Expats moving to Taiwan can expect to find plenty of accommodation options available to them. Although accommodation in Taiwan can be relatively expensive, there are so many properties on offer that, with a bit of patience and ingenuity, new arrivals are sure to find a comfortable, reasonably priced place to rent.
Some Taiwanese employers will provide foreign employees with a housing allowance over and above their basic salary, while other companies may provide free accommodation. Considering the high costs, it's worth negotiating this as part of an employment package, especially if relocating specifically for work purposes.
Types of accommodation in Taiwan
Most expats live in apartments. Houses aren't very common, particularly in dense urban areas such as Taipei and Kaohsiung, although they can be found in suburban areas on the peripheries of Taiwanese cities. The small, studio-style variety is the most commonly available type of apartment, especially in city centres. Generally, accommodation and room sizes are smaller than some new arrivals may be used to, especially those from the US.
Most apartments have air conditioning installed (Taiwan is very hot in summer), but central heating is uncommon. It's also possible to find apartment blocks with indoor swimming pools and gyms, but these tend to be expensive.
Taiwan is a very safe destination with some of the lowest crime rates in the world. Expats can rest assured that home security won't be an issue during their time here. That said, some apartment blocks employ security guards for the apartment block foyers (a cost included in the rent).
Detached and semi-detached houses are rare in Taiwanese cities but are more common in the suburbs and rural areas. These properties can offer larger living spaces and even gardens, which can be a big advantage for families with children. Additionally, these options might provide a more tranquil living environment with less noise and more privacy. However, they tend to be quite costly, especially in the areas close to the city.
Furnished or unfurnished
Although some apartments are furnished, most apartments in Taiwan will come unfurnished. It's relatively easy to buy second-hand furniture and appliances, with online marketplaces, thrift shops and online expat communities being good places to start.
Short lets and unserviced apartments
Short-term rentals and unserviced apartments can be a convenient option for those staying in Taiwan for a few months. These come furnished and usually include utilities in the rent. Some even offer weekly cleaning services.
However, they are more expensive on a monthly basis than standard leases, and due to local regulations, they might be less prevalent on the market. It's best to explore these options through online rental portals or agencies catering to the expat community.
Finding accommodation in Taiwan
Finding an apartment in Taiwan can be difficult, especially if one doesn't speak Mandarin. Foreigners can search for accommodation through online property portals (some with English postings) and expat social media groups.
Otherwise, new arrivals should contact a local real estate agent directly. Many Taiwanese estate agents won't be able to speak English, but there are some agencies that cater specifically for the expat market.
Those looking for accommodation should ensure they can view the property in person before committing to it, as the quality of many listed properties may not match what is presented in the listing.
- 591 Real Estate – One of the largest online property portals in Taiwan with English language support.
- Tealit – A website that offers a wide range of resources for foreigners in Taiwan, including property listings.
Renting accommodation in Taiwan
Many expats rent in Taiwan's capital. Accommodation in Taipei is relatively expensive compared to the rest of the island, but it varies according to the area. Neighbourhoods such as Xinyi, Da'an and Tamsui are popular among expats and can offer a good balance of amenities and affordability.
One- to two-year leases are common. If securing a lease through an agent, expats must pay an agent's fee, typically one month's rent.
While some landlords allow tenants to keep pets, this is not always the case. Prospective tenants with pets should communicate this to the landlord or agent in advance to avoid potential disagreements. Be aware that some apartments that allow pets might have restrictions on the type and size of the pets, and an additional pet deposit might be required.
References and background checks
While references are not commonly requested, some landlords may want a letter of employment or proof of income. Background checks are not typically conducted on foreign tenants.
Typically, rental deposits in Taiwan are between one and three months' rent. This deposit is refundable at the end of the rental contract, provided that no damage has been done to the apartment.
Utilities in Taiwan
Sometimes rental prices in Taiwan include utilities such as building maintenance and garbage disposal. Tenants must pay their own water and electricity bills, which are relatively low. Most Taiwanese apartments already have internet connections installed. In these cases, the landlord would usually have included the cost of internet in the rent. Note that Taiwan uses 110V for its electricity supply.
Utilities and bills can be paid at convenience stores, the post office, the bank or through the landlord. It's also possible to set up a direct debit at the bank.
Gas and electric
Gas and electricity are typically not included in the rent and must be paid separately. Taiwan uses both gas and electricity for cooking and heating, depending on the apartment setup. The cost of gas often depends on the number of gas appliances in the apartment. These utilities can be paid through various channels, including convenience stores and post offices.
Water bills are generally the responsibility of the tenant and are relatively inexpensive. As with other utilities, water can be paid at convenience stores, banks, post offices or directly to the landlord.
Bins and recycling
Taiwan has set up strict recycling guidelines. Tenants must separate their trash into cardboard, aluminium, plastic and glass. Each group of materials needs to be bagged separately in the corresponding coloured bag and placed in the designated collection area. Note that different cities in Taiwan use different coloured bags, which can usually be purchased at local convenience stores.
Trash is typically collected daily. Many buildings have a designated area for collection, but in some cases, tenants must run out when they hear the bin lorry coming and throw their trash in the truck themselves. These trucks usually play a jingle that makes it easy to identify.
Keeping in touch
Internet and phone services are widely available across Taiwan. Many apartments come with an existing internet connection. For those that don't, setting up a new connection is straightforward, and there are multiple service providers to choose from. Mobile phone contracts are also easy to set up, with prepaid and monthly plans available from various providers.
- Taiwan Power Company – Main electricity provider in Taiwan.
- Taipei Water Department – Official website of the Taipei Water Department for information about water supply in Taipei.
- Department of Environmental Protection, Taipei City Government – Website providing information about waste disposal and recycling in Taipei.
- Chunghwa Telecom – Leading telecommunications provider offering internet and phone services.
- English Services in Taipei – A resource from the Taipei City Government listing services available in English, including utility services.
► For an idea of monthly living costs, read Cost of Living in Taiwan
► Read Working in Taiwan for an overview of the job market
"There are many options available and many websites and groups on Facebook that are helpful. There are rooms, apartments, lofts, houses, and shared accommodation available to rent." Read about Melanie's expat experience living in Taiwan.
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Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Taiwan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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