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Hi! I am Shu Ting, a 24-year-old Taiwanese girl

I have been living in Taiwan for 23 years, lived one year in Europe (mostly in Spain) at the age of 22, and one month in the UK when I was 16.

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What is it like to live and work in Taiwan
Hi!

One year living in Spain and travelling around Europe has been the most valuable experience and inspiration for me. The culture, language, people, food, weather, schedule…. everything is so different from Taiwan, which shocked, impressed, and taught me; made me refuse, accept, then fall in love with life there.

That year had me keep learning Spanish after going back to TW; gave me the thought of going back again and exploring Latin America in the future; let me have met plenty of inspiring people and cheering friends.
And that’s also when and where I met Seyamaila. ^^

What to expect in this article

I am recently working as a sales Engineer, in which I develop new clients and maintain relationships with them, taking care of their needs, and at the same time be the negotiator in each case. This is a position that demands proactivity, patience, negotiation, and communication skills (as I love being with people^^).

However, I’m actually exploring my career and always want to work and live abroad! Recently I’ve been going through interviews and might start working in another Southeast Asian country in the near future 🙂

Friendly people

People here are friendly and passionate, they love to offer help and chat with you, they might seem a bit shy when meeting foreigners because we are on an island, only big cities have more international students or foreigners working (comparing to European countries), but generally, they are excited to talk with foreigners, especially if you are chatty or like to practice Chinese with them 🙂 

Even if you don’t speak Chinese at all they are still happy to help you, but knowing a bit about Chinese will surprise them and get them excited and maybe treat you in some way! In big cities like Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, most people speak at least basic English, but out of big cities, it’s just more based on your body language if Chinese is not working with communication :))

What is it like to live and work in Taiwan
Shu Ting at Mountain Jiali

Diverse and delicious food

We are always confident to say that Taiwan is a paradise for food. From high-class delicacy to traditional dishes; from foreign specialty to local snacks; you can find all types of them in one city, even in a one-night market. In Taipei, there are many international restaurants, even localized cuisine from provinces in China, such as Sichuan (one of my favorite!). But out of Taipei, you will discover other foods that are different and popular from area to area.

You can find a wide variety of inexpensive street food from day tonight. 

What's it like to live & work in Taiwan

During the day

During the day, you can find drink shops everywhere. 
Drink shops here are not just tea or smoothies, but with all kinds of ingredients that you can imagine! (e.g.pearls, coconut jelly, and aloe….).
Every drink is customized as you desire – you can decide the amount of sugar and ice.

Must-try drink: Bubble Milk Tea (€1-2 /cup)

Night markets

At night, you cannot miss Taiwan’s night markets! That is where you find plenty of local cuisines all in one.
Some of them could be challenging for foreign friends, such as stinky tofu and chicken feet.
You can also find tons of seafood, noodles, stews, and rice. 

Iconic local courage-needed cuisines:

  • Stingy tofu 
  • Pig’s blood cake (it’s actually not cake, it’s sticky rice)
  • Oyster omelet.
  • Intestine vermicelli

Must-try cuisines:

  • Braised-pork rice
  • Scallion pancakes
  • Sweet potato balls
  • and whatever you see at the night market! 

Some foreign friends consider themselves as adventurous eaters, even after all this time living here, there are still many dishes they have yet to try.

What is it like to live and work in Taiwan1
Taipei - Did you know this used to be worlds tallest building?

Convenient and Cheap

  • 24-hour convenient stores are literally everywhere:
    You can see several ones in the same street, which offer instant hot food, snacks, fresh coffee, wine, drinks, easy cards (for transportation), basic grocery stuff and bill payment service, etc. 
  • Diverse markets:
    There are local grocery stores and traditional vegetable morning markets in each town and community; chain stores such as Carrefour, PX mart, Wellcome, A-mart, RT-mart, and easy to find. other foreign chain stores like – Jason’s marketplace, City super, Costo, Ikea are also available in most cities. 
  • Cheap Ubike system:
    Renting a bike will only cost  $5 NTD (
    0,15) for the first 30 minutes; $10 NTD ( 0.30) for the following half-hour. 
  • Food Delivery & local restaurants:
    Dining is part of daily life for many people here, whether you want to stay home without cooking, have a quick lunch during workdays, or have fun chi-chat dinner with friends, food delivery (food panda & uber eat) and restaurants are cheap and everywhere!  ( € 2-6 / regular meal)

P.s. if you are on a budget, stick to the more local dishes, like rice, noodles, and vegetables. Otherwise, it will be a little more expensive (e.g. Italian restaurant cost range: € 5- € 20)  (but still cheap compared to Europe!)

What is it like to live and work in Taiwan
Shu Ting at Chilai North Peak

High Security

One thing that we all take for granted but have to point out when comparing to most countries is the safety condition because here in Taiwan it is just perfect and completely safe to go anywhere, even by yourself.
Not just from the point of view of a Taiwanese but confirmed by many foreign friends who have travelled around Taiwan or have been living in Taiwan. 

  • Even if you leave your bag on your motorbike, and when you return, it is still there.
  • Even if you forget to pull out the key of your scooter, it will stay the same or even be replaced under your cushion to be safer.
  • Leaving your bags and all belongings at your seats when you go pick up your meal at Starbucks or any kind of restaurant is just totally normal.
  • It is normal and safe if you walk on the street at night time alone, taking a night walk is just part of our life. 
  • Mostly, you don’t need to worry about robbery or theft when going out, it just doesn’t happen here (in some famous tourist spots with crowds, just being careful should be ok!)

Medical insurance

We have a solid medical insurance system for every citizen here. Everyone is obligated to pay a monthly medical insurance fee; however, it’s mostly covered to see a doctor and you only need to pay 150 NTD (4.3 €) for that!

What is it like to live and work in Taiwan
Photo by Joel Fulgencio on Unsplash

Disadvantages of living in Taiwan

Language barriers

Besides the younger generation, people don’t speak much English, especially outside Taipei and Kaohsiung. Knowing basic Mandarin will be a great help and benefit, people here LOVE foreigners (as we are an island).
If you speak a little bit chinese, they will be surprisingly excited and joyful to chat with you, help you and treat you; even if you don’t, they will still be pleased to help you as well as an honor, but just a bit discommunication. 

Work, welfare and salary

If you are looking for a job here, one big disadvantage here is that- the annual leave is very few!
Unlike Spain, with 30 days of paid leave annually, here you only have 7 days for the first year working. Then 10 days for the second year, and when you are 25 years in the same company, you will have 30 days of annual leave. 
So…… unless working for a foreign or companies with especially better welfare, the number of paid holidays is just not impressive at all. 

Salaries here for foreigners are usually higher than average; however, it might also be a bit lower than most European countries and the States. 

What is it like to live and work in Taiwan
Shu Ting at Luoyewei Shan (Mountain Luoyewei)

Scorching hot with high humidity in summer 

With half subtropical and half tropical climate here, it gets really hot in the summertime.
In Spain, I felt like the heat there was bearable and people like staying outside to enjoy the sun and wind, because it’s dryer and more comfortable there!
But here it’s hot and humid, sometimes you could feel stuffy in cities. So people here often hide indoors with AC to avoid heat.
Other options are going to nature, to the mountains and sea!!  It’s an island, you are close to them all around. but remember that the eastern coast is always more fascinating and amazing 🙂

Earthquake and typhoon

I didn’t need to worry about earthquakes and typhoons in Spain, which actually happen quite frequently in Taiwan. We have typhoon season around June to September, it could come several times in a month or zero times, really depending on luck.

What is it like to live and work in Taiwan
Shu Ting in Mountain Jade North Peak

Advantages of living in Taiwan

Effieciency

Besides all the points written in the beginning, I would like to stress efficiency here. but that’s something I conclude from the comparison with Spain… maybe from the Asian style, we live in a huzzle and buzzle lifestyle, we tend to get things done quickly. (of course, that differs for everyone, hahhah like meXD)

Small and compact - easy and fast to get to destinations 

It’s an island, and not big at all, you can actually take the high-speed rail from Taipei to Kaohsiung and it only takes you within 2 hours. But so far HSR has not reached eastern Taiwan. The normal fast train from Taipei to Taitung (the southern city in the eastern part) takes around 4-5 hours. The distance is just not long, and you are close to nature in every city!

Shu Ting at Hualien

My favorite destination in Taiwan

Mountains! Beaches! Eastern coast! Natural spots!! Ok… if I must decide, I would say go to Hualien!
Explore and enjoy taroko national park, it will be a blast for you!

Haulien is not only amazing for its nature and views of mountains and ocean everywhere, it is also famous for the enthusiasm of local and indigenous people. I lived there during the working holidays for 2 weeks and visited it many times. I’ve explored many secret spots with my boss, tried indigenous food and enjoyed the traditional festivals and tribal ceremonies. Every visit to Haulien just increases my love for the place. highly recommended!!!

Shu Ting at Jhui Lu trail in Taroko

What people have to do in Taiwan before they leave:

  • Watch the sunrise at the beach
  • Enjoy the starry sky at night
  • Go to Taroko national park
  • Attend the harvest festival. (An annual harvest festival in summer where indigenous people of all tribes are dressed up and perform. Besides, they also arrange group dances for guests to join and dance all together. And there are food stands of indigenous specialties and stalls of handicrafts of indigenous style and so on!!)
Shu Ting at Annual Harvest festival (with one of indeguous tribes)

Apps and/or websites recommendations

Travel apps I often used while travelling:

  • Tripadvisor
  • Couchsurfing (you might find a local to guide you and show you around)
  • Windy & Gaia GPS (if you are into nature and an outdoor sports lover)
  • Airbnb/ Hostelworld/ Booking.com
  • Official Taiwan tourist website: Taiwan.net.tw 
  • Free walking tour: (where I used work part time ^^) Likeitformosa.com
What is it like to live and work in Taiwan
Shu Ting at Shí dìng Thousand Island Lake, Taiwan

The biggest differences I have noticed between Taiwan and Europe.

1. Fast life pace

The pace of life is so much faster than in Europe, especially in the capital and big cities, people are mostly busy and walking fast. People keep their schedules tight and fit in any activities they can think of. It’s kind of like the stereotype of Asia, but it somehow also tells the truth:P

2. No horse in/ along the streets

Horses are not seen in the streets, but scooters. Since we are a small island full of mountains, we don’t have lots of flat grassland or ranches, nor many wild animals eating and walking along the road. (when I was in Spain and Germany, I always shouted out with surprise when seeing animals along the road, then my German friend laughed and imitated my tone shouting out: look! there are people there!)

Sunrise in Manbo Beach

3. Soup is the king

Soup is the king! Hot Pot restaurants are everywhere! They are definitely the ones I missed the most when living abroad.

Even in the hot summer season, we always have hot soup for lunch and dinner! And hotpot has ranked no.1 on food delivery applications many times despite the fact that we have all types of restaurants and foods out there. You can imagine our passion and love for soup and hotpot!

4. Scooter culture

Scooters are part of everyday life, you can just hop on your bike, drive to the coast, or into the mountains, it’s relatively inexpensive to fill the gas tank, and maintenance is easy on most models too. I guess the main reason we have a scooter in daily life is that here it is compact and with a high density of population, in cities, it is actually not easy to find parking space for a car, especially in Taipei! It is just more spontaneous and flexible when you want to go grocery shopping or go enjoy the nature and wind in the countryside while riding along the road 🙂

I hope you enjoyed reading my article! If you have any questions please message me on Instagram!

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