The 9 Things Expats Love Most About Taiwan

Love Taiwan | © Tristan Schmurr / Flickr
Love Taiwan | © Tristan Schmurr / Flickr
Photo of Ciaran McEneaney
8 January 2019

For many expats, Taiwan has become their second home. No, scratch that – it has become their first home and one that they would never dream of leaving. But what is it about this island that makes it so attractive to people looking for a new life? Here are nine of the most common reasons expats love Taiwan so much.

The food

Taiwan is famous for its incredible local cuisine. From the freshest seafood to tasty street foods, if you can‘t find something you like in Taiwan, then you obviously don’t like food. And that’s not even counting the hugely diverse range of foreign cuisines on offer. From Indian to Italian and everything else in between, if you want it, then the chances are there’s a food stall or restaurant selling it.

Taiwanese Beef Noodles | © Jonathan Lin / Flickr

The healthcare

Taiwanese healthcare is extremely well organized, and the island is a global leader in certain fields of medicine. The government subsidized healthcare means that the vast majority of medical procedures are extremely affordable. Many expats, especially those from the US, find it incredible that a visit to the doctor including prescribed medication costs as little as a meal at Burger King or KFC.

The convenience

When people first arrive in Taiwan, the convenience stores on every street corner might seem a little much. But after a few months, they soon realize just how incredibly handy it is to have these stores everywhere. Dinner, ATMs, delivery services, fruit, frozen food, snacks; to say that Taiwan’s convenience stores are convenient is a bit of an understatement.

But it’s not just the 7-Elevens and FamilyMarts; there are restaurants, breakfast stores, and bakeries everywhere. In fact, if you live in any of Taiwan’s major cities, then you probably have absolutely everything you want within five minutes’ walking distance.

The public transport

The bus services in Taiwan are pretty good, as are the train services between cities, but it’s the MRT services in Taipei and Kaohsiung (with Taichung coming soon) that are a big hit with expats. Subway systems are everywhere in the world, but here in Taiwan they are well designed, clean, cheap, and very efficient.

Then there’s YouBike, the public bike service that has exploded in popularity in recent years. It’s true that drivers are still getting used to having so many bikes on the roads, but these bikes are a hugely popular mode of transport for expats, particularly in the city’s riverside parks.

The night markets

The sights, sounds, and smells of the night market are things that many expats just can’t get out of their system. For many that come from outside Asia, their home nations rarely have anything comparable to the night markets of Taiwan. Even if you’re not buying anything, they’re a great place to have a wander and grab some late-night snacks. In fact, it’s often at the night market that expats find their favorite Taiwanese street foods.

Shilin Night Market | © Jirka Matousek / Flickr

The weather

Although typhoon season can be a bit tough to get through, the weather for the rest of the year is quite comfortable. It can actually take a bit of time to get used to wearing jackets or sweaters for just a few short months of the year, especially for those that hail from colder climates. Spring is warm, autumn is sunny, and winter is mild; truth be known, summer is the only season that offers any discomfort to locals, but for many expats, it’s the perfect time to hit one of Taiwan’s many beautiful beaches.

The scenery

Ask anyone who has yet to visit Taiwan, and they’ll likely mention Taipei 101 and perhaps some of the more well-known religious sites. But what many don’t realize (and what expats here are delighted to discover) is that Taiwan is full of incredible natural beauty.

From the stunning scenery of Yangmingshan to the mountaintop views of Yushan, the region’s many national parks are places of spectacular vistas. Here you can find hiking trails, natural hot springs, and lush meadows just a short drive from many of the island’s cities. And the fact that Taiwan has yet to make the most of its natural resources with regards to tourism is a topic often discussed in the expat community.

Spectacular scenery | © Mark Kao / Flickr

The standard of living

While property is quite expensive in the major cities, rent and other bills are affordable. The same can also be said for dining at local restaurants and even going out for a drink. Many expats find that they can have a much better standard of living here in Taiwan than they can in their home nation. They can afford to buy nice things, dine out often, and save a little more than they could back home. When it comes to money, Taiwan is a great place to live comfortably while still saving a little something for a rainy day.

The people

Taiwanese people have a reputation for being extremely helpful and friendly. However, nothing quite prepares an expat for the lengths their newfound local friends will go to in order to help them out.

Need a new pair of shoes? Your local colleague knows just the place and will gladly take you there on the MRT.

Worried about the language barrier at the hospital? Chances are that anyone nearby who can speak English will rush to your aid and stay with you until everything is sorted.

All alone for Moon Festival? Don’t worry; your neighbor will probably insist that you join them outside for a barbecue.

Yes, Taiwanese people really are that friendly, and it’s this warm welcome that makes many expats feel that, in Taiwan, they have found a place that they can call home.