I am currently actively looking to buy a new place because (a) we need somewhere bigger and (b) we want to live closer to the parents-in-laws and sisters-in-law, so they can help us look after our baby. So we're looking to move to Linkou from Xindian.
Yes, Linkou is a nasty shithole, while Xindian is as good a place to live as anywhere in Taipei County, and before the baby came I wouldn't have considered such a move even if I'd been offered a free house in Linkou. But the baby makes all the difference.
Now Linkou is currently undergoing massive development, with literally hundreds of new housing projects going up on a large flat expanse of what used to be agricultural land. It's going to have a couple of MRT stations a few years ahead and, with some half-decent urban planning, might be quite an acceptable place to live when all the development is done - though still far inferior to Xindian and many other parts of Taipei County.
We're ideally looking for one of those new row houses with good security in a quiet area away from the main roads. They do exist, because the parents-in-law and one of the sisters-in-law both live in prime examples, and having stayed in both, I'd be quite happy to live in either. Unfortunately, those places are very hard to come by, and the prices are prohibitively high, running from the low-teen to high-teen millions for about 70 ping. We're still hoping we might find a 50-odd ping one for about 9 million, but those are few and far between.
So we're also looking at apartments, and have been visiting various of these new projects (either newly finished or still under construction) each Saturday when we spend the day with the in-laws. But the prices they're asking just seem so nonsensical, totally out of touch with reality. For very basic, fairly cramped, 3-bedroom places with an underground parking space, we've been quoted prices of 11 or 12 million - sans interior decoration! Considering that there are tens of thousands of these new homes looking to attract buyers, I just don't see how they can possibly hope to sell them at such prices. How can there be that many Taiwanese with that much money to spend on very ordinary smallish apartments in such a location? We're talking about US$400,000 - and even in the bubble markets in the US, UK and elsewhere, you can still buy something a hell of a lot better than these apartments for much less than that. The only one that was more or less acceptably priced was a 44-ping place which, after deduction of the 25%+ public space, had about 32 pings of interior space, and was available for about NT$7 million, including a parking space. Unfortunately, it faces onto a busy road, is diagonally across from a petrol station, and is surrounded by empty sites where more high-rises are going to be built over the next couple of years - so absolutely not the kind of environment I'm looking for.
When I agreed with the wife that we'd look for a place in Linkou, I set a maximum budget of NT$9 million, fully expecting to be able to find either a fairly nice place for much less than that or a very nice place for that full amount. I can hardly believe that it's difficult to find a modest little home for US$300,000 in as unappealing a place as Linkou.
So I, for one, will be really strongly hoping for a major downward correction in these absurdly inflated housing prices.