The best city in Taiwan to live in is Taipei. You’ll have access to public transportation, plenty of English support, and western amentities. Another great city you can choose is New Taipei. It’s more affordable and adjacent to Taipei.
I’ve lived in Taiwan for over 4 years and had to make a difficult decision to choose the city I live in (Taipei or New Taipei). I compiled my experienced, along with other information, to help you find the best city in Taiwan.
As you read through this guide, I’ll cover the following points to help you make a decision:
- Brief description of each city
- Average living costs
- Public transportation availability
- Shopping and recreation
- Whether a city is English-friendly
It’s time to l-l-learn.
9 Major Cities in Taiwan #
|New Taipei||793 mi2 | 2053 km2||4.015 million|
|Taipei||104.9 mi2 | 271 km2||2.553 million|
|Taichung||855 mi2 | 2214 km2||2.817 million|
|Tainan||846 mi2 | 2191 km2||1.881 million|
|Kaohsiung||1,140 mi2 | 2952 km2||2.773 million|
|Taoyuan||471 mi2 | 1219 km2||2.245 million|
|Chiayi||23.18 mi2 | 60 km2||270,254|
|Taitung||42.38 mi2 | 109 km2||106,929|
|Yilan||828 mi2 | 2144 km2||454,287|
Kaohsiung has the most area while New Taipei has the highest population. Many will often confuse New Taipei with Taipei.
However, they’re separate cities.
The former surrounds the latter, yet they are both still connected.
Chiayi has the lowest population, yet it’s still connected to most of Taiwan’s major cities through the High-Speed Rail (HSR). The HSR is Taiwan’s bullet train that runs 220 miles (350 kilometers) along the country’s west coast.
1. New Taipei City
New Taipei marries Taipei’s benefits and affordable living. You can get to most places throughout the city with ease due to the north’s public transportation.
If you’re not bound by commuting to work, you can move to Tamsui, which offers new and affordable apartments. Otherwise, staying in the Banqiao District puts you beside a bus and HSR stations.
Best of all, it connects to the Circular Line metro station, which once it’s complete, will take you around a good portion of Taipei and New Taipei.
With access to an HSR station, you’ll never find yourself short of things to do. New Taipei is home to various cultural attractions like:
- Houtong Cat Village
- Jiufen Old Street
- Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf
2. Taipei City
By far one of Taiwan’s most convenient cities. Hence, why most westerners will flock there.
It has convenience stores and hypermarkets everywhere. You’ll also find clinics and hospitals at almost every corner. To top it all off, Taipei has the best public transportation I’ve seen.
You can get anywhere in the city quickly without driving. It’s also affordable.
Though this city has the highest living cost, if you have a decent job, you have nothing to worry about.
Some families will choose Da’an District due to its access to family-friendly hotspots like Da’an park. Whereas, others will choose Neihu due to it being close to the Taipei American School.
If you’re younger and have plenty of disposable income, you’ll love Xinyi District. It’s expensive, but it’s home to a good number of nightclubs and bars.
Here’s a digital nomad’s guide to Taipei.
3. Taichung City
Taichung is Taiwan’s second most populated city that resides in the nation’s center. It’s not condensed like Taipei, so things are much more dispersed. While the city is slowly adding more transportation, you may want to consider buying a motorbike if you live here.
Or you can rent a motorbike when you need it for a fair price.
When you need a weekend getaway, you’ll seldom find yourself short of things to do. For instance, there’s the National Taichung Theater. Or, if you want to embrace nature, walk along the city’s restored Shin Sei Green Waterway.
Most foreigners will live in the West District or Xitun. You’ll need to pay a lot for bills though.
To avoid living among a ton of foreigners, you can check out Beitun. There are plenty of metro stations here and you’ll have some pleasant areas to explore.
4. Tainan City
If you want nightlife, you won’t like Tainan. However, it’s Taiwan’s oldest city—the nation’s birthplace.
If you prefer living in a place ripe with Taiwan’s cultural relics and has some western amenities, then choose here. For instance, you’ll find some western restaurants to indulge in when you don’t feel like having Taiwanese food.
You’ll need a vehicle when living here, though. But with how much you’ll save on living costs, the southern city may be worth it to you.
5. Kaohsiung City
If you want most of the comforts Taiwan and New Taipei offer without paying too much, check out Kaohsiung. They don’t have tremendous English support, but it’s a great area to practice your Mandarin Chinese skills.
Looking for night markets?
Don’t worry. This city has Liuhe Night Market among other markets.
You may find a lot of air pollution in Kaohsiung. This isn’t ideal for you who are sensitive to pollutants.
To have access to Kaohsiung Metro, you’ll want to check out Zuoying. It’s an affordable area and close to various shopping centers and bars.
6. Taoyuan City
Taoyuan is home to Taiwan’s biggest airport and also has the most expats from Southeast Asia. It’s convenient with its metro system and offers plenty of amenities.
If you don’t want to live in New Taipei and Taipei, this northern city is a great alternative.
Prices are lower and things are more spread out. You’ll also have plenty of places to take walks or hike if needed.
Many foreigners seem to choose Yangmei or Zhongli neighborhoods.
7. Chiayi City
A city famous for its turkey rice. And turkeys.
The previously mentioned, along with affordable prices, makes this city a lovely place for you who love Taiwanese cuisine.
It’s inconvenient to access, but if you have the money for a vehicle, that doesn’t matter.
8. Taitung City
Usually, when heading east, you won’t find many people or massive cities like Taiwan’s west. Taitung is sort of an exception. You’ll find many businesses like most bigger cities have like Carrefour.
They also don’t have much pollution.
However, there are not many reasons to move there aside from wanting a laid-back lifestyle. Work options are limited. But you’ll also have access to the countryside, which means plenty of hiking paths.
If you want to visit somewhere like Taipei or Kaohsiung, prepare to spend hours on a train.
They don’t have an HSR.
9. Yilan City
Yilan’s a tiny city along Taiwan’s eastern coast. It’s fairly spread out and doesn’t offer much public transportation aside from buses. You’ll need to buy or rent vehicles when living here.
This city also has plenty of earthquakes that happen off its shores. You’ll face the brunt of the trembling.
It’s a beautiful area, though. You’ll find plenty of houses. If you’re wondering, foreigners can buy real estate in Taiwan if there are reciprocal laws in your country. For example, US citizens can buy land.
You’ll also find cleaner air here and bigger apartments. At the cost of foreigner amenities like bars, though.
Are you a surfer?
Great. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to catch a wave.
Average Cost of Living for an Expat by City #
|New Taipei||$1242 (1)||NTD$35,590|
These prices include rent, food, and utilities. Public transportation will vary based on your preferences.
Taipei is by far the nation’s most expensive city, but that comes with all of the English support and convenience. Whereas, Yilan has the lowest costs without much support.
Keep in mind that when living outside Taipei and New Taipei, you won’t have the comforts of convenient public transportation. Thus, you’ll likely need to buy a motorbike or car, which will add more to your living costs.
If you make at least $2098 per month and set 40% of your income aside for rent, you can live in whatever city you want without any issues. These prices are at the higher end of the spectrum, too.
You’ll likely find cheaper apartments that still offer plenty of amenities. For example, $1000 for rent in New Taipei would get you a modern apartment.
To learn about finding an apartment in Taiwan, read the in-depth guide I wrote. It’ll save you a lot of time you would have wasted researching elsewhere.
Public Transportation by City #
|City||HSR Station?||International Airport?||Rail Stations (#)|
|New Taipei||Yes||No||14 (Danhai LRT)|
|Taipei||Yes (x2)||Taipei Songshan Airport||131 (Taipei Metro)|
|Taichung||Yes||Taichung International Airport||18|
|Kaohsiung||Yes||Kaohsiung International Airport||61|
|Taoyuan||Yes||Taoyuan International Airpor||21|
|City||HSR Station?||International Airport?||Rail Stations (#)|
Taoyuan has the most popular airport in Taiwan, having over 30 million passengers per year.
It’s an ideal airport for landing in, especially if you want to reach cities along Taiwan’s west coast.
You can also reach a good portion of Taoyuan by using a combination of their MRT system and bus. If you want to reach Taipei or New Taipei, you can take the Taoyuan MRT.
New Taipei and Taipei both offer the most convenient public transportation. Though, I said Taipei has 131 stations, many of which are in New Taipei.
For places you can’t access with the metro, you can rent a YouBike or take a bus.
If you’re in central Taiwan, Taichung now has a metro that’ll take you through a good portion of the city. For places you can’t reach, you may want to get yourself a motorbike.
Kaohsiung has a light rail that’ll take you through a good portion of the city.
Tainan, Chiayi, and Taitung don’t have the luxury of rapid transits.
Check out all the ways to get around Taiwan.
Climate in Taiwan by City #
|City||Avg. Rain (per. year)||Winter Avg.||Summer Avg.|
|New Taipei||165.5 days||67 ℉ (19.8 °C)||92 ℉ (33.36 °C)|
|Taipei||13.91 days||58 ℉ (14.56 °C)||78 ℉ (25.66 °C)|
|Taichung||115.7 days||72 ℉ (22.66 °C)||90 ℉ (32.5 °C)|
|Tainan||87.4 days||74 ℉ (23.6 °C)||90 ℉ (32.53 °C)|
|Kaohsiung||88.6 days||75 ℉ (24.33 °C)||89 ℉ (32 °C)|
|Taoyuan||221.54 days||56 ℉ (13.70 °C)||90 ℉ (32.55 °C)|
|Chiayi||145.83 days||72 ℉ (22.66 °C)||90 ℉ (32.33 °C)|
|Taitung||124.9 days||74 ℉ (23.6 °C)||89 ℉ (31.96 °C)|
|Yilan||280.08 days||66 ℉ (19.33 °C)||89 ℉ (32 °C)|
|City||Avg. Rain||Winter Highs/Lows||Summer Highs/Lows|
Out of this list, Yilan has the most rainy days while Tainan has the least. The Taoyuan has the lowest average temperatures during the winter. And Kaohsiung has the warmest winters.
No matter where you go in Taiwan, you’ll encounter heat. New Taipei; however, has the highest averages during the summer. Whereas, Taipei has the lowest average during the summer.
Taiwan has a subtropical climate. That means it’s humid. Because of this, you’ll need to keep in mind that humidity will impact these temperatures.
If you want to avoid pollution, staying along the east coast is your best bet.
Food, Culture, and Entertainment You’ll Find
Taiwan’s only a little smaller than the US states of Delaware and Maryland combined. Because of this, you don’t need to worry about constraining yourself to one city to access certain tourist spots.
You may want to situate yourself near certain places, though. That way, you’re not bored when you get off work.
You’ll find most of Taiwan’s best beaches along the East Coast. Or in Kenting.
If you want to live within a reasonable distance from a beach, try New Taipei’s Tamsui. You could rent a YouBike, catch a bus, or take the Danhai LRT and reach beaches like Baishawan or Laomei.
With Taiwan’s real estate prices and the frequent typhoons, I don’t recommend retiring close to the beach.
Night Markets and Other Food
If you want the most diverse food options, you’ll want to live in (or around) Taipei. It has over 17 night markets and foods from other countries you can’t find elsewhere. For example, Hispanic food.
When living in Taipei, you can reach any of New Taipei’s street food markets.
You didn’t ask, but I’ll answer anyway. Here’s a list of Taiwanese night markets:
Regarding shopping, you’ll have plenty of hypermarkets available throughout most cities.
If you have a Costco membership, you can use that in Taiwan. You’ll need to venture to the outskirts of whatever town you live in, though. Most notable cities throughout the country will have Costco Wholesale warehouses except:
When staying in the above areas, you could opt for other Taiwan hypermarkets Carrefour, A-Mart, or RT-Mart.
If you want to avoid the city, you can still stick to the towns or eastern cities and have access to various food and services because of convenience stores. When getting out of your home for fresh air, you can stop at any 7-Eleven, Family Mart, or other chain and grab some warm food while reading a book.
Taipei has the widest selection of bars and clubs. No matter what day of the week you want to go out, you’ll always find a crowd getting a drink after work. Venus always likes to keep guests flowing, so they’ll often host events.
Best of all, it’s easy for you to get to and from these places. No worrying about driving.
Though Yilan and Taichung don’t have much of a nightlife scene, you can still take a bus or train and reach Taipei’s city center within an hour. With New Taipei, you’ll just need to take the MRT, a bike, or even walk to reach Taipei.
Taichung; however, has a developing bar and club culture for its massive young population.
You’ll find some places in Kaohsiung, but it’s not lively. Like other cities on this list, they don’t have many nightlife hotspots.
Most English-friendly Cities
Taipei has the most English support. However, finding places with English-speaking staff is often hit-or-miss. The same goes for New Taipei.
In Taipei, you’ll find more English-speaking landlords.
Regarding medical care; sometimes you’ll find doctors who speak perfect English. Other times you’ll encounter doctors who don’t speak any. Thus, I recommend bringing a friend who speaks Mandarin or a translator.
I wrote a piece on how an English speaker will do in Taiwan. Check it out.
Anyway, throughout the rest of the country, you may have a harder time finding English speakers.
If you stick to shopping at convenience stores and hypermarkets, you have nothing to worry about.
No matter what city you’re in, you’ll find plenty of English signage for public transportation.
What Is the Best City in Taiwan To Live In for You?
Yilan offers the most affordable cost of living, but the East Coast has the most earthquakes.
Taipei has the most English support. However, it’s the most expensive city.
Taichung is a growing city. They don’t offer the most public transportation, though.
Weigh the pros and cons of living before choosing the best city in Taiwan to live in. While living costs may affect your bottom line, you’ll need to think about your daily commute. The more time you have, the more you can enjoy Taiwan and everything it offers.
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