Fluorescent light floods the 10 ft. by 10 ft. room with blindingly white light unveiling the room for all it is. The walls are littered with the carcasses of dozens of dead mosquitoes and an assortment of other insects left there by the people who lived there before, or the people who worked on it. A patchwork of cheap linoleum tile and cheap “hardwood” covers the floor. White walls are covered with grey six foot by three foot drywall panels, seemingly, for absolutely no reason at all. That is, it seems like no reason until you see one of them bursting forth from the wall by the wall itself expanding due to some unseen and unknown force. The queen sized bed takes up almost the entire room, only leaving room for a fridge, a desk and a small wooden, decrepit and decaying shelf. There is a small area holding a washer machine that barely works by the front door. About ten steps to the opposite side of the room is the bathroom, also illuminated by hospital-like lighting. It is not a bathroom like western ones. There is no tub, just a basic wetroom that never truly dries and, therefore, molds, smells and attracts bugs constantly. That is it. That is the entirety of our first apartment. With the added aesthetic presence of bars on the windows, this place is more a prison-cell, when viewed through our jaded, Western eyes at least, than a real place of living.
Why, then, did we choose this place? Well, it is complicated. When we moved here to Taiwan we were, obviously, overwhelmed, naive and easily convinced. We had spent our first five days in two hostels and wanted desperately to move out and into our own place to stop the bleeding that comes with paying for a room nightly. We recruited a friend to assist us with the apartment search and expected nothing but the best. When shown our options, only about three apartments, we chose this one. It cost us 12,500 NTD (New Taiwan Dollars), not including utilities. Expensive, not for what we paid for an apartment back home, and not according to what our friend told us. Looking back on it, though, it was WAY TOO EXPENSIVE. In the end, it was a perfect storm of factors that led us to jumping into the apartment, and it is a great example of what not to do when you move abroad.
That is just the actual apartment, though. In reality, living in a place that small and shitty can take a toll on you mentally, as well. When you are living with your significant other, or any other person for that matter, you will fight. When you fight in a space that is about 10 ft. by 10 ft. you CANNOT get away. There is no space to retreat to. There is no other room to go and cool off in. You are always in each others faces. Add that factor to the fact that we are in deep debt and the stress that comes with that and it is truly a wonder we didn’t kill each other. Beyond that, we also seemed to dread things so much more. Mondays, for example, seemed so horrible to think about because we spent all Sunday night sitting in a prison cell; eating, drinking, and sleeping on our multi-tasking bed. When you dread going home and you dread going to work, it can make your life much less fulfilling and fun.
Overall, living in that apartment for an entire year is an amazing feat for us to look back on. We came out of it stronger as a couple, and, for that, we are thankful. It was a real growing experience for us, and it was good for us as Westerners, who take for granted so much, to live in a place that was small and inconvenient, but, at the same time, a thousand times better than billions of people living today. It was a small window into a different world. Saying that, we are really, really glad to be done with it. The good news is that from the bottom the only way to go is up, and, boy, did we ever.
FINANCIAL RANKING: 1 – Brain Dead
Looking back it was a moronic and naive decision made in ignorance and through some shoddy advice. Far too expensive for the return and something we would NEVER do again. Don’t do what we did! RUN THE OTHER WAY!
If anyone has any miserable apartment or living abroad memories, please share below!