Moving US (California) -> Taiwan (Taipei) for a year for a corp job. Need expectations

Yes, you are right about that. I spent my childhood in Korea up until 2008. The microdust blowing in from mainland China has made Korea nearly inhabitable in some areas, at least for my standards.

165k NTD a month in Taipei will translate similarly in lifestyle to making 165k USD a year in San Diego once Federal and CA taxes are considered.

not speaking mandarin won’t be a huge issue at first, lots of ppl in this forum are in that situation. you can get by with english. being korean american and speaking fluent english will actually give you bonus points with the local girls that are really into the korean wave - so thumbs up on your future dating life. on the flip side there will be a lot of daily friction with not speaking mandarin. getting certain things done, making reservations, opening accounts, etc will be annoying.

yeah you should just gorge on the best of SD food before coming here. when you first come here, eating taiwanese food and going to night markets will be fun. also the hot pot places here are great - SD only had little fat sheep, so you can go bonkers with hot pots too. but you will start craving western food after a few weeks and will realize your options here are so limited. i honestly crave the most random things and can’t conveniently get them. gyros, good indian food, carnitas, good california rolls / bastardized rolls that the korean owned japanese restaurants were so good at, etc.

so seeing you are used to seoul, you might actually find taipei to be not city-enough, if that makes sense. taipei is dense and crowded but it doesn’t have much in the way of the towering skyscrappers and global-class city feel that tokyo and seoul have. xinyi district is probably the only place that does to be honest (by far the most cosmopolitan and upscale area in taiwan).

going from 150k usd to 60k usd you will absolutely be saving less. far less. you will still be saving a lot, and 60k usd is a very high salary in taiwan and you can live a nice life of luxury, but maintaining a somewhat comparable QoL across your spending, you will definitely save a lot less than you were in SD. the rent differences just aren’t enough there. and honestly aside from the rent, i feel like i actually have spent more here.

as for the air, yeah the humidity has actually been good for my dry eye condition. sd does have really dry air, so definitely there’s been an improvement with the humidity in certain areas. but it’s a double edged sword - the humidity + heat make summers pretty unbearable. seoul summers are pretty similar so you probably know how uncomfortable it is. i will say taiwan is pretty comfortable in the autumn and spring, a nice mix of humidity and cooler temps. but i would trade that for SD summers for sure. the heat and humidity make ppl stay indoors with AC anyway, which dries out the air, so ironically the benefit might kinda go to waste.

all in all i think it will be a fun experience, and since you are only here for a year, you won’t hit that phase that i think most expats hit where they start realizing there’s a lot not to like about taiwan. there’s a lot of bureaucracy and discrimination that foreigners have to deal with. if you try and make taiwan an actual long-term home, there is an insane amount of hassle. but only one year? come over, enjoy life, don’t worry about saving too much, and just live it up here.

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One area you will save big is- Dont buy a car. Take public transport. No car payment, no gas, no insurance, no maintenance, no licenses, no parking fees, no car washes should save you at least $700-1000 a month. Or you can ride a scooter. Internet is cheaper, Phone plans are cheaper than California by more than half, you’ll save there. Food can be cheaper but overall as a single person you’ll likely spend similar to San Diego on food given portions are smaller here and some foods cost more or same unless you make an effort to eat at cheaper places. One of the first things to buy here is a Dehumidifier to keep the mold away

Thank you all for the super informative replies. Your replies are really helping me mentally prepare myself before the big move.

You could have a commute of five minutes and get a place for half that. Try this website

Open it in chrome and do the auto-translate if reading Chinese is a problem

rent cheap is not easy, there are no regulations and they do a lot of wtf stuff ( yesterday a saw one make a toilet in were supposed to be the inside wall closet, same door ), so many wtf chabuduo, and good luck with a kitchen.

paying more doesnt mean you get better regulations or better landlords though

agree. Is really hard to find a decent place, at least in my experience.

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Cars are meant to be a luxury in Taiwan, hence it’s more expensive to own vs the US (where it is necessary). Taiwan is so crowded that if everyone owned a car the roads would be a parking lot, the cars won’t be going anywhere. So you can’t compare Taiwan to the US in that regard. US style life in Taiwan is simply unsustainable in such a small place. If you have a car it’s either you’re rich or you need it for your business. In that case make it a company car to save on taxes.

Public transportation is very cheap and reliable and there’s no reason why you can’t just use it exclusively. Plus it’s far more sustainable. In the US you may be seeing similar commute times but then you’re paying fuel, insurance, wear and tear, not to mention possible traffic tickets. Personally I think the US should spend more on better long distance public transport rather than wider highways and more parking lots. Everyone’s going from suburb to downtown and having excessive congestion just because of 100 people on the road is very wasteful. A highly congested highway could be easily freed up if all of those people (who are going to the same place) end up sitting in buses. Something like 3 buses can easily replace like 100 cars.

Also if you have good employer sponsored health insurance in the US, great. But the complaint about American healthcare system isn’t that YOU have good insurance. A lot of people don’t have it and pay over 1000 per month in premium for not a whole lot of service (and they still pay more than no insurance in Taiwan for most insured care). A lot of Americans don’t have good employer sponsored health insurance, or their employer’s insurance is terrible (mine had a deductible of almost 6000 dollars). Taiwan’s NHI is mandatory for all citizens and legal aliens. It also means unemployed person without employer coverage can still go to a doctor and not pay through the nose for quality care. You don’t have that in the US.

The US is great if you have money… you can drive nice cars, use toll roads (often have little to no traffic), and have money to pay outrageous doctor fees or insurance premiums. It sucks massively if you are not rich however. Taiwan is actually not that bad to be poor in because social services are available to make sure your basic needs are met.

Thank you for the interesting perspective! I am looking forward to the insurance in Taiwan as well, although I was lucky enough to have good health insurance in the US. And yes, it does seem like public transit is the way to go in Taipei.

It’s all subjective. I worked in Taiwan with a salary that was “good for Taiwan” (i.e. considerably less than what you will earn) and, excluding my very bad first year of adjustment, I had the best time of my adult life out there. I now live in London where I am earning a salary that is good by London standards. My quality of life in London is objectively better than it was in Taiwan when it comes to many of the things mentioned on this thread. But I’d go back to Taiwan and take the gigantic pay cut in a second.

However, there are certain things I’d do certain things to mitigate Taiwan’s many problems. For example, I would live further out, in a nice apartment and quiet area surrounded by nature, instead of a mouldy shit-hole in the city centre like I used to. I would also make sure to eat out less, despite the relatively high cost of grocery shopping in Taiwan compared to eating out.

But the things that Taiwan does better than London are, in my opinion, so much better that it cancels out all of the bad. For example, a few months ago my mum had a scare and I had to take her to a local hospital and deal with the NHS at a proper substantial level for the first time in my life. The experience terrified me so much that I went out and paid a shit-load of money for private health insurance. With the NHS being sold off and getting worse by the day, I now understand how important it is to live in a country where you know you’ll be taken care of when something like what happened to my mum happens to you without having to worry about how to afford it.

Also, some people here mentioned the public transportation in Taiwan being worse than in their home countries. But, to me, Taipei’s public transportation is some kind of futuristic wonderland compared to the horror of London’s public transport.

And we’re only really talking about basic quality of life stuff here. When it comes to the less “basic” things, like being able to make friends and having stuff to do on the weekends, Taipei for me kicks the shit out of London. But that is, of course, an entirely subjective statement.

My company tried that BS of lowering salary because of cost of living moving to Taiwan.
End of day, I told them i’m going to further my career not take a step back and building wealth is building wealth regardless it’s USD or NT. They eventually gave in and kept my US salary plus extra bonus.
I would fight them on the lower pay, you’d might be surprised. Doesn’t hurt to try.


I would try and renegotiate with your company. Most packages (even to Taiwan) include a salary increase, rental allowance, car allowance, flights back to your home country, school stipend, etc…
Good luck!

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Your points apply if you live in a big city like Taipei, not for the whole country.
Not every place has such a good public transport like Taipei.

If you live in a city, close to work and generally don’t need to leave the general area very often, then a car is not necessary.

But if you live out of town and have a family, then a car is essential to get around.

I did think thoroughly about salary negotiation. However, I ultimately decided against it because at the end of the day it looks like I will have more than enough to get me by for a year. My employer has been very accommodating and has set-up this arrangement just to help solve my Visa issues. They have been very generous in many ways. Furthermore, I will be reinstituted after one year in TW with the original package, and I am happy with that as I am just starting my career.

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A car is not essential in Taiwan, unless you’re really in the country (ie. not in a medium sized town but around farmlands), and having a car will be much cheaper there anyways because you probably won’t have to pay for parking, but honestly even in the country a scooter will be more than enough, and if you really don’t want to ride or drive, there are still buses, commuter trains, etc. that will get you to where you need to go.

Compare that to the US where even medium sized town has basically no public transportation and if you’re even in a normal suburb you are not going anywhere without a car. Scooter laws are weird in the US because “moped” or “scooter” do not generally exist in their driving laws (I’m using Texas as an example because that’s where I lived). Either it’s 50cc or less, no more than 30mph top speed, then it’s a “moped” and it does not even require a license or only require a car license to drive. However anything more (for example the 125/150cc scooters commonly found in Taiwan) and you have to have a full motorcycle license which is just as hard to get as a heavy motorcycle license in Taiwan. So you either drive a car (expensive, easier to get license for, not as easily stolen) or a “moped” which can’t go up a hill if your life depended on it.

No I think compared to the US Taiwan is much friendlier place to be if you are poor or middle class. The US basically hates poor people.

  1. At your income level, I would highly consider living in a cozy, but modern 2-bedroom in Neihu. You can definitely find that for 30k+/month. A furnished place with natural gas, a shower stall, 2 stove burners, lots of windows/natural light/air ciculation :grinning: Neihu is a nice residential area, much more quieter and less congested than the city center. You’ll have the Brown Line and the bus to conveniently get around. My wife used to work right at Gangqian station, and we live one station over. Her door-to-door commute was 15 minutes via MRT, and or it would be 20 minutes walking during non-summer weather.

There’s also a huge shopping mall with a movie theater nearby called Miramar. It also has a Carrefour and a Jason’s Marketplace there, which is where I go to shop for imported food and groceries, although your local PxMart supermarket will certainly have some things. There are also plenty of traditional markets (day and evening ones) that can be really good for saving money on certain produce, or you can find really fresh items here, if you’re into cooking.

If you like to work out, the Neihu Sports Center is right near your workplace. You can go swimming for 110NT and work out in the fitness center for 50NT (70 minutes). You can also play pool, ping-pong, badminton and basketball there too.

  1. Eating out is generally cheaper than the US because you don’t have to pay tax and tip. In CA, you have to pay 7.25% sales tax and a 20% tip when you’re dining out. The nicer places here do charge 10% service fee though. Generally speaking, I don’t think you have to hold yourself back at all when it comes to spending for dining.

I’ve only been here for less than 2 years, but here are a few non-Taiwanese places that I like:
Awesome Burger
Ohh Cha Cha
Sate House
Mia Cucina
The Diner
Journey Kaffe
Kunming Islamic Restaurant
Big Boyz Pizza
Oma’s German Bakery (for bread, there’s one near Xihu in Neihu)

  1. Please buy any electronics in the US before coming here, like phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, e-readers. Electronics are much more expensive here, like 50-100% more.

I guess I’d also bring my own deodorant and sports sunscreen here too lol. Not that you can’t find that here, but you probably won’t find the ones you like or are good :slight_smile:

  1. Something that I believe is underrated and overlooked when it comes to quality of life is safety. Taipei - and Taiwan in general - is one of the safest places in the entire world (probably top 3). Guns, drugs, homicide, assault, rape, burglary, robbery, theft are pretty much non-existent here. Except for perhaps Sanchong, which honestly isn’t that bad anymore, there are no good/bad or safe/unsafe neighborhoods here. At least for me, this peace of mind is priceless, and it’s something that people here of all income levels get to have, whereas in the US, safety comes at a premium. There are many reasons why I love Taiwan, but I would consider this to be my #1 reason.

  2. I self-learned Mandarin for 1 year before coming to Taiwan, and I have lower intermediate fluency, which is very helpful. But honestly, I feel like one can definitely get by and even live here without much issue not knowing any Mandarin at all, and there are people who definitely do that. Most of the government institutions here - like the tax bureau at Beimen or National Immigration Agency - are really good with providing English assistance for foreigners. There’s plenty of English-speaking resources in general for daily life here.

  3. Humidity here is pretty brutal, and the air quality won’t be as good in the US. If you’re sensitive to it, I highly recommend getting a dehumidifier and living in a place with lots of windows, lots of natural sunlight, and great air circulation (helps to prevent mold too). I don’t do this, but I’ve read of foreigners here who run the dehumidifier or AC AND an air purifier all the time indoors :open_mouth: The air quality in general actually isn’t that bad most of the time, according to AQI. It’s mostly due to scooter pollution at the ground level. If that’s a concern for you, I would avoid riding a scooter, walk away from the main roads when you can, and live at the 5th floor or above.


You have it really great. Taiwan is just about perfect to spent a year there. Not more, not less. You will enjoy a magic of new place, and run away before magic runs out.

Will be nice experience and memory. With salary you are good to go, don’t expect same standards as you have it now with food and accommodation.It doesn’t matter anyway, is just a year.

Date and enjoy girls, set up tinder or account at online page. Start talking to girls, arrange dates within first two weeks. Taiwanese girls love to help out foreigners and you will need help

Islands have a lot of beautiful girls, and is easy to arrange date

You wont be saving a lot of money on that salary, especially if you are single and go out a lot. A dinner and drinks with friends will set you back at least 2k minimum, and if you take a girl out can you have to pay for it you need to budget 4-5k…