Having a hard time deciding whether to move to Taiwan?
I did, too, when I first moved there.
Moreover, there are plenty of things that I wish people had warned me about plenty of things before moving here, which I eventually learned.
To prevent you from missing any information, I’ve compiled a list of reasons you’ll love and dislike living in Taiwan.
Throughout this post, I’ll cover the various pros and cons of living in Taiwan based on my experience and that of different Taiwanese expats and citizens.
13 Pros of Living in Taiwan #
Most people talk about how excellent Taiwan’s food and people are. However, that’s a given. In most country’s you’ll find friendly and unfriendly people and fantastic food. So instead, I’m going to dive further into why this island country is great.
1. Safer Than a Good Portion of Countries
Overall, Taiwan has low crime rates in every area. The worst issue that you may run into is pickpockets in crowded areas within cities. Moreover, it’s safe to walk alone at night anywhere in the country.
Moreover, Taiwan has plenty of Closed-circuit television (CCTV) throughout the country, which may be why rates are so low. For instance, Taipei alone has over 30000 cameras.
However, many of their public WiFi networks are unsecured. So practice caution when using public WiFi when in Taiwan.
2. Fantastic Public Transportation Infrastructure (In Certain Parts)
Taipei and New Taipei are the most convenient cities in Taiwan because it has almost every method of public transportation that you can imagine.
They have a metro system that expands across both cities, bike rentals, taxis, uber, busses, and are walkable.
Moreover, public transportation is inexpensive. So, you won’t waste a lot getting across both cities. However, most other towns in Taiwan may offer only busses and/or a rail transit line that doesn’t span the entire city.
3. Affordable Living
Compared to housing in western countries, rent is significantly cheaper in Taiwan. For example, the average price for a 900 square foot furnished unit in a normal area ranges around $860 per month.
4. Amazing Internet Speed
Taiwan has an average internet download speed of 85.02 Mbps. Among one of the fastest on the planet. From my experience, I’ve also experienced significantly fewer internet outages (if any) during my time in Taiwan compared to the US.
Also, when it comes to online gaming, for the most part, I have good connections, except for some games not having servers around my area.
Note that I mostly used Comcast in the US.
5. You Don’t Need To Know Mandarin Chinese To Survive
You’d be surprised at how far you can get in Taiwan without knowing the local languages. There is plenty of signage to guide you through public transportation. Also, when shopping at chain stores, you can simply look at the screen rather than listen to the price.
I highly recommend learning mandarin if you move here, though. While many say it’s a complex language to learn, it’s not.
6. Plenty of Outdoor Exercising Spots
Taiwan has over 800 hiking trails everywhere throughout the country—including the outlying islands—each ranging in difficulty.
Moreover, they have plenty of biking paths, riversides, and parks to help work out your muscles.
7. Convenience Stores Everywhere
As of 2019, it’s recorded that Taiwan has over 11000 convenience stores. These include 7-Eleven, Family Mart, OK MART, Simple mart, and High Life. In each of these stores, you can genuinely experience convenience by being able to:
- Do laundry: at some locations
- Receive and deliver packages
- Find seating and eat hot food
- Purchase various food options
- Pay bills
- Purchase tickets for entertainment and public transportation
- Refill and purchase smart cards
8. Most People Will Turn In Your Lost Possessions
I can’t speak for how individuals in other countries act in this regard. However, from my experience, if someone I know or myself lost an item, a stranger would always return it to a police station.
9. Lack of Internet Censorship
Taiwan has a free and open internet without much being censored. Moreover, private companies own the country’s internet infrastructure rather than the government.
However, the worst thing you have to worry about on Taiwan’s internet is slander and defamation.
10. Plenty of Dishes for Vegans and Vegetarians
First off, over 13% of Taiwanese are vegetarians. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan buffets and street food vendors throughout the country to accommodate vegans, monks, and vegetarians.
I recommend using the Happy Cow search function or application to filter your needs to find these restaurants.
11. Receipt Lottery: Free “Lotto” Tickets
A majority of Taiwan’s shops participate in the Uniform Invoice Lottery. With this lottery, each transaction gives you one of two receipts. Traditional, which are longer and only have their designated receipt lottery number. And Modern, which has the receipt lottery number and two convenient QR codes you can scan with an app.
From there, you save these receipts or enter their numbers into your app. The Taiwanese government will draw sets of numbers around the 26th of every odd month (e.g., November and September). The eligible periods are the former two months. For instance, a November drawing would cover September and October purchases.
If any of your numbers match the rewards, you’re eligible to pick up the amount of money you won from a convenience store or bank. If you have an app and a bank (or post office) bank account, the government will automatically transfer the money to your bank.
However, prizes will range between NT$200 ($7) to NT$10 million ($362000).
It’s a great way to win extra money and promote purchases.
12. Close To Other Countries in Asia
Most countries in east and southeast Asia are relatively close to Taiwan. For instance, it will only take a few hours to fly from Taiwan to Japan, Vietnam, or the Philippines. So, if you want to venture to another country, you won’t have to sit on a plane for up to 12 hours.
13. Affordable Haircuts
If you don’t want anything crazy done with your hair, most men and women can pay as low as NT$100 ($3.66) for a haircut in Taiwan. While the haircuts may not look the best, it saves you from cleaning a mess when cutting your hair.
9 Cons of Living in Taiwan #
Nothing’s perfect. Neither is Taiwan. It’s like any other country in its own ways. It has plenty of reasons to love it and some reasons not to. Here are the downsides of living in Taiwan compared to other nations.
1. if You Don’t Have a Degree, You’re SOL
You can only get a work permit for a white-collar or teaching job in Taiwan if you have a degree. While most of you reading this likely have a degree, those who don’t have one have limited options or the means to put money toward a degree.
It makes sense to seek talented foreigners. However, Taiwan’s limiting its options in attracting talent, is mainly due to many employers’ inadequate pay and benefits.
If you’re a foreigner who doesn’t intend to go to school, your only options for getting a long-term visa in Taiwan are to create a business, meet one of Taiwan’s Gold Card criteria, or get married. However, don’t get married just for the visa.
Taiwan’s Gold Card program used to have criteria that only required foreigners to make $5000 per month. However, they closed this “loophole.”
A program like Barbados’ Welcome Stamp Program would attract many digital nomads that could contribute to the country’s economy while not taking jobs from locals.
2. Harder to Access Western Goods
First off, you’ll have a more challenging time finding fast food joints in Taiwan. For instance, you won’t find the following American fast-food restaurants:
- Dairy Queen
- Carl’s Jr.
- Taco Bell
Moreover, it’s hard to find other western goodies like cottage cheese, certain candy and cereal, and plenty more. I can’t recommend any good ways to obtain cottage cheese other than making it yourself. However, with other goods, you can usually find them on Taiwan’s eCommerce storefront, Shopee.
Things are usually more expensive here, though.
Fortunately, Taiwan’s close to other countries in Asia. So you can fly to another country if you want a particular fast food fix.
3. Frequent Natural Disasters: Quakes and Typhoons
While most of the time, you won’t feel the quakes and will not suffer from typhoons, you’re still facing plenty of risk from natural disasters.
I recommend not living on a rooftop apartment unit and ensuring an apartment you’re moving into meets Taiwan’s strict earthquake building regulations.
4. Air Pollution: However, It’s Slowly Improving
One of the most common complaints about living in Taiwan is its air pollution. Whether it’s from factories within or from nearby countries or exhaust, most of the year, you’ll experience unpleasant air quality.
With that in mind, I recommend exercising outside when the air quality’s decent and purchasing an air purifier.
5. Reckless Drivers and Lack of Sidewalks
In Taiwan, over 3000 people per year die due to traffic accidents. A lot of this comes from reckless drivers and people not adhering to traffic laws. I’m not going to say that Taiwan has the worst drivers, but this is a common complaint among Taiwanese expats and citizens.
Also, many cities/towns outside of Taipei don’t have sidewalks, so you’ll sometimes have to walk in the middle of the road.
When navigating Taiwan’s roads, practice defensive driving as a driver. As a pedestrian, check both sides of the street when crossing. Many Taiwanese drivers wear Go Pros or other action cameras to prove their innocence. I recommend doing the same.
6. Small Expat Community
Who knows, this may change over the years, but as of now, Taiwan’s current expat communities aren’t that active. From my understanding, the following online communities include:
- Taiwan Subreddit: expats, travelers, and people who want to discuss topics about Taiwan)
- Forumosa: the biggest forum that discusses various topics about Taiwan
- Facebook groups
- LINE group chats
I’m sure some groups get together for activities. However, you’ll need to look around for these groups.
7. Difficult To Find an Apartment Without an Agent or Friend
Some apartments don’t rent to foreigners, even if you know the language. Also, with other listings, all the documents are only Chinese, and the owners don’t speak English.
People can rent to who they want. However, that limits your options. If you’re renting outside of Taipei, you will likely have a more challenging time finding an affordable apartment on your own. You’ll either need a friend who can cosign for you or hire an agency, which will cost quite a bit.
8. More Expensive Goods
Despite Taiwan being home to various technology companies, many electronics are more expensive than, for instance, the US. The same goes for specific food items, vehicles, and more.
9. Somewhat Challenging To Own a Car
If you’re coming from a western country, you’re probably used to driving a car everywhere. However, in Taiwan, it’s inconvenient for the most part. First, Taiwan has a lot of narrow streets, which makes it more challenging to navigate your vehicle and find parking.
Also, you can only own a car if you have an ARC.
Moreover, there’s the cost of owning a car. The costs of owning a car in Taiwan include:
- Fuel tax
- Parking—unless you’re outside the city, you must pay to park your car at a garage when not in use
- Maintenance and repairs
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to transfer your driver’s license from home to Taiwan. Here’s the government’s guide.
Have I Changed Your Mind?
While Taiwan has plenty of features and perks that make it a wonderful country to live in, it comes with a few cons. However, these downsides weren’t enough to deter me from living here. Hopefully, they weren’t enough to make you reconsider your choice of living in Taiwan.