Most people who come here looking to stay longterm are either looking to train to professional levels of diving or are looking for work. What I advise that you should do in this case is just book a couple of nights accommodation somewhere fairly central on the island. I would recommend Mae Haad. This will ensure you have somewhere to go, get freshened up and have a rest without trudging around with your bags in the heat.
There are actually many guest houses and resorts that do offer their simpler rooms on a monthly basis so it’s worth hitting the pavement and having a look. Again Mae Haad is probably your best bet. Some of the resorts dotted along Sairee beach do offer some of their cheaper rooms at long term rates too but Mae Haad is certainly a more central place if you are looking for work. Some places include WiFi and bills and some not so do be sure to ask. These rooms are simple with a bed, ensuite bathroom and maybe a fridge and TV but no cooking facilities. Eating out is cheap and if you are staying for around a month then this might be suitable. You should expect to pay up to 9000B a month or something like this.
If you are staying for longer and want a more traditional house with a kitchen and living room then this is where the fun begins. These types of places are out of the tourist areas so you are going to need some transport. Like any rental option, houses only come free when someone is moving out yet there is no central information to find this out. Firstly ask! Anyone and everyone, your fellow divers, the person stood next to you at the bar, infact anyone who looks like a local! This will certainly give you some leads to follow and some will be hilarious. I remember following directions to find someone who had the keys to a rental property. I was told to look for the lady boy hairdresser on the road with the boxing!
Next head to one of the three big stores on the island who also act as makeshift notice boards. Pen Wholesale, located on the main road near the temple has a whole window full of adverts or all sorts of things for sale as well as houses for rent too. Chai Wat located on the main road by the Aow Leuk turning is the same. If you want something on the southern end then head to Aukotan in Chalock where you will find their front window similarly plastered with adverts.
Then take a drive around out of the tourist areas and you will find signs with phone numbers for houses for rent. You’ll need a phone and some patience. Stop and call. You will not necessarily find that the signs and notices are close to the accommodation but sometimes they are. By then end of the day you should have a few options and you will certainly have had an extremely good tour of the islands non tourist spots.
While viewing remember to find out which power source the electric is. Most commercial properties have both government electric and Nam Seng. Nam Seng is the private provider but it is a lot more expensive yet when government goes off you will appreciate having the option to switch. However if the accommodation runs just on Nam Seng you will pay a lot more overall for electricity. Similarly if you don’t have the option to switch and there is a problem with the government power supply, you will be left quite literally in the dark. While this doesn’t happen too often when it does happen the power supply can be disrupted for extended periods while the problem is fixed.
Treat looking for somewhere as an adventure, don’t get too frustrated, remember to have a break and drink water and most importantly an ice cold beer at the end of the day.
This article was written for and first published on Travelfish.org. It is reproduced here with kind permission !