In light of the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, I am re-presenting something I wrote in Forumosa about the wisdom of buying a house or apartment in Taiwan - apart from the legal barriers and technical difficulties. At the time, people disagreed with me and provided all the formulaic reasons for buying - "pride of ownership" et cetera. But I think this still stands - unlike the apartments in central Taiwan's earthquake zone.
2. First rule of building houses:
"No man builds a house unless he first counts the cost."
As some have noted, When you buy a house/apartment, there are costs besides the mortgage, including, but not limited to: taxes, maintenance fees, legal fees, and (esp. if you plan to rent it out) agent's fees.
Oh, and insurance, which brings us to the next item...
3. Ancient wisdom about building in a flood zone.
The wise man built his house upon the rock.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
4. Did you feel that?
Earthquakes happen every day in Taiwan.
The last "big one", September 21, 1999, was a magnitude 7.3.
The strongest aftershock, three days later, was 6.8. That's like calling Nagasaki an aftershock of Hiroshima
And you know what? Seismologist say that the 921 Earthquake WASN'T "the big one."
Oh, and most of the buildings that were destroyed were new buildings.
5. Rule of thumb for would-be home owners
Never buy a house/apartment in an earthquake zone.
6. Ancient wisdom from 60s British television
"Anything can happen in the next half-hour!"
The Last word in edgewise
If you want an investment, buy mutual funds, RSPs or life insurance.
If you want a place to live, rent a house or apartment.