Life in Taipei
Taipei is a vibrant city of around 3 million people. North of the city are the residential suburbs of ShiLin, TianMu, BeiTou and Yang Ming Shan, which are popular areas for expatriate families and where you will find our two campuses.
Taipei embodies the notion of ‘East meets West’, with traditional shops and food outlets nestled amongst modern skyscrapers and department stores. The people of Taiwan are extremely friendly and, as a city, Taipei is a relatively safe place to live. Teenagers, especially, appreciate the high degree of independence they can enjoy in Taipei. Language can sometimes be a barrier and English is more widely spoken amongst the younger population. However, if you are looking lost, someone will usually try to help you. Learning a few words of Chinese is appreciated by the locals.
Taipei is home to a relatively small but welcoming expatriate community and the quality of life for expats is considered very good. It is a cosmopolitan city, with all the shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities you would expect.
Taipei has an excellent public transport system, including the metro (MRT), high speed rail and numerous buses (you can download the ‘Bus Tracker Taipei’ App). Taxis are cheap and plentiful. Cycling is also popular and temporary hire ‘U Bikes’ are a good way of getting around. One of the best ways to explore the city is on foot – you will discover numerous hidden gems when you take to the streets.
Driving in Taiwan is fairly straightforward and road signs in Taipei are written in English as well as Chinese. Dodging the thousands of scooters on the road will probably be your biggest challenge. If you decide to own a car or drive in Taipei, you need to be aware that parking in the city is very limited.
Taipei offers numerous ways to enjoy the outdoors. Situated at the northern end of the island of Taiwan, the city is surrounded by mountains, which offer plentiful hiking trails for both experienced and inexperienced walkers. Taipei has many indoor and outdoor swimming pools and you will see public parks and playgrounds in every neighbourhood. You can also enjoy a round of golf or a bike ride on cycle routes along the rivers.
Cost of Living
Taipei is an expensive city to live in, with the cost of housing being one of the most expensive aspects. In addition, leading a ‘western lifestyle’ is rather more expensive than in Europe. Western food and products are freely available in restaurants and supermarkets, but trying more local items will prove a lot cheaper!
Travel & Holidays
Taiwan is a scenic island offering some amazing destinations for both short and longer holidays. Taroko Gorge, Kenting and Sun Moon Lake are just a few of the must-see places ‘on island’. In addition, Taiwan’s unspoilt outlying islands can be reached by boat or short plane journey.
Taiwan is well located for exploring the rest of South East Asia and beyond. Local low-cost airlines will transport you to mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan. Those wishing to travel further afield often take advantage of opportunities to travel to Hawaii and the USA or Australia.
Taipei is rich in culture, from traditional to modern. Taipei residents can experience traditional festivals, an abundance of museums and a huge variety of performances, from classical ballet to contemporary rock and pop concerts.
Taiwanese people celebrate a variety of festivals during the year. Many of them are extremely fascinating for foreigners. Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Ghost Month and Moon Festival are the major ones that attract many foreign visitors, as well as local residents.
Taipei is home to the world-famous National Palace Museum, which has the world’s biggest collection of Chinese artefacts. Although the museum is vast and can display 15,000 items on a three-month rotation, it would still take 12 years to display all the items it owns! As an alternative, you can also visit the much smaller Taipei Fine Art Museum, which regularly hosts displays from foreign and local artists. There are many other museums, including the Science Museum, Transport Museum and National Museum of History, all of which are favourites for foreigners.
There are several venues in Taipei that showcase local and international talent, including the spectacular National Concert Hall and National Theatre. You can get a taste for Chinese opera at the Taipei Eye, watch an indie film at the Taipei Film House, or see world renowned acts at the Taipei Arena. These are but a few of the many entertainment venues in the city.
Shopping for clothes is interesting – especially for the young and adventurous! You can buy the latest fashions at cheap prices at the markets, although they don’t always stock the full range of sizes. Brand- and department stores usually have larger sizes, but also a larger price tag! There are ‘export’ shops in Tianmu that offer great bargains on designer seconds or discounted styles, but you need to be prepared to rummage and pop in frequently.
House & Home
You will be able to purchase household items from Ikea, B&Q and Hola outlets around the city. It is usually possible to have larger items delivered and even assembled for you for little additional cost.
There are food/street markets in nearly every neighbourhood around the city, where you can buy fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, flowers, etc. You will also see small grocery shops on nearly every street. You can buy many western grocery items in Jasons, City Super, Carrefour, Wellcome and Costco, although imported items are much more expensive than what you would pay at home.
If you live in Taiwan, you can be assured of excellent quality healthcare. Many doctors are western-trained and most speak reasonable English. Family practices are conveniently located around Taipei. The hospitals are also welcoming to foreigners and often have English-speaking volunteers to guide you around the hospital. A large number of staff also speak English and are very considerate of foreigners who cannot read the signs. Dentists are also plentiful and you should have no trouble finding one who speaks English.