Where to Find Taiwan apartment listings
Just like back home, apartment hunting in Taiwan involves checking a few online housing directories and making appointments to see the units. Popular websites for finding housing in Taiwan are:
- Tealit (excellent directory and highly recommend starting place for your search; mainly containing foreigners looking for roommates or landlords looking to rent to foreigners): http://www.tealit.com/
- Kijiji (in Chinese but great deals): http://taipei.kijiji.com.tw
- 591 (Chinese): http://rent.591.com.tw/
- Craigslist (for Taipei):
If you’ve already registered at a Mandarin school in Taiwan, be sure to check with your school to see if they have a housing bulletin board you can check. Most Mandarin schools also have an actual, physical bulletin board / notice board that housing listings are often posted on.
Most Taiwanese landlords do not speak English, so if you’re not renting from other foreigners you’re going to want to bring a Chinese-speaking friend along with you on your apartment hunting that can help you translate the details and maybe even negotiate the price down.
Taiwanese Apartments: What to Expect from an Apartment or Condo in Taiwan
To be honest, by western standards, most apartment buildings in Taiwan look a little bit dated. Some may even refer to them as “post-apocalyptic”. Rest assured though, the insides of these buildings are usually well maintained and clean despite the somewhat eclectic outer appearance.
In Taiwan, a little bit of money goes a long way with regards to the quality of housing you’ll get. Here’s a quick glance at one-bedroom apartment pricing in Taipei and what it will get you as of 2011. The pricing is for apartments within walking distance of MRT/subway stops in Taipei. Keep in mind that Taipei is Taiwan’s priciest city by a fair margin with rent being almost double what you would pay in cities like Taichung or Kaoshiung. Also, pricing in Taipei differs between areas with eastern Taipei (especially the area around Taipei 101) having the most expensive housing in the city.
- $4,000NT/month ($133USD) to $10,000NT/month ($333USD): a single room, 1 bathroom, dorm/studio-style apartment with no kitchen or fridge.
- $10,000NT/month ($333USD) to $15,000NT/month ($500USD): a single room in a 2-3 bedroom apartment building complete with kitchen, living room, western style bathroom
- $15,000NT/month ($500USD) to $18,000NT/month ($600USD): a fully-furnished studio apartment suite with kitchen and bathroom.
- $18,000NT/month ($600USD) and above: a fully furnished, one bedroom apartment suite in a new modern apartment building with kitchen and bathroom.
Most apartment buildings in Taiwan are old, 4-5 stories tall with two or three suites per floor and have no elevator. That being said, if you live in Taipei and are willing to pay a few thousand NT dollars extra, it is not difficult to find a room in a new, modern apartment complete with concierge, elevators, etc. I currently rent a room in Taipei in a 4 year old condominium building directly above a major MRT station with concierge for $11,000NT/month (utilities and maintenance fee are extra though bringing the monthly total to around $13,000NT/month.) Modern apartment buildings and condos are more difficult to find outside of Taipei but can still be found with a bit of searching.
Important differences between apartments in Taiwan and those back in Western countries:
- Most studio apartment suites in Taiwan (particularly those under $10,000NT/month) do not come with kitchens. Instead, most tenants just buy a hot plate. This won’t be a problem for most though because, with the abundance of cheap eats around Taiwan (a complete dinner can cost you $60NT or $2USD), most people eat all of their meals outside. If you have special dietary requirements or enjoy cooking, you’ll most likely need to spend a bit more to get a studio apartment with a kitchen.
- Even in modern Taiwanese condos, dishwashing machines are not common. Instead, kitchens come with what looks like a built in oven but is instead a dish dryer to use for after you’ve washed your dishes.
- Ovens are extremely rare in Taiwanese kitchens. If you enjoy baking, you will need to purchase your own toaster oven.
- Asian style bathrooms (e.g., those in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, etc) often do not come with dedicated shower stalls. Instead, the entire bathroom is tiled and a shower head is installed in the wall with the entire bathroom acting as the shower stall.
- Most apartments in Taiwan above $10,000NT/month come with in-suite washing machines BUT NOT dryers. Instead, people hang their clothes to dry inside or in special alcoves built around their windows.
- Virtually no apartments and condos in Taiwan have built-in heating. For the winter months, you’ll want to invest in a small space heater for your bedroom. During the winter, the temperature usually only drops to around 10C at its lowest and well insulated apartment units may not even require a space heater.
For more information on apartment hunting in Taiwan, check out my Study Chinese in Taiwan E-Book! There’s a full chapter on finding housing in Taiwan that covers everything above and more including dealing with landlords, choosing the appropriate city in Taiwan to live in, garbage collection, utilities, etc.