Living in Taiwan
Housing: How to Find Apartments
To find a place to rent in Taiwan, we recommend following ‘local practice’ as much as possible. If you see an amazing place with an English-only listing explicitly labeled “best choice for expats!” you might end up paying more than the prevailing market rate, as it is assumed a wealthy company will be paying the rent for their expat executive.
REAL ESTATE AGENT
The government department responsible for the rental property market has provided a list of real estate agents that have staff that speak English, Japanese, Spanish or other foreign languages. You may find the list HERE .
591 Housing is the most popular housing website in Taiwan, and you can translate it using the built-in translation feature on Google Chrome. The map feature is great if you like a particular area. Remember to take into account the distance to a metro (MRT; mass rapid transit) station, as this is the most common transportation system. Listings share the gross floor areas in ping (1 “ping” = 3.305 m2, or 35.58 ft2). The measurement includes common spaces such as stairwells, so a rule of thumb is to scale down by 20% to calculate the net/usable floor area, or 30% if the building has a lot of amenities like swimming pools and parking basements.
ⓘ By law, rental deposits are a maximum of two month’s rent. Expect to pay in cash.
For more housing options, you can refer to Chinese-language Facebook groups, such as 台北租屋、出租專屬社團 .
There are also a few online English communities you can check out:
My Room Abroad / Taipei Apartment Rental Network / Rental Taiwan / Rental Apartments in Taiwan Facebook Group . If budget is not as much of a concern, UR House has larger units for rental. Serviced apartments (furnished units) might be a good option if you are not ready to sign a lease. Refer to this list of serviced apartments in Taipei . Also, read this great article about living in Taiwan and tips for finding an apartment.
Utilities are not usually included in your rent. Make sure you consider your electricity, water, gas, HOA and other service costs (see payment methods below). Rubbish collection is also a factor (see “Trash” below). You may find it easier to negotiate your lease with a Mandarin-speaking friend accompanying you.
Public Transportation Options (MRT, HSR, Bus)
Google maps provides live schedules and routes for bus and MRT (mass rapid transit) when traveling within Taipei City. To travel outside of Taipei, High Speed Rail (HSR) is the best way to get from city to city on the West coast; alternatively, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) provides very reliable but slower regular train service to destinations across the country. There are also freeway buses for longer trips, which often include comfortable seating and wifi. You can also book a pre-arranged car service where the driver will take you to the locations you would like to visit. For HSR, you may purchase the ticket through the app. HSR, train and buses, you may purchase the tickets through kiosks from convenience stores or on site. See the Tourism Bureau website for more information.
Easy Card / iPass: Where to get it and ways to use it.
An EasyCard or iPass is essential for your life in Taiwan. They both serve the same purpose, but are run by different companies. Not only can you use it for public transport and YouBike rentals, but convenience stores (and some taxis) also accept EasyCard.iPass as a form of payment. You can purchase and top off your Easycard/iPass at any MRT stations or convenience store such as 7-eleven or Family Mart. Some banks have ATM or credit cards linked to the EasyCard payment system.
Driving in Taiwan
- Only drivers who hold valid international driving permit issues by our reciprocal countries and will stay in our country for less than 30 days can be waived from the visa for driving vehicles. TABLE FOR DRIVING LICENSE WITH OUR RECIPROCAL COUNTRIES
- If the stay is more than 30 days, please submit international driving permit visa application form to our highway supervision authority to apply for visa.
- The period of visa for international driving permit is one year the maximum. If the validity of original license or the staying permit is less than one year, the first expiration date will prevail. Driving vehicle will not be allowed when overdue.
Taking a Driver’s License Exam
There are several types of Drivers Licenses available in Taiwan. The most common for non-commercial use are:
- Motorcycles 49cc and under (Light)
- Motorcycles 50cc to 249cc (Normal)
- Motorcycles 250cc and above (Heavy)
- Ordinary Light Vehicle (Automatic Transmission)
- Ordinary Light Vehicle (Manual Transmission
The Driver’s License Exam in Taiwan consists of a health check, written test, and practical test. To start the process, visit your local Motor Vehicle Office with:
- A Driver’s License Application Form
- A valid physical health exam from an official physical examination center within the one-year validity
- Alien Residence Certificate (ARC) or Gold Card with validity of over six months.
- Three one-inch passport photos (taken within the past 2 years)
English language exams require appointments in advance and are not available at all MVO locations. The written test for motorcycles lasts 30 minutes and consists of 50 questions, 30 multiple choice, 20 true-false. 85% is passing. The written test for vehicles lasts 30 minutes and consists of 25 questions on regulations and 15 questions on road signs. 85% is passing.
Converting a Foreign License
Taiwan has agreements with many countries to allow you to convert your foreign driver’s license to a Taiwan drivers license. This works on the principle of ‘reciprocity’ - if a Taiwan drivers license is convertible in your home country/state/province, you can convert your license in Taiwan. Reciprocity rules vary by country/state/province. Check the MVO list to see if your foreign license is convertible and if there are any limitations (There may be slight nuances between different jurisdictions. For example California is only convertible for Taiwan ID holders and not ARC holders). Obtaining a Taiwan Driver’s License by converting will allow you to bypass the written and practical test and drive light motorcycles under 50cc and light motor vehicles. If your foreign license does not specify transmission type you will be allowed to drive both automatic and manual transmission vehicles.
Your foreign license MUST be authenticated by the issuing country’s foreign mission in Taiwan. Many representative offices do not authenticate licenses of foreign nationals. For example the Canadian Trade office will not authenticate the Canadian Drivers License of an American Citizen who formerly resided in Canada. If this situation applies you will need to authenticate at the Taiwan foreign mission covering the jurisdiction of where your license was issued.
Resources for driver’s license:
- Comprehensive Information about Taiwan Driver’s Licenses
- Motor Vehicle Written Test Question Pool
- Online Practice Exam
- Road Test Scorecard (Cars) Road Test Scorecard (Motorcycles)
- AIT Info page Useful page for driver’s licence information
RideShare / Taxi App (Uber, LINE Taxi, 55688, Yoxi)
There are multiple rideshare/ taxi apps in Taiwan. If you’d like to use your foreign credit card, Uber is the best option. For LINE Taxi, 55688, and Yoxi, you can either link your Taiwanese bank account or choose to pay by cash at the end of each ride. Taxis are plentiful in Taipei and safe to hail off the street (they will all follow the meter), but expect to pay cash. In less urban or rural areas with few taxis (e.g. PingTung), expect to agree to a rate beforehand.
YouBike, GoShare, Wemo, ZipCar, iRent
If you are traveling within Taipei City, places you need to go are probably within a 5 km radius. YouBike is a great option for transportation and good exercise. You can rent a YouBike using an EasyCard or iPASS (you will need to first register your EasyCard/iPASS at a YouBike kiosk. A local Taiwan mobile number is also required for registration).
Find YouBike Kiosks online or use the mobile app. YouBike stations can also be found on Google Maps. Note that there are two incompatible YouBike stations. Be sure to note whether you are using the original orange YouBike or the white YouBike V2.
All these services require a Taiwanese driver license. ZIPCar requires you to have held a Taiwanese drivers license for more than one year prior to being able to use the system.
Shop for Daily Necessities / Delivery Service
Online Shopping is common in Taiwan. Packages may be delivered to your home or the convenience store of your choice. If delivering to a convenience store be careful to select the correct location. All shopping sites are in Mandarin. Google translate can be used to a certain degree of success but its probably best to have a native speaker help you the first few times.
Here are the most popular sites:
Payment method: Pay when goods arrive, Taiwan credit card, Apple Pay, Pay and mail at convenience store)
Fast delivery. Instead of having different sellers
Payment method: Takes foreign cards, can pay and mail at convenience stores
Download from [Apple AppStore](https://apps.apple.com/us/app/momo%E8%B3%BC%E7%89%A9-l-%E7%94%9F%E6%B4%BB%E5%A4%A7%E5%B0%8F%E4%BA%8B%E9%83%BD%E6%98%AFmomo%E7%9A%84%E4%BA%8B/id861796017 " to Apple AppStore ) or Google Play
Payment method: Accepts foreign card, Pay and mail at convenience stores
Note: Part of the website has english. Their website is easier to navigate than their mobile app.
Download from the appropriate app store (Set your AppStore region to Taiwan in order to download the app, or you can use it from your laptop or desktop)
You can find some imported goods from Japan from Rakuten. Also anything from clothing, electronics, frozen foods, snacks, etc. They even have a dedicated page for Watsons.
Fresco is a website for produce, both imported or locally grown premium fruits and vegetables.
Carousell and Facebook Marketplace are popular for buying and selling second-hand goods.
Ⓘ It is also helpful when looking to see if Taiwan sells a certain product from your home country, add “台灣” (in Mandarin) after any product to search for local listings of the item. Ex: search “maple syrup 台灣” or “corn flakes 台灣.” You should find options to purchase online or which store sells it. However, the results might be in Mandarin.
The most common supermarkets in Taiwan are Carrefour, PXMart, RTMart, AMart and Costco. Larger Carrefour locations, Mia C’Bon and City Super are known for their wider selection of imported products. Most larger department stores also have a supermarket in the basement levels. Food Delivery Apps
- Uber Eats (accepts foreign credit card payment)
- Food Panda (accepts Apple Pay with foreign credit card)
- The app “Lalamove” is also a great way of picking up things from supermarkets, restaurants, friends etc. It lets you order a courier as easily as ordering an Uber! (downside: it does not work with foreign credit cards)
Check out our list of other online shopping and groceries options !
Special Dietary Restrictions
If you have any dietary restrictions and need to know where to go, feel free to ask on the Official Facebook group . People with experience are very willing to share! Google Maps is quite accurate for vegan and vegetarian restaurants, and Halal restaurants are found across the country. There are some places you can go for organic groceries, such as COTTON FIELD .
Cash is the most common form of payment in Taiwan. However, in recent years, digital payment such as LINE Pay and Apple Pay has become more widely accepted and commonly used. Bank transfers via online app or ATM are also commonly used in Taiwan when sending payments to vendors and friends. Foreign credit cards are not universally-accepted in Taiwan, especially at many smaller stores including online vendors.
Cashiers will give you funny looks for not taking a receipt because it could be worth money - each receipt is part of a national lottery . You can also download an app ( Apple / Android ) to register a barcode for the shops to store your receipts into your account.
If you hear the melody of Beethoven’s Für Elise or The Maiden’s Prayer on the street, please don’t mistake it as an ice cream truck!
Depending on your type of residence and the services provided by your building, you may have to take your trash to street level to meet the garbage truck at certain times of the week (see this guide ). In both New Taipei City and Taipei City, residents are required to purchase a specific trash bag (available at all convenience and grocery stores) otherwise the garbage workers may refuse to accept your trash. Taipei City uses a blue bag and New Taipei City uses a pink bag. All glass, plastic, aluminum, compost, and styrofoam are to be recycled and should not be in your trash (per regulation); please sort and have such ready for collection by the recycling truck that is part of the garbage truck convoy. Remember to check the rules prior to deciding where to stay.
There are WIFI devices for rent at the airport. The devices are good for short term stay.
For a long-term home broadband plan, 100Mbps service is available generally everywhere in Taiwan, with 1Gbps fiber connections not uncommon in major cities. Your mobile phone carrier probably also provides fixed line broadband services, so you can try asking them. Normally internet companies provide service bundles with TV channels (such as HiNet’s “MOD”).
Here are some companies that you can consider:
Water, Electricity and Gas
Water, electricity and gas are normally hooked up by the landlord and ready to use before moving in. It is common to keep utility bills in the landlord’s name. The bill comes every 2-3 months, and you will receive the utility bills by mail. You can pay the bill at any convenience store. There are some buildings where the gas is delivered in tanks and you will need to order tanks before running out. Tank delivery is typically completed within a few hours. Make sure to check with the landlord.
There is an English-speaking hotline for foreigners maintained by the government (Ministry of Interior). Dial ‘1990’ on any landline or mobile to speak to a service representative about any general inquiries. Mandarin, English and Japanese are provided 24 hours a day, while Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, and Cambodian inquiries are available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday (excluding national holidays).
The Gold Card Community maintains a list of other resources - from emergency preparedness to CPA recommendations.