Should I Book My Room Before Arriving in Taipei?

If you see a good room in Taipei before arriving, book it. You might have received the advice to book a hostel or Airbnb for the first week and to search for a flat once you arrived in Taipei. This is an advice that has been given by many schools since 2008, when Taiwan attracted as few as 30,000 international students per year. In this article we do the math to see whether this advice still makes sense in 2019, now that Taiwan attracts 120,000 international students per year, and whether it is the right solution for you.

Let’s have look at the facts.

Taipei and New Taipei City count 43 universities and colleges and 19 Mandarin language schools.

Since 2008 , the number of international students has been multiplied by 4. While Taiwan only had 30,000 international students in 2008, the island hosted 118,000 international students in 2017, and the Taiwanese government aims to increase this number to 150,000 international students per year in 2021.

How many come to Taipei

Under the hypothesis that 80% of the international students come to Taipei, and that they are spread over 4 terms (because Chinese Language schools start in September, December, February and June), the number of international students who arrive in Taipei with you is a conservative 22,000 students (compared to 5,500 in 2008 if we consider the same hypotheses). This is great news for parties and adventure, but horrible news for housing.

When do those 22,000 international students arrive exactly?

They all arrive in the same 2 weeks, which explains the fierce competition for good rooms that is striking Taipei at the start of each term.

To illustrate this, let’s have a look at the starting dates of the main schools in September 2017:

    • Language schools
      • NTNU: September 1
      • NTU CLD: September 3
      • NTU ICLP: September 11
    • Universities:
      • NTU: September 5
      • NCCU: September 1
      • NTUST: September 8
      • Fu Jen: September 13

So if I arrive 2 weeks before that date bracket I’m fine, right?

Good thinking Sherlock! Which percentage of students will have the same idea in mind? We’ll let you guess 😉  

Yes, but my friend had an amazing room that he found after arriving.

That’s most probably true. There are still a lot of good rooms popping out from time to time. Just keep in mind that 22,000 other students need a room. The low-priced rooms usually get booked within a few hours. So you waiting for the right room to pop-up and successfully getting it might be closer to a casino game or a “room lottery” than to a rational decision.

However, some people decide to book a room after arriving because you really want to visit their room. Keep in mind that even when you request a visit, the room might be rented out by the time that you arrive to the apartment.

I was one of those people that actually found a room after arriving in Taipei. I found a room in a great shared apartment (8 rooms with other mandarin students) near NTNU in late May. The only problem was the room was small and had no window and I paid a similar price as the person who booked a big room with lots of windows in the room just across from me. That person had booked 2 months in advance. If you want the big room with lots of windows, then book it way in advance. Some rooms in shared apartments even have their own private bathroom. If you find one of those, definitely book it right away. It won’t last long.

So not everyone comes to a hostel to find his room?

Imagine the situation. You just arrived in Taipei without a room. Where would you start searching for rooms to visit? Facebook used to be one of the big solutions to find a room for foreigners.

Let’s do the math again to see if that’s still the case nowadays. (bar chart)

  • 22,000 students/term
  • 1,400 posts from June to September 2017 (peak season).
  • Where did the 20,000 others go?…

Based on these findings, what would be a safer solution?

Based on the above mentioned facts/analysis, it would be useful to have

  • An up to date list of all the rooms from previous international students.
  • Have a clear overview of the rooms which will be available to book one without the rush of the lottery game.
  • A solution to make sure that a good room will be reserved for you.

That is a smart solution, indeed. And that is exactly the reason why several former international students launched My Room Abroad. Go have a look now and decide for yourself when is the right time to book your room!