An Expat Guide: 5 Tips to Finding an Apartment in Taiwan

Kaohsiung, TaiwanSeeing as we are moving next week to a new apartment (hello ginormous kitchen, yoga room, and modern bathroom! Yay!), and due to the fact that our previous landlords are mean, mean, no good, people, I was inspired to write this post to help any newbies to Taiwan in need of an apartment.

We’ve all been there-new to the city, living out of a hostel, or couch surfing, and looking for a place to live. Ah! But you don’t speak Chinese? Well, things might be a bit tricky.

 5 Tips for Finding an Apartment in Taiwan:

1. Visit Air Bnb or for those of you in Kaohsiung, Kaohsiung Living to find rooms to rent by the month.                     

There are many expats offering extra rooms for rent in their apartments, and it is practical for many reasons. First, you can stay with someone who can offer you some pointers when you first arrive. At the same time, it gives you a chance to look around different areas of the city before committing to a lease, while also allowing time to find a job and choose an apartment close to your school. The last situation you want to be in is to living out of a hostel and desperate to sign a lease. This is what happened to us when we first got here, and it’s not ideal.

2.  Whatever you do, do not trust the local leasing agent who constantly advertises himself on Kaohsiung Living!                                             

This man tried to rip us off when we first moved here, and not only can he not be trusted, he is also sexist. The whole time we were viewing the apartment, he refused to answer my questions, and instead responded to Dominic. At one point, he even told him to “tell me to be quiet”. That’s when we decided we had had enough, and walked out.

I’m disappointed to hear that KNS just started using him as their leasing agent. So future or current KNS teachers beware. I can’t stress enough how awful this man’s business ethics are.

3.  Shit. I already went through Jacky Golf (or another leasing agent). What now?                                                                                               

First of all, take a few deep breaths. Okay, now that you are centered, know that not all is lost. If you already signed a contract through Jacky, then I would take these steps:

A. If you are currently wiring money to his bank account every month, I would find out who the landlord is (this is where your new Taiwanese friends come in handy!) and contact them directly to find out how much the rent is. Chances are it is at least $1-3,000NT less than what you are paying Jacky.

B. Once you have contacted the landlord, offer to pay them directly each month instead of going through Jacky.  If they say no, then offer to pay them $500-$1000NT more than the actual lease (not the “lease amount” that Jacky told you). That way you are still saving money, your landlord is making a bit more, and Jacky is no longer making a profit from you.

I just want to make it clear. A leasing agent is supposed to get a one- time commission fee at the signing of the contract. He/she is not supposed to raise the amount of the rent to make a commission every single month. This is stealing.

4. Negotiate.

Don’t be embarrassed to play hardball. This is going to be your home for a year or maybe more, so get the best deal you can now, because you will not be able to change it later. And don’t feel bad about doing so, because there are more apartments in Kaohsiung (I’m not sure about Taipei and other cities) than there are tenants. They need you!

A. Negotiate the amount of the lease.

Before you start negotiating, pick a price that you are willing to pay. Start low and chances are they will meet you in the middle. Don’t be scared to say no if they don’t accept your offer. Walk away. And then call them in a couple of days. Chances are they might have changed their mind.

B. Negotiate the amount of the deposit.

They might ask you for 3 months deposit. 2 months is standard. But beware, because contracts here mean nothing. Our last landlords, for instance, went bankrupt and had no deposit to return. With our new landlords, we negotiated the terms to give them 1 month’s deposit and the last month’s rent.

However, if you happen to do something horrible to the apartment, and they deserve another month’s deposit to repair the damage, hopefully you will do the honest thing and give it to them. But what I learned the hard way , is that you can’t force someone to pay you money they owe you (we even hired a lawyer and that didn’t work), especially if you are in a foreign country.

5. Make sure it’s stated in the lease that they are responsible for repairing appliances that break while you are living in their apartment.

If you wake up one morning and your fridge is broken, you will be thankful you took the time to do so.

If you have any more questions, feel free to contact me and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Helpful links:

591 offers a great database for apartments in Taiwan.

Do you have another tip to add? Maybe you have a story about leasing an apartment in Taiwan? If so, please share!

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Comments

  1. Great tips! I’m going to pass these on to my friend who is looking to move there soon. Thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels 🙂

  2. Great tips, especially the bit about Jacky Golf. We paid him an upfront fee to find an apartment for us and gave him three simple criteria, location, number of rooms and general decorative order. He showed us six places NONE of which were anywhere near the location we wanted, had the number of bedrooms we wanted and they were all dire. He then told us we were too fussy. . . and no we didn’t get our money back. Use an established estate agency that will only charge once you’ve found a place.

    • He is pretty fussy isn’t he? When we said we didn’t like the place (it was a dump!) that he showed us, he got really angry and said that he “was doing us a favor, and wasn’t making any money”. When we asked to see some place nicer, I swear I saw a vein burst in his forehead. That guy is as unreal as he is dishonest.

      Hope you ended up finding a good place in the long run!

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