Expats considering a move to Taiwan may have some concerns about life in this culturally-rich country.
From questions about finding a job to language concerns, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Taiwan.
Do I need a car in Taiwan? What’s the public transport like in cities such as Taipei?
A car is not a necessity in Taipei. The public transport in Taipei is excellent and the MRT system reaches most of the city, including outlying suburbs. If wanting to drive, expats should be aware that traffic can be a nightmare at peak times and parking is expensive. New cars are rather costly in Taiwan.
On the other hand, if living outside of Taipei or looking to explore the island, a car can be useful. Renting a car is possible with an international driver's permit.
Where is a good area to live in Taipei?
Taipei is one of the safest cities in the world, so foreigners can search for accommodation with cost and proximity to their work or children’s school as a first priority. There are many expat-friendly areas throughout the city.
Is it easy to find work in Taiwan?
For English-speaking foreigners, a common way of working in Taiwan is teaching English as a second language at local schools. Otherwise, those with a tech background should be able to find work, and those with good business acumen can usually find opportunities.
Generally, most expats living in Taiwan work in the finance and IT sectors and are often transferred from their home country. There are several large multinationals based in Taipei. If working for a Taiwanese firm, it may take a while to adjust to Taiwan’s business culture.
How do I make friends in Taiwan?
Taiwan has a large English-speaking expat community and, as a result, there are plenty of expat groups that one can join to make new friends. Of course, if working for a Western company or as an English teacher at a large school, expats will also have the chance to make friends with colleagues.
Do I need to speak Chinese to survive in Taiwan?
Although Taiwan has a large community of English-speaking foreigners, Mandarin and Taiwanese are spoken more often. Even a small amount of Mandarin will go a long way to help ease the transition of living in Taiwan. It can also be beneficial for finding employment. It's a good idea to get a phrasebook with phonetic translations as well as Chinese characters.
That said, it's possible to work and live without speaking any Mandarin at all, especially in Taipei. Many shops and companies have their names displayed in English as well as Chinese. Buses and trains in Taipei also display destinations in English.
Do I need health insurance in Taiwan?
In short, no. Taiwan has a national public healthcare system that foreigners are entitled to use if they have an Alien Registration Certificate – which is issued when an expat starts to work in Taiwan.