Bobarctor wrote:Parking: I live in Taipei, near City Hall station (north), I noticed that it is free to park in the small alleys but I have never spotted a single space available for the last two weeks. There is the underground parking under Songshan High Scool that I could use, it is a Taipei City parking. As a resident in a nearby area, is it possible to get a monthly fee ? I am not going to use the car except at the week-ends, can I expect to find something maybe 10 mins walk from my home, below 2500 NT ?
You can still conveniently park for free in some areas. For example, where I live in Muzha there's always a plenty of street-side parking spaces. I know Muzha is somehow special, but even in other districts riverside or more remote areas are also like that. Even if you don't live very close to such a place, you can keep the car there if you only plan to use it occasionally or on the weekends, which is what you say.
Parking in lanes is generally free, but people that live there sometimes "take ownership" of the space in front of their house or shop (which is illegal), and might be hostile if you park there for too long, or on a regular basis. Some might even damage your car. It will also get scratched by scooters a lot. If you really want to do this, make sure you buy a car with electrically folding mirrors.
Parking on some streets is also free (generally, when there are no numbers painted on the spaces). Your best options to find a plenty of spaces are next to a park, a school or some other public building, a fence, or some other "nobody's land" (but always make sure there is no red or yellow line where you park). Also, it's always best to park between other cars, and far away from scooters (at least if you care about the paint).
If one day you really can't find any space, park anywhere in the evening and get up early in the morning to move the car when many people drive to work and "better" spaces free up - this is what local people do.
If you want something better, you can rent a parking space on a yearly (cheaper) or monthly basis at a underground car park or in some larger or newer buildings that have underground garages (look for "租車位" advertisements or ask the security). Spaces in buildings are generally rented from private persons, and might be worth it if you want to commit for at least a year - usually they expect you to do this, but you can bargain the price; public car parks are generally the cheapest on a monthly basis, but be aware that you are just getting a permission to enter the car park, not exclusive use of any particular space, and people who want to park per-hour can usually park in the same spaces. Some car parks are almost always full for this reason, and you wouldn't want to pay for them on a monthly basis, because most of the time you won't be able to use them: one such example is Jinhua in Da'an.
There are always a few options. The best way is to take a walk around the area, looking at potential car parks, garage spaces for rent, etc., and decide what's best for you. You can sometimes find private spaces for rent on http://www.591.com.tw/
but not many people post such ads. For public car parks, everything is on this website： http://www.pma.taipei.gov.tw/
From my own experience: for the past year living in Muzha, I rented a space in the underground garage in my building. This was rather cheap, because only people that live in this building are allowed to use the car park, so the space cannot be rented to anyone from outside, and there is always some street-side parking available anyway. Before, when I lived in Da'an, I used the public underground car park under the Da'an Park, paying on a monthly basis. There are always some free spaces there, so finding one was never a problem (this might change when MRT Da'an Park station opens in December though).
Buying: I was spotting a website hotcar.com.tw which is apparently a chain of second hand dealers and quite famous in Taiwan. Any thoughts on this ? I know nothing about mechanics
but would be able to run a checklist.
Hotcar is just some alliance of dealers. There are a few others, and the largest one is called SUM ("Serve Your Motors" or something like that). Their prices are all inflated, and cars always look shiny and polished, but it does not mean they had any maintenance done, or are even safe to drive. You will need to arrange for this separately on your own, and often it's quite a considerable amount of money (many cars are sold and not passed within family if they have some underlying issues that are difficult or costly to fix). For private sellers, you can try these three websites: http://www.ocar.com.tw/
, and http://tw.bid.yahoo.com/
. Be mindful that most of the cars you can find through these websites will be in terrible condition, and sellers will be desperately lying about it (some of these "private" sellers are actually dealers looking to offload particularly bad cars). I've been through all this last year.
Another option you have is to use Sulavaca's services, which is what I did and I can strongly recommend him. It might not be the cheapest option when you look at it initially (that is what I thought), but it is well worth it if you consider the total cost of ownership (including maintenance), and your safety (looking on my own I almost bought a post-accident car, and only his inspection saved me from making such a huge mistake; after that I decided I really didn't have the skills and knowledge to look for a car here on my own). His website is: http://www.actaiwan.com/
Last but not least, if you hurry, you also have the third option of buying the car from me, as I'm about to leave Taiwan soon.