Best city in Taiwan?

Hey can someone give me direction??? I will be moving to Taiwan in January, and I am looking for a nice city to call home. I would prefer a more rural atmosphere however, I need to be able to make as much money as I can in the next year. So knowing that I prefer quiet and as anyone else hate breathing in smog in excessive amounts…I will explain some things I would be looking for if…Maybe it is not possible but one can only ask…
I’m looking for work in a smaller city or that is pleasent to live and breathe in. If close to some easily accecible nature, mountains lakes I would be satisfied…One that has invested some capital in to the arts and of course a good live music scene, and coffee or tea shops would make it oh so much more enjoyable to venture out on night off…
Thanks for your help, i hope I’m not asking too much…

When I spent a little time in Taitung in the south of the east coast, I liked it. But I don’t think they have much in the way of arts and live music, and if you didn’t speak Chinese I think it could be difficult. Plus there probably aren’t many jobs there as it’s pretty small.

If you’re dead set on quiet and unpolluted I suppose Hualien, a bit further north and a bit bigger, could be a good compromise, although some basic Chinese speaking ability could still be pretty important.

Both these cities are very close to spectacular countryside.


It’s all or nothing in Taiwan. There’s big cities and there’s complete countryside. Some people make the mistake of thinking they want a nice small rural city, maybe near the beach, so end up in Zhongli or Jilong or something. A crowded dirty place, but without the amenities of a real city. Your bets bet is the suburbs of a good city like Taipei. But you have to come and see. Don’t take potluck or you’ll end up somewhere liek Sanzhong. Come to Taipei. Check out living on the side of Yangmingshan, the hills out back of Neihu or somewhere like that.


Dead easy. Nowhere else but Taipei. The rest are backwaters.

I used to live in Taichung which is pretty good for what you are talking about. You can get out of Taichung into the countryside and live in places in the mountains nearby which are great.

Now I live in Hsinchu which is pleasant for a family but lacking severely in live music and stuff like that.

Taipei has most of the facilities you would expect from a reasonably international city. One big draw back the loads of foreigners who think the world ends at the borders to Taipei. Don’t be fooled by this urbo - parochialism.


It ain’t small, but it’s inbetween the two extremes. If you need the nightlife, the arts and the big city amenities, Taipei is just an MRT ride away.
On the other hand, the northern coast and the mountains around Yangmingshan and Jinshan can give you a taste of nature and countryside, up to a point.

If you really hate the big city, then Hualian on the east coast, should be your prime destination. More rain and earthquakes than in your average Taiwanese town though.

I would agree that Tamshui might be a good choice, or somewhere near there like Hongshulin … that area has some nice, quaint old Japanese style houses that you can rent, is relatively more quiet than the city, but is accessible by MRT if you want to get to the city or the other suburbs. I think if you chose somewhere like Taitung or Tainan in the south you would be quite bored … especially if you can’t speak any Chinese. Good luck!

Chia Yi is pretty nice. Close to Tainan and Tai Zhong. Mountains close by, good food and such. However without some chinese you would be kinda lost.

Arts and live music: the only place with a real “investment” in is is Taipei, at least until they get the new Gugenheim (sp?) built. That said, if you don’t care for the city life your best bet is to live [i]near[/] the city, but not too close. I’d recoment:

  1. HsinTien (XinDian) Just south of Taipei, it’s at most 30 minutes from Taipei Main Train Station by the very convinient MRT. The rents are cheaper, the air it clean, it’s quiet, there are mountains and rivers, but it’s still ‘city-like’ in places. I live here in a house but there a huge apartment block towering over me.
  2. Tanshui (DanShui) North of Taipei to the ocean, clean quiet, rural up in the hills. Nice place, but too hilly for my taste but there are flat spots. It’s much like HsinTien but feels more rural.
    Choice of the two would depend on where one’s job is. I work in the south of Taipei so I chose HsinTien.
    There are other ‘suburbs’ of Taipei, but some are as crowded as Taipei, if not more (see YongHe).
    Good luck,

Taipei-Arts and live music?

Well, now I’ve heard it all!

Why don’t kids have any place to play live music on this island? Back home you couldn’t shake a stick without crossing some gaggle of teenagers’ shouting in their crappy hardcore punk garage band. What’s wrong with the Taiwanese? I guess it’s all that homework and constant studying for exams leaves kids no extra time. They need to get their priorities straight. You’re that age you need to be sneaking sips of cheap beer your 21 year old brother snuck you at parties where people bang out lame drunken renditions of Led Zeppelin and Beatles tunes on cheap guitars. Ah, youth. Too bad kids in Taiwan never get to experience it.

Penghu would make a nice place for you to live and work. Go there. Highly recommended. You will never want to leave. (and there will be days when you CAN’T leave…)

It seems as if a lot of people end up here in Xindian after living in the more urban parts of Taipei for a few years.

Any recommendations on where to start looking for places? Just go to the last stop on the MRT and start walking around?


Taiwan is like S. Korea; a one-city place. Go to Taipei.

Everywhere else sucks and should be bombed by the Mainland.

Taichung is fine although you need your own transport. It’s the third largest city and has a fairly sizeable western community to give you a ‘soft landing’. It has easy access to some great countryside and mountains. It’s two and a half hours on the bus to Taipei.

Kaoshiung (second-largest city) could also be OK, from what I’ve heard. It’s less polluted than in used to be and also has a sizeable western community. Be a little careful, though; I’ve heard that a lot of schools down there insist on a north American accent.

I think Tainan (4th largest city?) is about the smallest place you’d want to go for your first year here anyway. These three cities are said to be generally friendlier than Taipei (although I’ve met some very friendly people there as well of course), but still have the advantages of big cities such as western-style restaurants, lots of other westerners, some good ‘high-cultural’ events and some English-speaking officials and other local people (not so many of these advantages in Tainan, but still some).

Smaller places, on the whole, are not significantly less polluted or crowded; nor are they more picturesque. You have to get out into the hills and mountains for that, or over to the east coast.

Taipei is streets ahead of everywhere else. Don’t be deluded you will find a nice village or small town here to live. It just doesn’t work like that. The villages and small towns are more ugly than the cities.
They have crap food. They have ignorant people. Most of the good looking and educated leave to the cities. You can’t communicate. They will stare at you everwhere you go. They will say hello to you ten times a day. They are not neccesarily friendlier. Rural idyll???
Plus you may be very lonely and isolated in the rural areas and life will be difficult without any chinese. Taichung is a great choice if you like outdoors. Also Hualien. But Taipei also has many amenities on its doorstep. I would only live in Taipei or Taichung. I would not consider Kaoshiung although the area called Kenting near there is really quite beautiful. What’s the point in going to a foreign country and trying to save money in some shithole town for a year. And when I sat shithole I mean shithole.
You work during the week. Ya take off during the weekends and holidays. I’ve seen my friends try to do what u suggest above, I also saw them become alcoholics…hehe. Don’t make life difficult for urself.

Headhoncho is heading for a “sage” chop. Hit the nail right on the head.

Taipei is a shithole, too, albeit a very convenient one.

Without making generalizations, then it seems that the floatsam, which can’t hold down a teaching job in a place like say Taipei, will end up in a “rural idyll” like Zhongli, which for some odd reason has a erm “special” foreign community. I have never seen so many misfits, drug users, alcoholics etc. anywhere else in Taiwan. Many of the foreigners here have a “problem”, be it depressions, drugs, inability to wake up before 5 pm, or basically ppl who have overstayed for decades. In other words, I harbour nothing but pity for the poor souls whose first stay aborad after living a sheltered life in Manchester, Rochester, Toronto or another western city end up in Chungli.

If I were a newbie, I would spend at least a year in Taipei before moving on to somewhere else on this island. You will spend at least some of your free time with other foreigners, and in a big place it’ll be easier for you to find people who share your interests (Unless your interests consist of smoking dope, drinking your brains out and screwing bar girls, while complaining about the locals).

While I do love living here, I try not to mix into the local expat community, unless they are living on the hill, as ppl there tend to be marginally more normal.