Sunday, January 30, 2011

100 Days in Thailand :: Day 11 - Cross Cultural Apartment Hunting (+ photos of our new place!)

If you've ever house hunted or apartment shopped, then you know how stressful the process of finding a place to live can be.

There are so many factors that go into your decision making... the size of the place, the location, the neighborhood, the amenities, and of course the PRICE! It can be an overwhelming and exhausting experience.

Now just imagine apartment shopping - cross culturally! Add to all the factors above being unable to speak the language, unable to get around, and the cultural differences that are applied when you move to another country. Now you're beginning to understand what the past few days have looked like for us!

Before we came to Chiang Mai, we looked online at some apartments and felt confident that we would be able to find a great place within our price range. When we arrived, we expected to look at a few places and make a decision rather quickly! Unfortunately that was not the case...

First of all, no one wanted to rent to us for only 3 months. We would find a beautiful, perfect place for the perfect price, only to find out that it could only be rented for 6 months or 1 year!!! This was the most frustrating issue for us, as we had to deal with the disappointment of not being able to rent the apartments we loved the most.

Then, there was the fact that we didn't have a car our first day of looking, so we had to rent tuk-tuks or WALK to see the places there were for rent. I think by the end of that day we had walked about 2 miles in the hot sun following our Thai "realtor" around (and we had not seen even 1 place that we liked!) Talk about exhausting!

A few other problems we had were finding places that weren't furnished (we can't afford to buy tons of furniture for only 3 months of living here), places with NO hot water (they think it's bad for your skin, so they take cold showers!), places with NO internet (which we need to do our work), places with no or only 1 air conditioner (they think it's COLD/winter right now - but it's 80+ degrees to us!) and places where EVERYTHING was extra. So...we'd find something in our price range and then they would tell us that water, electricity, internet, cleaning, linens, and renting a refrigerator was all extra.... which would put us WAY out of our budget!

And finally, we dealt with communication break downs. We would go to see a place that was supposedly within our range and all-inclusive, only to be told it was several thousand Baht more than what we expected. We would go to a place that we loved, and then be told it was unavailable (already rented). Or we'd be shown a BEAUTIFUL bungalow, only to be told it wouldn't be available for another month! So frustrating!

Oh - did I mention that our realtors were not only Thai, but some were Australian and English and French? That's like a cross, cross, cross cultural experience! Talk about challenging!

By the end of our 2nd day we had seen about 15 places (and been disappointed about another 20 that we could NOT see b/c they were only for a 1 year lease) and nothing was right. We'd exhausted our connections and our online options, and we were losing hope. I was beyond tired of living out of a suitcase and dragging 3 months worth of stuff with us with every move/travel day. Our friend Ray (who had been so patiently carting us around town all day) kept trying to encourage us that we would find the PERFECT place. And then, we got the phone call...

Our friend Thida had talked to a friend who had seen an online ad and she thought it might be perfect. The landlord was French, and he was willing to rent to us for 3 months. It was ALL-INCLUSIVE and right in our price range, and we could see it right then!!! It only took us about 5 minutes to know it was THE PLACE!

Rusty pointing at our apartment on the 2nd floor!

It was BEAUTIFUL! Our landlord had really outdone himself decorating and setting up the apartment, and I was sold! Every other place we'd looked at (even if it WAS furnished) was very mismatched - weird colored tile, walls, furniture, etc - or very "bare bones" - no decor, nothing on the walls, white sheets on the bed - kind of depressing. But this place was GREAT!

Bright colors were everywhere - and everything matched.... from the bedspread...

to the dishes!

There were shelves for our books, electronics, and odds and ends, and they were even decorated with vases, statues, flowers, and pretty little Thai style lamps. Everything coordinated and was designed with clean lines and a modern style....

There was a flat screen TV and a DVD player...

(yes, we were watching the comedy hour on HBO... it's one of our 3 English channels, LOL! ;)

There was a kitchen that was FULLY equipped with a sink, hot pad, toaster, dishes and drainer...

And another little area with a hot water kettle for tea and coffee, a microwave, and a refrigerator!

There was a desk for us to work on...

And a table and chairs/dining area...

And an extra comfy chair!

And although it was only one room, the storage space was IMPRESSIVE!  There were so many places to put things! There was room for all our clothes...

And a space for our shoes...

And a spot to store our toiletries in the bathroom!

There was also a nice countertop instead of just a free-standing sink (which is more common here)....

And a REAL SHOWER with HOT WATER!!! (the hot water heater is the little thing you see in the corner, with the metal pipes attached to it). It's hard to find a shower with even a curtain here - it's usually just a shower head in the room with the toilet/sink, and when you shower water gets everywhere. To find a shower with an actual door is really RARE (this is actually the first one I've seen not in a hotel!)

We also have a place to do our laundry in the building next door (that actually has a DRYER - also rare in Thailand) and a nice little restaurant that makes delicious (cheap) Thai food...

But my FAVORITE thing, was the ART on the walls! Both pieces were painted by Thai artists, and I thought they were beautiful!

I am absolutely in love with this painting of a Thai street at sunset (complete with Tuk Tuks), and am hoping we can find a similar, smaller version to bring home!

As an added bonus, we found out everything in the apartment was BRAND NEW! We were the first renters (so no bedbugs in this bed!) It was perfect in every way! Our landlord really out-did himself making it feel like home. Needless to say, we took it and moved in 3 days later. We are so glad to have our own home sweet THAILAND, and the longer we're here, the more we realize how perfect it is for us and how God knew exactly what we needed (even more than we did)!

Let us know if you'd like to drop by for a visit! ;)


  1. Very nice place! We are so happy that you are getting settled. Keep the pictures coming. We can't wait to hear more :) Love you both.

  2. This is amazing guys! God knew exactly what you needed! Enjoy Thailand! I hope your able to bring back one of those paintings!

  3. Have room for a family of 4? :)

  4. What a great little place and I love the paintings.