Accommodation in Taiwan
Expats moving to Taiwan can expect to find plenty of accommodation options available to them. Although housing in Taiwan can be relatively expensive, there is so much on offer, that – with a little patience and ingenuity – expats are sure to find a comfortable, reasonably-priced place to rent while in the country.
Renting Property in Taiwan
Most expats tend to live in apartments, as houses are not very common in Taiwan. The most commonly available type of apartment is the small, studio-style variety. Larger apartments are available, but expats generally share these, as rent is considerably higher. Rental prices in Taipei City are much higher than places further out from the CBD, so those looking for more space at an affordable price, should consider renting in Taipei County.
Most Taiwanese employers will not provide you with a housing allowance over and above your basic salary. Accommodation in Taipei city is relatively expensive compared to the rest of the country, but it varies according to the area in which you live. A loft apartment in a trendy area can cost upwards of TWD 20,000; while a large room in a (shared) three-bedroom apartment will cost about TWD 10,000. Sometimes rental prices will include utilities such as building maintenance and garbage disposal. Expats must pay their own water and electricity bills, but these are relatively low.
Most apartments have air conditioners installed (Taiwan is very hot in summer), but central heating is not common. It is possible to find apartment blocks with indoor swimming pools and gyms, but these are very expensive.
The process of finding an apartment in Taiwan can be difficult, especially if one doesn't speak Mandarin. Many expats use www.tealit.com to look for housing, but there are many more options available if you can find a local to help you to search Chinese-language web sites. If you do not have a Taiwanese friend or colleague to help you, it may be worth scanning the area you want to live in for estate agents who can speak English. If you go through an agent, however, expect to pay an agent’s fee of at least one month's rent. Additionally, most landlords will charge one or two month's rent as a deposit, refundable at the end of one year. You can try to negotiate a discount on these extra costs.
Most apartments in Taiwan will come furnished. However, it is also relatively easy to buy second-hand furniture and appliances from the expat community. Again, www.tealit.com is a useful resource in this regard.
Taiwan is a very safe society, and expats can rest assured that home security will not be an issue during their time in the country. Locking your doors and windows when you go out is more than enough of a deterrent, although some apartment blocks do employ security guards in the foyers (a cost which is included in the rent).
Buying Property in Taiwan
Although not a popular option due to the prohibitively high prices, it is possible for expats of most nations to buy property in Taiwan. Foreign nationals wishing to buy property in Taiwan must ensure the following:
- That they possess an Alien Registration Card (ARC)
- That nationals of Taiwan are allowed to buy property in the expat's country of origin (this is the 'reciprocity rule' – for a list of qualifying countries, see www.land.moi.gov.tw/onlinebill/744-n1.pdf
- That they apply to the Ministry of Economic Affairs for approval
- That the purpose of buying the property is for personal use or investment only – foreigners are not allowed to trade on Taiwanese property for profit
- That they do not already own, or co-own, any property in Taiwan (foreigners are only allowed to own one piece of Taiwanese real estate)