Frequently Asked Questions about Taiwan
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about expat life in Taiwan:
Do I need a car in Taiwan? What’s the public transport like in cities like Taipei?
If moving to Taipei, a car is not a necessity. The public transport in Taipei is excellent and the MRT system reaches most of the city, including outlying suburbs. Traffic can be a nightmare at peak times and parking is expensive. Also, new cars are expensive in Taiwan.
On the other hand, if living outside of Taipei, or looking to explore the island, a car can be useful. Renting a car is possible with an international driver's permit.
Where is a good area to live in Taipei?
Taipei is one of the safest cities in the world, so expats can search for accommodation with cost and proximity to their work or children’s school as a first priority. There are some slums and gangster-run areas in the city centre, but generally it is very safe.
Is it easy to find work in Taiwan?
For English-speaking expats, a common way of working in Taipei is teaching English as a second language at local schools. Otherwise, those with a tech background can find work, and those with good business acumen can usually drum up opportunities.
Generally though, most expats living in Taipei work in the finance and IT sectors, and are often transferred to Taiwan from their home country. There are several large multinationals based in Taipei. If working for a Taiwanese firm, it may take a while to adjust to Taiwan’s business culture.
How do I make friends in Taiwan?
Taiwan has a large English-speaking expat community, and as a result there are plenty of expat groups that one can join to make new friends. Of course, if working for a Western company or as an English teacher at a large school, one will also have the chance to make friends with colleagues. See Meeting People and Making Friends in Taipei for more information.
Do I need to speak Chinese to survive in Taiwan?
Although Taiwan has a large community of English-speaking expats, Mandarin and Taiwanese are spoken more often. Even a small amount of Mandarin will go a long way to help ease the transition of living in Taiwan, and can be beneficial with potential employers. It is a good idea to get a phrasebook with phonetic translations as well as Chinese characters.
That said, it is possible to work and live without speaking any Mandarin at all, especially in Taipei. Many shops and companies have their names displayed in English as well as Chinese, and buses and trains in Taipei display destinations in English.
Do I need health insurance in Taiwan?
In short, no. Taiwan has a national public healthcare system that foreigners are entitled to use if they have an Alien Registration Certificate – which is issued when an expat starts to work in Taiwan.