the interview some of what you will learn are:
• Drop-shipping business model
• Cost of living prices of Chiang Mai and Taipei for apartments and foods
• Comparing Taipei and Chiang Mai as ideal destinations for digital nomads
• Where to get cheap flights from Chiang Mai to Taipei
• Food tips in Taipei and Chiang Mai
• Talking about co-working spaces in Taipei and Chiang Mai
• Visa-runs in Chiang Mai and Taipei
Please sign up to receive links to the 3rd and 4th videos as well as great footage and posts on Chiang Mai after my visit.
Resources for Chiang Mai and Taipei Digital Nomad lifestyle