Need advice on searching for apartment

Hello first of all, since this is my first post.

Now to business:

I’ve been reading a lot, a lot, a lot on finding an apartment, so thanks to all for the input.

I have been in Taiwan for less than a week, going to NTU for 1 year and I plan on staying for 2-3 years. I’m on bike, got a lovely black chemical mask which makes a huge difference, and I really enjoy the way people drive here—reminds me of Italy. Distance doesn’t matter; in fact, I was contemplating a nice day ride to Kanlung, Danshui, Pinglin, or Wulai since it’s only about 30 mile ride total—maybe an extra 10 miles riding around the city, or town, or village hopefully.

I know a little Mandarin (can use a dictionary and read/say anything—just takes awhile :wink: , but my vocab is very limited), I already have met a nice Taiwanese girl who could most likely be my negotiator, but I’m gonna do the apartment hunting mainly by myself; then when I narrow them down to a few, I’ll actually bring her in for the real deal. And, I may use the agencies on the side, and if I like what they give me, then I’ll pay them (Question 1: do the agencies work that way or do I have to pay ahead of time?

I’m looking for a place in central and mainly southern Taibei since NTU is located there. I currently live in a 8x8 room, and it doesn’t bother me. I’d like a place with very good feelings; I’m hoping some of you would understand this, but what I’m talking about is that feeling you get if you’re quiet enough, you listen, and you perceive surrounding energy, people, buildings, etc, and realize that this certain place is good or bad or something in-between. I got some bad, bad feelings from the residential areas between the eastside of the river and west of that giant blue-walled, Japanese-looking building (maybe around DaTong MRT, I can’t remember). Unfriendly, and complete crap emanated from there.

I’d like someplace around a park, near the river, but not necessarily overlooking it. Good feng shui with low prices. I could shit in a bucket with a toilet seat I got from the second-hand store if that sums up once again how much I care about modern conveniences. That’s free fertilizer and no water usage. Nahh, I’m mostly kidding about that, but I’m not too materialistic or high-maintenance. I just need a nice place–a suite?–with a sink and a toilet (a good bowel movement is crucial), and if it has a community kitchen, that’s fine too.

So if I haven’t already bored you to death with this long-winded post, into what places would you fellas recommend I look?

Jinmei. There are some nice, newer apartments close to Aimai or on the hill behind Shishin University. Or simple, older taofangs for 8000nts close to the night market.

Then you can take the bike trail by the JinFu River Park everyday when you go to school at NTU, and still be close to teh mountains in Muzha and Xindian for weekends.