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Interview with Larry – an American expat living in Taiwan

Updated 6 Sep 2023

Larry is an American expat living in Taiwan. He has lived in Taiwan for 10 years now. He loves the people, culture, food and weather, as well as the convenient lifestyle. Larry also enjoys the fact that Taiwan is a free, democratic destination with a high standard of living, great healthcare and a good quality of life.

Read more about Larry's expat experience in Taiwan on the Foreigners in Taiwan blog. He provides deep dives into must-visit locations and advice on how to live, travel and do business in Taiwan, along with FAQs about everything from immigration, visas and culture to pregnancy, flying a drone and buying a scooter in Taiwan. Alternatively, you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram, or catch some slices of Taiwanese life on the Foreigners in Taiwan YouTube channel.

About Larry

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Seattle, USA

Q: Where are you currently living (city and country)?
A: Taipei, Taiwan

Q: When did you move here?
A: 2011

Q: Is this your first expat experience?
A: Yes and no. After first moving to Taiwan in 2011, I also spent time in China and Thailand before returning to Taiwan.

Q: Did you move here alone or with a spouse/family?
A: I came here alone, but I married a Taiwanese goddess, and now we have two children.

Q: Reason for moving?
A: After coming back to the USA from my initial trip in 2011, I realised I missed Taiwan too much. All I could think about were my friends in Taiwan, the delicious food and the convenient lifestyle. I had to go back; there was no choice.

Living in Taiwan

Q: What do you enjoy most about your host city and Taiwan in general?
A: I love the people, the culture, the food and the weather, as well as the convenient lifestyle. Taiwan is also a free, democratic country with a high standard of living, great healthcare and a good quality of life.

Q: Have you had any low points? What do you miss most about home?
A: The biggest setback is the work culture in Taiwan. It is expected that you work long hours for no additional pay and suck up to the boss. This goes against everything I have been taught as an American.

Q: What are the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into expat life here? Did you experience culture shock at all?
A: There was culture shock back in 2011. I recall eating a lot of 7-11 hot dogs before I became accustomed to the local food, but after I got used to the food, I never looked back.

Q: What are your favourite things to do on the weekend? Any particular places or experiences you'd recommend to fellow expats?
A: Yes, the beaches, the mountains, snorkelling, surfing, hiking, river tracing and visiting historical sights. There are endless things to do.

Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? Is there anything especially expensive or cheap in Taiwan?
A: The cost of living, such as rent, is much cheaper. Eating out is also very cheap. However, food at the grocery store is a little more expensive.

Q: What’s public transport like in your city and across the country?
A: It’s amazing. Taipei has an amazing railway and subway system, an inter-city bus system, high-speed rail, a bike-share system, cheap taxis and airports in all major cities.

Q: What do you think about the healthcare available in Taiwan? What should expats expect of local doctors and hospitals?
A: Healthcare in Taiwan is probably the best in the world. Not only is it good and fast, it’s also cheap. Local doctors and hospitals are excellent.

Q: What’s the standard of housing like in your city? What different options are available?
A: Houses are small because Taipei is a crowded city. Most people live in small one- or two-room apartments. There are limited options for a good price.

Q: Any areas or suburbs you’d recommend for expats to live in?
A: Nangang District of Taipei. And also Kaohsiung.

Meeting people and making friends in Taiwan

Q: Was meeting people and making friends easy? How did you go about meeting new people?
A: Yes, Taiwanese people are very nice, especially if you are Western and speak English. People will go up and greet you. Taiwanese people are friendly to strangers in general.

Q: Have you made friends with locals, or do you mix mainly with other expats? What advice would you give to new expats looking to make friends with the locals?
A: Learn Chinese. Learning Chinese will help you make connections with local people and understand the culture in more deep and interesting ways. I have Taiwanese and expat friends. I mix with both crowds.

Working in Taiwan

Q: Was getting a work permit or visa a relatively easy process? Did you tackle the visa process yourself, or did you enlist the services of an immigration consultant?
A: As long you get a job, your employer should take care of this for you. If you marry someone Taiwanese, the process is pretty easy too.

Q: What is the economic climate in the city like?
A: Taiwan’s economy is booming. The economy is mostly reliant on the semiconductor industry.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: As I said before, the biggest setback is the work culture in Taiwan. It is expected that you work long hours for no additional pay and suck up to the boss. This goes against everything I have been taught as an American.

Family and children in Taiwan

Q: How has your partner adjusted to your new home?
A: We love Taiwan.

Q: Did your children settle in easily? What were the biggest challenges for them during the move?
A: My children were born in Taiwan.

Q: What are your favourite family attractions and activities in the city?
A: Taipei children’s amusement park, beaches, mountains, rivers and the outdoors in general.

Q: What are the schools like? Any particular suggestions?
A: Schools are okay. The teachers like to force-feed learning and don’t encourage quantitative reasoning or critical thinking though.

Final thoughts

Q: Is there any advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals to Taiwan?
A: Just come. Why aren’t you here yet? Taiwan is the best country for expats by far.

– Interviewed 1 September 2023

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