How to Find an Apartment in Taipei When You Don’t Speak Chinese
Moving to Taiwan is an adventurous and exciting step towards a new life abroad, but it can be challenging when you’re looking for a place to live and you don’t speak Chinese.
If you’re an expat, and you don’t have any pre-arranged accommodation organised by yourself or employer in place before you arrive, then there are a few options available that will give you an immediate accommodation while searching for an apartment.
Booking with Airbnb is in Taiwan, and it’s a popular choice for those looking for short-term rentals while they stay in the country. Airbnb have many listings scattered all over Taipei, and of the time of writing this, prices can start from around $16 USD (NT$487) upwards per night.
Booking a hostel is another popular choice to book a hostel room for an extended period of time while searching for an apartment. Most hostels in Taipei, if not all, are foreigner friendly with English speaking staff at the reception. To get you started, here’s a few popular English hostel comparison sites that find the best current offers for Taipei: Booking.com, Hostel World.com and Asiayo.com.
Booking a Hotel: If Airbnb and Hostels are not your thing, many don’t, and prefer the comfortable and conventional hotel stay. Most hotels will range between 2 to 5 stars, with prices (depending on the grade of hotel of course) go from $13 USD (NT$382) upwards per night. To get you started, here’s a few popular English hotel comparison sites that find the best current offers for Taipei: Booking.com, Agoda.com and Ctrip.com.
Join the local Facebook groups
You can find many posted listings of available apartments to rent within the local Facebook groups for Taipei. The listings usually include the location, a description of the rent, the utilities, and photographs of the room(s). One of the most popular apartment rental groups in Taipei is the Taipei Taiwan Apartment Rentals group, which has frequently posted listing on a daily basis.
The other recommended groups for apartment hunting in Taipei are:
- Looking for Roommates or Apartments in Taipei and Taiwan
- Taipei Taiwan Apartment Rentals
- Rental Apartments in Taiwan
These groups are pretty active and have more than 14,000 members with daily postings. As these groups are predominantly for foreigners, all their listed postings of available rooms and apartments are advertised in English. As these groups are active, it’s common to see listings get answered and snapped up all within the first hour of posting.
It is therefore strongly advisable to frequently check for posted updates within these groups as often as possible while you’re searching for an apartment. If you find a listing that you’re interested in, send a private message to arrange a viewing as soon as possible.
Search in the best websites
The Rent 591 website is one of Taiwan’s most popular accommodation search sites, unfortunately however, it’s all in Chinese.
Translating Rent 591 Website
The best way around this language barrier is using the automatic translation feature in the Google Chrome browser. To enable this feature in Chrome, go to its settings (chrome://settings/), and scroll down to the ‘languages‘ heading. Switch on the button for ‘Offer to translate pages that aren’t in a language you read‘ and restart Chrome. The translation should give you a reasonable idea of what you’re searching, as you apply filters and navigate through their endless listing results.
Once you’ve found a listing that you’re interested in, you can go ahead and contact them by their phone number that should found in the sidebar or at the bottom of the listing page. It’s very likely that you’ll be contacting a landlord that doesn’t speak any English, so your messages should me written in Chinese. If you don’t have anyone around to help you, such as a local or a friend that can speak and write Chinese, then the next best method would be to try your chances with Google Translate.
It’s best to initiate a conversation by stating that you’re a foreigner, and that you would like to view their listing as soon as possible. To help you make a good start, we’ve translated that for you! You can simply copy and paste the following Chinese into your first message:
Please note: Appreciate that you may not get a response. Some landlords may feel apprehensive about dealing with foreign tenants due to the language barrier when collecting rent or the need to contact you for whatever reason. However, many foreigners are successful with Rent 591, so it’s always worth a try! Search for apartments in the Rent 591 listings at https://rent.591.com.tw/.
TEALIT (teaching English and living in Taiwan) is a website that offers teaching resources, jobs and apartment listings for those who wish to teach and live in Taiwan. Their classified section is easily accessible from their front page which allows you to search for apartments and roommates. Search for apartments and roommates in the classifieds at http://www.tealit.com/.
ESLDewey is another website that provides relevant resources for teaching, working, learning and living in Taiwan. They have a Taiwan community of Foreigners web page that offers some updated listings on properties to rent that might be worth looking through. Search for apartments at The Taiwan Community of Foreigners.
9Floor Space is a foreign friendly company with English speaking staff that provides a shared accommodation in Taipei. They offer an alternative concept of accommodation by getting diverse communities of roommates together to live in one of their many shared co-housing apartments all across Taipei.
One of the best qualities of 9Floor Space, is that they offer short lease contracts from any length of stay between 1 month and upwards!
9Floor Space offers a selection of apartment types to choose from:
- Serenity apartments, housing about 4 to 5 reclusive roommates with no communal gatherings.
- Community Apartments, housing an average of 7 to 8 roommates with the occasional communal activities.
- 9Floor Black, a shared co-living apartment of 3 to 4 rooms.
- Cross-generation Apartments, where you’d simply share the property with the homeowner by renting one of their spare rooms, which in some cases, you get your own ensuite.
Each location of these apartments are labelled by their apartment type and rent price by a shaded color code. You are also able to see a floor plan of each location when you selecting an apartment from the list. 9Floor Space host frequent events for their residents to take part in which are also subsidised if you live in a 9floors property. Also, if you ever decide to start your own communal event of any kind, you can apply for some funding from them, and host an event at one of their properties!
We got in touch with one of the tenants of 9Floor Space at one of the cross-generation apartments to share some of his experience with us,
“So we live in our house and the landlady will buy food for us to eat, there’s always fruit and vegetables in the fridge. She is a really caring older Taiwanese lady who often cooks food for us. Also, she never lets us clean up, and insists that we leave the dishes for her to get. We love living here, and I think the company has a great concept that could be really important as housing prices keep increasing and short term tenancies become rarer.”
If you are interested in any of these apartments, and wish to apply for a viewing, you’d need to complete their resident form by describing yourself and a few details about your life. After you’ve read and agreed to their terms of service, match the required move in date, and that they are happy you’d be a positive contribution to the community, you’d then be eligible for a viewing of any of their apartments.
Here is the 9Floor Space website.
Ensure you read their terms of service.
Using the Spacious app
Spacious is an app that allows you to search for properties in Taipei on a simple, user friendly interface in English. You can easily switch between map and list views, and easily select relevant filters to narrow down your desired search results. Once you’ve found the apartment you’ve been looking for, you can chat to local agents and landlords directly using our in-app chat function.
The Spacious app is based in Hong Kong, but they have started to expand their app coverage to show listings in Taipei as their developers are currently working hard to encourage more Taipei real estate agencies to post listings on their site. However, this is still a developing feature of their app, so there aren’t very many Taipei listings.
Contact the Taipei estate agents
There are many real estate agents in Taipei that speak a decent level of English. The estate agents can be pretty helpful because they can provide you with a lot of information when searching for your ideal apartment in this foreign country.
But should you actually go through the estate agents to rent an apartment?
Many experienced Taipei expats that we surveyed said no. The most popular explanation was that most realtors in Taipei are out to get you into the most expensive place possible. For example, if you give them a strict upper limit of, say, NT$10,000, it’s likely that they’ll find places that are NT$13,000-NT$15,000, and try to get you to pay that by hinting that the difference isn’t all that much. It’s also important to remember that if you use an agent, you are required to pay them anything between 50% to 100% of a month’s rent to them for their services.
Since they can be fairly hard to find, we have provided a list below of the most recommended estate agents in Taipei:
Searching for rentals in Taipei?
With expat second-home owners all over the globe and a network of local and international real estate agents, Angloinfo Property brings you a unique collection of rentals and homes for rent in Taipei.
Angloinfo Property brings you a unique collection of rentals and homes for rent in Taipei.
Contact (email): firstname.lastname@example.org
Service charge: Between 50% – 100% of first month’s rent
City & Urban International is a renowned, award winning and rapidly expanding property consultancy, establishing a strong presence in some of the world’s most exotic and sought-after locations, covering all aspects of rental in overseas property.
Contact (tel): +886 (0) 228363005
Service charge: Between 50% – 100% of first month’s rent
Make local friends
It’s easier to make friends in Taiwan than you might think. East Asian and Western foreigners alike often report that they have an easier time building and maintaining local friendships in Taiwan than in other countries.
A local friend can be a huge asset in your search for an apartment, so don’t be afraid to reach out as locals are typically very willing to help foreigners. It’s advisable to you ask your friend if it is possible to come with you to the apartment viewings in order to translate between you and the landlord in order for you to communicate exactly what you want from the tenancy agreement, as well as what’s to be expected.
Last updated: February 2018 – Taipei.Expats