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Taiwan

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Taiwan Fast Facts

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Population: 23,451,837
Capital City: Taipei
Climate: Subtropical

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Language: Mandarin
International Dialing Code: +886
Prime Minister: Tsai Ing-wen

Taiwan: Tropical Forests, Delicious Cuisine, And Helpful Locals... Discover This Expat Paradise

Taiwan is relatively unknown amongst the international community, but this island nation has an exciting lifestyle to offer the expat. An oblong island about 160 km off the east coast of mainland China, Taiwan is relatively small, making up just over 3600 square kilometers. Taiwan is a beautiful country, with exotic and diverse geography… mountain ranges, dense forests, and stunning coastline make up the island. Taiwanese people are friendly and have an incredible food culture they are eager to share with foreigners. In recent years, more expats have discovered this lesser-known island and have made a move to paradise.

Taiwan has a complicated relationship with its closest neighbor, China… it is, in fact, officially recognized as a part of China. However, with its democratic government, separate constitution, and armed forces, it considers itself distinct from mainland China. China, on the other hand, claims Taiwan as one of its provinces.

Although few Taiwanese want to merge with China, it has threatened to invade Taiwan if its people vote to become independent. For now, Taiwan’s status remains fuzzy, and most of its diplomatic relations with other countries are unofficial.

Living In Taiwan

Scenery of Badouzi railway station in Keelung City, Taiwan
Adobe Stock/nicholashan

Taiwan’s lush, green landscape is thanks to the subtropical climate which dominates most of the island, while the southernmost regions experience a tropical climate. The typical weather conditions here are long, hot summers and mild winters, with consistently high humidity levels throughout the year. June to August are the hottest months when temperatures average 100˚F. During the coolest months, typically January to March, average temperatures are 50˚F. The monsoon season brings heavy rains to the island from May to September.

Taiwan is incredibly diverse from a linguistic point of view. It has six national languages, unfortunately none of which are English. These national languages do include Mandarin, and learning this is probably your best bet if you want to communicate with locals. Not many Taiwanese people speak English, but that shouldn’t ruin your experience here. Although locals don’t speak English, Google Translate and other instant-translation apps work well, and Taiwanese people are generally very tech-savvy and happy to help. The younger generation is also closing the gap on English knowledge, as it’s taught in most of the country’s schools.

Because of Taiwan’s tenuous relationship with China, it remains somewhat cut off from the international community. As a result, the expat community here is limited. However, there are a few Americans, Canadians, and Europeans here and a growing number of young expats who move abroad to teach English.

Cost Of Living In Taiwan

Shilin night market a popular district and place in Taiwan
Adobe Stock/siraphol

Most expats relocate to the capital, Taipei, where the cost of living is highest… yet it’s still much more affordable than Singapore, Tokyo, or other Asian metropolises. With a decent salary or pension, you can enjoy a much higher standard of living in Taipei than you do back home. If you are on a budget, consider living in a more rural part of Taiwan, where your cost of living will drop dramatically compared to the capital.

Rent and trips to and from your home country will likely be your biggest expenses. After that, your monthly bills come down to how you choose to live. Taiwan’s cities offer every luxury or fine-dining experience you could hope for. At the same time, you can find cheap eats and entertainment options, like night markets with food stalls and free public parks.

Health Care In Taiwan

Taiwan’s government-run health care system is known as the National Health Insurance (NHI). It affords its entire population access to in- and outpatient care, traditional Chinese medicine, prescription medicine, dental, and nursing care. As a foreign resident of Taiwan, NHI enrollment would be mandatory. Premiums are based on wages and other income and are covered by the insured, employers, and in the case of low-income households, the government.

Taiwan’s health care system ranks as one of the most efficient in the world. As an NHI user, you’ll carry a smartcard that your doctor only needs to swipe to see your personal medical history. Thanks to the wide selection of NHI-affiliated hospitals and clinics, wait times for appointments tend to be low. Health care in Taiwan is not only high quality but also highly affordable; the NHI’s administrative costs are some of the lowest in the world.

Getting To Taiwan

Airplane landing at Kinshasa Congo airport mirrored in terminal
Adobe Stock/Skórzewiak

Taiwan has four international airports, the biggest and busiest is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE). It’s located 40 km west of Taipei and is easily reached by public transport or taxi.

Getting to Taiwan will inevitably involve a lengthy flight. The good news is TPE serves a considerable number of cities worldwide, so you can fly there direct from several North American cities.

Best Places To Live In Taiwan

Taipei

Sunset over the city of Taipei, Taiwan
Adobe Stock/nick

Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city, offers fascinating history and culture, highly developed infrastructure, and the buzz of constant activity that comes with a big city. With a population of over 7 million people in its metropolitan area, Taipei offers everything its Asian-metropolis counterparts offer, plus its own inimitable charm.

Taipei embeds technology into life in ways you didn’t realize were possible until you visit, but this hasn’t sterilized its culture. Amid all modernity, pockets of the ancient endure, like the centuries-old Longshan Temple or the City Gates that date to the Qing Dynasty. Taipei also has museums, galleries, landmarks, parks, temples, a zoo, hiking trails, and hot springs to offer you… In short, this city deserves a place on your list of potential relocation destinations.

Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung's famous tourist attractions in Taiwan
Adobe Stock/hxdyl

Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second-largest city, located on the southwest part of the island. It’s a major industrial city and one of Taiwan’s principal ports, which has resulted in a flourishing city with lots of job opportunities. Rental prices, real estate, and general living expenses are a lot cheaper in Kaohsiung than in Taipei, which has attracted a growing number of expats to relocate here.

Kaohsiung has a more favorable climate than the capital, with less humidity and higher levels of sunshine. Being a port city, Kaohsiung is located on the sea, which is a huge advantage of living here, as you have endless beautiful beaches within a short drive of the city center.


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