Location, location, location
Always look at the area around your apartment. Living next to a rice field may seem romantic, but they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and the stalks are burnt off at regular intervals. Factories and empty lots are often used for the illegal burning of rubbish and waste. These are not things you want right next to your home.
Living close to a school, on the other hand, does have its benefits. Schools mean plenty of cram schools (schools which tutor children or prepare them for exams outside of regular school hours) close by - good for expat teachers looking for work. You will also find green spaces which you can jog or walk around when school is finished.
Living near a temple may have the same romantic overtones as a rice paddy, but temples are often very noisy. Celebrations and festivals may continue late into the night and often bring a lot of traffic to the neighbourhood.
Inside the house
It is important to check whether there is a heating or air-conditioning system. If you live in the north of the country, you will need a heater in winter. Anywhere on the island in summer can be unbearable without at least a fan.
Make sure you have an electric fan, or ask your landlord about air-conditioning. Fans are relatively cheap and you can easily get a couple for the hot and sticky summers if they aren’t provided.
Lung cancer caused by cooking smoke is now one of the biggest killers of Taiwanese females. You should ensure there is a working extractor fan above your stove to avoid smoke or cooking fume inhalation.
Windows and balconies, especially in cities are often barred to deter burglars. Check the bars can be opened from the inside, or there is some kind of escape route in case of fire. Every year, people are killed because they can't escape through barred windows in the event of a fire.