I got a good deal and a premium location, all without the help of an agent. My Mandarin speaking skills is intermediate, but adequate when using phone calls, and the time alloted was Friday night, Saturday/Sunday daytime and Monday evening (since I had to work). Here’s how I found mine, hope it helps:
1) Check out online housing ads. You can also go to the area you prefer and check out posters/flyers to get a cheaper price (usually placed around the area/phone booths), but since I’m working, I have to settle for online ads instead. The sites I used were:
Ads are in English so great for foreigners. Beware, since landlords know they’re targeting non-locals, rent is particularly high. Negotiate, negotiate and negotiate!!!
Again in English, pictures are often attached so save you the hassle of checking places out before actually realizing it’s a dump. However, user interface not too convenient, and hard to see which areas these places are before clicking on their details.
c.) Yahoo! Ads
The best choice for me! The only downside is that it’s in Chinese, but you can ask your Taiwanese friend to help you translate. I just love the interface because it’s very specific with location, comes with pictures and all the details you need (e.g., rental price, address of place so you know area, facilities, etc.).