How we found a house to rent when we moved to Thailand
After a few days of being here, finding our feet and getting over the sleepy jet lag, we set about searching for a house to rent, a place we could call our own for the next year or two.
Scrolling through the Chiang Mai classifieds online, there were a handful of suitable properties available.
Just one replied to us that would allow our dog and so we went to see it… a penthouse apartment with swimming pool. Sounded all good on paper.
Shown around by a friendly German man named Heinz, who ran his exporting business from the apartment opposite, The one small living area and bedroom wasn’t winning any points.
Even the lovely large tiled terrace and the swimming pool in the building couldn’t sway us.
Where would our guests go!? My enthusiasm levels were at a low.
I couldn’t picture us there. Not this time.
If it was just me and Jmayel again, travelling and looking for somewhere to lay our heads for a few weeks, we would have jumped at it – but actually living there, making it our own and having Eden with us, it wasn’t right.
So we shook hands and said our goodbyes, after what I thought was a suitable amount of time going “mmm hmmm, yes that’s a nice cupboard, ooo look at the windows” we were about to make our exit, never to return, when the rains trapped us. We were forced to retreat back and seek shelter as we waited out the menacing storm that had descended on us, making idle small talk with Heinz, all the while wishing the rains would pass.
As bolts of lighting streaked across the rolling thunderous sky, the rain began taking up residence on the top floor of the building, swamping the entire terrace with water.
The top floor of the building turning into that swimming pool he mentioned.
With monsoon season fast approaching, it was clear as we stood watching the planes come and go from the airport, that the last hour spent on the 4th floor of the Green House Apartments would be the only time ever spent there.
We returned to our wooden shack to continue the search for an abode.
Later that same night and browsing through the website of a local Chiang Mai estate agent, we stumbled across some rather promising houses, all within our budget.
Bubbles of excitement began to rise and an email was swiftly sent.
Two days later we were sitting in their office lining up properties to view.
The very next day we were on our way to see two of them.
Our estate agent, Nom, met us at the end of our road on her motorised bike, clearly born and bred here, she was accustomed to the Thai roads and drivers and probably given a moped at birth, she was at one with the tarmac.
Not caring that she had two ‘farangs’ following wildly behind she sped off down the 108 super highway, as if we were chasing her, I am going to liken it to a high speed police chase.
Yes, that is what I am doing.
If I wasn’t trying to keep the bugs out of my mouth as we squeezed in between 2 trucks and through a red light, I would have possibly let out a girlish shriek.
My arms holding onto Jmayel like a boa constrictor, grip getting tighter the faster we travelled.
The knowledge that the petrol tank was just millimetres away from my bum filled me with dread. The 2 stroke engine of the old bike with worn tires made blood curdling sounds and created tremorous vibrations each time J pulled on the throttle trying not to lose sight of the ‘getaway vehicle’
My husband in front of me at the helm, screaming through the rush of wind “what the hell, this woman’s got some crazy moves!"
Arriving at the first house, at a slightly more gentle pace, I peeled myself away from Jmayel’s back, not sure if the sweat soaking through my t-shirt was from the 40 degree heat of the mid day Thai sun or the terrifying previous 15 mins I had just spent on the death bike.
With my ‘safety net’ husbands adrenalin still rushing he was eager to get into the house.
I tenderly put my feet on the ground, curiously wondering if my legs would actually work.
The first house; lovely area, an abundance of gorgeous houses all on quiet immaculate streets surrounded by rice fields in a gated security ‘moo ban’ (gated housing complex)
We stepped inside the first property, still trying to get over the shock of the ride here. English politeness engaged, we pleasantly strolled around an unfurnished, dirty, soulless husk of a house.
With hardly any outside space (which is kind of the point of having a house) it did not tick any boxes, well any nice boxes anyway.
Clearly we were inside the black sheep of the perfect road.
Knowing that we still had one other house to view, I gingerly got back on the bike, said a silent prayer and pulled the tab on my helmet hat as tight as it would go and journeyed to the next and final house of the afternoon.
My fingers crossed, just as much for survival than hope for the house!
5 minutes later, still playing catch up with the bike in front, there it was… our new home!
The house had just come out of a refurbishment and it was boastful as we entered with smiles on our faces.
Inside, the house began showing off its newly painted walls, displaying a table lain out perfectly, ready for us, magazine style.
We were met with a lovely furnished, clean, bright and happy house. 3 large bedrooms, meaning plenty of room for guests, with a decent sized garden for Eden to play. Complete with a pond, probably also for Eden to play.
There was nothing not to like.
Detached from any other building, the home has room to shine from all angles and who are we to stop it, who are we to turn up and burst its delightful bubble.
We loved it and straight away, through gleeful grins, said yes – we want this!
I think I may have seen the house glow a little bit with pride, but that may have just been its sunshine yellow painted exterior.
With all the terror of the race here forgotten, we got back on the bikes, gave the house a little wave and I may or may not have whispered ‘love you’ we went the 11kms back to the city.
The next day we eagerly returned to the office and signed the lease.
It’s ours! (for the next 12 months at least!)
In less than a week we had effortlessly secured ourselves a lovely house, just like child’s play it was all very easy and we can’t wait to move in.
Sacha El-Haj – 8 Miles from Home
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