My first apartment was procured by my school when I first arrived in Taiwan. In the six years since then I found each of my next three apartments using 591. I’ve never had to look in Taipei, only Taoyuan and Hualien, so that may have some bearing.
Fortunately I’ve always been able to find an apartment with the particular amenities I want (eg. kitchen area, balcony, trash service, etc.) in my price range (always negotiated lower than what is listed), but it takes persistence and usually looking at a number of [strike]dumps[/strike] places before you find the right one for you. Yeah, that’s wasted time, but for me I kind of felt like I was on a treasure hunt.
You’re right–the photos tend to be crap–but go take a look anyway and you might be surprised and find a winner. That’s been my experience, anyway.
[quote=“cyberguppy”]Which of these would you rate are good ways to find rental accommodation? Any others?
[…] How do you guys hunt for decent deals?[/quote]
591 is the name of the game, unless you want to share with other foreigners (worth considering) and then it’s Teashit (a shitty website, as the name suggests, but unfortunately everyone uses it because everyone else uses it). I don’t think e-mailing is the best way, get a phone and call. In any case, avoid agents, on 591 there’s an option to filter them out.
And yes, phone them. Mostly they also want to know a bit about you. Are you a good tenant. And make sure that everything is as in the ad: Is it furnished like shown in the photos? Pings as stated or did they add the public hallway etc. (6 ping, rounded up… they’re real basterds like that wasting your time).
Nice apartments get lots of interest. They probably can get that much for it. But maybe you can convince them you are the right one and even get the price down a little bit…
Tsui Mama seemed to have a lot of weird rooftop places in out of the way places for pretty good rates. I actually really liked the rooftop apartment I found off this site (pretty cheap, huge balcony, pretty convenient to whatever amenities), but I had to move once my wife and I started having kids.
The last two apartments I’ve lived in I found on 591, but both times it took a while. The problem with 591 is that anything that is semi-decent at a reasonable price gets snapped up pretty quickly. If you’re lucky enough to make an appointment, you pretty much have to sign right there and there’s not much leeway for bargaining. If you hem and haw, they’ll just rent it out to one of the other eight people who are going to look at it that day. Although I did notice that we had a bit more leverage once we were looking for places that were more than 20k/month.
I did run into more than one xenophobic asshole on 591. One guy refused to rent to foreigners but was willing to consider it only because I was married and had a newborn. Another time, my wife made an appointment with a landlady, we took a look at an apartment that we liked, signed a contract, paid a deposit, but once her husband found out that I was a foreigner, they refused to rent it to us (yeah, we got the deposit back, but still we were both pissed.)
On 591, there’s a way to order search results by date posted. Check the site a couple of times a day, looking at the neighborhoods you’re interested in. Anything that’s been up there for more than two weeks probably has incredibly ludicrous dealbreakers (way too much noise, much smaller in person, etc.)