Living in Taiwan
Taiwan is an incredibly friendly, convenient, modern, and exciting place to live. Most people will live in bigger cities like Taipei, Taoyuan, Kaohsiung, and Tainan. And while sometimes densely populated, even a city like Taipei with a population of nearly four (4) million can feel like a small town. The people in Taiwan are usually incredibly friendly, and it is said that you cannot spend more than ten seconds at a subway map before a helpful local will approach you and ask if you need assistance in finding your way.
While Mandarin Chinese is the most widely used language in Taiwan, English is readily spoken in the cities. There are many foreign residents in Taiwan who have lived there for decades but still do not speak Mandarin because it is not absolutely essential.
Life in Taiwan can be either casual or busy, with Taipei standing out as a relatively fast-paced city but still friendly, calm, and lacking the crime and pollution of most major metropolitan cities.
Many international students will soon find that night markets are one of the biggest attractions for all people in Taiwan. You can find amazing food sold in restaurants and by street vendors alike, as well as shopping, carnival games, and many other attractions. Most local and foreign residents of Taipei visit some of the largest night markets in the world at Shilin.
The conveniences of basic living abound all across the island. 7-Eleven and FamilyMart stores are on most street corners, supermarkets like PX Mart are in most towns, and the big-box retailers Carrefour and Costco are found in large to medium cities. No matter where you live in Taiwan, you will certainly never go hungry.
finding a place to live
Finding a place to live in Taiwan is very easy, and rent prices vary between city centers and the suburbs like in the USA. Taipei is the largest hub of foreigners living in Taiwan with residents from North America, South America, Europe, and other Asian nations. Taipei is a friendly international city with a lot to offer.
Whether you are planning to move to Taiwan for 6 months, a year, or longer, you may need to find an apartment. Depending on what type of program you choose, you may or may not be provided with on-campus housing. It is important to check with the university or language training center to see if they offer housing options. If not, do not fear!
For students, one of the easiest ways to find a place to live is on My Room Abroad. This website is user friendly and can help you find available accommodation.
Another great resource is TMM Rental & Moving Services. It is a popular rental platform in Taiwan that has many local landlords as members.
One unique aspect of rentals in Taiwan is the unit of measurement known "Ping"; one Ping is about 35.6 square feet. This is helpful in understanding the approximate size of each room or apartment available to rent.
Other things you may want to know are:
Does the room have an independent bathroom or a shared bathroom?
Does the building have an elevator to the floor of that room?
Does it include a kitchen? It is shared or individual?
How are utilities paid? Is it necessary to pay water, electricity, and gas bills?
In case of a fire or emergency, where is the exit? Does the room have any safety equipment? Is there roof access and/or an exit door?
When searching for a roommate, social media is helpful in connecting with Americans already living in Taiwan. It is possible to ask about the experiences of Americans currently living in Taiwan, or even see if they are looking for a roommate. This is a very common method used for Americans studying and living overseas.
Visit and join these Facebook Groups:
Another option for finding a place, and potentially making friends, is by visiting TeaLit. TeaLit is a website originally developed to help Westerners find teaching jobs in Taiwan. It includes advertisements for employment opportunities for native English speakers.
Tealit is also helpful in connecting with Americans or local landlords looking to rent out accomodations.
Whether you are shopping for souvenirs to send home, clothing, books, electronics, or just your regular groceries, Taiwan is as easy and convenient a place as any. Taiwan's cities have malls just like the USA, and grocery stores very similar to what you find at home. However, Taiwan has the additions of night markets and other specialty places that make shopping even more interesting and fun!
Taiwan has everything, as long as you know where to look. For American students studying abroad in Taiwan, there are occasions when you begin to miss some types of foods you get regularly at home that are harder to find in Asia. The often-missing items for students studying in Asia include things like milk, cheese, tortillas, corn chips, and other snack foods.
Fortunately for Americans living in Taiwan, this is usually not the case. You can find milk and common chips and snacks in the ubiquitous 7-Elevens that are found throughout the island, as well in Taiwan's grocery stores like Wellcome and PxMart. But for easy access to all those foods you love from home, it is worth visiting a Carrefour or a RT-MART in the nearest city.
Carrefour and RT-MART are like a Costco or Sam's Club mixed with a Walmart and a department store. They can be upwards of 3 to 6 stories high and filled with every type of item you need for living in Taiwan, from electronics and clothing, to small furniture items, cleaning supplies, and almost every type of food on your grocery list. Living in Taiwan can resemble living in the USA when it comes to grocery and common household shopping.
Taiwan's cities have the same kinds of malls you will find at home, and oftentimes with the same stores. Every city has multiple shopping malls offering all the items you are used to when it comes to basic living. From clothing to hair salons, restaurants and snack bars, you will find what you are looking for.
When you are looking for clothes, you can find them at the Carrefour or in shopping malls, just as you would back at home. Night markets are always a great choice for clothes and all other smaller items and accessories you may use on a daily basis.
You can find out more about places to go shopping in Taiwan here.