With the ESL market expanding rapidly, Taiwan has become a popular expat destination, especially with younger expats. However, like with most countries, a move to this East Asian country comes with pros and cons. While the warm weather and plentiful travel opportunities have drawn many expats in, the culture shock and language barrier has also lead many expats to cut their stay in Taiwan short.
Below are some of the biggest pros and cons of living in Taiwan.
Accommodation in Taiwan
+ PRO: Affordable accommodation is easy to find.
Accommodation in Taiwan is affordable. It’s also very easy to find, even for expats who only speak English. There are dedicated plenty of groups on social media sites for foreigners wanting long or short term stays.
- CON: May not meet Western standards.
The major downside to accommodation in Taiwan is that it’s not modern. Humidity also affects accommodation greatly. Apartments in Taiwan can get hot and humid in the summer months unless one is willing to spend more money on air conditioning.
Quality of life in Taiwan
+ PRO: Taiwan is safe.
Taiwan is much safer than what many expats may be used to. It’s possible to walk around alone in most cities, even at night.
- CON: Air pollution is a reality.
Taiwan suffers from extreme air pollution. This is especially the case in larger cities like Taipei. It's very common to see residents walking around with face masks. There are also times when the air pollution gets so bad that residents are advised to stay indoors.
- CON: Taiwanese cities can be crowded.
Large cities in Taiwan tend to be crowded and noisy. The cities are densely populated which can come as quite a shock to expats. Expats who are used to space and quiet will take some getting used to the hustle and bustle in Taiwanese cities.
Lifestyle in Taiwan
+ PRO: Entertainment is easy to find.
Taiwan has a variety of down-time options that will suit any kind of expat. It's very easy to find beautiful day time spots for expats looking to be outdoors. Taiwan also has a fun nightlife scene. Most expats and locals are open and friendly, making it easy to find someone to have a drink with, even if it's short notice.
+ PRO: Delicious and affordable food.
The food scene in Taiwan is incredible. Street food is everywhere. It’s delicious and very budget-friendly. Convenience stores like 7-Eleven also make it easy for residents to get tasty food on the run. Even going out for a night or eating at a nice restaurant in Taiwan is very affordable compared to the prices in most Western countries.
- CON: Expats will experience a language barrier.
One of the biggest struggles for expats moving to Taiwan is the language barrier. Mandarin is famously hard to learn for those who haven’t grown up speaking it. With the language so hard to learn, it can affect different aspects of expat life like going to the grocery store, setting up banking or even going to the doctor.
Getting around in Taiwan
+ PRO: Excellent public transport options.
Public transportation in Taiwan is everywhere. The country has an excellent range of options including trains, subways and buses. To add to this, public transportation is also very cheap. This makes it easy and affordable for exapts to get around the country.
+ PRO: Google Maps is available.
An issue many foreigners experience in Asian countries is that navigation apps in their home language aren’t available. However, new arrivals can rest assured that they can still use their favourite navigation apps like Google Maps in Taiwan. This makes getting around without getting too lost a reality.
- CON: Strict rules on public transport.
Taiwan has very strict rules when it comes to using public transport. This especially applies to the subway system. Some expats may be shocked to find out that they aren’t even allowed to drink water on the subway. The reason for these strict rules is to keep the subway system clean.
- CON: Driving can be dangerous.
Many expats choose not to drive in Taiwan. This is because roads tend to be congested and dangerous to drive on. Many Taiwanese drive scooters and don’t seem to follow the rules of the road. This can take some getting used to. It’s therefore advised for expats to stick to public transport.
Weather in Taiwan
+ PRO: Winters are mild.
Expats who don’t enjoy the winter will love winter in Taiwan. Winters are famously mild. Average lows range between 55ºF and 58ºF (13ºC and 15ºC). Nighttime temperatures in the northern region of Taiwan can dip to the mid 40ºF range (below 10ºC).
- CON: Summers can be extremely hot.
Summers in Taiwan can take some getting used to. Temperatures can get extreme, with highs ranging between 80ºF and 87ºF (27ºC and 31ºC). What makes summers even more extreme is the intense humidity Taiwan experiences which often makes days feel much hotter than they are.
- CON: Typhoons and heavy rain occur frequently.
Like in many Asian countries, Taiwan suffers through an annual typhoon season. Typhoon season in Taiwan usually lasts from July until September. This season is characterised by extreme rain showers, thunderstorms, and strong winds. Expats need to invest in proper raincoats and umbrellas if they want to survive the Taiwanese rainy season.