Same as Elegua.
Although I haven’t lived in the other cities mentioned, I have travelled to HK more than twenty times over the years, and brief visits are the best ones. I have friends there and even though I got shown to the best places for food and sights, I can’t say that any experience made me want to live there. It’s too small, there are too many tourists, it doesn’t feel whole, too conservative.
On the other hand, its much better put together than Taipei, with much less stress and a stronger sense of logic and reasonableness. I perish the thought of having to live there though. I have spoken to expats there who have lived here in Taipei and they seem to agree that Taipei is the better place for the white European expat.
Shanghai is…er…hard to explain really. There’s some of everything there, but a lot of programmed people, with programmed responses, ideas and opinions. I would like Shanghai more if I didn’t have to hear anyone talk, it drove me mad, even for the very short time I was there a couple of years ago. It’s messy and still developing, and so there is no general standard of anything. My ex girlfriend has lived there for many years now and the things she complains about, most people would never have imagined. Stamps being stolen off her mail, so it rarely gets out of the country, forged medication which can make you sick or kill you, corruption to the highest degree, and some of the most terrible standards probably anywhere else in the world.
Shanghai for Taiwanese men however seems to be a paradise, with gambling, girls, and up until recently lots of money to be made.
Its interesting in terms of development and you can see the place improving dramatically day by day, but the developments seem disassociated with the culture, as almost all of them are powered by foreigners.
The worst experience I’ve ever had in my life by the way was taking my friend to Shanghai’s top hospital. I’m not going to even bother describing it, but trust me, you would think when stepping in the door with a hemorrhaging neck wound you might want to pack your bags and head off to sunny Congo.
Taipei is by far the best place out of the former two with good hospitals, reasonable convenience regarding day to day living, excluding the bureaucracy and traffic. Taipei offers reasonable work opportunities and wages, but they aren’t what they were. Taiwan overall is a much easier place to navigate as a foreigner and be welcome any place you go. It’s not as well laid out as HK, but it makes do with what it has. Food is cheap and it won’t kill you, so better than China, and cheaper than HK. Rents are falling now, so haggle and get good deals. Education is crap though compared to HK and China’s best, and that’s coming from many professors and my wife who know an awful lot about Taiwan’s problems and failings in this area. Beaches are polluted most of the year round, but are at least tidied up a bit during tourist season.
I can’t rate any of these places as great places to live, but I do reckon generally, whities such as myself are probably going to be better off here in Taiwan overall.
If you have money though, then go to Shanghai. Far better housing, cheaper labor, better foreign schools, more foreign imports. Apparently the European school there is amazing and so is the housing located near by it. I haven’t seen it myself, but my wife came back recently and was saying how the houses were the best she had ever seen in the world. And she’s a very traveled person. You do have to live in walled communities however, to keep the poor people out. Not as necessary in Taiwan, unless you happen to go to Dazhi then you will well to do apartments with walls, razor wire and security cameras.
Singapore is much more civilized than Taiwan though, and rather a lot cleaner. Talk about opposites really. I didn’t like Singapore when I was there as it seemed a bit too much Sim City like for me, but in terms of development and standards, Taiwan pales by comparison.