So you’ve landed a job in Taipei! Yahoo!
The first thing on most people’s to-do lists would be to find a place to live. Taipei is like any big city; it’s chocked full of options. You can pay big bucks and rent a very fancy place in a posh Taipei neighborhood or you can pay a lot less for a basic room just outside the city center.
Most people want to have something in between. You’ll probably want something within a reasonable distance from your school. Thanks to Taipei’s excellent public transportation system, commuting is easy and cheap.
Here are some ideas of where to start looking in your quest for a comfortable abode to call your own.
We hope you find this guide to finding housing in Taipei useful.
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There is one pitfall you can easily avoid and save yourself a lot of time when looking for a place on the Internet. Don’t look for an apartment on a random English language website. The landlords know (or think, at least) that foreigners are rich and can therefore pay more, so they have hiked the prices considerably.
Don’t even think of looking on Craigslist. Go local! This is where you want to start:
So you’re a loner, eh? Don’t need anyone’s help? Then 591 is the site for you! This site features listings in Chinese for apartments for locals. That means cheaper prices than other websites, but it’s in Chinese. All is not lost, because all you have to do is use Google Chrome as your browser and it will translate the page for you.
It’s a great tool to view the market and see what kind of places are available out there.
You can search by area, size, and amenities, just be aware that the landlord you contact (or agent) will most likely not speak much English. Have a Taiwanese friend helping? Great! Speak reasonably good Chinese yourself? Fantastic, knock yourself out. This site is very popular, so there are lots of new places posted daily, but because it is so popular the places get scooped up very quickly. Be ready to sprint over to see the place when you talk to the landlord.
The thing about viewing sites on 591 is that a lot of people renting their apartments or studios out have no idea what foreigners consider important in a place to live. This means that the pictures they post will sometimes be strange. You might get a photo of the bedroom, a closet, and the front of the building from street level and that’s it. Be sure and go see the place yourself, because even if the photos are good, they might be from four years ago before the last renter destroyed the place.
Also, be aware that in Taiwan they don’t measure the size of a place by square meters or square feet, but in ping. What’s a ping equivalent to? Well, one ping (坪) is about 3 square meters or 36 square feet.
2. Facebook Groups
There are some great groups on Facebook designed to help you find an apartment or studio, but there are also a few groups that specialize in helping get the word out that a roommate is wanted.
If you wouldn’t mind sharing an apartment with someone, then give these groups a try. The most popular one, with over 10,000 members, is Looking for Roommates or Apartments in Taipei and Taiwan. Most people appear to be relatively sane and most people put up the kinds of photos that are helpful in showcasing the place’s finer qualities, not just a photo of the outside facade.
Coming to Taiwan and want to get the word out you are looking? Then feel free to advertise yourself on this group. Many people advertise themselves and what they are looking for in this Facebook group. People will usually help you out and refer you on to any apartments they think match what you are looking for.
Another group that might be helpful is Castle in the Sky: Apartments, Rooms, and Roommates in Taipei and Taiwan. There are other groups out there, but these two seem like the most reputable and the least polluted with real estate posts.
Facebook groups seem to pop up for about any possible thing, but a very useful one for new arrivals is Taipei: Buy, sell, trade. Here, people who are leaving Taiwan post their items for resale and you can find some great deals on used furniture, kitchen items or appliances or anything at all.
Beware of housing scams in Facebook groups. Don’t put any money down on an apartment or room unless you’ve seen it with your own eyes. These groups are monitored by admins, but scammers do get through from time to time. They’ll post fake photos of an apartment, ask you to put down a deposit and then sail off into the night with your money.
3. Local Realtors
Not satisfied with any of the above options? Sheesh, you’re picky! There is another way to find a great apartment in Taipei, but it will cost you a finder’s fee of one month’s rent.
Every neighborhood has many small real estate offices, and they are more or less limited to the surrounding neighborhood that they are in. This is a really quick way to find a place to live in a specific area if you are looking close to your school or are really set on an area you like.
The staff of the real estate offices are very helpful and eager to please, and once they find you a place you like, they get paid from both you and the landlord a month’s rent.
The realtor that helps you will also basically be your slave for the duration of the contract. The air conditioning goes out? He’ll call the landlord and coordinate repairs or have it replaced. Have a strange light fixture that you can’t find a replacement bulb for? Call him and he’ll be back with one tomorrow. Need a back massage? Well, maybe he won’t rub you down but you get the idea.
They will make themselves available to help with any problem you might have. This option is only good for those who speak Chinese comfortably or have a friend available to help who does speak well, as rental agreements could get ugly if they think there is any advantage they could pull on you. Not everyone is a crook, but why take chances, right?
In Taipei there are some fantastic apartments for a steal, and there are some roach traps that cost an arm and a leg. Hopefully this guide has given you the resources to make an informed, intelligent decision on where to live and how to find the place that is right for you. Good luck!If you liked this article, please share!