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In retrospect, would you move again to Taiwan?

Hi all,

If you had to look back on your expat experience in Taiwan, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"?

From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most?

Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Taiwan so far?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience. We look forward to hearing from you!

Christine

No way. The people can be nice enough once they've met you a few times, but otherwise the island is completely over-rated. Taiwan's reputation for "the world's friendliest people" is just untrue, barring a few people who go out of their way to help when they hear you struggling with Mandarin Chinese and the occasional shopkeeper who actually returns your smile.

Aside from that, the people have a can-do attitude and try hard to communicate with foreigners, even if they have to phone a friend or use a translation app to take a food order.

The street food is inedible, awful rubbish. We tried almost everything available (except for the greyer, smellier and more exotic animal parts). In the 6 weeks we were there, there was not a single meal that I would recommend or want to order again.

Groceries are extremely expensive (a single imported Japanese apple in a supermarket in Taipei runs at US$7). You cannot survive unless you're willing to eat at pricey eateries or expensive restaurants where a pizza costs anywhere between US$15 and US$30.

The apartment blocks in every city are depressing, filthy, Soviet-era blocks. They are tiny and dark, and generally have only a nominal kitchen. There is zero imagination in Taiwan's architecture, and it looks as though every building was constructed from a choice of only 3 different designs. This is somewhat mitigated by the many parks which are usually beautiful and well-kept.

The take-away coffee is often burnt and expensive, though affordable, good coffee can be found in places.

There are very, very few pubs or nightlife spots anywhere. When you do find one, a beer will cost you US$7.

Public transport is very good. Outside of Taipei the options are more limited, but we got around easily and pretty cheaply. The high-speed rail that runs down the west coast is amazing, but a one-way ticket from Taipei to Kaoshiung will run at US$40. We could not rent or buy a scooter because we didn't have ARCs (Alien Resident Cards).

I would strongly recommend against going to Taiwan, even for a visit. Our experience was 6 weeks of frustration and disappointment.

I lived in Taiwan for a year back in the mid 1980's. I had been given a scholarship to study Mandarin at the Mandarin Training Center at the National Taiwan Normal University (Shi Fan Da Xue) in Taipei.

Initially I lived with a local family in a place called Rao He Jie which is a famous night market street in the Songshan district, not far from the centre of the city. The house was a huge former office of a coal mining company stretching back to the Japanese occupation. The family were wealthy and welcomed me as part of the family. They gave me a name, "Ah Xi" as I came from the west. I paid no rent, meals were provided every day, laundry included too and they took me to some wonderful restaurants, showed me Taipei and often drove me to the coast or to the mountainous areas.

Later I moved into a very old wooden Japanese style wooden house with tatami mats and sliding doors. Nowadays these type of houses have all but disappeared.

During that period I made many western friends at the University, I also taught English for extra pocket money. Relaxation time was spent eating some of the wonderful food from excellent restaurants, exploring the older parts of the city, visiting some of the other wonderful markets or looking for antique pottery. I learned to paint using a maobi (chinese ink brush) and I became a friend or even brother to the sons and daughters in the family.

Some of the most enjoyable food was found near to the university, and not unlike much of the food that I have found in Malaysia and Indonesia. Twenty or thirty varieties of meats, veg, eggs and you just help yourself and eat it with rice. I even began to enjoy "Stinking Tofu", a horrible smelling food that when eaten tasted delicious. As soon as you taste it the smell is gone, a bit like eating the fruit Durian.

Some of the things I'd do on the weekends is take a train to Dan Shui on the coast with friends, visit the Palace Museum, go to Shilin Market, visit some of the many beautiful Chinese temples such as the Longshan Temple or drive to Yangmingshan with friends.

Would I do it again? Yes absolutely. I had one of the most amazing times in my life living again as a student and exploring one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Would I change anything? No absolutely not. Perhaps I would have stayed longer if I could. I became part of a family who still treat me as their brother after all these years and welcome me back whenever I am in Taiwan. We even still arrange to meet in places like San Francisco, London or Kuala Lumpur. They are my family.

The benefits of my expatriation in Taiwan? Without doubt, to have become part of a wonderful Taiwanese family who to this day are as close as ever. To have experienced living in one of the most wonderful and interesting countries in the world. And to have made vast improvements in my Mandarin language.

I have to say that I would absolutely move to Taiwan again!  I found the people so friendly and helpful.  I loved both the day and night culture that you find in Taiwan and the markets were great!

I lived in Taiwan for almost 4 years...from 2006 to 2009.  At the time my husband was teaching English and we had 3 little boys.  We adopted our daughter from Taiwan in 2007.

When we first moved to Taiwan, we actually first lived on the island of Kinmen (between Taiwan and China), and then a few months later moved to Donggang in Pingtung County.  After a year there we moved to Yilan (on the east coast) and then to Hsinchu (on the west coast).

We loved taking the train into town or riding the bus to various destinations...i think my favourite were all the beautiful temples.

Daily life there was really great, even with the language difference...we managed to communicate and was very impressed with how smoothly things happened (in terms of visas, new employment, adoption, getting internet connection setup, etc...). 

The benefits?  firstly the adoption of our daughter (although that was not the original plan when we first decided to move to Taiwan), but the benefits are definitely learning about an amazing and interesting culture, meeting some amazing people and living in a beautiful country.

Wow you also had an amazing time in Taiwan. It's great that you managed to live in so many different places in Taiwan, away from the big cities. Yes the markets are really wonderful and the people are so friendly, I agree absolutely. I also traveled down the east coast by bus sometimes, it really is pretty.

I lived in Taiwan for 1.5 years in 2007/2008 - and I loved it, too, despite being away from my family (who remained in Singapore) and having some problems at work (see below).
I lived in Taoyuan (near the airport) and Hsinchu for half of the time each, but travelled to customer locations all along the West coast.
While Taiwanese cities look grubby ("not fit for human inhabitation" said a friend), there are lots of things to discover. The friendliness and welcoming nature of the people more than makes up for any inconvenience. And outside of the cities it is one of the most beautiful islands in the world - the Portuguese didn't call it "Formosa" for nothing!
I had a car and spent lots of time in the mountains, tracing perilous roads (I made all three cross-mountain highways several times, and much more) to find wild hot springs (we had one to ourselves for a whole afternoon, after climbing down into the abyss for an hour and digging a pool into the gravel), Japanese colonial remains (an abandoned castle on a 1800m mountain, for example), millenium-old trees (without the tourists of Alishan) and remote aboriginal villages where no Chinese is spoken (which suited me well, because I also don't understand it). Looking at the pictures and memories makes me want to go back every time - and indeed we did three years ago for a vacation, met friends  and circumnavigated the island in a rented car.
I worked for two Western engineering companies, which both eventually laid me off due to the economic crisis 2008. Working with the Taiwanese, though, was great: They are pragmatic, solution-oriented and prefer simple procedures over unnecessary bureaucracy. I also found that I can speak openly without fear of office politics and backstabbing, which was a refreshing change from other Asian countries - or indeed my Western employers. Some of my Taiwanese ex-colleagues are friends to this day!
Food was amazing whenever the locals recommended a place and ordered for me. Alone, I preferred buffet restaurants (without the need to read a menu - just take whatever looks good!). Since most such places are vegetarian, I lived pretty healthily, too. The most memorable meal probably was at a small fishing port on East Coast, where we bought seafood directly from the arriving boats and had it prepared to our specifications in a small "kitchen with three tables" across the road, although a soup cooked with hot stones in an aboriginal straw hut in the South comes close.

Absolutely! I worked in Taiwan as a consultant for almost a year 30 years ago. We still have friends there who we communicate with. Both my wife and I really enjoyed the place. We liked it so well, we are VERY seriously considering retiring there. In the Taipei area, we have 2 families we are friends with.
In the south near Tainan, we were privileged to dine with one of the leading families in Taiwan.

We are still researching some important retirement questions before we make the plunge.

To those who are contemplating going to Taiwan, I say DO IT !!

Perhaps as a contractor I'm an exception.  I don't mind it here.  Of the Asian countries I've been too, Taiwan people are about the friendliest, or at least the general populace.  Oddly enough the biggest headache I have where I work comes from a fellow American that has an ego so big its going to get someone killed someday.

In appearance Taiwan looks a lot like South Korea, although I think the drivers might be a bit better.  Still open for debate.  Ive seen some parts that are simply beautiful and I still have a lot to see.

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