Depending on an expat’s reasons for relocating, accommodation in Taipei can differ dramatically. Senior businesspeople that move with their families will find a very different housing market to 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 into the periphery. To save on rent, many 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 very 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. This is more often the case for multinational companies, but sometimes language schools do this as well.
If this is the case, then 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.
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.
For expats moving to Taipei to teach English, it's possible to find flatshares with other expats quite easily, with many flatshares being posted to expat social media groups. This saves money and can create an opportunity to make meaningful social connections.
Expats who don’t speak Mandarin and who don’t have a colleague to help them should consider enlisting an English-speaking estate agent to help their search for accommodation. Most real estate agencies charge half of 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 two- or three-month deposit is typically required upon the signing of a lease, depending on the landlord. However, it's often possible to negotiate that the payment of this lump sum be spread over several months.
Most leases are for 12 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 full stoves. The same goes for dishwashers. A normal kitchen consists of a refrigerator, gas cooktop stove and microwave.
Sometimes rental prices will include utilities such as building maintenance and garbage disposal. Tenants must typically pay their own water and electricity bills, but these are relatively low. Basic utilities depend on the building type and the location, but will generally meet the standards of Western expats.