Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai

Pros and Cons of Living in Chiang Mai

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 11, 2022

Summary: Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what expats and digital nomads have to say about the pros and cons of living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The pros include a low cost of living, a tropical climate, a vibrant expat community, family-focused (and friendly) locals, an amazing street-food scene, good healthcare and low crime rate. The cons list is shorter and includes pollution, the smoky season and the transient expat and digital nomad community. What's the smoky season? Smoky skies that typically persist from January through March when crop-burning is at its peak (plus other contributing factors.)

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William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

What are the pros and cons of living in Chiang Mai?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Chiang Mai responded:

"Like Location great, std of living ok, shopping, food ok, safe place to be, weather great. Deslike Pollution, pollution, pollution, the burning of the fields and the inaction by the authorities to deal with the pollution," explained one expat living in Chiang Mai.

"Thai people are friendly and gentle. Health care is excellent. Crime isn't an issue. Very affordable. Before COVID, lots of cultural opportunities. I dislike smoke season. The expats here tend to be cliquey," said another expat in living in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

"Chiang Mai has been documented as one of the premier expat locales in the world for good reason. It has one of the best street-food scenes of any city anywhere. There is a rich diversity of cuisine. The weather is wonderful. Housing is affordable and world-class. In fact, everything is incredibly affordable - food, housing, transportation. It's easy to get around the city. It has better internet than most of the United States. There are numerous social activities. With all of this said, there are two drawbacks. First, there is no beach/ocean here. The islands of Thailand are justifiably famous as some of the best in the world and Chiang Mai, while in the northern part of the country, is still a hot area. Nevertheless, a short flight down to Koh Samui or Phuket can cost as little as $80USD. The second drawback is, in my mind, more concerning. In recent years the annual burning of the rice-husks in the lead up to the rainy season for the new planting, has created an environment where, for months at a time, Chiang Mai has the worst air quality of any city in the world. In fact, I no longer live in Chiang Mai and have permanently moved to Bali as a direct result of this situation. I can not overstate this enough," added another expat in Chiang Mai.

"Chiang Mai is a very low-stress place to live (except for the traffic.) The people are nice, the food is great and varied, the costs for most things are low. The weather is too hot for me, but I've become accustomed to it," explained one expat living in Chiang Mai.

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What do expats in Chiang Mai appreciate most about the local culture?

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Italy, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and the Living in Panama Guide. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
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Get a Quote

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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

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