As someone contemplating expat life in Taiwan, you may be afraid of what life is actually like living here as a foreigner. Therefore we have created this short list of the main things you should consider before taking the plunge and moving to Taiwan. All things considered, you should move here; it's perhaps the best country in the world to live for expats.
Let's get this listicle started.
1. Taiwan has Excellent Healthcare 台灣的健保非常棒
Taiwan has recently received a lot of press for its great response to the Covid-19 outbreak. But Taiwan has had a world class universal healthcare system for decades, known as National Health Insurance (NHI). People have long been coming to Taiwan for "medical tourism," due to Taiwan's low cost and high quality medical care. You can read more in our guide to Taiwan's healthcare system here.
2. Be Wary of Bad Landlords 當心惡劣房東
One of the main reasons for people moving in Taiwan is bad landlords. If your landlord charges you left and right for extra utilities, is invading your privacy, or doesn't fix/replace appliances as stated in the contract, you will want to move. To avoid this, talk about these issues before you sign the contract and avoid anything that will make your life uncomfortable in the future. This might mean bringing in a friend that speaks Chinese to help understand your future landlord. For more tips on choosing an apartment in Taiwan, check out our apartment rental guide here.
3. Taiwanese Food is Delicious! 臺灣食物好吃！
We love Taiwan food! Don’t be the expat that eats at McDonald’s for every meal. There is so much delicious food everywhere! Get out of your comfort zone and try some of the amazing food in Taiwan, you won't regret it. Besides Taiwanese food, you can also find authentic cuisine from all countries throughout Asia here.
4. Taiwan's Banking System is Outdated 台灣銀行制度很落後
Banking in Taiwan as a foreigner can be a frustrating experience, especially with a language barrier and cultural gaps. Banking still is a major pain even for long time residents. However we have made this guide to help make banking in Taiwan a little easier, more efficient, and more beneficial especially for expats new to Taiwan. For a full guide on Taiwan's banking system, click here.
5. Taiwanese People are Super Friendly 臺灣人很友善
Taiwanese people are really nice, especially to western foreigners. However, this cannot be said for all foreigners, especially Southeast Asians. Many love to practice English and make friends from "richer" countries. For this reason, Taiwan might be one of the most foreign friendly countries in the world. However, unfortunately many Taiwan look down upon foreigners from Southeast Asian countries that usually do migrant blue collar work. But, if you need your picture taken, you can be sure Taiwanese people will be happy and willing to help, and they will not steal your camera. Need directions? They are happy to help even if it is in broken English. Need to use the restroom in the middle of nowhere? I was camping in the middle of nowhere and suddenly had explosive diarrhea. The neighbors nearby let me take a shower in their house and showed me to the nearest clinic. They can be the nicest people on the planet.
6. Many Foreigners are Working in Slave Like Conditions 很多外國人的工作環境像到奴役制度
Most foreigners in Taiwan are blue collar laborers are from Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines, and Thailand. According to Taiwan's government database, there are roughly 700,000 foreign blue collar workers in Taiwan. Most of these people either work in manufacturing or caring for Taiwan's elderly.
Most of your fellow foreigners in Taiwan are from Southeast Asian countries coming here to do blue collar jobs that nobody else wants to do for very long hours and for very low wages. We want to give them a voice and hope these people are not forgotten.
7. Taiwan is a Free and Independent Nation! 臺灣是個自由獨立的國家！
If you respect democratic freedom, you should also respect Taiwan independence, or at least recognize the current status quo that means Taiwan an independent nation state, even if it is a geo-political absurdity and not recognized by most of the world. Taiwan has its own independent democratically elected government. It was the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage. It has its own military, legal system, tax system, and immigration system. Also, it has a unique culture and history separate from PRC China.
8. Taiwan is Safe 臺灣很安全
Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world; it was named in the top global peace index and was named the safest country in the world in 2016. People are not allowed to own guns in Taiwan. You don’t need to worry about getting mugged in the street when you are here, being racially profiled by police, or walking alone on the street at night. People here are nice to people they don't know, especially if they are from a vibrant (rich) foreign country. Also, Taiwan is politically stable, even with pressure from China.
9. Taiwan is Convenient 臺灣很方便
Taiwan is one of the most convenient countries in the world. There are almost 10,000 convenience stores, putting them in walking distance for most people. It is hard to tour Taiwan without seeing a 7-11, Family Mart, OK Mart, or Hi-Life everywhere you go. These stores also let people pay their bills with cash, purchase travel tickets, print pictures, ship and receive packages, buy everyday items, and much more.
In addition, Taiwan has some of the most convenient public transport anywhere, from the MRT, lots of buses, to the train and high speed rail.
Also, health clinics are everywhere, and even if you don’t have insurance a checkup is very affordable. A normal checkup is no more than $30 USD, and if you are enrolled in NHI, the copay will range from $2 - $8 USD.
10. Taiwan has enldless places to explore! 臺灣很好玩！
Because Taiwan is so convenient and has such a developed transportation system, it is easy to travel and have fun. Two thirds of Taiwan is covered in mountains. It has the highest mountain in East Asia (Jade Mountain), and the world's deepest marble gorge (Taroko Gorge). You can also visit Kenting’s tropical beaches, beautiful beaches and snorkeling locations on outer islands, to Hot Springs in nearly every county, to night markets and endless shopping. Check out our blog index for more places you should check out.
For more pertinent information for foreigners new to Taiwan, check out our foreigner survival guide here.
Please like and share! If we forgot something, please tell us in the comments below!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.