"ODD" apartments

I am in Taichung and I have been looking for a quieter apartment recently. I found a building with a big sign outside (TAO FANG CHU DZU - Apartments for rent). I went inside and discovered that it is actually a renovated hotel. Rent is $8000 or $12000 a month depending on the room size, and that includes water and electricity. According to the landlady, there is no deposit and no contract. Some of the rooms are also open to visitors on a “short-term basis”.

Has anyone here stayed at such a place? What should I expect/watch out for if I move in?

Thanks in advance!!!

Living there for some time may lead you to think that all Taiwanese have trouble breathing…

I would wash the sheets before sleeping there.

We used to pay about NT$12000 for a whole house in Taichung. OK, it was in Taichung county, but only a few steps away from Taichung city. In Taichung, I wouldn’t want to pay NT$8000 for a tao fang…

“Tao4 fang2” doesn’t mean “apartment”. A “tao4 fang2” means only a bedroom and bathroom, nothing more and nothing less! It’s just like a hotel room, except that the rent is paid once a month instead of once a day. There’s no kitchen, no dining room, and not even a living room. Lots of Taiwanese people have asked me how to say “tao4 fang2” in English, and I always tell them that as far as I know, there’s no word in English that means “tao4 fang2”. The closest word is “studio”, but that’s actually very different because a “studio” always contains a kitchen and a living room, but no bedroom. (The sofa is actually a “sofa-bed”, that pulls out and becomes a bed, so you sleep in the living room.)

In the U.S., an “apartment” means you have your own private bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, and living room, and the whole building is owned by a management association.

According to this definition, there isn’t a single apartment in all of Taiwan! It’s because always each unit is always sold individually, and it’s up to each owner whether they want to live there or rent it out. So they are actually “condominiums” or “condos” (which are called “flats” in Britain, Australia, and New Zealand). But actually, most people call it a “condo” only if they are the owner, and otherwise, they call it an “apartment” if they are the tenant who is renting it.

Also, you’ll notice that 99% of the apartments in Taiwan do not have dining rooms. In fact, even the houses in Taiwan usually don’t have dining rooms! Instead, you put a tiny round table at one end of the kitchen, and that’s where everyone eats. Or sometimes, they put the round table in the living room so that they can eat and watch TV at the same time.

But still an apartment is very different from a “tao4 fang2”. Modifying my above definition for “apartment” to fit the reality of Taiwan, it would mean that each unit has its own bedroom(s), bathroom, living room, and kitchen (but no dining room), and each unit is sold to a different person.

Anyway, the word for “apartment” (actually “condominium”) is “gong1 yu4”. If you’re looking for a one-bedroom apartment, it’s called “yi4 fang2 yi4 ting1 de0 gong1 yu4”, which literally means “an apartment with one bedroom and one living room”. I’ve never seen an apartment in Taiwan (or even a house) that has two living rooms so I know it sounds strange, but that’s the way they say “one bedroom apartment”.

But you’ll find that one-bedroom apartments aren’t very common in Taiwan. Two-bedroom apartments are much more common, since most Taiwanese people decide to have a baby only 9 months after they get married. And Taiwanese people usually don’t live alone before they get married. Even students usually don’t live alone. Instead, they either live in a dorm at school, or otherwise four students get together and rent out a four-bedroom house or four-bedroom apartment. So that’s why there are so few one-bedroom apartments in Taiwan. So it would be easier to find a two-bedroom apartment, which is called “liang3 fang2 yi4 ting1 de0 gong1 yu4”.


According to Mark’s definition, a tao fang sounds much like what would be called a bedsit in the UK, in which case, NT$12,000 in Taichung sounds high.

Having said that, I have a friend who bought a tao fang in a complex opposite the new Taichung Kang Rd. Sogo and its pretty damned luxurious – picture windows, hardwood floors, etc., with a nice 25th floor swimming pool, sauna, gym, etc.