Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

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Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby nicolette027 » 31 Jul 2012, 20:26

Hello everyone!

So, I just joined this site and I'm moving to Taiwan (Danshui) on Aug. 27th to attend Tamkang University (Masters in TESOL). I've been to China (Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou) before so I'm used to being stared at, the general cost of food, ect. However, I wasn't in China for nearly as long as I will be staying in Taiwan (2+ years, with visits back home in the summer), so I do have a lot of questions.

I have searched the forums quite a bit before I even joined, yet I still have questions and would like responses that are unique to my situation as well as specific advice about how to go about doing certain things.

As I said, I'll be living in Danshui, which I've come to understand is one of the cheaper places to live around Taipei. Through my online apartment searches (twhouses, 591, ect.) I've come to the conclusion that I can get a good room (w/o washer or personal kitchen) for around 4,500 NT, although I would like a balcony. I've found rooms with balconies at that price, yet some of those listings don't show the balcony. :/


Questions:
-Should I call or e-mail to inquire about the apartment? I'd like to be in an apartment by Sep. 3 (I plan to arrive and stay in a hostel until then) so the apartment search needs to be short for me, lol.

-I know enough Chinese to inquire about and apartment, ask about costs, ect., but I know mostly simplified Chinese so I'm apprehensive about signing a contract. I am also an African American female, so I don't know if anyone would be wary about renting to me, although I can speak pretty decent Chinese (I lived in a dorm in China so I didn't have to find housing). Should I bring a Chinese person with me to sign the contract, ect.?

-On average, how much are utilities for a "student apartment"? I hear that utilities can be as much as 2,000 NT a month, but will it be a little lower for a small apartment.

-As I said, I want to expedite my apartment search. Do you think offering to pay by semester, not month, will speed things up?

More questions (not apartment-related):

-I want to get a bank account soon after I arrive (I don't want to have thousands of dollars sitting in my room D:). I'm thinkin' International Bank of Taipei, and you only need a chop to get a bank card no open an account, right? I've read somewhere here that the cheapest/easiest way to transfer money from home to you bank in Taiwan is to write a check (from you home bank account, in my case one in America) and cash it into your Taiwanese account. Is this accurate?

-I lived off street food and bought easy things I could make/snack on in my dorm in China for fairly cheap. From what I've heard from friends/read, I can do this in Taiwan too. I wonder, will $350 would be enough to eat every month?

-I plan to bring over my iPhone 4S and get a Taiwanese SIM card from Zhonghua Telecom. I looked at their site and I don't really get their data plans, lol. I do pretty well with 200MB/month here, and I'd want around the same thing there. How much do you think I'd pay per month? I will probably wait until I have a Chinese buddy there that can come with me to get it as you must have a Taiwanese citizen who's 20+ to be your guarantor, correct?

-Winter, how is it in Taipei and around Danshui? I've read about the weather and asked friends, so I do have a good idea, but I just want to hear more (can never have too much input). I have pretty warm jackets that work for a Houston, TX winter (the weather here seems very similar to Taipei weather…it can get pretty rainy sometimes and winters are anywhere from 55F to 20F haha. Summers around 100F here, can I expect that sometimes in Taiwan? Well, either way I'm used to it.)

And in closing, I'd be happy to receive any other advice/assistance from all you veterans out there. I have a feeling it will be a little hectic getting settled, but a lot of my friends claim Taiwan > China in terms of food, things to do, ect. so I'm excited! :D

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby louisfriend » 31 Jul 2012, 21:44

Lets start with the basics: stay away from ah-gei and those horrid quail eggs
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Re: Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby nicolette027 » 01 Aug 2012, 08:08

Ah poo, I was looking forward to ah-gei. Looks good, I wonder why I should be wary of it. :/
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Re: Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby cfimages » 01 Aug 2012, 08:45

nicolette027 wrote:
-I want to get a bank account soon after I arrive (I don't want to have thousands of dollars sitting in my room D:). I'm thinkin' International Bank of Taipei, and you only need a chop to get a bank card no open an account, right? I've read somewhere here that the cheapest/easiest way to transfer money from home to you bank in Taiwan is to write a check (from you home bank account, in my case one in America) and cash it into your Taiwanese account. Is this accurate?


Unless it's changed, you only need a passport to open a bank account. You can get a tax ID number from the immigration office which you may also need. Banks are pretty hit and miss in Taiwan, and even different branches of the same bank will have vastly different rules and services. The best I've found is Taishin, which has a branch in Danshui. Your best bet will be to walk into a couple and see who makes it easiest for you.

For getting cash into your account, checks are not the way to go. They takes ages to clear - think 6 weeks or so minimum. The best way would be to wire the money to yourself - once you're here and have the bank account just log into your American bank's internet banking and make the transfer to your Taiwan account. The bank will give you the necessary codes needed.

-I plan to bring over my iPhone 4S and get a Taiwanese SIM card from Zhonghua Telecom. I looked at their site and I don't really get their data plans, lol. I do pretty well with 200MB/month here, and I'd want around the same thing there. How much do you think I'd pay per month? I will probably wait until I have a Chinese buddy there that can come with me to get it as you must have a Taiwanese citizen who's 20+ to be your guarantor, correct?


I pay around NT$1000 per month for unlimited data with my phone. You can open the account without a guarantor but they'll charge you an extra fee of around NT$3000. Also, you'll probably need to prepay the phone contract - ie you pay 12 months up front and they deduct it monthly. This applies to Taiwanese as well as foreigners.

-Winter, how is it in Taipei and around Danshui? I've read about the weather and asked friends, so I do have a good idea, but I just want to hear more (can never have too much input). I have pretty warm jackets that work for a Houston, TX winter (the weather here seems very similar to Taipei weather…it can get pretty rainy sometimes and winters are anywhere from 55F to 20F haha. Summers around 100F here, can I expect that sometimes in Taiwan? Well, either way I'm used to it.)


Winter in Danshui is cold and wet. 2-3ºC colder than Taipei city. I've never been to Texas so I have no idea how it compares but be aware that there's no central heating in Taiwan so indoor temps are usually the same as outdoor.
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Re: Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby Icon » 01 Aug 2012, 10:15

nicolette027 wrote:Hello everyone!

Hello and welcome
So, I just joined this site and I'm moving to Taiwan (Danshui) on Aug. 27th to attend Tamkang University (Masters in TESOL). I've been to China (Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou) before so I'm used to being stared at, the general cost of food, ect. However, I wasn't in China for nearly as long as I will be staying in Taiwan (2+ years, with visits back home in the summer), so I do have a lot of questions.

I have searched the forums quite a bit before I even joined, yet I still have questions and would like responses that are unique to my situation as well as specific advice about how to go about doing certain things.

As I said, I'll be living in Danshui, which I've come to understand is one of the cheaper places to live around Taipei. Through my online apartment searches (twhouses, 591, ect.) I've come to the conclusion that I can get a good room (w/o washer or personal kitchen) for around 4,500 NT, although I would like a balcony. I've found rooms with balconies at that price, yet some of those listings don't show the balcony. :/

Any apartment may have a "balcony", defined as a place to hang your clothes to dry. Try to see if the place is an older apartment or a newer one. Older places have bigger balconies... but no elevator. Newer tend to b closed hermetically.

Questions:
-Should I call or e-mail to inquire about the apartment? I'd like to be in an apartment by Sep. 3 (I plan to arrive and stay in a hostel until then) so the apartment search needs to be short for me, lol.

It is not wise to book the apartment from abroad. Book a hostel for the first week, look carefully, do not grab the place straight from the Internet. Most deposits are non refundable. Bring a friend/coworker, get a second opinion.

-I know enough Chinese to inquire about and apartment, ask about costs, ect., but I know mostly simplified Chinese so I'm apprehensive about signing a contract. I am also an African American female, so I don't know if anyone would be wary about renting to me, although I can speak pretty decent Chinese (I lived in a dorm in China so I didn't have to find housing). Should I bring a Chinese person with me to sign the contract, ect.?

You can keep the contract a day or two to consider it. It is usually a standard form sold at convenience stores, you can buy one to analyse at your leisure when you arrive. Do bring a local if you can. If they are wary of you being a foreigner, do not rent from them. There are plenty of landlords who like foreigners, but also many who have been burned, so do not take it personally.

-On average, how much are utilities for a "student apartment"? I hear that utilities can be as much as 2,000 NT a month, but will it be a little lower for a small apartment.

In your budget, 4500, we are talking about one room, so it depends on how other people in the apartment use utilities, too, and hwo you will split the costs. This has to be crystal clera from the start.

-As I said, I want to expedite my apartment search. Do you think offering to pay by semester, not month, will speed things up?

No, this is not a good idea. Many things can happen and you may find a good place or a place you want to flee because you can't stand it after something happens. What you propose is not standard procedure and teh landlord will probably feel uneasy about it. Don't.

Again, do not rush, no ned to rush. A week is standard, you are coning to a new place, haste makes waste.


More questions (not apartment-related):

-I want to get a bank account soon after I arrive (I don't want to have thousands of dollars sitting in my room D:). I'm thinkin' International Bank of Taipei, and you only need a chop to get a bank card no open an account, right? I've read somewhere here that the cheapest/easiest way to transfer money from home to you bank in Taiwan is to write a check (from you home bank account, in my case one in America) and cash it into your Taiwanese account. Is this accurate?

What International bank of Taipei? Beenn here 10 years and have not heard of it. Do you have a link?

Checks are not used in Taiwan and your money will probably be delayed. Travelers chacks will be OK. You wil need your passport to open an account. Stay with the big banks: Bank of Taiwan, Fubon, Chinatrust, Mega, Yushan.


-I lived off street food and bought easy things I could make/snack on in my dorm in China for fairly cheap. From what I've heard from friends/read, I can do this in Taiwan too. I wonder, will $350 would be enough to eat every month?

Nothing fancy, in Danshui? Yeah, doable.

-I plan to bring over my iPhone 4S and get a Taiwanese SIM card from Zhonghua Telecom. I looked at their site and I don't really get their data plans, lol. I do pretty well with 200MB/month here, and I'd want around the same thing there. How much do you think I'd pay per month? I will probably wait until I have a Chinese buddy there that can come with me to get it as you must have a Taiwanese citizen who's 20+ to be your guarantor, correct?

With Zhonghua, you can also pay a deposit instead of bringing a guarantor. This is separate from the deposit for the phone/SIM card.

-Winter, how is it in Taipei and around Danshui? I've read about the weather and asked friends, so I do have a good idea, but I just want to hear more (can never have too much input). I have pretty warm jackets that work for a Houston, TX winter (the weather here seems very similar to Taipei weather…it can get pretty rainy sometimes and winters are anywhere from 55F to 20F haha. Summers around 100F here, can I expect that sometimes in Taiwan? Well, either way I'm used to it.)

Bring stuff that can b layered. Winter in Danshui is coastal humid winds, making the cold more bitter than what the thermometer says. Houston is not as humid as Taipei, as fasr as I can recall. Better not bring any leather jackets, BTW.

And in closing, I'd be happy to receive any other advice/assistance from all you veterans out there. I have a feeling it will be a little hectic getting settled, but a lot of my friends claim Taiwan > China in terms of food, things to do, ect. so I'm excited! :D

This is a nice place to live, and I hope you have a great time here.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby louisfriend » 01 Aug 2012, 11:12

nicolette027 wrote:Ah poo, I was looking forward to ah-gei. Looks good, I wonder why I should be wary of it. :/


OK, so you can eat worse things than ah-gei. But the quail eggs are seriously gross. Maybe you'll love them though :roll:
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Re: Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby StefanMuc » 01 Aug 2012, 19:56

nicolette027 wrote:-I want to get a bank account soon after I arrive


My standard recommendation for banking: open an account with Citibank in the US, you can get money out of the Citibank ATMs in Taipei without extra charges and with a decent conversion rate. Works in many other countries too, which can be handy if you are traveling. Only downside is that there are very few Citibank branches, so you would have to go to the city center and use the ATM there.

I have to add a disclaimer: I don't have a Citibank account anymore so this info is a few years old. (I found an even better way to access my money in Taiwan - but that's with a German bank, so that doesn't help you.)
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Re: Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby nicolette027 » 02 Aug 2012, 04:49

@cfimages

Thanks for the bank info, I'll have a lot of money on me, even after I pay my tuition, so that all really helps. Just a passport huh? I assume they might want to see my ARC though right? I'll be coming with a resident visa and applying for my ARC the day after I get to Taiwan, so I'll most likely wait until I have it to get an account. I'll probably go with the transfer, although I know wiring money can be quite costly. I suppose it's worth the cost though because I don't think I'd be in a position to wait a month for a check to clear. I'll definately check out Taishin.

As for the phone, how much do you think I'd pay for less data? (I don't see myself using unlimited...I mostly want data to look at maps/email on the go).

And thanks for the weather info, I think I pretty much already have the clothes I need.


@louisfriend - haha, I don't know if I like the sound of quail eggs, but I might give them a go just because


@StefanMuc - Oh, that's a great alternative option. I looked at maps and I see what you're saying, the closest city bank to me would be a little south of Beitou, but I don't plan to go to the bank *all* the time and I won't need it to pay fees. Plus, there's a Citibank not far from my house here. Thanks!
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Re: Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby nicolette027 » 02 Aug 2012, 04:50

@Icon

Hi, thanks for the extensive feedback!

Yeah, I though most would have one, I wanted one for hanging clothes specifically so that's good to know. I hope I can snag a place that's no higher than the 4th floor, so hopefully no elevator won't matter too much (but it will when I move in/move out haha).

I plan to book a hostel today for the first week for sure. I had a feeling getting an apartment completely online would be a bad idea. It's my first time living abroad and away from home (lived at home during my undergrad) so I'm a bit confused as to how to go about everything. That's for the advice about keeping the contract and bringing a local, I'll do that for sure.

To make things clear, do you think I should send an e-mail to set up and appointment to check the place out, go see it, then consider it for a couple of days? Is it common to get a place in about a week? School starts on Sep. 10th and my first full day in Taiwan is Aug. 28th so I realize I'm cutting it close!

Also, about the utilities, do some places split the cost like you said and some places have separate meters, right? I've seen "separate meter" on some listings.

The International Bank of Taipei? I saw it on a Tealit article about banks, apparently their affiliated with SinoPac (from what I've seen)
http://www.banksinopac.com.tw/bsp/eng/I ... Qr_ibt.asp

I suppose it is smart to stick with the popular ones though, so I'll strongly consider those.

As for the phone, there's a deposit for coming w/o a guarantor and for the SIM card? How much is the on for the SIM card usually, and is there one at all if I manage to get a guarantor?

And cool, I layer a lot during the winter here so I have a lot for clothes for that. Houston gets (and is) pretty humid, but Danshui is right by the water so you're probably right. I have no leather jacket so that won't be a problem haha.

Thanks a lot! I'm both nervous and excited.
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Re: Moving to Danshui, lots of questions!

Postby boho » 02 Aug 2012, 04:58

nicolette027 wrote:I'll be coming with a resident visa and applying for my ARC the day after I get to Taiwan!


Did you get a health check to get that resident visa? The TECO where I am told me I can only get mine with a health check and that it has to be some sort of standard Taiwanese visa health check...then told me they would get back to me with detailed info. Then they never did (surprise surprise Taiwanese administration fails again...)

EDIT: When I try to call for clarification, they forward me to someone who's never there. And when I do get a hold of someone they give me different information everytime. One person said "you can't apply for a resident visa outside of Taiwan" while the next person said I could with a health check. It's an absolute joke so I think I'll go the simplest way.
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