Apartment in Taipei/districts/miscellaneous

Hello Everybody

I just registered, but I’ve been lurking for a few months, and I’d like to start out by thanking everybody for the tons of useful, funny and interesting information I’ve already received.

I’d also like to apologize in advance for asking about apartments, since questions about finding a home in Taiwan have been asked many times. However, even though many of the replies in some of the other threads have been helpful to me, I’d like advice on my specific situation (although in the end it probably isn’t very different from that of many others).

Alright, so I’ve received a Huayu Enrichment Scholarship, and will be attending the MTC of NTNU in Taipei for 9 months, starting september. The scholarship is 25,000NT per month, and while I’ve been informed (by the application documents, as well as by the homepage of the MTC) that this should be enough to cover living costs and tuition, I’m somewhat skeptical of that. After tuition, I’ll have 14,200NT each month, although savings/loans/parental charity will probably net me another 5000NT a month, which still isn’t a fortune.

With this in mind, I’d like to find a cheap place, I’m thinking 10,000NT max. I’d prefer a studio apartment over sharing a flat, but I’m flexible. I’m still not very familiar with the layout of the city (never having been there), and I’ve yet to find any good maps that clearly show the districts of the city (travelwiki has such a map, but it doesn’t include New Taipei), so I don’t really have any preferences concerning where to live. I’d obviously prefer to live close to NTNU, but I don’t mind commuting, within reason. From my initial research on these forums and elsewhere, Zhonghe sounds like it might be ideal - not too far away, good metro access (at least in parts of Zhonghe), and not too expensive. Any suggestions or thoughts on this would be very welcome. If anyone has a link to a good map, that would be welcome too. More in-depth information on the different districts would obviously be very much appreciated, but that might be too much to ask for. :slight_smile:

My plan so far is to go to Taiwan in mid-august and check into a cheap hostel - World Scholar House sounds nice, and judging from the name, I might even be able to find someone there who could give me some tips in my housing search, and maybe help a bit with translation - which would give me 2-3 weeks to get the feel of the city and find a place to live. The main problem is that I don’t speak, understand or read any Chinese, or as close as to make no difference. I’ve been looking at some of the suggested sites and have pretty much discounted sites likes craigslist, taipeirentals101 and everything else in English. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I’ve gotten the impression that it should be possible to find something cheaper and/or better than what’s currently available at those sites. 591.com looks promising, but it’s in Chinese and using google translate robs me of the possibility of using the search function (on that note, could somebody please recommend a better translator, or possibly furnish with a link to a 591 search of apartments in Zhonghe for males, price 5000-10,000NT?). In the end it seems likely that I’ll have to rely on Mama Tsuei, but their website is severely off-putting (I have to send them a copy of my passport to sign up?), and someone in another thread here mentioned that he didn’t think they were much help.

I should also mention that I know that there’s some sort of notice board for housing and such at the MTC, which has apparantly helped other people find a place to live. It will be one of my first stops in Taiwan, but I’d still like to have a general idea of what to look for, as well as a backup plan, in case that doesn’t work out.

Also, what’s this about rats? Are they really that common in Taipei? What about insects? Yes, I’m squeamish. :slight_smile:

Finally, and a bit off-topic, I’m interested in reading up on Taiwanese history. I’m a graduate student of history, and my main interest is late Qing, but I only have a peripheral knowledge of Taiwanese history, and almost none of modern Taiwanese history. Can anyone recommend a good book that covers the basics? I’m also interested in knowing if there are any good travel shows covering Taiwan. I saw the Lonely Planet one, but they covered Taipei in about 5 minutes. Is there anything a bit more in-depth? Recommendations for a good travel guide book would also be appreciated, for my first weeks there. Should I just pick up the Lonely Planet one?

Thanks for taking your time to read this. Hopefully someone will be able to answer at least a few of my questions. :slight_smile:

Zhonghe has been called many things. But “ideal” is probably not among them. Still, you could do worse than some places there. Here’s something important to understand about living here: Distances (in terms of miles/km) don’t matter. The important thing is how long it takes to get from point A to point B. So don’t base your decisions on how far apart places look on a map.

No more than in any other big city. I wouldn’t worry about them.

Did you know that Taiwan has some big-ass cockroaches? And they can fly! :laughing:

Just exercise some common sense when choosing a place to live and don’t leave food lying about.

See this thread: [url=http://tw.forumosa.com/t/books-on-taiwan-something-for-everyone/9675/1 on Taiwan: something for everyone[/url].

There’s Fun Taiwan, by the ubiquitous Janet Hsieh. (Seriously: It seems you can’t go 50 feet outside without seeing her face on an ad or product.) I wouldn’t call the show “in depth;” but it’s certainly more than 5 minutes long. The show has been running for about a decade.

The Lonely Planet guide for Taiwan is good, as is the Bradt guide. The authors of both are regulars on Forumosa. If you had to pick up just one, as a history grad student you might prefer Steven Crook’s Bradt guide. But either is a safe choice.

And rightly so. Been there, done that: it’s not enough. And I don’t even drink (that much :slight_smile: ). Also take into account you need to pay tuition and apartment deposit before you even see your first scholarship.

One thing to note is that Shida MTC is expensive. You can also consider Chinese Culture University’s Mandarin Learning Center nearby: mlc.sce.pccu.edu.tw/ which is much cheaper. I have no first-hand experience with it (I attended Shida), but how much you learn mostly depends on your attitude and the teacher you get, and the latter is a lottery anyway.

A word of advice: look for signs of bad teaching once classes begin, and change classes immediately if necessary. This is a race against time (and your fellow classmates, unfortunately), not everyone will have a good teacher in the end.

I’d say 10,000 TWD is actually quite a budget for a shared apartment (especially if you don’t include utilities). 2 years ago I rented a large, 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment for 30,000 TWD, and rented out two remaining rooms for 9,000 TWD and 11,000 TWD each. And that was a prime spot, directly opposite Shida MTC and some five minutes’ walk. (The apartment itself was also nice.)

Why not just use Google Maps? I’ve found it to be the most convenient to use. There’s also pinyin, although with some errors (most ridiculously, Muzha Rd was recently “corrected” to Mushan Rd, and Minquan is still Minguan I think). But, by Taiwanese standards where every sign has a different romanization, it’s nothing at all.

You need to consider two things:

  1. Commuting everyday will eat another 1,000-2,000 TWD of your budget. There are no monthly tickets here, you pay every time you take bus or MRT. The student discount is on buses only, and minimal.

  2. At Shida, unless you take intensive classes (even more expensive), you need to attend “large classes” and library hours. The schedules are most often non-contiguous, ie. there are times you will have 2/4/6-hour wait between your regular (“small”) class, and the large class of your first choice. In practice this means that sometimes you will either (a) want to go back home between the classes or (b) give up on some more interesting large classes because the wait would be too long. For this reason, it’s convenient to live close to Shida when studying there, even though the area is not very liveable (well, at least not unless you increase your budget a lot).

Zhonghe is a dump. And you don’t need MRT, because there is no station close to Shida MTC anyway (it’s an 8-minute walk from Taipower Bldg or 10 minutes from Guting, but it’s hardly convenient to do it everyday - trust me, I did it). Instead, you should consider the buses, which are frequent, convenient, and fast enough for shorter distances. Even without knowing Chinese, you can click on bus icons in Google maps to see which lines stop where, and find the one that works best for you.

Also take into account that if you live outside Taipei City, you cannot do any of the ARC/visa extension paperwork (of which there will be a lot) in the usual place (near MRT Xiaonanmen), but need to go somewhere farther (I think Banqiao).

The areas around Liuzhangli and Linguang stations east of Shida are conveniently close to the MTC, and also should be cheaper. The first one also has a lot of nightlife and eating-out options. Even farther down south along the brown MRT line, Muzha has some great places to live, and the rents are lower. Muzha is particularly convenient if you live along the MRT. You’d then take the brown line to Technology Building, and transfer to a bus for the last leg (lots of lines, very frequent services).

West of Shida and Guting (Heping W Rd, etc.), the rents should generally be lower than to the east, because the buildings are mostly older. This area has a nice, traditional feel, but there might not be as much commerce as to the east. There also might not be a lot of supply.

You can also negotiate a weekly rent in a love hotel (a hotel that lets out rooms, usually without windows, by the hour). For a few hundred dollars per night, you’d generally get your own room you don’t need to share with anyone, and an en suite bathroom. The Good Ground Hotel in Ximending is one good choice (and also in a nice area to experience Taipei for the first time).

I was trying to give you a link, but there is too much scripting there and the URL doesn’t change as you refine the search. So go to rent.591.com.tw/ and from the second drop-down list near the top of the page choose “新北市” (Xinbei City). Another list will appear, choose “中和區” (Zhonghe District - remember, you asked for it :slight_smile: ). Then, from the fourth drop-down list choose the second option for apartments, third for independent studios, and the fourth one for shared studios. You can type the price range next to the symbol 元.

Seriously though, if you really want to use 591, start using Firefox (if you’re not doing it already), and install the “Mandarin Pop-up” add on. You can then read Chinese, more or less. This will get you started, but then you still need someone to talk to the landlord on the phone, so why not get a get a Taiwanese friend (post an ad for language exchange). You can also check out the bulletin board you mentioned, it’s on the 5th floor of Shida MTC (Boai) Building, there are a lot of apartment ads there.

Rats, no. Cockroaches are. All major species of cockroach (American, German, Japanese, Oriental) are well represented in Taiwan. The Japanese cockroach might have actually originated in Taiwan, and then migrated to Okinawa, where it was first discovered (earning it the name).

Lonely Planet is a good choice. It’s comprehensive, well-written, and makes a nice read. Just take it with a pinch of salt, some of the reviews are too optimistic. I don’t think there is a single criticism there (I think Puli was made fun of in the previous editions, but this section has now disappeared, am I right?).

Yeah, I’m starting to understand the distance thing, but I don’t really have any idea of how long any given commute in Taipei would take, and I don’t really know the differences between the different districts, so I’m just going by what looks nice and convenient on google maps. What’s wrong with Zhonghe, though, and do you have any recommendations, considering that price and commute time are probably the most important considerations?

I’ve also been looking at Wenshan and Xindian. Are those cheap/expensive compared to the rest of Taipei, and is there something horribly wrong with those districts that I should know about?

[quote]Did you know that Taiwan has some big-ass cockroaches? And they can fly! :laughing:

Just exercise some common sense when choosing a place to live and don’t leave food lying about.[/quote]

Damn! I’d prefer rats, to be honest. I don’t suppose flamethrowers are legal in Taiwan? At least tell me that there aren’t any giant spiders or, god forbid, centipedes.

Thanks. I’ve read through the thread, and Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan, by Jonathan Manthorpe, seems like a good place to start.

Thanks. I found some clips on youtube, but found the hostess a bit annoying. I did manage to find some episodes of a show called Travelogue, which was pretty good. Here’s a link, in case anyone else is interested.

Thanks. I’ll check out the Bradt guide.

I’m still interested in hearing of any experiences with Mama Tsuei. Can I expect them to be able to help me, or should I just resign myself to finding a place on my own (if that’s even possible without speaking Chinese)?

Sorry, I missed your post in my last reply Doraemonster. You managed to ninja me, while I was typing. :slight_smile:

It’s a great post, though, lot’s of useful info, including some things I hadn’t even considered.

Yeah, that first month will probably be a bit tight. Hopefully, I’ll be able to earn some money over the next month and a half, which should help a lot. Otherwise, I’ll have to remind my parents that they “owe” me two years worth of birthday and christmas presents. :slight_smile:

[quote]One thing to note is that Shi-Da MTC is expensive. You can also consider Chinese Culture University’s Mandarin Learning Center nearby: mlc.sce.pccu.edu.tw/ which is much cheaper. I have no first-hand experience with it (I attended Shi-Da), but how much you learn mostly depends on your attitude and the teacher you get, and the latter is a lottery anyway.

A word of advice: look for signs of bad teaching once classes begin, and change classes immediately if necessary. This is a race against time (and your fellow classmates, unfortunately), not everyone will have a good teacher in the end.[/quote]

Yeah, I know it’s quite expensive. I actually applied to some other school, too (I forget the name), but withdrew my application when I was accepted at the MTC. When I first had to select the schools I wanted to attend, I had no idea which one to choose, so I just googled around a bit, and picked those two more or less at random. I’ve since realized that the MTC is actually a highly respected school (right?), and I prefer to stick with it, even though it’s a bit more expensive. Also, I may have a connection to a guy already studying there, who would then be able to give me some pointers on which teachers to avoid.

Thanks for the tip, though, it’s much appreciated.

I was hoping to include utilities in the 10,000NT. :smiley:

Hopefully that will be possible. I don’t suppose you have any idea what utilities for a small room would cost? Electricity usage would probably be on the low end (charging my phone, using my lap top, maybe a few hours of tv a week, and of course lights), I don’t particularly want or need AC (although if the heat gets too bad, I might buy a small electric fan). Is heating even an issue? I live in Denmark and I haven’t turned on my radiator for ~10 years.

Don’t get me wrong, I love google maps, and I have been using it. It’s just hard to get a sense of the different districts, since they’re just names on the map, and there are no borders or anything like that. The other map I was talking about was this one, but as I said it leaves out New Taipei (and probably other stuff, too). Anyway, I know that the exact borders and such aren’t really that important, I’m just trying to wrap my head around the layout of the city, and getting a rough estimate of the different districts would be helpful.

The directions you give in your post makes this unnecessary, though, and I’m quite able to find the places you mention using google maps, so thanks. :slight_smile:

[quote]You need to consider two things:

  1. Commuting everyday will eat another 1,000-2,000 TWD of your budget. There are no monthly tickets here, you pay every time you take bus or MRT. The student discount is on buses only, and minimal.

  2. At Shi-Da, unless you take intensive classes (even more expensive), you need to attend “large classes” and library hours. The schedules are most often non-contiguous, ie. there are times you will have 2/4/6-hour wait between your regular (“small”) class, and the large class of your first choice. In practice this means that sometimes you will either (a) want to go back home between the classes or (b) give up on some more interesting large classes because the wait would be too long. For this reason, it’s convenient to live close to Shi-Da when studying there, even though the area is not very liveable (well, at least not unless you increase your budget a lot).[/quote]

Thanks, that’s definitely worth considering. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how the public transportation works, and I was assuming there was some sort of monthly pass. So basically I’ll have to buy a new ticket each time I get on a bus/train? Or do they have some system where you can use the same ticket within, say an hour of buying it? On that note, do they have a unified ticket system, or does each company (assuming there are more than one) have its own? Also, do they have a zoning system, so that prices rise with distance? And what is the cost of a ticket?

Sorry for that slew of questions. :slight_smile:

edit: I’m taking the intensive classes, btw, so downtime between classes shouldn’t be a problem, although I expect to make good use of the NTNU library anyway, so it probably wouldn’t be that much of an issue either way.

[quote]Zhonghe is a dump. And you don’t need MRT, because there is no station close to Shi-Da MTC anyway (it’s an 8-minute walk from Taipower Bldg or 10 minutes from Guting, but it’s hardly convenient to do it everyday - trust me, I did it). Instead, you should consider the buses, which are frequent, convenient, and fast enough for shorter distances. Even without knowing Chinese, you can click on bus icons in Google maps to see which lines stop where, and find the one that works best for you.

Also take into account that if you live outside Taipei City, you cannot do any of the ARC/visa extension paperwork (of which there will be a lot) in the usual place (near MRT Xiaonanmen), but need to go somewhere farther (I think Banqiao).

The areas around Liuzhangli and Linguang stations east of Shi-Da are conveniently close to the MTC, and also should be cheaper. The first one also has a lot of nightlife and eating-out options. Even farther down south along the brown MRT line, Muzha has some great places to live, and the rents are lower. Muzha is particularly convenient if you live along the MRT. You’d then take the brown line to Technology Building, and transfer to a bus for the last leg (lots of lines, very frequent services).

West of Shi-Da and Guting (Heping W Rd, etc.), the rents should generally be lower than to the east, because the buildings are mostly older. This area has a nice, traditional feel, but there might not be as much commerce as to the east. There also might not be a lot of supply.[/quote]

Thanks, this is very helpful. I was hoping to stay with the MRT and ignore buses, just to keep things simple, but thinking about it that’s probably quite dumb, considering I’ll be staying for 9 months. I guess I might as well jump into the “deep” end and take a bus. :smiley:

I’ll make a note of the places you mention. They sound nice, and they don’t look too remote (not that I’d know what remote means in Taipei).

Just out of curiosity, what’s wrong with Zhonghe? Is it infested with hookers and crack addicts or something, or was it built on an old indian cemetary?

Thanks for the tip on Good Ground Hotel. I think it’s called Hotel Puri now, though, or at least that’s what tripadviser says, and judging from their website, their rates have risen significantly (3000NT per night). The idea of booking into a love hotel is good, though, so if you have any other suggestions, that’d be great.

[quote]Then, from the fourth drop-down list choose the second option for apartments, third for independent studios, and the fourth one for shared studios. You can type the price range next to the symbol 元.

Seriously though, if you really want to use 591, start using Firefox (if you’re not doing it already), and install the “Mandarin Pop-up” add on. You can then read Chinese, more or less. This will get you started, but then you still need someone to talk to the landlord on the phone, so why not get a get a Taiwanese friend (post an ad for language exchange). You can also check out the bulletin board you mentioned, it’s on the 5th floor of Shi-Da MTC (Boai) Building, there are a lot of apartment ads there.[/quote]

Thank you so much the tip on Mandarin pop-up! I was already using firefox, but was still relying on google translate, which really isn’t that useful on heavily scripted pages, like 591.com. The main reason why I’m checking out 591, though, is to get an impression of prices and availability and such, in the different districts. I don’t expect to be able to actually get one of those places on my own.

I would like to try to find a Taiwanese friend, though, for several reasons (apart from the practical aspects, I expect 9 months with hardly any human contact would be rather lonely), so I might just post one of those language exchange thingies. Where would I do that, though? Also, while I could offer conversation in English, I’m obviously more comfortable with Danish. I don’t suppose there’s some weirdo craze where people are just dying to learn how to speak that? :slight_smile:

Sigh. :frowning:

Alright, I guess I should be able to check out both LP and Bradt at my local library, then I’ll buy whichever one I like best, so I can bring it with me.

Thanks again for the tips and advice, guys. I really appreciate it. Don’t be afraid to keep it coming. :slight_smile:

welcome to the 'mosa, Nikolaj.

[quote]I’ve also been looking at Wenshan and Xindian. Are those cheap/expensive compared to the rest of Taipei, and is there something horribly wrong with those districts that I should know about?

[/quote]
As a Xindian resident and former Wenshan district student, I can tell you that from Xindian it is easier to go to NTNU’s MTC than Wenshan. Xindian is also a bit less “packed” than Zhonghe/Yonghe. Wenshan can be a bit more expensive, sometimes, depending, as it is considered part of the “city”, not the “suburbs/county/now New Taipei Municipality”. Zhonghe and Yonghe were/are industrial districts, with very high density of population/cars/trucks/scooters per square meter. Used to work there, bit overwhelming on a daily basis. That said, Dinxi area is very popular, close to MTC by MRT, cheap, but crowded.

Both Xindian and Wenshan, though, suffer from high humidity. Insects we do have a few, big ones the norm, sorry to say. But we are close to the mountains, fresh air. Close to the river parks, lots of sunshine and activities. Do consider that if you like a nightlife, though, taxi fare will build up. Longer distance from “hot” spots.

Small, air conditioned rooms with your own bathroom, Internet, and cable go for 8000nts in the area, and ther are plenty, as many people like to commute to work or go to other universities in the area -Shishin, NCCU, NTU, etc. Tsui Mama is reliable, but also when you get here walking around and asking or looking at the public boards works as well. It is easier if you decide on a specific area, maybe even a block, and work your way from there.

I strongly reccommend you NOT to rent from abroad, wait until you get here. Air conditioning is indispensible, it is not a negotiable condition. I’ve seen business hotels for 1200nts, so look around those too. Last one we booked for some students was the KDM Hotel.

As to the language exchange, do not worry, there is always someone into exotic languages. I had a friend here exchanging Spanish for Swedish. There is always someone interested, no biggie.

Here’s a recent one done by CNN:
cnngo.com/explorations/life/ … pei-041193

MTC has the most students, which is important to consider if you are at an advanced level because then you have more choice of classes if you go there. It is also coasting on its reputation, while the quality of service is decreasing (more students per class allowed than before; run-down, unmaintained infrastructure; bad administration where you’re an intruder not a customer, etc.) and the prices are always going up, as enough foreigners will come anyway. (All classes used to be “intensive” before (3 hours/day): regular (2 hours/day) classes were only introduced so that the price of the now “intensive” classes could go up.)

With PCCU MLC at least the building is new, and some of the teachers are actually the same in both places. It is also my understanding that at MLC there are more people from South-East Asia (Vietnam particularly), and these were always the most hard-working people in any class I attended: (1) they really need to learn as much Chinese as they can, because they want to stay in Taiwan, and (2) the tuition is a lot of money for them, so they want to make good use of it. By comparison, for many Western students, staying in Taiwan is more like holiday: they know they are going back home anyway, and are comfortable with getting only a glimpse of Chinese. Also, by Western standards the tuition fees are still low, so some people just treat it as another “visa extension fee” while they stay in Taiwan to do something else (travel, partying, etc.). Nothing wrong with that of course, but it might impact your learning environment if other people attend the class “in shifts” (ie. 50% present at any given time, and the other half was absent the day before, so there is no continuity). Also, if your class is made of people who don’t speak English, you won’t be switching back to that language, which is good for your progress in Chinese.

I am not trying to convince you to change the program now (if you want intensive, you could also be considering NTU CLD). Anyway, you will have a good time wherever you go (MTC, MLC, NTU), but, as the Taiwanese say, “don’t think too much” (ie. “don’t expect too much”): there is nothing too respectable about any of these places.

From my experience, if you really want to learn Chinese, the three most important things are: (1) your attitude (no-one can just shove the language down your throat), (2) your teacher (lots of interaction in class, making students talk and not talking by themselves all the time, no long digressions or tirades about foreigners, etc.), (3) your classmates (this is actually the biggest advantage of an intensive class: there is a positive selection, everyone there is willing to work more).

Hopefully you will get a good teacher at Shida, there are some great ones there (and if not, help your luck by changing classes).

Internet is about 1,000 TWD per month; gas, about 1,000 TWD every two months; water, about 500 TWD every two months; the biggest component is always electricity, and that very much depends on your air conditioning (old vs new), it will be around 1,000 TWD to 2,000 TWD per month. (I’ve rounded everything up, so you can be pleasantly surprised. Sum up and divide by the number of people in the apartment.)

Many studios include some utilities in price, but also charge more (sometimes much more) than the standard rate for electricity. You will want to use aircon anyway, regardless of the price. Internet I guess can be cheaper if you don’t want a fast connection. You can also pay to use Wi-Fi at Shida, and there is free Wi-Fi in many places.

North Taiwan gets cold for about 8 weeks in winter. Even though temperature-wise it’s not that low, the cold is rather unpleasant because of the humidity. Solution: get a cheap electric heater for about 500 TWD new, or second-hand from someone for much less. I’ve just sold one for 200 TWD.

Exact boundaries of districts aren’t really something you need to worry about so much: get familiar with MRT stations instead would be my suggestion. Everything around Shida is Daan. To the east, there is Xinyi. To the west (the other side of Roosevelt Rd) and northwest is Zhongzheng. To the south is Wenshan, which comprises two completely different areas: Muzha (along the brown MRT line) and Jingmei (along the green line). Xindian is further down the green line, as you cross the Jingmei River. Zhonghe/Yonghe is on the other side of the river as you continue along the orange MRT line. Perhaps read the Wikipedia article on each of these districts if you need more information. The remaining areas, you don’t need to be concerned about now.

There are stored-value cards that work for all means of transport, it’s quite convenient. Your student ID is also such a card. You can also use it for other payments (car park, convenience stores, etc.) or for key-less building entrance. Just touch in and/or touch out. The prices are: 15 or 30 TWD for a bus (12 or 24 TWD for students), 16 to 48 TWD for MRT. If you take both bus and MRT (in any order) within 1.5-hour timeframe, there is a discount on the second payment. It’s cheap, but you pay every time you use it.

Many people do like that, but it’s worth it to harness the bus system, your life quality will be much better. There is route information on every stop (although mostly in Chinese, only key stop names are translated into English). In any case, there will always be some locals willing to help.

Taipei is generally safe, there are no districts you would want to avoid out of safety concerns. The red-light district is along Lin Sen N Rd, especially around the intersection with Nanjing E Rd. The area considered most seedy is Wanhua, especially around Longshan Temple, although the reputation is mostly because of the past. Zhonghe is just not a nice area to live because it has undergone rapid increase in population with minimal investment in infrastructure. This has a lot to do with how government money was flowing over the years (Taipei City was a province-level administrative unit separate from Taiwan Province, and most of the investment was diverted here). Generally, if you can afford to live in Taipei City, it’s not worth it (in your situation) to consider Taipei County (now Xinbei City) except perhaps some areas in Xindian.

Forumosa has a section for that, I think.
Taiwanease, taiwanease.com/
Tealit, tealit.com/
Shida bulletin board (same as for apartments)

Most people will not even know there is a Danish language. They’ll think you speak English or “European.”

However people are more likely to speak Mandarin with you in Zhonghe than near Shida. Not to mention that some apartments are quite nice inside, even though they may not look it from the outside.

I lived in Xindian for four years and am currently renting an apartment for one month near Nanshijiao MRT station.

Actually, I agree that your attitude is the most important. However the second most important thing is not hanging out with other foreigners all the time. Join a club and try to meet local friends. Go to a non-foreign club/ bar and talk to locals.

Other than learning pronunciation, the teacher isn’t that important. You can sit down with the book and teach yourself the grammar. Chinese grammar is very simple.

I currently live in Yonghe, about 4 minute walk to DingXi MRT. A bit of everything, and LeHua night market is just around the corner. Convenient and safe.
My girlfriend’s family lives at the border of Yonghe/Zhonghe, about 3 minute walk to YongAn Market MRT. There is a lovely, huge park (called “Number 4 Park”) behind the MRT with a library, dog walking area, etc. I would recommend those places if budget was a concern, but still want convenience and decent standard of living. Main con would be that the area is dense, filled with lots of people.

I wouldn’t recommend deeper into the heart of Zhonghe, as it is a bit too ghetto for my taste.

Sorry to hijack this thread, but while we’re on the subject, would any of these areas make for a good bike commute to MTC? I was looking at places around the Dingxi metro stop on 591, but would I be able to cross the river on bike? How far from MTC could you reasonably get in bike in an hour?

note: Before the arguments about sweat and danger come out, I bike commute in Shanghai and grew up in Florida. Sweat and danger are nothing to me. Bike accessibility, however, has a lot on influence on where I’ll be looking.

[quote=“Disorted”]Sorry to hijack this thread, but while we’re on the subject, would any of these areas make for a good bike commute to MTC? I was looking at places around the Dingxi metro stop on 591, but would I be able to cross the river on bike? How far from MTC could you reasonably get in bike in an hour?

note: Before the arguments about sweat and danger come out, I bike commute in Shanghai and grew up in Florida. Sweat and danger are nothing to me. Bike accessibility, however, has a lot on influence on where I’ll be looking.[/quote]

If you were attending Taida then you could live along the Bitan trail and bike to Gongguan every day. You can probably also bike to Shida as well since it is only one station down. The biking trail runs from Xindian to Banchiao. Then you can get on another one that will take you to Danshui.

There are cycling paths along basically all rivers, so:

  1. Make sure you live near a river. :slight_smile:
  2. Make sure you live on the correct bank, as crossing the water is usually not that convenient. North bank of Jingmei River or east bank of Xindian River would be particularly good.
  3. Even better if you also have an entrance nearby, as these are not that frequent. Get a cycling map from tourist information for all entrance locations.

You can then do like that:

  1. Cycle along the river(s) to Gongguan (Taipei Water Park). Exit there.
  2. Take the bicycle path (partly on the street) connecting Gongguan Riverside Park to NTU.
  3. Continue across the bike-friendly NTU campus (many routes possible) to the corner of Xinsheng S Rd and Xinhai Rd, cross the intersection to the opposite corner.
  4. Cycle along Wenzhou St or one of the parallel lanes (anything but Taishun St) towards Heping E Rd.
  5. Do the last few hundred meters on the sidewalk along Heping E Rd (wide enough to be suitable for cycling).

This is what I used to do, although in the opposite direction: I lived near Shida and wanted to cycle along the rivers. It’s about 30 mins from Shida to Xindian (Bitan, end of path), and about 40 mins to Taipei Zoo (not the end anymore, you can continue on the road to Nangang now). In the opposite direction, after half an hour you can approximately reach the Ximen area.

Cycling is great in Taipei alongside all rivers, although crossing the water might be a hassle (depending on the bridge: the newest Xinbei Qiao is particularly bad to cross, for example). It’s also not that great when you want to leave the riverside park system: there are not that many exits.

If you choose not to live near a river and still want to cycle, you’re in a much worse position: while there are some (isolated) bicycle paths in the city itself, they do not form any particular system. Most of the paths are in Xinyi around Taipei 101, then there’s a path along the red MRT line from Zhongshan to Yuanshan (I think), another one along Dunhua Rd, around Daan Park, etc. Sidewalks (with some exceptions) are too narrow even for pedestrians, so if you cycle on them it’ll be turtle pace. Generally if you want to cycle in the city, you’ll be riding on the streets. Drivers are used to scooters, but traffic is fierce, and you’ll be breating exhaust fumes (hardly any fun in my opinion).

To sum it up: if you want to cycle, live by a river. :slight_smile:

If you’re not going to work or have any supplementary income, I’d consider heading south.

You can live on 25,000 down here and still have a little left over. Much harder to do up north.

Kaohsiung (next biggest city) has some great cycling trails and what not, you can check out Wenzao University (Sun Yat-sen is on a mountain full of monkeys - good if you like mountain biking, I suppose. Lovely staff though). Lovely infrastructure, almost everything you can get in Taipei but half the people and better weather to boot.

NCKU in Tainan has a decent programme. Students at STUT just outside Tainan seem to like it too, but that’s all I know. I’ve heard both good and bad about that place in Taichung (Fengyuan?). Yilan also has an intensive programme which my friend attended and enjoyed immensely (forgot what it’s called, but there’s not too many universities out there - Yilan is VERY country!).

I really wish I could go south, but I had to stick with Taipei for logistical reasons, namely the airport. Other than the cylcing addiction, I’m in the same situation as the OP.

And Doremonster - the Brown line is the Wenhu(a)? line, right? Is that the one you can’t bring bikes onto? Would it be better to try and find a place closer to the red line near the river or are these lines close enough for it to not matter? EDIT: Nevermind, a bit of Googling later found me this: blog.taiwan-guide.org/wp-content … _guide.pdf

Kaohsiung has an airport that usually just requires an easy connection in Japan or Hong Kong (if you’re coming from North America). It’s typically cheaper to fly with a connection anyway.

Basically, you probably want to get an apartment in Xindian or Jingmei. You will pay about 8,000NT a month. You can check the board at Shida once you arrive for an apartment. You might want to try Mipple House to rent for two weeks or a month while you look for a cheaper apartment. However a short term rental will set you back $720 a month.

Yes. Wenhu (Wenshan-Neihu) line, also called Muzha line, also spelled “Mucha line,” is simply the brown line. (Don’t ask me why it can’t just be called “the brown line” consistently - I don’t know. Other lines also have up to 5 names each.)

If you live in Muzha close to the river, you can quite easily cycle to Dapinglin and take MRT there. But bicycles are allowed on the MRT on Saturdays and Sundays only, so it wouldn’t be useful for commuting anyway.

The map you found is outdated, by the way. You can now enter or exit with a bicycle at any station, except the following: Danshui, Shipai, Jiantan, Taipei Main, NTU Hospital, Zhongxiao Fuxing, Nangang Expo Ctr, any Wenhu line station. Source: trtc.com.tw/ct.asp?xitem=101 … &mp=122031

Yes. Wenhu (Wenshan-Neihu) line, also called Muzha line, also spelled “Muzha line,” is simply the brown line. (Don’t ask me why it can’t just be called “the brown line” consistently - I don’t know. Other lines also have up to 5 names each.)

If you live in Muzha close to the river, you can quite easily cycle to Dapinglin and take MRT there. But bicycles are allowed on the MRT on Saturdays and Sundays only, so it wouldn’t be useful for commuting anyway.

The map you found is outdated, by the way. You can now enter or exit with a bicycle at any station, except the following: Danshui, Shipai, Jiantan, Taipei Main, NTU Hospital, Zhongxiao Fuxing, Nangang Expo Ctr, any Wenhu line station. Source: trtc.com.tw/ct.asp?xitem=101 … &mp=122031[/quote]

It is called the brown line since it is brown on the map. Not to mention that most sections of town have a color scheme. For example buses in Xindian are green and the MRT is green, so it is called the green line.