Guide To Becoming a Taipei Digital Nomad

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Taiwan doesn’t offer a digital nomad visa. But it provides various other permits that’ll give you a chance to stay long-term. Throughout this guide, I’ll cover those and other important information for digital nomads.

I’ve lived around Taipei City for 5 years. I want to help digital nomads who are considering settling in. So I created this guide.

While reading, you’ll find the following tips and guides:

Let’s jump in

Is Taiwan Good for Digital Nomads?

Pros

  • Cheap & accessible public transportation
  • Fast internet
  • Those who don’t know Mandarin can get around
  • Affordable healthcare
  • Amazing convenience stores
  • No worrying about food poisoning from street food

Cons

  • Difficult to find short-term accommodation
  • Apartments don’t look the best
  • Enormous time difference with the U.S. (12+ hrs)
  • Super short consultations w/ doctors
  • Bad air quality
  • Hot & humid throughout most of the year

Despite language barriers throughout the country, Taipei is an expat-friendly city. For the most part. Mandarin isn’t essential when signing up for visas or visiting coworking spaces.

But you will encounter mixed results when registering for a bank account, shopping, going to the doctor, and searching for a landlord. In many scenarios, you’ll need a friend or translator.

Or Google Translate. This tool has helped me thrive in Taiwan.

The cost of living isn’t bad. Insurance, rent, food, and public transportation are affordable. You won’t need a strict budget if you’re making $1,000 a month (net earnings).

And they have excellent healthcare. So long as you find a clinic with an English-speaking doctor. Reach out to the clinic before scheduling an appointment. If they have a website, check it beforehand.

I always check if they have a LINE account. From there, I ask whether the doctor speaks English. If so, I can schedule an appointment through the app.

But how do visas work in Taiwan?

Does Taiwan Offer a Digital Nomad Visa?

Taiwan doesn’t offer a digital nomad visa. But offer the Gold Card. This 4-1 visa will give you an open permit, access to a community of other gold cardholders, taxed 50% of income above $109,000, and stay in Taiwan for three years.

However, to get this card, you’ll have to meet strict requirements in the following fields [1]:

  1. Finance
  2. Education
  3. Arts & Culture
  4. Economy
  5. Law
  6. Science and Technology
  7. National Defense
  8. Sports

Here’s an example. Say you want to apply in the Field of Culture and Arts. One of the requirements involves receiving domestically or internationally recognized awards for visual arts works you’ve created.

Examples of awards the websites list include the New York Art Directors Club Annual Awards and Bologna Children’s Book Fair: Illustrator’s Award.

The government does offer flexibility. In every category, they’ll have an area labeled with the following tab:

“Other individuals reviewed and validated by the Ministry of BLANK.”

Though, I couldn’t find examples of how you could woo whatever ministry your category correlates with. It gives you a chance to impress them with your skills.

Consult with other foreigners who’ve received the Gold Card. Learn how they got it and see whether there’s any way to mock their process.

Taiwan Visa Options Do I Have?

If you don’t qualify for the Gold Card, consider these other visas:

Visa TypeWho’s it For?
Visa ExemptionNo visa required for tourists (15–90 days)
Student VisaMandarin-learning, degree program, exchange, or overseas Chinese students
Work VisaWorking for a company
Entrepreneur VisaStartups with incubators and businesses
Tourist VisaTourists and short-term business
Investment VisaThose who invest $200k into Taiwan’s economy
Family Reunification VisaAnyone who wants to join Taiwanese family members
Working Holiday VisaPeople from certain countries who will work in Taiwan for up to 1 year
Employment Seeking VisaSomeone looking for a job
Visa options for entering Taiwan compared.

Depending on the country you’re from, you can stay in Taiwan for up to 90 days without a visa. You’ll need a passport, a return ticket, and accommodation. You’ll need to tell immigration agents your accommodation’s address upon landing in Taiwan.

I listed all countries eligible for the visa exemption program in a separate guide. I also provided more information regarding each visa type.

Consider the entrepreneur visa if you’re a small business owner with a profitable business. If you’re rich, “buy” your visa with the investment visa.

Important Resources in Taipei

Phone numbers in Taipei that you should know include:

Phone NumberService
119Ambulance and fire
110Police
0800-024-111—press (2) for EnglishInternational Community Service Hotline (24 hours and toll-free)
165Anti-fraud
113Children and women protection hotline
133Domestic violence hotline
1925Suicide hotline
106Directory assistance (English)
0800-011-765Taiwan Tourism Information Hotline (English)
Important phone numbers in Taipei.

Items that you’ll want to purchase in Taipei or software to download include:

  • Integrated circuit (IC) card:
    • EasyCard: most accessibility throughout Taiwan
    • iPass: great backup card
    • icash 2.0: ideal for anyone who shops at 7-Eleven a lot
  • Taiwan receipt lottery app: Colibri is decent
  • Go! Taipei Metro app: information on every Taipei MRT station
  • Offline maps of Taiwan: will mitigate getting lost in the event of having poor data
  • Reusable water bottle: it’ll save you money at coffee shops & on bottled water
  • Translation app

I have many other resources and guides on living or traveling to Taiwan in general. You should take a look at them while planning your stay.

Costs of Living in Taipei: Brief Breakdown

Expect to pay the following expenses in Taiwan’s capital city:

ExpensePrice (NT$/USD)
ElectricityNT$2.8–5 per kWh
Broadband InternetNT$909/mo.
WaterNT$200–300/mo.
GasNT$250/mo.
One-bedroom apartment in the cityNT$12,000–30,000/mo.
Gym membershipNT$800–1,500/mo.
SIM cardNT$499–920/mo.
Average groceriesNT$3,600/mo.
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)NT$90
Costco MembershipNT$1,350/yr.
Car insurance, registration, and fuel tax combined (one year)NT$18,000–25,000
Costs of living in Taipei compared.

Many apartments don’t charge separately for internet, gas, and water. The ones that do will require you to pay your bill to utility companies. In many cases, you’ll pay less overall when going this route.

Based on my experience, landlords charged NT$5+ per kWh. Many Taiwanese I’ve spoken to said they pay NT$2–3.

How To Get Around Taipei

Here’s how to get around Taipei without a car or motorbike:

TransportationAvg. Price (One-Way)Best For
City BusNT$15; 1 segmentBudget
YouBike Bicycle RentalNT$5–NT$40 per 30 minExercise
WalkingFreeCities
Taiwan Railway AdministrationNT$11–NT$836Budget inter-city travel
Taiwan High-Speed RailNT$35–NT$2,500Quickly navigating different cities
RideshareNT$120–NT$1,200 per tripComfortable city travel
Taipei MetroNT$20–NT$65City travel
TaxiNT$16–NT$25 per kmTravel to specific destinations
Public transportation options in Taipei compared.

Taking the bus will cost the least, but require a lot of waiting. Not ideal during a scorching day.

If the weather’s nice, consider taking a YouBike or walking. Taipei’s small and walkable. But walking isn’t ideal on a rainy day. And YouBikes are great.

So long as you stay on marked bicycle paths. It’s what you’re supposed to do at all times. However, a lot of Taipei doesn’t have marked bicycle paths. Then you’re stuck dodging pedestrians and motorbikes on sidewalks.

Then cars and motorbikes on the roads.

Mass Rapid Transits (MRT) offer the best, most comfortable, and most affordable option. Unless you don’t mind paying more for an Uber or taxi.

You could also use the train to get to and from Songshan, Nangang, Wanhua, or Taipei Main stations. If you live or work close to the train stations, these could serve as a quicker and more direct way to get around than the Taipei Metro.

Looking for Luggage Storage?

Store your luggage at nearby businesses, hotels, or lockers without paying an arm and a leg. If you’re worried, each bag will include up to NT$10,000 ($364) worth of insurance.

Take the load off and don’t haul your stuff while adventuring

How Are Gyms in Taipei?

Many commercial gyms require a contract, an ARC, or charge a lot. The 2 leading gyms you’ll find throughout Taipei are World Gym and Fitness Factory. You’ll mostly find World Gym Branches.

And when you walk in, you’ll feel like you’re in a nightclub. Because they have disco lights and sleek furniture everywhere.

You’ll need an ARC, APRC, or an ID number to get a membership. Get the ID number from immigration. If you’re staying in Taiwan long-term, you should have an ARC.

Don’t want to pay as much? Taipei has government-sponsored YMCA-like gyms that don’t cost much (NT$50 per session), but are crowded most of the time.

But they’re rare. They require you to pay cash without a commitment. Then you pump iron.

If you don’t want to bother with gyms, consider renting a YouBike or using exercise equipment at parks. Though usually old people occupy the equipment. And Taipei doesn’t have the best air quality.

When exercising outside, check the air quality in your area. If it isn’t the best, consider waiting until it gets better. Sometimes it improves.

Once you’re done burning calories, you may want to eat more.

Where to Eat in Taipei

Taipei has street food, convenience stores, restaurants, vending machines, and hypermarkets everywhere. However, you’ll mostly find Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Thai restaurants in Taipei.

Depending on where you are, you’ll also often find Vietnamese or Indonesian restaurants. Hispanic food is rare.

You’ll find a lot of American fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Subway, and Burger King. But there’s no Dairy Queen, TacoBell, Carl’s Jr., or Sonics.

If you’re in the mood for dessert, there are a lot of bakeries. Moreover, you’ll find American chains like Cold Stone and Baskin Robbins (rare). I recommend buying ice cream from Family Mart, though. It’s hard to find, but it’s fantastic.

Use Google Translate’s Camera feature and scan the menus to translate the menus. Because a good portion of establishments don’t have English menus. Afterward, show the staff and point at what you want.

If you’re buying food from a Taiwanese restaurant, you’ll want to pick up a menu and a marker once you enter. Afterward, you put a checkmark on what you want and hand it to the staff. 

Regarding payment, you’ll usually pay after you eat. However, some restaurants charge you beforehand. If they don’t speak English, they’ll likely pull out a calculator and present the amount owed.

How to Get Free Wi-Fi in Taipei

Most public spaces throughout Taipei offer a government-provided iTaiwan Wi-Fi network. But it’s a pain in the ass to connect to. Because you’ll need to create an account to access the Wi-Fi network.

That sounds easy, right?

It shouldn’t prove difficult. But I’ve gotten mixed results when registering.

iTaiwan’s website states you select the “iTaiwan” SSID, then your device will redirect you to the signup page for iTaiwan [2]. I got this to work after a couple attempts, but forgot my password.

For the most part, I landed on pages saying, “This site can’t be reached.”

If you successfully land on the account signup page, you must type your passport number and phone number to register.

And now I’m not able to retrieve my password. And I use mobile data for all my Wi-Fi needs.

iTaiwan’s website doesn’t specify internet speeds. But they have a hotspot coverage map.

I recommend avoiding iTaiwan altogether. Stick with hotel Wi-Fi or search for free Wi-Fi businesses offer. Most businesses will have the password and SSID on menus or signage throughout their establishment.

However, if you use public Wi-Fi, use protection. Since anyone can access these networks, you’re more likely to have a hacker eavesdropping on your online activities. And they may try to take your passwords while they’re at it.

To protect yourself on public Wi-Fi networks, consider the following:

  • Use a virtual private network (VPN): I use and recommend Surfshark VPN
  • Get a portable Wi-Fi router like GL-MT1300 by Beryl: it’ll convert public Wi-Fi into private Wi-Fi 
  • Use a free DNS resolver like Cloudflare 1.1.1.1: uses better encryption for online browsing
  • Use Time-based one-time password two-factor authentication for online accounts
  • Don’t log into financial websites on public Wi-Fi

Call me paranoid, but shielding myself from public Wi-Fi networks has relieved stress. And it’s nice not dealing with people hacking my online accounts.

Does Taiwan have fast internet?

What’s Taiwan’s Internet Like?

Taiwan’s average internet speed is 85.02 Mbps (download speed) [3].

Throughout my time here, I’ve never experienced issues with Zoom or Skype calls. Moreover, I haven’t had problems gaming, except with games that don’t have servers in Asia. However, everyone’s experience may differ.

Games that don’t have servers in or around Asia (e.g., Guild Wars 2) will result in horrifying latency and lag. I recommend combatting this by trying ping-reducing software like ExitLag. Or try using a virtual private network (VPN).

Also, consider getting a router with OpenWRT and using the Smart Queue Management feature.

According to Freedom House, as for freedom of the internet in Taiwan, their internet freedom score is 80/100 [4]. There aren’t any obstacles to accessing the internet, they don’t have restrictions on websites, and they don’t violate your rights.

Best Coworking Spaces in Taipei Compared

Compare the best coworking spaces Taipei offers:

Coworking SpaceCoworking Space FeeDedicated Desk FeePrivate Office FeeDistrict
FutureWard CentralNT$5,000–NT$10,000/mo.NT$7,000–NT$12,000/mo.NT$10,000–NT$18,000/mo.Songshan
The HiveNT$4,000–NT$10,000/mo.NT$8,000–NT$24,000/mo.NT$20,000/mo.Zhongzheng
Impact HubNT$2,500–7,500/mo.NANAZhongzheng
Home Sweet HomeNT$5,000/mo.NT$5,800/mo.NT$20,000/mo.Zhongzheng
ConnectNT$5,700/mo.NANT$12,000–NT$25,000/mo.Da’an
Coworking spaces in Taipei compared.

All coworking spaces listed offer the following amenities and add-ons:

  • 24/7 access
  • Daily passes
  • Mailbox
  • Snacks & coffee
  • Copy machine & printer (costs extra)
  • Community events

Spaces like FutureWard and Impact Hub offer shower spaces. Perfect for anyone who wants to take a break and think in the shower. Home Sweet Home and Lounge provide lockers to store your belongings.

Home Sweet Home offers a NT$600 discount when leasing their dedicated desk and coworking space for 6 months. They’ll give you a 15% discount when renting their private office for the same duration.

Many of these coworking spaces will also offer introductions to Taiwanese CPAs, visa application services, business registration, and business incubation.

I can’t recommend a specific coworking space. Since we have varying preferences. Request a tour at each coworking space and ensure you visit around times you’d usually work.

To gauge how crowded the coworking space may become while you’re there.

While touring, ask questions and test the Wi-Fi speed.

How to Work From Coffee Shops in Taipei

There are plenty of Starbucks in Taipei and Taiwan’s Louisa coffee chain. I like Louisa more because they offer more affordable coffee that tastes better. Moreover, Louisa provides a lot of seating in their cafés.

Both chains offer free Wi-Fi. With Louisa, you’ll need to search for a Wi-Fi password sign. The same goes for when you decide to go to small coffee shops.

Speaking of:

Locally-owned cafés are usually more pricey. However, they tend to have more seating available.

Suppose you want to save a little money on your drinks while at cafés in Taiwan, register for their loyalty programs. Louisa has the Black Card that’s usable through LINE or Facebook Messenger apps.

Starbucks also has its membership program. Use in Taiwan, depending on what country you’re from.

Also, reduce the amount you spend on your coffee by bringing your own bottle. All cafés and coffee shop chains will give you varying discounts. Just present your cup when paying for your drink.

How to Work From Convenience Stores in Taipei

Most convenience store chains have seating available for customers to unwind and eat their food. However, if you want a workstation, set up a laptop and work on projects while eating convenience store food.

Which tastes great.

As for Wi-Fi availability, sign up for a convenience store’s Wi-Fi service. For instance, if you’re in 7-Eleven, look for “Ibon WiFi.”

If you’re at Family Mart, search for “Fami-WiFi.” It’s usually free to register for these Wi-Fi services. Some may require you to have a convenience store membership (rewards program).

Otherwise, use a mobile hotspot with your smartphone’s data or Taipei’s free Wi-Fi.

Taiwan Digital Nomad & Expat Networking

Some area to find events and make new friends include:

  • Meetup.com: helps you find local events
  • Bars: places like the Brass Monkey typically have a lot of foreigners
  • Forumosa: Taiwan’s biggest forum
  • Coworking spaces
  • Business events: use Eventbrite to help you find local events
  • Facebook groups
  • Language exchange: through online platforms, groups, or physical events

Also, try finding groups, classes, or events based on hobbies you love. Say you want to learn about caring for bonsai trees. Take a bonsai-related class. You’ll likely find someone who you get along with.

I’ve met a couple of awesome people through a language exchange group on Facebook (link to group). Plus, it’s a great way to help you practice Mandarin. Meanwhile, you’ll teach locals your mother tongue.

Conclusion

Despite having language barriers, Taipei isn’t a difficult place for a digital nomad. There’s free Wi-Fi everywhere, plenty of public transportation, and various resources to make your stay memorable.

Learn more about living in Taiwan. Explore my other guides on moving to Taiwan.

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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