Taiwan is one of the most popular expat destinations in East Asia. Some of the main reasons for this are the climate, the hospitality and warmth of the local people, the ubiquity of local Chinese culture, and yet the simultaneous existence of a very modern and international infrastructure and economy. Taiwan is also quite good in terms of safety, entertainment and leisure options, and general convenience.Most expats who move to Taiwan tend to choose Taipei or New Taipei as their location. This is only natural – Taipei is the capital city, and New Taipei, which is just outside the capital, is the largest city in the country. In terms of employment options, infrastructure, and a number of other factors, these two cities are great locations for expats. Of course there are disadvantages too, such as the high prices, the dense population, the pollution, and the traffic jams. However, Taiwan has plenty of other great places to live in too. Many expats choose to live in Kaohsiung and Taichung, Taiwan’s second and third largest cities respectively. A few choose to live in rural Taiwan, which of course has its own difficulties and complications, but works very well for some people. However, in terms of cities alone, there are many great options that aren’t very well known. For those who have the flexibility to choose, here are a few.
Hualien is on Taiwan’s east coast, and possibly the greatest advantage of this location is that the pollution that drifts across from China doesn’t affect it too badly. Rents are considerably lower in Hualien City than in Taipei, and the crowds and traffic jams aren’t too bad either. In general, the pace of life is slower than in the bigger cities. It’s also easy to access the beautiful Taiwanese countryside from here. Hualien is an important export and import hub, and also has a strong tourism industry. It has a humid, subtropical climate, and a typhoon season from June to September.
Hsinchu is in the northern part of Taiwan, and is a small city, with a population of only 432,000. There’s a small expat community which is quite close-knit, and in general the city has good housing, public transport, and other infrastructure, at very reasonable prices. Hsinchu is a technology and information hub with several large industrial parks. The government has been investing heavily in developing the technology sector and attracting foreign investment. Like most of Taiwan, the climate is humid and subtropical, but Hsinchu doesn’t suffer from too many typhoons.
Taoyuan is also in the northern part of Taiwan, not too far from Hsinchu, with a similar climate and population size. Taoyuan has a very small expat population, and it can be difficult to find things to do, especially when you first arrive. However, if what you’re looking for is a quiet town with a slow pace of life and the opportunity to save money, it’s a good choice. Rents are low, and nightlife is limited, so you won’t have the opportunity or need to spend all your earnings. However, there are still some great entertainment and leisure options in the city and the county. In particular Taoyuan County has some excellent hiking and cycling trails within easy access from the city. There are a few large companies in Taoyuan, but most of the job opportunities for expats lie in teaching English.
Keelung is near the northern tip of Taiwan, and is the second largest port city in the country. In general, the climate is a little cooler than the rest of Taiwan. Keelung also gets a huge amount of rainfall and is one of the wettest cities in the world. The city has a small population of only around 370,000, of whom relatively few are expats. However, tourism is quite important in and around Keelung, so there’s plenty for expats to explore in terms of places to see, things to do, and local cuisine to sample.
Tainan is one of Taiwan’s oldest cities, and has even been the capital city under past dynasties. It’s still sometimes known as “the Capital City”, and remains an important cultural hub. Many elements of Taiwanese culture are said to have originated here, including some classic dishes, religious practices, and styles of music. The city is in the southwestern part of Taiwan, and again has a humid, subtropical climate. Unsurprisingly, tourism is a major industry in Tainan, but there are also a number of traditional and modern industries that are doing quite well and offer employment opportunities to expats.
Can we improve this article? Something wrong? Let us know in the comments.