Best Taiwanese cities/suburbs to move to?


My husband, 2 year old daughter and I are in the early stages of making plans to move to Taiwan in Spring 07. We are going to teach English and the company we are going through has asked for our placement preferences and we need your help! In doing some research Ilan (or Yilan) seems really nice but there’s not a ton of info I’ve been able to find. Okay…here’s our criteria, any thoughts?

  1. We do not want to be in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taitung
  2. No big cities, as little pollution as possible
  3. Not completely rural either- a few other English speakers, an internet cafe and some Western cuisine would be nice
  4. By the ocean or a hiking area would be ideal (we like the outdoors)
  5. We don’t speak Chinese (although we will try to learn!)
  6. We have a lil’ one so transportation on scooter or crowded subway alone would not be great

Anyone know of any good websites that offer unbiased city profiles in English? I know we’re asking for a lot but why not shoot for the moon? :laughing:

Thank you!!

Kenting (Kending)?? Beaches, beautiful countryside and walks, plenty of English speakers and foreigners, a few internet cafes, plenty of foreign style restaurants and food, but perhaps few people widhing to learn English.

I put a few personal and simple pictures up here of Kending, but I didn’t include the actual street and retaurants, sorry.

I live in Yilan myself, but I’m telling that you’ll probably be better off in Taipei.

Depending on the neighborhood you live in (like Xindian or Muzha) in Taipei, you will be just as close to a nice swimming hole or hiking trail as you would be if you lived in Yilan, but you’ll be much further away from any sort of decent cafe or restaurant. You can get fried chicken and spaghetti here, but that’s about it for Western food.

The lack of pollution is nice, for sure, but the constant rain from November to May absolutely kills me (which you would also get in Taipei, but not in central or southern Taiwan.)

I’m one of those weirdos who gets angry when people in Taipei speak English to me, so for that I’m happy that I live in Yilan where nobody outside of work speaks English to me. I’d imagine that life would be extremely frustrating if I didn’t speak any Chinese here.

If you don’t want to drive around with your husband and kid on a scooter Taiwanese-style, in Taipei you can take the subway, take a bus, take a taxi, or (my God!) walk. If you live in Yilan, your only alternative would be to buy a car.

There are several other English speakers here, but seeing as how I’m not Canadian or South African, I was unable to penetrate their mindless little cliques. I have to go to Taipei if I want to converse with other foreigner friends.

In general in Taiwan, Internet cafes are more like pool halls back home. They’re smoky places where young punks like to hang out. I would try to get Internet at your house as soon as possible.

:bravo: :bravo: :bravo: :laughing:

Don’t take it personally. You are lucky to be spared the boredom. However, if you are really starved for companionship, I’m sure you could lie and tell them you have two cousins in Moose Jaw. I’m sure they would warm to you very quickly. Whether you want that is a whole different story all together.

**Wise words there, alidarbac! :slight_smile:

Sydneysmama, you could perhaps opt for the smaller cities like Hsinchu and Taichung. Also, I’m quite sure Tainan Cowboy will try his best to convince you that Tainan is the place to be. Pay him no attention! :wink:

The ‘smaller cities’ are a little more rural, but here in Hsinchu one could certainly find whatever there is (or 99% of it) in Taipei.

The following might help:


**Except of course for the comment about the Chanada and NanFei ren. :unamused:

Thanks for all the info so far- very helpful. I checked out the sites about Hsinchu and it looks promising except one thing…there was something written about if you have children do not live in apartments because the playgrounds are littered and often have broken glass laying about but if you live in a house you will run into cockroaches and snakes. :noway:

Now, I lived in Hawaii so I have run into my share of cockroaches and a few snakes here in North Carolina but I don’t want them to be my new roommates either, is this the case in most places in Taiwan or only a select few?

I would opt for looking into the suburbs around Taipei. Muzha (in the southern part of the city near the zoo) where I live is excellent for those who, like me, love the outdoors. I live 100 feet from the river where there are biking/jogging/walking paths that go all the way to the top of the island (in all I think there are 200km of bike paths along the rivers in Taipei). I can cross the river and be up in the mountains in a few minutes, either walking or talking a scooter or taxi. There are clean lovely hiking paths all over the mountains. The longest goes on for 20km (then it crosses a road and you can go on for another 6 hours). The nearest river swimming hole is 30 minutes away. There is a big university with a traffic controlled campus and lots of roads and paths. I often take walks at night on the lit but traffic free roads. I get fresh air, great views over the city, and the lovely sounds and smells of nature. In spring we get fireflies and hoards of butterflies.

Really, if you like nature, you are better off being around Taipei city than most smaller towns where the trails are less accessible, often further out, and often less clean than those around the city. If you live in a small town you won’t be able to stroll about in the evening as country roads are dangerous with drunk/idiotic drivers. You will need to take a scooter to get out onto the trails whereas in Taipei you can take the MRT.

I think you mean Taichung on item #1 , rather than Taidong. Taidong is a small city on the east coast with plenty of beaches, mountains and about the cleanest air you’ll find in Taiwan.
Here’s a link for pollution info that can help you decide where you want to be:

If you live in a small town, there is no other option but scootering. There is no public transport and most sidewalks are not suitable for walking as they are crowded with scooters, hawkers, stuff, etc.

Smaller towns exaggerate the problems of the bigger ones without offering any of the benefits.

MM you speak the truth.

I live in Taipei, 50m from the MRT and also 50m from a trailhead that takes me for endless hours of hiking in the surrounding mountains. In 10 minutes I am in the centre of Taipei. Sure the MRT is packed 7:30-9am and 6pm-8pm, but apart from that I usually get a seat. In any case, I find riding the Taipei subway clean, fast and no stress.

I have also lived in Taichung and Taipei County and have found living in the foothills of the mountains surrounding Taipei suits me best, insofar as wanting to be close to the delights of a big city like Taipei but also easy to get the fresh air and freedom of the hills.

Bingo (although living costs, esp. rent, are lower in small places, and average commuting time is shorter).

Bingo (although living costs, esp. rent, are lower in small places, and average commuting time is shorter).[/quote]

And of course they do offer the incomparable experience of seeing me on the Rainbow bus. :rainbow:

If you’re not going to buy a car, I would say Taipei has the most convenient public transporation system. Living in other place in Taiwan you’ll need a car to get around, even in Taichung or Kaohsiung. Some place in Taipei still can meet your requests, such as Beitou, Guandu or Danshui. There are many good hot springs in Beitou and it’s close to Yangmingshan National Park. Guandu is in the neighbor of Betou. Danshi is a little far from Taipei. But with MRT you can get to central Taipei within 1 hour.

If you prefer living outside Taipei, I would highly recommand Taichung. Taichung is the third large city in Taiwan, but it has a lazy atmosphere and the weather is always good. And because Taichung is located in central Taiwan, you can reach north or south Taiwan within 3 hour driving. There are also many charming towns you can choose to live in Taichung or Nantou County, such as Chishui, Dongshih and Puli. Nantou County is just next ot Taichung County and famous for its spectacular view and mountains. If you’re outdoor people, you shouldn’t miss it.

I was thinking today that something you have to consider is availability of proper food for your child. In smaller towns/cities you will have little selection of food you might consider appropriate, including decent milk, cheese, meats, cereals (or are sugar CocoPuffs okay for you), bread (most bakeries use animal lard or a tropical oil shortening that is very unhealthy, and good luck finding even wheat bread in smaller towns), etc. Even the sauces you will find will have excessive sugar and perservatives.

Most long term and sensible westerners here eat only imported or organic veggies (as the average farmer uses excessive pesticides). You won’t be able to get these in many place outside Taipei.

You may think that moving to a smaller city or town is healthier but it won’t be if you end up eating locally all the time. As others have piped in, Taipei suburbs actually offer the healthiest lifestyle choices in the country.

I’m curious why Taidong is a must-not as well, for me its better than illan.

I always wanted to live in Hualien. Anyone living there? It’s no too big, not too small. Easy access to ocean and mountains. Close to rural countryside. Cheaper houses, cleaner air. No major industries around. Sounds nice.

I would worry about typhoons and earthquakes, though.

[quote=“stan”]Also, I’m quite sure Tainan Cowboy will try his best to convince you that Tainan is the place to be. Pay him no attention! :wink:
[/quote]No he’s not.
Tainan does not exist.
Its a figment of your imagination.
Nothing to see here…move along. :idunno:

I’ve also been really keen on finding a teaching job on the east coast, but proving difficult.

Some of those taipei suburbs however sound good too!

However been checking up on some job advertisements, some are based in Miaoli and Changhua, anyone lived or been through these places??

  • how do they compare to other places with pollution and living costs (apartment)?

many thanx :wink:

I know nothing about the teaching opportunities in Tainan, but I would highly recommend it as one of the greatest places I ever lived. The people are much friendlier than many of the cities up north. It is the 4th largest city in Taiwan and has a lot of great history. On the down side, the public transportation sucks, but that goes for just about anywhere outside of Taipei and Kaohsiung.

[quote=“cands”]I’ve also been really keen on finding a teaching job on the east coast, but proving difficult.

Some of those Taipei suburbs however sound good too!

However been checking up on some job advertisements, some are based in Miaoli and Changhua (Zhanghua), anyone lived or been through these places??

  • how do they compare to other places with pollution and living costs (apartment)?

many thanx :wink:[/quote]

Cands, I live in Changhua city and I must like it, because I’ve been living here for 4 years. The weather here is great - not too hot in summer, and usually dry. We don’t get the rain that the north of the country gets. And typhoons generally get blocked by the mountains. It is fairly polluted here though, but not as bad as somewhere like Kaoshiung.

If you are the type of person who needs to be around plenty of English speakers, needs a good range of Western food, nightclubs, bars etc, then Changhua wouldn’t be for you. There are a few foreigners, although I don’t really know any of them. The newbie foreigners tend to be the ones who hang out in the couple of bars that are here, the longer-termers seem to hide themselves away.

That being said, it suits me. I’m fairly busy working one job M-F afternoons, and building a photography business the rest of the time, which means I do a lot of traveling in Taiwan and also spend a lot of time at home working on my computer - mostly photo stuff, and marketing my photos. Plus, I’ve always preferred Asian food to Western food, so I can live here happily without all the usual expat things. And, even though my Chinese sucks and my Taiwanese is worse, I don’t need to have English speakers around me. I’m happy being silent.

And for the rare occasion when I do need a touch of things western, Taichung city is only 15-20 mins away (although I usually end up eating Indian food when I’m there).