December 26, 2012

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Difficulties of finding a new apartment in Taipei

The view from my current apartment.

Last week, when my wife and I were walking back home from yet another disappointing apartment viewing, I was a bit frustrated. We had a plan to find a bigger place by the end of the year and we wanted to move out of the old, noisy and extremely populated neighborhood we're living in now, because we're expecting a baby. It's not only the environment that we want to leave behind, it's also because the current apartment is too small for two, let alone three. We've been searching for few months now and every time we've returned from a viewing, there was something we disliked. The last apartment was nearly perfect. It was almost double the size of the current one and there rent was just a little bit over the current one, what's more it was in a new condo and located in a completely new neighborhood. The interior design was great and it came with a nice balcony. The problem was the location: It was very far from the Blue MRT line, that connects eastern and western Taipei. Since I don't want to drive a car in Taipei, because the traffic is just too crazy for me, we have to rely on public transportation, preferably the subway. The biggest problem with the latest apartment was its proximity to the nearest MRT station. We needed about 20 minutes to reach the apartment from there. And all in all it needs around 45 min to reach the Blue line. My wife would need around 1 hour and a half to reach her job, if we lived there and that would just be too much time wasted on commuting. That was a clear deal breaker for us.

Images from my neighborhood.

If you've ever searched for an apartment in Taipei, you can surely relate to our frustration. And there was something else that bothered us: We felt very out of place in that neighborhood, that was stretched along a very wide and noisy avenue. I just didn't see myself raising my child there. As we were walking back to our place, we realized how "at home" we already feel here and that we're perhaps more attached to it than we would admit. The roads are narrow and noisy here, the buildings are old and plastered with dirty tiles, there's a big and popular day market, which can get pretty crowded and noisy in the evening. Scooters rule the world here and phrases like "pedestrian friendly" don't exist. It basically feels like an old Taiwanese village and there is a sense of familiarity. By now many people know me, from the bakery to the biendang shop and all the way to the hair dresser, I'm one of the very few waiguoren in this area and a loyal customer.

Images from my neighborhood.

Two years ago my wife rented this apartment by pure coincidence and we didn't expect, that we will stay here so long. But after a long search for something new, we started to appreciate what we already have. For example: It takes only 5 minutes by foot to the nearest MRT station; we live on one of the upper floors and have a nice open view (as you can see on the photo above); the apartment is merely few years old and it comes with a very reasonable price (it includes furniture, a small kitchen and a washing machine). The condo has a very professional security staff, that receives and keeps your parcels, they can even call a cab for you. We can use a fitness studio free of charge, there's a big dining hall, that can be rented for birthdays and we also have a small swimming pool for kids in the courtyard. The waste collection is conveniently located in the basement, so we don't need to stand on the street every evening and wait for the garbage truck. If I walk fast and catch all the trains in time, I could be at the Main Station in about 15 minutes. Most of these things have become part of our lives and it would be hard to let them go. I especially wouldn't want to live on a lower floor or wait for the garbage truck. I'm also used to live in a secured condo, that's just a few minutes away from the MRT. So I guess the search will go on well into the next year, because we still haven't found what we are looking for.

If I had a roof terrace, it wouldn't be as empty as they usually are in Taipei.

[My LIFE IN TAIWAN page][All photos by MKL, 2012]


  1. First off, congrats to you and the wife on your upcoming bundle of joy.

    Second, eventually you will find something, though it likely won't be 100% of what you are looking for. It's just a matter of deciding what 10 or 15% you can do without.

  2. Just curious: we are also considering a move to Taipei, so any info on rents would be useful. Any examples e.g. of two-bedrooms ?

  3. Congrats on the kid, and the crux of your apt hunting problems is universal, be it Taipei, NY or Thailand.

    I prefer ease of transportation (ie, closeness to city center) over all things, hence I live 10 seconds next to a freeway entrance, hence I deal with the maddening noise at night.

  4. @Tommykey: Thank you. I completely agree with you.

    @Anonymous: Well, it all depends on where you live, Taipei City or New Taipei? Near MRT station or far away from it? New building like a secured condo or just an old one? It can vary from 10.000 NTD for a very old and shabby place and over 25.000 NTD for a completely new apartment near the MRT station and probably with furniture, security, waste collection and more. A reasonable price would be around 16-18.000 NTD, but you have to keep looking for a while. And keep in mind, that a lot of the times you have to pay for electricity and water separately (1000-2000 NTD).

    @SinoSoul: Thanks. Yep, I know. That's why my post was shared a lot outside Taiwan, looks like it's a universal problem in bigger cities.

  5. Congrats! Hope you find what you are looking for. it might take some time, but I am sure you'll find it. ^^

  6. hey long time no visit!! Wow you're married now?! congrats! haha I'm going back to Taipei in August, can't wait :D

  7. @Pop Champagne: I'm married and try to survive in Taipei. How have you been?

  8. Wow bro that's a tough search. Your current apartment is a sweet spot.

    I am selling my house here in Kuching and we are trying to get a new one too. I guess the little one coming along does come with sweet challenges. hahaha

    I like your new blog design. It is now load faster.

  9. Good luck with the search, Nino! Property hunting is never that much fun. You must be all excited for the baby :D

  10. Hi, I'm moving to Taipei for 2 months (April and May) for immersion to learn the language. I was hoping to get a resident foreigner's perspective on what to expect.

    I've only been to Kaohsiung on business, that was 2 months ago for 4 days and that's as much as I know of Taiwan :-)

    Hope to hear back from you.

  11. @Nashe: You are so right :)

    @Mela: Best is you check my resource. Go on top to my link bar and hoover over TAIWAN. A drop-down menu will appear. Then click on "Uniquely Taiwan" or "My life in Taiwan", these are pages with lists to my posts.


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