Visualise a modern and diverse city like Hong Kong with the laid-back island culture of Southern California. This explains what Taiwanese ex-pat life is like in Taipei City. To that, a topping of jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, a rich, intriguing culture, and endless options for mouthwatering cuisine drawn from tastes all over the world and the place is essentially heaven on Earth.
Taipei is a city where you can sweat your way up a rope rigged jungle mountain, soak in a natural hot spring oasis, visit a traditional market on the seaside dock, and eat at a five-star restaurant, (For less than $20 US!) all in the same day. That pretty much sums up the experiences in the city.
And if time and energy still persist, one can always take the fastest elevator in the world to the top of Taipei’s 101 story icon, Taipei 101. The views from the top of the tower are almost literally out of this world and host some of the best picture-perfect opportunities that you can get for Taiwan. But what else makes a living in Taipei City, Taiwan one of the best and underrated living abroad experiences that you can find in Southeast Asia?
The local culture is very welcoming, and it might at first seem to be overwhelming. It’s the kind of place where someone will walk up to you if you are lost and offer to personally escort you to your destination.
Aside from being friendly, Classic Taiwanese culture is mixed into the city with surprising fluidity. Massive night markets, traditional neighbourhoods, and old ladies pushing street carts are nestled snugly beside 21st-century skyscrapers and mega malls.
For those looking to settle, Taipei also has a local ex-pat vibe, unlike any other Asian city. There is so much going on all the time that most foreigners tend to meet at one point or another and become friends. Huge music festivals, holiday parties, artisan villages and park concerts are just a few examples. There is even a large neighbourhood of ex-pats with English schools and churches for families looking to settle down.
Taipei also offers some of the best public amenities in the world. The public healthcare is almost free, and it’s far better run than the US. Most doctors have studied in a western university, and most speak perfect English, but a visit to get your teeth cleaned or have a shot will run you about $5 US.
While on the subject of affordable amenities, the public transport system is the best in the world, so driving is not required anywhere. It is rare to wait more than 3 min for a train, and most connections are timed to sync up.
Because the city is incredibly liberal and committed to environmentalism, it never gets more polluted than Los Angeles or New York. As far as cleanliness goes, no other Asian city of its size even comes close. The giant public parks and river parks can be enjoyed anywhere because they are so pervasive.
The cost of living is roughly half the price of living in the United States, and if you teach English with the right company, you can be making a salary in the top 10% of Taiwanese wages. One can live like a king over here and explore one of the most diverse countries in Asia.