Food, Friendliness and Freedom
With a coronavirus response that’s proven to be the envy of the world, the idea of living in Taiwan has perhaps never been more of an attractive prospect. Subtropical, great food and friendly locals, there is so much to love about life on this wonderful island. However, as with everything, it does have its downsides. Leaving the house here during rainy season without an umbrella? Big mistake. Here is a rundown of some of the pros and cons of moving to Taiwan. (Read more: Taipei is the world’s best city for expats… here’s why)
Pro: The food
Taiwan’s food is good. Very, very good. From delicious local dishes such as xiaolongbao and beef noodles to Netflix-recognized foodie locations and night market stalls of Michelin acclaim, it’s not hard to find your belly full and satisfied in Taiwan. One day you could be picking fresh pineapples, the next you’re getting a sugar rush with a QQ cup of bubble tea. And it’s not just local food: Japanese fare, a cheesery out of Los Angeles, and burgers upon burgers, Taiwan has it all. (Read more: 7 eateries beloved by homesick Western expats)
Con: The weather
A subtropical island, you’re probably thinking of year-round warm weather and trips to the beach every weekend. However, Taiwan’s climate also means rain, and lots of it. It sometimes feels like Taiwan’s rainy season never ends – umbrellas and waterproof clothing will be amongst the most important possessions you own. Take into account typhoon season and scorching summer heat and life here doesn’t exactly sound like a walk in the park. For real, don’t go to the park, it’s too hot or it’s raining outside; one of the two, at least. Also, don’t even think about getting on a ferry on the east coast during the northeast monsoon winds season [puke emoji]. (Read more: Dressing for the weather in Taiwan)
Pro: The people
The people in Taiwan are incredibly nice and will go well out of the way to help you if you find yourself in a spot of difficulty. Even if you don’t speak Chinese and they don’t speak English, restaurant and convenience store staff will do their best to help accommodate you as best as they can. People here are incredibly welcoming, so it’s no wonder that Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage last year. Taiwan is also considered one of the safest places to live in the world, with the crime rate being incredibly low. We’re not saying you should leave your door open when you leave the house, but you could probably get away with it in most neighborhoods. (Read more: The Muslim experience in Taipei)
Con: The language
Chinese is difficult. There, we said it. While you can probably get by living in Taipei without speaking Chinese, most places in Taiwan don’t have a great English-language infrastructure, so learning at least some of the language is incredibly beneficial. Four tones to learn, thousands of characters to recognize, and not to mention the local Taiwanese dialect which is basically a different language in itself, it isn’t going to be easy. However, making progress in Chinese is incredibly rewarding and the locals really do appreciate you making an effort. So, you better get started. 加油!
A 7-Eleven or a Family Mart on every corner where you can pay your bills, buy train tickets or get your dinner, cheap public transport and an overall very affordable cost of living, Taiwan is a very comfortable place to live once you get your bearings. Rental bicycles, plenty of taxis, and food delivery apps such as Food Panda and Uber Eats bringing you meals rain or shine, Taiwan, and Taipei in particular, is a pretty damn convenient place to call home. (Read more: A guide to using EasyCard in Taiwan)
Taiwan is prone to earthquakes, so much so that the Taipei 101 skyscraper has a damper built into it to keep it stable during tremors. Don’t worry too much, the majority of quakes in Taiwan are small, short shakes, but you still need to act cautiously and take appropriate shelter under a table if possible as a precaution. The township of Jiji and the surrounding area in central Taiwan was hit by an enormous quake in 1999, claiming more than 2,000 lives. However, we will reiterate, earthquakes this size are incredibly rare and shouldn’t be something you need to worry about too much.
Pro: Nature and the Outdoors
Taiwan is an amazing destination for those of us who love the outdoors. From amazing mountain hiking trails to volcanic hot springs and beautiful beaches to stunning diving and coastal roads, Taiwan’s natural wonders are up there with the very best. A special mention must also go to the incredible marble cliffs of Taroko National Park’s Taroko Gorge, for which words can’t really do justice. But, as previously mentioned, do take into account the weather. You don’t want to end up too hot, too wet or a damming combination of the two. (Read more: 8 Days Around Taroko Gorge and East Taiwan)
Big Pro: Coronavirus response
With just seven deaths since the first recorded case in January, Taiwan has done a great job containing the coronavirus outbreak. At the time of writing, the country has gone more than 200 days without a domestically transmitted infection, with strict mask regulations and border controls stopping the spread with incredible results. Life here at the moment is as normal as it could possibly be, given the global circumstances, and Taiwan is somewhere you should seriously consider moving to, if possible, if you want to get a dose of normality. (Read more: New entry regulations to be introduced from December 1)
At the moment, only those holding Taiwanese passports, resident and work permits can enter Taiwan, while there are also other exceptions. Click here for more information about travel to Taiwan and to see how and if you can get here.