I agree with Scuba on the food thing: middle and low end food are more expensive here, and some of it was way better in Shanghai. I can’t really tell on the high end food (besides, we hardly ever went to Xintiandi, neither do my friends, there are many much more interesting places in Shanghai). Grocery shopping seems more expensive here, too, as I said, 1l of milk costs about double here from what we paid in Shanghai. I thought there was this kind database that compared living costs everywhere, but didn’t know where to look for it. I also tried to find my book on the comparison of living costs in Greater China, don’t know where I put it.
As to books: The selection of the Foreign Language Bookstore in Shanghai isn’t too bad. You can get loads of English books there (like, books printed somewhere else, not just the cheap classics printed in China), and some other languages as well. Actually, it’s probably the best place for books in Shanghai. Once in a while, “That’s Shanghai” would have a feature on the best book stores in Shanghai, maybe they’d have some resources on their website? I never managed to read all the books I bought in the Foreign Language Bookstore, but I admit to also stocking up whenever I go to Europe or Singapore.
But you’re right on the print media. Great leap forward :? , they actually started selling foreign newspapers and magazines in our supermarket in Shanghai (where many foreigners shop), but these were still more than a week old, and you wouldn’t get anything newer at the airport. As to TV, we’d prefer Phoenix in Mandarin from Hong Kong (very easy to understand because slower than the Mainland news), CNN would be on and off, and I think you’d get at least STAR movie channel, but we would usually just watch VCD and get the news we wanted from the internet.
I’m still not sure about the housing costs. My friend was told by his company everything (including living costs) would be cheaper here in Taiwan. I’d estimate they paid about 2500 USD for their house (two storeys, about 4 bedrooms, not attached, garden) in a compound southwest of Hongqiao Airport (not quite within the city anymore). They’ll probably look for something similar here in Taipei (or rather out of Taipei), possibly close to Tienmu (for the shopping and food). I don’t see them in the Huayuan Xinsheng in Hsintien (personally, I think that would be a great place to live, but not for them), probably not even in an apartment building. I don’t really know such places, but I guess I’d best just tell them to get in touch with an agency.
Anyway, thanks for the input