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. However, it can be challenging when you’re looking for an apartment in Taipei but don’t speak the local language.
If you don’t have any pre-arranged accommodation before you arrive, then there are some immediate options available while searching for your apartment in Taipei.
Book a room on Airbnb
Airbnb is in Taipei, and it’s a popular choice for those looking for short-term rentals upon arrival. Airbnb have many decent listings jotted all over Taipei. As from the time of writing this, prices started from around $16 USD (NT$487) per night.
Stay at a hostel
Staying at a hostel is another popular and inexpensive choice while finding something more long-term. As it’s fairly cheap, many expats initially lodge at a hostel while searching for their apartment in Taipei. In fact, most hostels in the capital are foreign-friendly with English speaking staff at the reception.
Here are some recommended and low cost hostels in Taipei – Prices as of May 2018
Hotels in Taipei
If booking with Airbnb or at a Hostel isn’t your thing then there’s always the comfortable stay at a hotel while finding an apartment in Taipei. The hotels in Taipei typically include bars and lounges with prices varying from around $38.60 USD (NT$1,144) upwards a night. – (Including taxes & fees).
Here’s a few popular English hotel comparison sites that will find the best current offers within the heart of Taipei. Just enter in your dates of arrival and search the listings based on pricing, star ratings and reviews:
Now that you’re ready to find an apartment in Taipei…
Join the local Facebook groups
You can find many posted listings of available apartments to rent within the local Facebook groups for Taipei. Moreover, these posted 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 also has frequently posted listings on a daily basis.
The other recommended groups for apartment hunting in Taipei are:
- Looking for Roommates or an Apartment in Taipei and Taiwan
- Taipei Taiwan Apartment Rentals
- Rental Apartments in Taiwan
These groups are pretty active and have more than 15,000 members with daily postings. As a matter of fact, these groups are predominantly for foreigners, all their listed postings of available rooms and apartments are advertised in English. It’s also common to see listings get answered and snapped up within the first hour of posting.
It is therefore advisable to frequently check for posted updates within these groups as often as possible while 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. – But don’t panic, it can be translated effortlessly:
Translating Rent 591 Website
The best way around this language barrier is by 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 be 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 in 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:
“Hello, I am a foreigner. I am very interested in the introduction of your house rental. I want to make an appointment with you to visit the apartment as soon as possible.”
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 said to be 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/.
The Taipei Expats website also provides listings for available rooms to rent, shared accommodations and roommates in Taipei. All listings are in ideal locations by certified landlords, and tenancy contracts are written in English.
What is more, the site is community driven as listings are posted by members that are registered landlords, housing agencies and local expats that have rooms free to rent out.
Search for an apartment in Taipei or roommates in the classifieds at: https://taipeiexpats.com/classifieds/browse-listings/39/apartments-roommates/.
TEALIT (teaching English & 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.
You are able to search through their listings 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 that offers some updated listings on properties to rent that might be worth looking through.
Search for apartments at http://foreigner.esldewey.com.tw/taiwan-classifieds/day-to-day-taiwan/house-rental/.
My Room Abroad
If you’re coming to Taiwan as a student, then My Room Abroad (MRA) is more for you. MRA is a housing platform connecting international students with certified landlords in Taipei.
My Room Abroad has formed partnerships with some of Taipei’s prestigious and prominent local universities. In fact, it has helped develop their business model to offer short term contracts starting from 3 months!
How does My Room Abroad work?
- Simply go to myroomabroad.com and search for an available room or apartment in Taipei of your choice.
- Once you find a room you like, you can request it.
- MRA then contacts the landlord and gets a confirmation within 24 hours.
- Both, you and the landlord sign the lease contract in English, and swap contact information to discuss the arrival details.
- You can pay the deposit, first month’s rent and the service fee through their platform.
- My Room Abroad then transfers the deposit and rent to the Landlord.
The benefits of booking with My Room Abroad are that…
- All rooms are described in a structured way in order to compare them based on location, price, features…
- There is a mandatory 360° picture and video to represent each room.
- An MRA representative visits each room to certify the description and pictures are accurate.
- Landlords are screened, and their rooms will only be listed on the My Room Abroad site once they are marked as a trustworthy landlord.
- Landlords are required to have a basic knowledge of English in order to communicate with the tenants.
It’s worth noting that:
During the lease, you pay the monthly rent directly to the landlord. At the end of the lease, the deposit is paid back to you by the landlord.
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 able to see a floor plan of each location when you’re selecting an apartment from the list. 9Floor Space hosts frequent events for their residents to take part in which are subsidised if you live in a 9Floor Space property. Additionally, 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 for us. Also, she never lets us clean up, and insists that we leave the dishes for her to get, so we love living here. 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 with 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 feel you’d make 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. The app can easily switch between the map and list views, as well as selecting relevant filters to narrow down your desired search results. Once you’ve found an apartment in Taipei that 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 now show listings in Taipei. However, as they are still developing this feature, there may not be 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 are pretty helpful because they can provide a lot of information when searching for your ideal apartment in Taipei.
It’s ideal to contact them using the LINE app rather than WhatsApp or WeChat as it’s the Taiwanese version of messenger apps. If you don’t have the app, you can download LINE from here.
Since they can be fairly hard to find, we have provided a list below of some recommendable estate agents in Taipei:
1. Jerry’s Realty – Expats Housing in Taipei
- Contact Haitung on (tel) 02283 31336
- Service charge: 50% of first month’s rent.
- Contact Roy Hsu on (tel): 02850 97711
- Service charge: 50% of first month’s rent.
3. Angloinfo Property Taipei – Rentals and homes for rent in Taipei
- Contact reception on (email): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Service charge: Between 50% to 100% of first month’s rent.
4. City & Urban International – Rapidly expanding property consultancy in Taipei.
- Contact reception on (tel): 02283 63005
- Service charge: Between 50% to 100% of first month’s rent.
But be careful when using the estate agents…
Many experienced expats in Taiwan advise newcomers to be wary when dealing with the estate agents in Taipei. Many realtors in the city may try to push customers into the most expensive tenancy agreement possible. For example, if you give them a strict upper limit of NT$10,000, it’s likely that they’ll find places that are NT$13,000 to NT$15,000, and try to get you to pay that by hinting the difference isn’t all that much. In addition to the costs, if you use an agent, you are required to pay them anything between 50% to 100% of a month’s rent for their services.
Make local friends
It’s easier to make friends in Taiwan than you might think. In fact, many foreigners often share how easy it is to build and maintain local friendships in Taiwan than in many other countries.
A local friend can be a huge asset in your search for an apartment in Taipei, so don’t be afraid to reach out as locals are typically very willing to help foreigners. For instance, taking a local or a bilingual friend with you to the apartment viewings allows you to translate with the landlord. Moreover, you can communicate exactly what you want from the tenancy agreement. Fully understanding what the landlord expects will give you peace of mind.
Good luck, and happy apartment hunting!
Last updated: May 2018 – Taipei.Expats