TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's aggressive efforts to fight the coronavirus early paid off, as the country posted strong economic growth in 2020, with a significant increase in the number of Gold Card applications to work in Taiwan, subsequently boosting demand for apartment rentals.
According to NDC statistics, a total of 2,147 applications for Gold Cards, a special work and residency permit for highly skilled foreign talent, were received between Feb. 8, 2018, and March 31, 2021. Of the applicants approved, 269 work in science and technology, 1,673 in economics, and 149 in education.
Adam Yu, the sales manager of UR HOUSE REALTY, the largest apartment rental agency for foreigners in Taipei, told Taiwan News the agency assisted an increased number of Hong Kong immigrants than usual with their real estate needs in Taiwan from the beginning of 2020. He was told the reasons for this included political unrest in the city-state, Taiwan's lauded COVID-19 response, cheaper housing prices compared to Hong Kong, cultural and ethnic proximity to home, and friendliness towards expats.
"Taipei and Taichung are the two cities most preferred by Hong Kong immigrants," Yu noted.
On top of greater housing demand from Hong Kong immigrants, post-pandemic Taiwan is also seeing a larger inflow of foreigners, in particular Taiwanese Americans and Taiwanese Canadians. Yu also observed a sharp increase in expats moving to Taiwan for work since the onset of 2020, many of whom are freelancers and entrepreneurs by profession.
Most expats emigrating choose to rent rather than buy: in part because of steep rising housing prices, and the time it takes to find the ideal flat that meets their requirements and budget. Newcomers prefer to explore neighborhoods and available housing options to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.
Surprisingly, even the demand for apartment rentals has shifted since the outbreak, Yu explained.
According to Yu, as working from home has become more and more common during the pandemic, the incentive for people to move from the buzzing and expensive hubs like Da-An and Xin-Yi districts for the calmer and relatively cheaper suburban districts in Taipei (most notably Tianmu and Shilin areas) has increased significantly.
"Generally, expat clients prefer a spacious flat in leafy suburb to improve their quality of life. The lower cost of living has real appeal too."