Depending on an expat’s reasons for relocating, accommodation in Taipei can differ dramatically. Senior businesspeople moving with their families will want different housing than, say, expats looking to teach English in the city for a few years.
Housing in Taipei is expensive. Although there are efforts to bring prices down, they are expected to stay high for the foreseeable future.
The most expensive accommodation in Taipei is located in the areas closest to the city centre and prices decrease as one moves to the periphery. To save on rent, some expats opt to share an apartment.
Types of accommodation in Taipei
Regardless of wealth, most real estate in the city is found in the form of secure apartment blocks that have stair access to upper floors. Elevators are scarce except in the most luxurious complexes.
The Taiwanese measure floor space in a unit of measurement called ping, where one ping is equivalent to 3.3 square metres. Expats will find that by Western standards, apartments in Taiwan are extremely small and close together with little outdoor space.
Finding accommodation in Taipei
In many cases, employers will provide assistance in finding accommodation or will include free accommodation as part of an employment package. If this is the case, expats should investigate the arrangement. Aside from apartments in Taipei being smaller than Western apartments, accepting a lower salary in lieu of an accommodation allowance may not always be the best decision.
For young expats moving to Taipei to teach English, it's possible to find flatshares quite easily through expat social media groups. This saves money and can create an opportunity to make meaningful social connections.
It may be wise for new arrivals to first spend some time in temporary accommodation while they explore the city. This allows expats to get a feel for the options available and to visit potential apartments before settling on a lease.
Expats who don’t speak Mandarin and who don’t have a friend or colleague to help them should consider enlisting an English-speaking estate agent to help their search for accommodation. Most real-estate agencies charge one month's rent for their services. Expats can also search for accommodation through online property portals, some of which list properties in English.
Renting accommodation in Taipei
A deposit equivalent to three months of rent is typically required upon the signing of a lease, depending on the landlord. That said, it's often possible to negotiate that this payment is made in instalments.
Most leases are for 12 or 24 months and tenants are billed monthly on the same date until the end of the lease.
Furnished or unfurnished
There are both unfurnished and furnished apartments in Taipei, and it is sometimes possible to negotiate for appliances or furniture to be included in the rent. Major appliances such as refrigerators and stoves may or may not be provided. There isn’t a standard that landlords are required to adhere to, but most will expect to negotiate prices, so it is sometimes possible to get a cheaper price.
Note that Taiwanese kitchens seldom have stove and oven units. The same goes for dishwashers. A normal kitchen consists of a refrigerator, gas stove and microwave.
Expats can rest assured that electricity, water and gas will almost certainly be hooked up and ready to use before moving in. Utilities are affordable in Taiwan and tenants will start to pay from the first moment they use any of them. In Taipei, utility bills don't come every month but every two to three months depending on the utility company. They can be paid at any 7/11 convenience store, which are open 24 hours a day, the bank, post office or through their landlord.
Refuse is required by law to be separated according to different recyclable materials e.g. plastic, glass, paper, cans. Some apartment blocks have a communal area where refuse can be left at any time and is collected by refuse trucks. If one does not have such an area, however, residents are required to personally take out refuse when the trucks come around, and throw rubbish bags into the truck themselves. These trucks usually play a jingle that makes it easy to identify. They service different neighbourhoods on specific days and times.