Pros and Cons of Moving to Taiwan

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This guide covers the good and bad parts of living in Taiwan. Read along to learn more.

I’ve lived in Taiwan for over 5 years and have experienced a lot during my stay. I’ll cover the pros and cons to help you determine whether Taiwan is worth moving to (or visiting).

I’ll cover Taiwan’s strengths and weaknesses in these categories:

Let’s begin.

Quality of Life in Taiwan: Internet Access & Daily Living

Pros

  • High-speed internet
  • One of the safest countries (crime wise)
  • Plenty of entertainment: malls, night clubs, hiking paths, & more
  • Convenient (in cities)

Cons

  • No internet censorship
  • Noise pollution in cities: due to motorbikes & folks who remove catalytic converters from their vehicles
  • Language barrier: lack of Mandarin knowledge will limit what’s possible
  • Many services (like banking) require guarantors to use: even if you use a residence certificate
  • Lack of English resources for expats and immigrants

Before reading anything else, Taiwan’s official language isn’t English. Of course, they won’t have everything in English. And they don’t NEED to accommodate foreign languages.

However, it’s always nice to have more English resources. It makes moving easier, may attract more overseas residents, and can help people utilize everything Taiwan offers.

Also, most cities worldwide will have noise pollution. But it’s something to remain aware of.

The guarantor con is ridiculous, though. In many scenarios, despite having an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), institutions and landlords required me to have a local act as a guarantor.

I digress:

If you’re in cities like Taipei, New Taipei, and others, you’ll find it’s easy to get around and find things to do. Convenience stores are literally on every block. They offer mailing services, bill payments, and affordable food.

I talk about convenience stores more in a separate guide, check it out.

Let’s move on to a section where my words weren’t as forgiving.

Finding a Place to Live in Taiwan: Houses & Apartments

Pros

  • Affordable apartments in safe areas
  • Earthquake-resistant infrastructure
  • Some flats offer trash-collecting services

Cons

  • 1 in 9 apartments is over 50 years old [1]
  • Many landlords won’t rent to foreigners
  • Most landlords don’t speak English
  • Older apartments are an eyesore
  • Houses are expensive

Again, English isn’t Taiwan’s primary language. So long as you’re in Taipei, you’ll likely find landlords that speak English.

However:

The old apartments in Taiwan are ridiculous. Many of them don’t have windows, which is dangerous and insanity-inducing. And I’ve seen a funny (yet true) image suggesting a Danish prison cell looks better than NT$15,000 apartments in Taipei [2].

You’ll love Taiwan apartments if you spend more than NT$25,000 monthly for a contemporary apartment. They have amenities like trash collection, elevators, balconies, and community areas.

Otherwise, you get what you pay for. Most likely, you’ll find apartments without elevators, no trash collection services, and washrooms. Washrooms are bathrooms without shower stalls.

The worst experience I’ve had regarding apartment hunting is landlords who refuse to rent to foreigners. Despite having a Taiwanese guarantor.

People can rent to whomever they want, and I’m sure this happens in other countries.

But sheesh.

Getting Around Taiwan: Public Transportation

Pros

  • High-speed trains haul you across the country in hours
  • Sparkling clean metro stations
  • Clean trains & buses
  • No drama (for the most part) on public transportation
  • Most passengers are quiet & respectful
  • Smart cards (e.g., EasyCard) makes paying for transportation quick & simple
  • Google Maps is available

Cons

  • Driving is dangerous due to aggressive drivers

I don’t need to explain any of my points. To learn more about public and private transportation in Taiwan, check out a separate guide.

Let’s move on to the weather.

Air Quality & Weather in Taiwan

Pros

  • Mild winters: 66.7–75.6 °F on average

Cons

  • Sweltering summers: 72–92.8 °F (excl. humidity)
  • Frequent typhoons from July–September
  • 82% average humidity levels [3]
  • Not the best air quality

If you’re from a cold country, it’ll take you several years to acclimate yourself to Taiwan’s hot temperatures.

Typhoon season’s a bit scary. High-speed winds and torrential rains will make going out dangerous. It’ll also lead to frequent flooding.

Private Education in Taiwan

Pros

  • Affordable college pricing
  • Western-style private schools in some cities

Cons

  • Cram school culture: overwhelming amounts of homework

I don’t have the most experience in this area. I’d recommend checking out other bloggers or foreigners for their perspectives.

Healthcare in Taiwan

Pros

  • Low co-pays: NT$150–NT$350 per visit
  • High-quality healthcare
  • Various pharmacies
  • 20–30-minute waits to see a doctor [4]

Cons

  • Not as much medicine availability
  • Language barrier: many doctors won’t speak English
  • Lack of digitization
  • Time crunch: doctors need to get through many patients quick, which could affect their diagnosis

Premiums for healthcare will vary by your career. I’ve covered more information in a separate guide.

My viable complaints fall under the lack of digitization and medicine availability. Taiwan doesn’t have as much access to medications as the United States. And they don’t allow you to see health tests and other results online.

To help prevent trips to the doctor, you’ll need to have a good diet.

Food & Supplements in Taiwan

Pros

  • Clean(ish) drinking water
  • Great food safety & sanitation record
  • Street food culture: night markets everywhere
  • Affordable grains & produce

Cons

  • Hard-to-find many fast food restaurants
  • Restaurants don’t focus on dietary restrictions: e.g., allergy to “X” food
  • More difficult to find Halal and kosher food
  • Not much variety regarding produce
  • Imports cost a lot
  • Many supplements are difficult to find & expensive

I’ve only gotten food poisoning twice in Taiwan. Both times from ramen. And I’m susceptible to food poisoning. I believe that’s a testament to Taiwan’s food safety and sanitation.

If you’re American, you won’t find Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Carl’s Jr. and other fast food joints. But perhaps that’s for the best if you’re trying to make dietary adjustments.

Speaking of American food.

Imports (e.g., Pop-Tarts) are EXPENSIVE and difficult to find. The same goes for various supplements.

People in Taiwan

Pros

  • Honest people: if you lose something, someone will usually turn it in to lost-and-found
  • No “foreigner pricing”
  • No forced friendliness: for the most part
  • Accommodating

Cons

  • Some people spit betel nut on sidewalks

I’ve had mostly pleasant interactions in Taiwan. Most interactions I’ve had with Taiwanese people involved them being curious about where I’m from and such.

I think 2 people randomly insulted me. One was a homeless dude. But that’s a lot less than what I’ve encountered in America.

Speaking of. I haven’t encountered aggressive beggars. For the most part, they’ll sit in a spot and beg for money.

There’s no tip culture. Meaning, no restaurant staff will (likely) force friendliness.

I don’t know whether it was luck, but when in awkward situations where I didn’t know how to respond in Mandarin, English-speakers magically appeared. And were very helpful.

Living in Taiwan vs. America: My Perspective

In short, I prefer Taiwan in these areas:

  • Affordable health care
  • Safety
  • Accessible & affordable public transportation
  • Convenient convenience stores
  • Street food
  • Culture

What I miss about the States includes:

  • Access to more jobs
  • American-based fast food restaurants
  • Well-maintained national parks
  • Good air quality (at least where I came from)
  • Smoothies
  • Produce variety

I chose to live in Taiwan over the United States because of access to more affordable healthcare and apartments. Taiwan’s also way safer, and I don’t need to rely on using a car to get everywhere.

I hate driving.

The U.S. has safe communities, but they’re usually more expensive to live in.

I’m not going to compare people in each country. Because how they’ll interact with us will vary. I’ve had some negative encounters in Taiwan. But I’ve had plenty in the States as well.

I do miss accessibility to certain goods and restaurants from the United States. For instance, 1-day shipping from Amazon Prime, Pumpkin Pie, and Taco Bell. Though it’s probably for the rest that I’m not eating Taco Bell and Pumpkin Pie daily.

I’ve only lived in cities in Taiwan, so I can’t speak for living in the countryside versus residing in rural areas in the states. When visiting the countryside, it became inconvenient to access everything. But the same goes for the United States.

One more thing before I finish.

The United States has way more variety of produce compared to Taiwan. For instance, I love beets. It isn’t easy to find beets and beet juice in Taiwan. Unless I spend more than NT$2,000 on beet juice powder at organic stores.

Wrapping Up

Everyone’s experiences will vary in Taiwan. I provided my perspective as an American used to western luxuries. But despite that, I chose to live in Taiwan.

Use my ramblings to help you determine whether it’s worth visiting or moving to Taiwan. And once you’re ready to come here, check out my Taiwan travel and immigration guides.

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person standing on top of Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan City, Taiwan

About Tee

Tee began first experienced the wonders of traveling when visiting Vietnam. Afterward, he went crazy and ventured to at least… More about Tee