I am done renting apartments in Taiwan. I hope. I just bought an apartment here, so I think it is finally time to chronicle my experiences here for all to enjoy. I hope that some new foreigner will learn something from these experiences and not make the same mistakes.
In total I have rented four apartments in Taiwan. During that process I learned a lot about what to watch out for when you are looking for an apartment, especially from landlords and “amenities” provided.
First I started renting in Niaosong District of Kaohsiung City. If you want to know why I ended up here first, click here.
Apartment #1: Niaosong, Kaohsiung
Time spent: 8 months
Rent amount: 5,000 + 2,000 for utilities = 7,000 NT (251 USD)
Rooms: Studio with bathroom and balconies.
I needed a lease to first live, and second to put an address on my ARC card.
For pretty much all my rental searches, I used 591 and House Fun. If you cannot read Chinese, you may need a Taiwanese friend to help you with these sites.
One of the first places I called hung up on me. I called back and basically he said he could tell I was a foreigner and he doesn't rent to foreigners. I have heard many similar experiences from other foreigners in Taiwan. At the time I was sad because it was a nice apartment, but at the same time it was a good thing because they probably would have been a horrible landlord and made our life suck. If you have a bad first impression with a landlord, just stay away, trust me.
I first went house hunting with my Taiwanese friend, who convinced me that it was a bad idea to go house hunting alone as a foreigner. It is even better if you can bring an elderly, scary looking Taiwanese person to avoid getting scammed by the landlord. We ended up looking at two places, and choosing the larger one. It was on the outskirts of town on a hill, and it had a swimming pool. It was a studio apartment, in a house with four five floors and three other tenants. On move in day we realized that something was wrong when we saw one of the tenants on the first floor common area couch with his shirt off watching TV. We found that this would be a common everyday occurrence. Also the kitchen area was a common area too, but I was the only one who ever used it, and it was filthy. My wife did not want to use it, or run into the naked couch man downstairs, so she bought an electric stove that didn’t really work and burned all our food. We also went out and got an oven and a small fridge. One of the reasons that I liked the apartment and wanted to stay there was because it came with a jet hot tub. But soon we learned it took forever to fill with water and the landlord had disabled the jets.
Another perk we thought we had was the communal swimming pool. It turns out the pool was closed most of the time, and when we did go we had to wear swimming caps, and we were scolded for jumping in the water. Also, there was this weird old guy that would always stare at us. Maybe he was the lifeguard? We will never know.
Also, there was a rat that made its home in our washing machine on the balcony (this can be prevented if you properly install a plastic mat on the bottom of the machine). I ended up buying one of those wooden mouse traps with glue on it, because they didn’t sell real mouse traps, and threw it into the woods. The nice thing about the complex was they took care of recycling and unlike Taipei you can use any bag you want to throw out the garbage.
The bed was really comfortable, but that was about the only furniture besides two wardrobes. We also bought a couch from Ikea, and there was an old TV that belonged to the landlord.
The landlord was too cheap to buy A/C. When we found out my wife was pregnant we took the initiative and bought a 7,000 NT used A/C unit that was too small for the space we had, but still did the job. To make sure our house was kept cool, we also taped cardboard in front of the windows (I do not recommend taping things to windows, it is hard to get off). The landlord was not happy that we bought A/C and charged us an extra 500 NT a month for electricity.
Also, the landlord charged 2,000 NT for water and electricity every month, which is ridiculous when you consider our base rent was only 5,000 NT. It would have been cheaper if we had our own water and electric meter, but it was a shared house.
One bad thing about the area was dirty water, and prone to flooding. During Typhoon Nepartak in 2016 we had no power or running water for three days. We took refuge in 7-11s and Internet Café’s closer to the city center where there was still power and A/C.
Finally the time came for me to switch jobs and we moved to Taipei, after eight months of just getting by in Niaosong.
2nd Apartment: Da’an District of Taipei
Time spent: 3 weeks
Rent amount: 8,000 NT (287 USD)
Rooms: 1 room with external bathroom in a shared house.
We wanted a room similar in price to Kaohsiung because we had basically no money. Our landlord had agree to refund our 5,000 NT deposit in exchange for our Ikea couch and A/C, and so we saved on that and moving costs. At the time all our worldly possessions could fit inside six suitcases.
A friend let us room in their grandparent’s house. Our second apartment was located in Da’an District in Taipei, right next to Tonghua Night Market. Transportation was great. Going to Tonghua Night Market and morning market was amazing. It was also relatively close to work, but there was a lot of traffic. The room was a Yafang, a room with no bathroom of its own. Rent was only 8,000 NT per month. We did not have to share a bathroom with the other tenant, she had her own bathroom. But we did have to share a kitchen and washing machine. As it turned out, the other tenant was a girl and she did not want to have a man’s dirty laundry even touch her washing machine. So we had to go to a laundry mat to wash. Later, the landlord friend let us wash upstairs at her house. Also, the walls were made of thin wood, so any noise made could be heard by the other tenant. Also the floors were noticeable slanted, due to an earthquake, and the electricity would go out all the time. And it was moldy. But the worst part of all was the canned natural gas. We had to share a gas can with the other tenant, but we had no idea how much gas she used. It was winter time, and when the gas went out we had to take cold showers. We also had no dehumidifier, which made it extra cold. We ended up buying a portable fan heater there.
After about a week we decided it was time to move. Luckily there was no contract and no deposit so we were able to leave quickly without much of a loss.
Third Apartment: Nangang, Taipei
Time spent: 1 year
Rent amount: 13,000 NT (467 USD)
Rooms: 1 room and 1 kitchen with bathroom on a balcony.
The third apartment we rented was in Nangang. My work office is in Nangang, so it was an obvious choice. However before finding this one, we looked in Xizhi and even Keelung, but only found small and too far away apartments.
This one had a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen. It was all our own and for the first time in our marriage we did not have to share a kitchen with someone else. The landlord gave us a bed, fridge, TV, closets, and washing machine. It had an elevator, but there were still some steps to the elevator which made the elevator kind of pointless. We stayed there about 1 year. The landlord was really nice and gave us all new appliances, and fixed problems right away.
One problem with the apartment was the walls were all made out of windows, so it would get really hot. We had to cover the windows with black paper. And there were mosquitos all the time. They would hide in the wooden light fixture that covered pretty much the entire ceiling, so it was hard to spot them and kill them. We spent many sleepless nights because of those bugs. A week after we finally broke down and bought a mosquito net, we decided to let the lease end and move to a new apartment.
The apartment was just too small after having a baby. We just couldn’t fit our stuff there anymore.
Applying for social housing 社會住宅
During the summer there was also a social housing complex built in Nangang, and residents of Nangang had priority in the lottery process, to get housing with slightly cheaper rent. Because our income was so sigh, it would only reduce our rent by a little bit. In the end we did not win the lottery.
Fourth Apartment: Also Nangang, Taipei
Time spent: 4 years
Rent amount: 19,000 NT (682 USD)
Rooms: 2 rooms + 1 Japanese style room, and 1 kitchen and 1 bathroom.
Our fourth and final apartment that we rented was also in Nangang. Before that, we looked at an apartment on the main road in Nangang, but it was taken before we could sign. We also looked at an old apartment near Nangang Park but it was too old and dark.
In addition, we looked for apartments in Xizhi, Shuilian Community (水蓮山莊) in 2019, which is close to Nangang. It is like a closed off mountain resort made up of a few apartment high-rises. There is a real estate agency in the complex (U-trust 有巢氏房屋), and we talked to them about renting a house. The facilities there were nice, but you could only use the gym and swimming pool a few times a month based on a points system for how big your house was. Also, the only public transport was a bus that goes down to Nangang Station like once every half hour. I like riding my bicycle to work, and it would be pretty physically demanding to ride my bike up that giant hill every day. The trip to work would take longer than I would want, and I wouldn't be able to come home during my 1.5 hour lunch break. And at the time, we didn't have the money for a down payment anyway, so we passed it up. We decided to look for houses closer to Nangang, because a short commute and coming home for my lunch break was worth it.
We finally found our fourth apartment which was priced better than the others. But we had to pay two months deposit up front plus first month’s rent, which was a pretty penny at the time (rent was 19,000 NT per month). It turned out to be worth it. We ended up living there for four years.
This apartment had two bedrooms, a Japanese wooden closet room, one bathroom and one kitchen. When we first visited I saw a cockroach, and it would not be the last. One time during the night I awoke to a large cockroach climbing on my face. But there were no mosquitos, and there was natural gas.
Also we learned that that neighborhood had free water and free access to the neighborhood pool, which I used a lot. Also, it was right across the street from Wellcome which became a Carrefour Market.
Our landlord was slow to fix or replace appliances, and we resorted to buying a new washing machine, beds, and a fridge ourselves. Also we did not like that there was no balcony. Because of this, we knew it was about time to get our own place.
Also, the roof started leaking even though we only lived on the second floor, because of a problem with the third floor’s bathroom. That never got fixed.
Moving out was a pain because we had already replaced so much of the crappy furniture, that we ended up having to buy new crappy furniture for the landlord when we moved.
The story continues next time with my blog post about my experience buying a house in Taiwan. Stay tuned for next week.
I served a mission here and lived in seven different apartments. The mission office has a number of apartments already leased in different areas, and assigned us to different areas at the mission president’s discretion. Although I didn’t pay the rent directly or look for apartments. I learned a lot about Taiwan apartments that would serve me in the future.
First Area: Tainan, East District.
Time spent: 3 months
Rooms: 3 rooms and 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms and back balcony.
This apartment was on the 12th story of a high rise overlooking most of the city, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I could see the ocean and even the Kaohsiung 85 on a clear day. The best part about this apartment was the guard who would take out our garbage for us. Because this was my first area, I learned very quickly about the basics of Taiwan apartments, such as they are all made of cement, the mattresses are usually hard as a rock, and actual rocks can pile up in your shower head blocking the water, so you need to clean them once in a while. The most important lesson of all though was that mosquitos will get into your house no matter how high up you are if you leave the windows open.
Second Area: Kaohsiung, Xiaogang District.
Time spent: 2 months
Rooms: 4 rooms and 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms and back balcony.
This was an 8 story apartment with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. There were holes in the windows, which had been patched using tape and cardboard. At night, my companion turned on the A/C full blast at 18 degrees and I just about froze every night. There was also no natural gas, and we had to call the gas man every now and again, but luckily I was not there very long so I never had to do it.
Third Area: Taichung City, South District.
Time spent: 1 month
Rooms: 3 rooms and 1 kitchen and 1 bathroom and back balcony.
This apartment had two bedrooms and one bathroom. There was a bathtub which was really moldy, which I cleaned for the first time in years probably. I learned later that bathtubs in Taiwan are rare, probably because it is so humid and they are hard to clean. This one was on the 10th floor and had an amazing view of Taichung.
Fourth Area: Kaohsiung, Nanzi District.
Time spent: 1 month
Rooms: 2 rooms and 1 kitchen and 1 bathroom and back balcony.
This apartment was on the 22nd floor, the highest floor I ever stayed on, but the only windows were facing another building so there was no view. It had two bedrooms and one bathroom. I only stayed there about three weeks.
Fifth Area: Taichung City, Beitun District.
Time spent: 6 months
Rooms: 1 room and 1 kitchen and 1 bathroom and back balcony.
This apartment had one room and one bathroom. It was built on top of a garage and was probably originally meant as storage or office space. I was there during winter, and there was a gap in the garage door so the wind would come straight into the apartment. By far the coldest apartment we stayed in. Finally the mission office built a wall for us and put in a door so we would not freeze to death. This was finally accomplished after about 10 years of missionaries living there.
Sixth Area: Kaohsiung, Fengshan District
Time spent: 1 month
Rooms: 2 rooms and 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms and back balcony.
Here I had a one bedroom, two level apartment with an amazing huge two level window overlooking the Pingtung Mountains, from the fifth floor. The only real problem we had here were the ants. Lots of ants. Like I filled an entire dustpan thick full of dead ant bodies. As for the garbage, we just left it all on the street and it would be magically picked up by an old lady.
Last Area: Caotun Township, Nantou County.
Time spent: 1 month
Rooms: 3 rooms and 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms and back balcony.
This apartment was on the fourth floor with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Not really spectacular or special at all. I did notice that cockroaches would climb into our apartment through the sink.
All the apartments above had porches and elevators.
There, I have shared what all my experiences of renting apartments in Taiwan. For more info, check out our apartment rental FAQ article here.
2/12/2022 10:30:36 am
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
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We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.