Do I need a car?


#1

I will be moving to Taipei next summer. I have heard from my Mandrin laoshi that I do not need a car to get around in Taipei while others at TECRO have told me that I definitely do need a car. I will be going to school at Soochow University and my daughter will be at TAS.

Do I need a car?

I have the oppoortunity to ship my Jeep Cherokee. Would a Jeep be too big for Taipei streets and parking?

How much are new cars locally? How much are used ones?

Thanks, Ken


#2

Cars are much more expensive in Taiwan than in the States. Prices can easily be 40-100% more. For a decent used car you can spend as much as you would for something new back home. If you can ship your Jeep over for a reasonable price, do so. And let us know how much and how easy or difficult it is.

There are many Jeeps, Vans, SUVs and other large vehicles on the streets of Taipei now. You should have no more problem than the owners of these machines in parking. As to whether you should bring your Jeep, I say it is definitely worth while. Taiwan is a very mountaineous country. I’d love to have a good four-wheel drive vehicle to explore those endless tortuous roads.

Driving in Taipei is not that bad anymore. Traffic moves at a reasonable clip and the drivers are more skilled than in the other areas. However, you should know that things like vehicles going the wrong way down the road, drivers going left on red lights (even when there is traffic going through the other way), cars parked at the edge of intersections so you can’t see around, double-parking, passing on the outside lane or curb, passing on the inside lane around sharp corners, are all as common as rice. Take the time to observe and learn the basic infractions before heading out. Take a taxi to see how the most extreme of locals drive.

Okay. I’m sure others will have some useful suggestions for you.


#3

You can drive a car in Taipei, but you should think about the following.

  1. Taipei is a really congested city, meaning at rush hour, the traffic goes at a snail’s pace. Usually it is better to either ride a scooter to take public transport i.e. the MRT. You can also take the bus or as I call it the bone shaker. And if you live close to your office there is no real need for a car.
    Outside rush hour the traffic is still pretty hairy and it does take allot out of you, concentrating, watching out for the crazy drivers here, who have little respect for other road users. Simple observations of mine of the driving standard in Taiwan.

If it is bigger than you, give way!!
Those yellow things that flash when you hit the indicator/signal switch to turn left or right are best not used and it is better to wire them into the brake lights or reversing lights.
If person turns right, doesn’t indicate his intention and nearly cuts you off, it is not his fault, it is your responsibility as another road user to predict this unpredictable maneuvers
What do you want to be turning your car lights on when it gets dark?, when Taipei is bright enough from the street lights already.
Yellow light at traffic light, means put the foot to the floor or throttle on full, and go straight through while a yellow light going red means go through faster.
A wheel brace can not only open wheel nuts but can save you money on insurance if you wield it the correct way at the other guy.
Cops who issue tickets to people who go over the white line at the traffic light or to people who J walk, but let slip the reckless drivers.
(woops I am beginning to rant…Sorry!!)

  1. You may have to pay to rent a car parking space. Sometimes this is provided in the contract for your apartment, but other times you need to rent. Also if you drive your car to work, you may have to pay for a parking space, which can cost NTD4000-5000 per month. Your company may oblige you here.

  2. If you get in an accident, it may be a good idea to wear combat gear as Taiwanese people in car accidents can get aggressive, sometimes get violent, and will never admit it is their fault. Also if you are a foreigner, and I have seen this, you may get the blame.

  3. If you do go into the city and want to park; you have to queue up and go into one of these shoebox car parks to park. I wouldn’t just park my car down a back alley or in some place where I wasn’t sure of the parking restrictions, otherwise you may come back and your car could be towed.

  4. On the other hand you could bring your jeep to Taiwan, use public transport or a taxi and then on the weekend use your jeep to go and discover Taiwan.

  5. A topic that was brought up before was the issuing of ROC driving licenses to foreigners. My friend who is French got his converted to a ROC license. Unfortunately, since I am Irish (along with the UK, some US states and most countries who have a very high/safe standard of driving and responsible drivers) my license is not accepted by the ROC Ministry Of Transport, but if I was from outer Mongolia it would probably be accepted and could be changed into an ROC car driving license.

  6. My friend sold their Ford Tercel, 1.3, 2 years old for NTD250K. I am unsure if this is a good price. Best thing if you are buying is to shop around with a Taiwanese friend. Jeeps are pretty popular here as are most SUVs


#4

Taipei City has a pretty good public transport system – buses, a mass rapid transit system and something like 180,000 taxis. I’ve been driving a car here for about 7 years and use it seldom in the city – mainly because it can be difficult to find parking and, despite what Mucha Man says, the roads can get very congested indeed.
However, If you think you’d like to get out into some of Taiwan’s many less-traveled areas, your own transport is pretty much essential.


#5

I had several cars while living in Taiwan. I had the last car (a 1998 Toyota Tercel) for 2 years and put a total of 8,000 km on it–mostly when I used it to commute from a suburb to my office in Tapei. This only worked because I had free parking at both places (a very unusual luxury in Taipei) and I was able to take uncongested roads most of the way (also very unusual). When we moved downtown I stopped using the car almost completely. We sold it when it was exactly 2 years old for NT$280,000–just over half what we paid for it.

If you have free parking at your apartment, it’s nice to have a car. If not, it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth. At the last apartment we lived in, I often had to cruise the neighborhood for 30-45 minutes to find a parking space. It was so bad that we often just took a taxi instead. Taxis are relatively inexpensive in Taiwan. Also, if you park on the street your car WILL get damaged. People think nothing about using your bumper to let them know when to stop backing up.

Another issue is taxes and insurance on the car. We paid about NT$20,000 a year for insurance, and about NT$15,000 or so in taxes. Unless you head out to the country pretty often, it could be more economical to just rent a car when you need one. I’m not sure what rentals cost these days. Gas is also more expensive than in the US.

My favorite form of transportation in Taipei was a scooter. These could cost from NT$10,000 to NT$80,000, depending on the quality and wheteher its new or used. Most are between 50 and 150 cc.The advantages of scooting in Taipei is that parking is much easier and you can weave in and out of traffic to a certain extent–so it’s a lot faster than driving. The disadvantages are that scooters don’t have the same rights are cars, Taipei gets an awful lot of rain, and you will sweat a lot in the summer.

Hope this helps.