Hello folks, it’s my first time in Taiwan. Glad I found this forum. landed on the 23rd and currently stuck in a tiny hotel room in Taipei, which is mad depressing honestly. At the moment, I know zero people in Taiwan. I’m also a Gold card holder.
I’m African, but have lived in the US for the past 8 years. And in terms of language I only know how to say thank you in Mandarin. I believe it’s easier to learn language by immersion, ie interacting with the locals. maybe the reading part, will do online.
Also when I landed the hotel, I had booked apparently wasn’t a quarantine hotel even though it was listed on Taiwan stay. The gvt folks ie police ended up finding me a room, which costs roughly $100 a night. The room, should be priced at $10/night but with Chinese new year and it being Taipei + covid regulations, market forces are gonna rule. That was the only bummer, I ran into. Also the hotel, I’m at they don’t take visa cards only bank transfer. And well, you can’t transfer money using Transferwise into Taiwan.
Having lived in NYC, Philly, And Austin. I have a preference for slightly smaller cities. Hence when I get outta quarantine I’m thinking Tainan or any other affordable city not called Taipei. How is working from home regarded in Taiwan ? I’m a Tech generalist which means I’m a Software | Data | SRE Engineer. I don’t plan to get a full time job at the moment, but If need be how accessible are the jobs to foreigners. Or I would’ve to target western companies etc.
Otherwise, will appreciate any tips etc. On how to cope with quarantine. Finding an apartment. Linking up with other foreigners and locals etc.
Welcome @chabvonga. You found the right place to ask all kinds of questions on Taiwan.
Yes, you should head south when you get out of quarantine.
Tainan is an excellent place to consider, while Kaohsiung another place you can think of.
Your living costs (rent, food, etc.) will be much much less down south than that in Taipei City/NTCity.
Others may chip in on what software/data engineer jobs are like on the island.
How to cope with quarantine?
Walk in place in your room, do push-ups, etc. Just to feel like you are “doing” something. Do it a few times per day.
Can also go through this whole forum when you are bored. All kinds of topics you might find interesting or old chat topics that can be useful for what you plan to do in the south (living accommodations, etc.).
There are many things you can plan on doing once you leave quarantine just by perusing some of the other forum topics here.
The south is generally considered to have the best food in Taiwan, and I’m inclined to agree. So Tainan or Kaohsiung has this going. The cost of living will also be lower. But tbh, a foreigner with almost no mandarin skills will have a considerably easier time in Taipei where it’s more international and people much more accommodating to English speakers.
But that being said, I know a few people who got too comfortable with how accommodating people are to English speakers in Taipei and barely learned any Chinese after years of staying. Also in the south, you will face more older folks who mostly speak Taiwanese.
Good luck in quarantine, I recommend getting the delivery pass on uber eats which is about 100nt if I remember that lets you get free deliver for a certain amount ordered. Try out some of the food and pass the time.
As for meeting people, looks for local expat FB groups. I met people first by going to bars and clubs and just talking to people. You really only need to make 1 friend and they usually will invite you to their group. Thats how I met many people when I returned to Taiwan after living in the states for many years.
@KHHville thanks for the tips. How’re the expat populations in Tainan compared with Kaohsiung. Not that I want to exclusively interact with foreigners, but interacting with english speaking folks and establishing a network here and there will be nice. Also about living costs it seems on 591 the rents are all over the place. places in Taipei being box size small, which won’t do it for me.
@Andrew0409 thanks for the tips. which FB groups would you recommend that I start making connections. And the so called bars and clubs. I like bars and clubs though with corona i’m not so sure anymore. At the moment, the quarantine hotel is delivering food 3x daily. Also how’s the club | bar scene like ? I have only seen pics of one bar 1000 nights Taipei posted on instagram. looked westernized. I’m a house music, dancehall guy though wouldn’t mind a top 40 club, which means if I’m going to a club I wanna be drenched in sweat at the end of the night from dancing and interacting with ladies.
Like @Andrew0409 said, you can find all kinds of friends (ex-pats) if you go out into society and seek them. They are there. Bars, churches, athletic clubs/associations (like biking, gyms, hashers, etc.), online gamers, mandarin training centers (yes Tainan and Kaohsiung have them at many universities), and more.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
Perhaps you mean Western or non-Taiwanese/Chinese food, which of course is true. As all the better western-related food eateries are in Taipei.
However, Tainan has the best all-around assortment of Taiwanese food on the island.
Our family has done just walking tours (self-guided, not a part of any official tour) of the city just to eat little amounts at little cantinas along the street. You can go a whole day and eat like 20 different kinds of Taiwanese 小吃, all within a few blocks of each other. This can’t be done up north.
I think Taipei has better Taiwanese/Chinese restaurants as well. Remember, I’m just talking in comparison to Kaohsiung here, not Tainan. Hey, I call it like I see it… that’s my own observation from long term living in KH vs visiting Taipei countless times.
A lot of the famous food in Taiwan started in Tainan or at least it was made into the Taiwanese variety brought over from people immigrating from the mainland at some point. Tainan food is my favorite.
I’m surprised you say black and latin community ? does one even exist here. Anyways, I know Taiwan is pretty homogenous so I’m open to meeting people of all kinds. I would think most foreigners would be white or maybe other asians from nearby countries ? Or I’m wrong
which areas, in Taipei then would you recommend. And what’s the rent differential compared to say Tainan. for a 1 or 2 decently sized bedroom. My other big city experience was NY and I hated being gouged with rent. example my rent in NY was in a shared 2 bedroom flat in Prospect park. Same amount of rent afforded me a 2 bed, townhome in Austin with a fireplace. I’m not too worried about dating since I can always get on the train every weekend other to party and meet people in Taipei if need be. I just need to know it will be easier to rent a place as a foreigner. I heard gold card makes things easier.
Most of the countries that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation are in latin America, one is Eswatini in Africa. So they get to come to Taiwan relatively easily as a benefit for things like studying. Most “black” people are either from North American or from the Caribbean countries that also recognize Taiwan.
Since it seems to have an impact are you black ? If so don’t worry, not all taiwanese girls dislike blacks. It’s no harder than an asian guy finding a white girl in the USA, its much harder than the other way around but not at all impossible.
Taipei is really cool and if you live in New Taipei (the suburbs) it is not that much more than say Kaohsiung.
Can be affordable . Taipei certainly has its charms. The worst is that it has the worst weather in Taiwan in winter.
Great in summer (but hotter than anywhere else in taiwan they say).
Welcome to Taiwan, hope you will enjoy! Out of curiosity, why did you chose Taiwan?
I would recommend you to stay one or two days in each city you are considering and just walk around and get a feel for the place as it’s not going to be similar to NYC, Philadelphia or Austin. When you say affordable city, are referring to rent? What’s your budget?
Quarantine can be hard especially in a tiny room. Set some goals for each day, learn new stuff, watch movies, do push ups etc.
In Taipei, a lot of the nightclubs are in Xinyi and Da’an. There is also nightlife in Taichung, which is a lot closer to Tainan, but I can’t vouch for how good or bad it is.
Rent can be considerably cheaper in Tainan, especially when comparing the rents to apartments in Xinyi and Da’an. But if you find yourself taking the high speed rail to Taipei every other weekend, you’ll be spending something around $160 USD on HSR tickets. Assuming you want to enjoy full nights, you’d also need a hotel room.
So I’d recommend picking a place to live that’s close to the things you want to enjoy on a regular basis rather than planning to traverse the island on a regular basis. As @Hygge recommended, it wouldn’t hurt to spend a little time in each of the cities that you’re interested in and see how you like them before making a decision.