Taiwan is a fantastic place to live and Tim and I both highly encourage people to come here for a year or longer, whether it’s to teach english, find a regular job, or come to study.
Below are the top 5 reasons that I think Taiwan is an awesome place to live.
Taiwan is a really a country that never sleeps, especially in any of the major cities. You can find all kinds of places that are open either very late or 24 hours.
Have a craving for dumplings at 11pm? Run out of wine during your house party at 1am? Sick and need a medicine from a pharmacy in the middle of the night? Or maybe you just broke your only pair of glasses at 5 in the morning and desperately need a new pair for the vacation you are about to leave on in a few hours? These situations have either happened to me, or people I know, and because of the 24-hour culture here all of them were easily solved.
Taiwan is filled with places that close late or are open 24 hours, like convenient stores, small restaurants, fast food chains, pharmacies, eye glass stores, etc. Heck, there is even a mattress shop that I’ve seen open at 1am on my way home (you know, for those times when someone urgently needs a new mattress in the middle of the night…). One of the best examples of the 24-hour culture here is the convenient stores, 99% of which are open 24 hours.
In Taiwan there are over 6000 7/11s and Family Mart’s and they are filled with useful drinks, food, and other necessities. In the US I very rarely used to go to a 7/11, but in Taiwan it’s a daily occurrence, especially because they are open all the time. I just actually went to pay a bill of mine that was due today (it’s 10pm as I write this, and yes, you also can pay all your bills at 7/11).
Low cost of living
Taiwan is a fantastic place to either save money or live a very adventurous lifestyle (or a mixture of both). The cost of living here is much cheaper compared to the West. Everything from food, to housing, to transportation is significantly cheaper than what you would pay back home.
This is why plenty of people come to Taiwan to pay off student loans or other debt and are able to do so relatively quickly. Alternatively, Tim and I both know plenty of people who come to Taiwan for an adventure and aren’t really interested in saving money. That’s fine too, and generally people who are of this mindset are either the partying types (going out multiple times a weeks), or they are using their money for frequent vacations to destinations around Asia.
The great part about Taiwan is that most people can earn a comfortable living and decide exactly what to do with their money.
High level of Safety
Taiwan has to be one of the safest countries in the world and it is certainly the safest I’ve ever traveled to or lived in terms of robbery and violent crimes.
Unlike most other cities in the world, there are very few “bad neighborhoods” that people need to avoid due to safety concerns. I’ve traveled around the island, been all over the major cities, walked on the streets at all hours of the day, and never once felt in any danger.
In fact, safety here is something that most people don’t even really think about because it’s just so natural to not have to worry about robbery and violent crimes. I say this as a man of course, but this goes for my wife as well. She feels perfectly safe going out with her friends late at night and taking a taxi home and not worrying about what could happen. I feel the same way for her and I don’t worry about her working late or going out at night.
Now, of course Taiwan isn’t perfect, and things can happen just like they could anywhere, but as long as you take some basic precautions then chances are you will not have any problems during your time here.
Good, cheap and convenient food options
Not everyone agrees with me, but I really like the food options in Taiwan. There are so many good places with tasty dishes that can fit into any budget. If you are on a tight budget here, it’s pretty easy to find good meals for less than 5USD. Most of my lunches here are between $3-5 and 9/10 times they are very good and relatively healthy. Sometimes I’ll go out with my wife and we may spend more, but we can easily have a very satisfying meal for under $15 USD total.
There are a lot of more expensive places to eat (especially Western ones) and sometimes we’ll go out to those as well (usually they cost around $10-20/person depending on what you are ordering. Taiwan also has great all you can eat places where you pay a certain fee (ranges from around $15-30 depending on the place) and get as much food, drinks (sometimes alcoholic drinks like beer/wine are included) and ice cream. Probably the best part about all these food options is that no matter where you live (as long as it’s a city), you should be able to find good food that is close by to where you live.
One other great thing about Taiwan’s food selection is the abundance of night markets. Night markets range from huge places with hundreds of vendors to smaller places with 10-20 stalls. Either way, they consist of multiple options for cheap things to eat (usually around $2-4 USD) like dumplings, fried chicken, various kinds seafood (usually grilled or fried), noodles, etc. Usually the night markets have fruit vendors, various teas and other drink vendors, and at the bigger ones, clothing/shoe stalls. Night markets are very popular in Taiwan and are a great place to try out some of the local dishes cheaply.
Great modes of transportation
In Taipei the MRT (subway) system is fantastic and makes it easy to get all over the city. I wrote more about the MRT in my living in Taipei post, but basically as long as you live by either a bus stop or an MRT station, getting around the city is fast and easy (and pretty cheap, too).
Alternatively, many foreigners living in Taipei and virtually all of those living outside Taipei get a scooter (or a car for some of the longer term foreigners). I take the MRT everyday to work, but I do also have a scooter, which I find very convenient to use to zip around my neighborhood and do errands lik grocery shopping, getting a haircut, etc.
When I lived in Tainan, a scooter was a necessity as it was the only form of transportation available to me (except for taxis). Using a scooter to get around can be fun (if you can handle the crazy traffic), and it’s much faster than a car because you are able to weave in and out of traffic. This is probably why there are nearly 15 million registered scooters in Taiwan with a population of a little over 23 million! Whether it’s the MRT or a scooter, the vast majority of foreigners will find transportation here very easy and convenient.