Hualien Vs. Kaohsiung...a strange comparison

Hey all,

Some of you may know that I am planning on moving come September (right now I live in Tainan). Through some thought and reflection I have narrowed my choices down to 2 cities. Those would be, Kaohsiung and Hualien. These may seem like an unlikely pair because they are so different! I am really completely torn about where to live…I am having a lot of trouble making this decision, so I would love some perspective from other people. Here are my thoughts so far


Pros: A big city with plenty to do. I could always go somewhere and have fun. I would imagine there would be tons of opportunities to meet new friends and like-minded people. The art/music/creative scene in Kaohsiung is really coming along (I am a musician, and art is really important to me!). There would probably be a lot of opportunities to meet other musicians and play.

Cons: The city is huge, and it would be difficult to get a decent feel for it. Certain parts of the city lack character. The air pollution is really bad. It lacks the natural beauty that towns on the east coast have…It is more difficult to get into nature from Kaohsiung.


Pros: Incredibly beautiful small town on the east coast. Pace of life is slow and relaxing. The cost of living is cheap. Interesting vibe because of the aboriginal influence. Tons of opportunities to get into nature and be inspired by it.

Cons: Has a community of artists, but nothing like Kaohsiung. Opportunities to play music with others would be close to non existent. Opportunities to make new friends would be really small compared to Kaohsiung. It would be really easy to become bored.

So, those are my thoughts as of now. What do you all think? Any and all insight will be appreciated! I wish this decision was not so difficult for me…

Hualian’s a small place but I’ve been hacking it here for the last half year. Let me know if you come and I’ll take you around.

Sounds like you’re right about the music comparison, but not necessarily the friends thing. If you’re willing to put yourself out there, I’m guessing making friends in Hualian shouldn’t be as hard as it might seem. On the other hand, if you live in Kaohsiung and stay in your apartment drunk all the time making friends might be challenging. Food options would be my biggest lure towards Khh, but I’m old and food is one of the few pleasures in life I have left. Having cleaner water, air, and more beautiful surroundings is the appeal of the east coast. If you’re young and more interested in jamming with cool bros and having “fun”, stick with Khh.

Pretty much every city in Taiwan is ugly so that’s not really a benefit of Hualien other than the fact that it’s smaller and easier to get out of. The positive for Hualien is that it’s easy to get to some of the best places in Taiwan. It’s not bad in Kaohsiung either but just about anywhere really nice is 2 hrs away.

I think Hualien has a small but thriving music scene. It won’t be the same as Kaohsiung, but especially when you add in Taidong/Dulan, there is a fair amount going on the east coast.

Describing Hualien as an ‘incredibly beautiful city’? Is there a Hualien City that I’ve never been too :roflmao: ? What are the towns like where you grew up :cactus: ?

Anyway…Hualien County, yes parts of it certainly are ‘incredibly beautiful’,without doubt.

Stick with Kaoshiung if you want a decent income and food. Just remember things are “different” there and the people are “special”. FFS, they make Changhua look civilized.

Hualian is hard to break into, the pay is poor and unless you’re an outdoorsy type, there’s not much to do. They are rumored to have excellent Indian food however.

My impression from previous discussion is you will be studying and not working, so wages aren’t an issue.

I would lean strongly toward Hualian. I suppose that’s partly because I value nature and motorcycle touring more than having a crowd of foreign friends. You mention concern about the music scene. Wouldn’t Hualian’s smaller scene make it easier to break in and get known locally? As Feiren mentioned above and I mentioned in a different thread, add in Taidong and there’s plenty for a person to get involved in if he gets out there.

In any case, having to choose between two good opportunities is a nice burden to have. Best of luck to you.

Does it have to be only these two? If you wanted something in the middle (not geographically) I would suggest Taitung City.

The music scene is not large here in Hualien, but it does exist. It depends how much variety you need. If you’re cool with a couple of gigs a month, you’ll get by. If being out twice a week is important to you, stick to Khh. And as mentioned, Taidong is just as good as Hualien. The mtns aren’t quite so accessible, but beaches and ocean access is better.

Hualien? Indian food? Where?

When you say pollution is really bad - how bad? I’m hopefully moving there in August. Coming from Ireland with an abundance of fresh country air and little pollution even in major cities, will I find this a big shock?

It varies from just tolerable to no problem at all. Culture, traffic, and food are more likely to require adjustment, but you’ll be fine. My wife and kids spend a couple months in Kaohsiung every year; I spend two weeks to a couple months every year or two. We all love it.

Personally, I would love Hualian even more; haven’t figured out how to get in-laws to move to the east coast.

It is not Beijing bad type air pollution, but it is noticeable especially in Winter. It is also unhealthy long-term and some people develop allergies. Coming to Taiwan made me appreciate how clean Ireland’s air is (actually Ireland has the cleanest air in Europe!).

Kaoshiung is a massive busy big city incomparable to anything in Ireland. You will never have seen so many scooters and trucks Taiwan is simply very different , it can be exciting and interesting too though. There are few foreigners in Kaoshiung but they are there. Kenting beach area and Tainan are not far aswell as Pingtung mountains so there are interesting places within reach too.

Fortunately Kaoshiung has improved massively over the last decade and is experiencing something of a revival at present all around its harbour and river areas. There is a small subway system and new light rail lines are being constructed in next couple of years.

Should be mandatory to spend a week in Jakarta before living in TAiwan. :slight_smile:

I think the big refinery is slated to close in 2015, which should make massive improvements in air quality.

Well, I spent two days in Kaohsiung last weekend.

It is a really interesting place to visit and has a lot going on as far as art/music goes. That being said, for whatever reason, I cannot imagine myself living there. It was missing something for me…

I have decided to move to Hualien in September. I am feeling pretty good about this decision…Thanks to everyone for their help!


I can totally relate to that decision.
I have been living here in Kaohsiung for about two years now, and have been living here quite happily.
It really has everything for me. All the conveniences of a big city, some nature to chillax and some nice spots by the dock of the bay to sit down… wasting time… anyway…
Not too far from the wife’s family and yet far away enough :wink:
One thing it has too much of is the air pollution though. Without it it would be a truly great place to live.
Now I’m finding myself getting by here, but with a job that doesn’t require a set place to live my mind wonders of all the great days living on the east-coast could bring. And I’m not sure if I can totally do without any convenience, so Hualian or Taidong would be the places to live.

Hope to hear some more insights on this interesting discussion.

Glad you’ve been able to make a decision you’re comfortable with. Thanks for letting us know! I’m a bit jealous - would love to go spend some time in Hualian.

I’ll see you there :slight_smile: (I’m going apartment hunting later this month…pretty excited!)

I still wonder what side of Kaohsiung has everyone seen… I got to rent drum rooms, and played guitar with foreigners and locals, got a CD by MisterMouth… you just gotta know the right people and you’re golden.