Home sweet home for the next few months is a great 1-bedroom apartment in the Song Shan neighborhood in Taipei, Taiwan. Tree-lined pedestrian-only streets allow us to wander through the neighborhood, and we are only a block away from major bus lines and a couple blocks from the subway. Restaurants, food stands, and convenience stores are liberally sprinkled about, and right next door is a large traditional produce market.
Rent is 30,000 TWD a month, which roughly converts to $990. I think all Taiwan building complexes have a management fee, and this holds a special place in the minds of landlords. “Hey, can you include electricity in the rent?” No problem. “How about water and sewer and garbage?” OK. “Internet? Can you include Wifi in the rent?” Of course, that is included.
“How about the building management fee?”
“Oh, No, No, No, No, NO! You have to pay that yourself!” And so we pay an additional 1,500 TWD monthly (~$50), which as far as I can tell pays the salary of the guy that sits in the basement and receives any packages you may have ordered.
We found this home through a friend. The owner had recently built a new place, and it was sitting empty while they evaluated selling or not. Property prices in Taipei are ridiculously high, and rental prices are ridiculously low. Nobody skilled in math (*) would purchase property in Taipei. Ironic, isn’t it? What would our $1000 a month apartment go for on the open market? Over $1,000,000. I’ll rent, thank you very much.
Let’s check it out
The apartment has 1 large bedroom with private bath, a guest bathroom, an office/exercise room, kitchen, and living/dining area. There is also a small outdoor patio with washer & dryer and a tea room. The total size is a little greater than the 900 sq. ft. we lived in in Seattle.
The living space has great lighting and open space, and the couch is quite enjoyable to sit upon. It even does double duty as a guitar stand. Along the far wall is a 60+ inch TV, which we have yet to turn on.
The traditional tea room let’s in a lot of natural light, and is a great place to store these wood carvings
The kitchen has all of the necessities… a rice cooker, a hot water dispenser for tea, and a range top for cooking. There is no oven, which seems pretty standard, although we won’t be baking any bread (There are some great bakeries nearby!) We purchased some plates, bowls, and glasses at the Ikea (1 block away) to fill the rest of our dining needs. Our Vitamix blender found a new home, and it still makes delicious green smoothies for us every morning
The Bedroom has a great King-Size Bed and enough closet and storage space to comfortably store all of our possessions (each item has its own drawer.)
The attached bathroom has an unlimited supply of hot water from its rain water style shower, and the heated bidet toilet seat is definitely something special. Whoever decided to risk mixing electricity and water deserves every penny they make from this invention.
The exercise room has a tread mill and standing bicycle, plus additional storage. We haven’t used the treadmill yet, since walking outside is so nice, but I’ve taken to riding the bike nearly every day. I think the 1000 hands Buddha statue in the window approves. This room can also double as a guest room if any of our friends or family can make the flight across the Pacific
It is often the little things that make all the difference, and the attention to detail is incredible. Just one example: the finger-print reader in the talking-door / security system. Unfortunately it speaks Korean, so I have no idea what it says, but we just swipe our finger and a cascade of locks slide open to grant entry. Never again will I worry that I forgot my key
We didn’t dig deeply into the rental market, but there are places available for less (that aren’t as nice or as well located) and there are places available for much more more. Still, I think we did well and are getting a great deal
We really love the place. It is comfortable and beautiful, and is a great place to rest our heads after a busy day in the city
* For the mathematically inclined readers, you will note that $990 + $50 ≠ $1000. I made an artistic decision to round down for the sake of a quality blog post title :)