Starting life in Taiwan in Tainan?

A possible employer has part of the operations of his hi-tech company in Tainan, which is where he wants me to work should I join them. The initial interview was promising with mutual interest both ways. The prospective employer said that everyone in his hi-tech firm speaks English.

How easy would it be to survive in Tainan as someone who doesn’t know Chinese and is unfamiliar with a lot of local customs? Both at work, and also outside life in general - doing shopping, legal stuff (like rental agreements), driving, going out, dating, etc.

What sort of salaries should I expect for an experienced research engineer? How would this differ if I was in Taipei?

Is it expected for hi-tech employers to arrange the accommodation for foreign workers, even if temporary until they can get settled and find something more permanent?


Congrats! Tainan is one of the best cities to live in Taiwan. Great food, a lot of culture, and not to mention perfect weather (except during the summer of course). I’m sure you’ll love it.

I won’t be able to answer your specific questions. I’ll defer to people who have actually lived in Tainan.


So, you think he should live there based on your not having lived there. Got it. :neutral_face:


not necessarily, if your contract includes a relocation package, then yes, employers hire a company that manages the whole process for you (including for example school registration, visas, apartment hunting etc). This is very expensive, and usually is done by big companies (e.g. Intel, Nvidia ) or for very senior people.
If you are working for a startup, then they might just give you a few days to get settled first, anything else depends on your negotiation skills amd the kindness of their heart.

No where is hard to live without speaking mandarin in Taiwan if you have a positive attitude and some patience.

Tainan is a decent sized city, and expanding/modernizing ultra fast. Life is easy there, though real estate and rent is sky rocketing.


Key point: do you eat pork? If so, great! If not, maybe not so great.



ouch haha. Come on, tainan has some decent pork free places to eat! even some pretty decent vegetarian spots!

Their over priced beef is from the same importers as taipei :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Getting setup with legal stuff, house, car, etc. would take some effort without assistance. Can be done if resourceful.

Once set up, shopping, eating, getting around, daily life, dating, etc. would not be difficult as long as not to shy. Lots of things have English characters, use Google Translate, point….

Hopefully, the boss, company, colleagues will be able to assist.

Salaries, should be higher than a Taiwanese being hired in Taiwan so they must like your experience and are willing to pay more. High-tech is everywhere.

Accommodations, companies will sometimes help in some way with arrangements, housing allowance, etc. but totally depends on the company and there isn’t really a standard. If the company hires lots of foreigners then they will have their standard that could be from a lot to nothing.

Sounds like you’ll need to find out more info from employer before making decisions.


I came over here nearly 3 decades ago without any Chinese, and that was when the capability/services of Taiwan were severely lacking for foreigners. Many of us survived those days. I think you can, too, @Snowfox , under the Internet era. There will always be some Taiwanese to help you.


What does your post add to the discussion?

You can get a sense of a city just spending a few weeks there.

I’ve never lived long term in Hualien, but if someone asked me what it was like, I’d tell them it was a cool, relaxed city, and worth spending time in.


Actually, a lot of people want to move out of Taipei, but have to work there because that’s where HQ is. So I’d say you are in an enviable position.

If you have a job, outside Taipei can be more fun than the capital.

  • More relaxed pace of life.
  • Food is noticeably better priced.
  • Locals can be more friendly than the capital. More chance of fun and adventure.
  • Tainan is fairly centrally located, so within easy reach of Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taidong etc.
  • It used to be the capital. Lots of history there.

Regarding ‘not knowing Chinese’ 200 words can go a long way. 1000 is better. 2000 words opens more doors… etc etc.

Looping a Mandarin Corner video 20-50 times, until you know it, is a good way to start. I just keep hitting the J key, until the phrase is in my head.

Note, Mandarin Corner is more China style Mandarin, so some vocabulary is a little different, but it’s still a solid channel for grammar and fundamentals.

There are Taiwan specific language vids too.


Yup. Tainan’s reputation precedes it. :wink:

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OF COURSE he said everyone in his hi-tech firm speaks English. This is more or less true, but how much English? And how much English related to their jobs?

It would help to know where in Tainan you’re going. Most of Tainan “City” isn’t really a city. The odds are high that you’ll be working in some weird, out of the way industrial area/zone. If that’s the case prepare for some social isolation.

OK. I was curious.

My impressions of infrequent passing through visits were meh. flat, sprawl, very hot and scooters everywhere. Burning hot.

Sprawl? That’s interesting you say that, because I love Tainan for its narrow streets and alleyways and short city blocks, so I have the opposite impression of Tainan.

I also love that scooters are the preferred mode of transport instead of cars. They got rid of most street-side car parking spaces downtown and replaced them with scooter spaces which I thought was a smart move, although I would much prefer public transit. Hopefully they have an MRT system planned for the future.

As for the “burning hot” comment, Tainan is usually 2-3 degrees cooler than Taipei during summer days because it’s not in a basin (high of 30-31 on most days) and has more ocean breeze, but it is tropical so the sun is definitely scorching. I usually just stick to walking under the buildings and it doesn’t feel any hotter than Taipei.

The western plains of Chiayi are what I think of burning hot, blue skies, zero air during summers, from my experience.

Isn’t beef soup one of the most famous dishes in Tainan? The other one is lamb, I believe.

Stir fried eel over noodles is another popular dish there that tastes amazing, even if you don’t usually like seafood.

Tainan also has a lot of specialty shrimp and oyster dishes.

In fact, I can’t think of a single pork dish that’s popular in Tainan, besides what’s also popular in the rest of Taiwan.

Pollution is hell bad in Tainan.

Driving is at your own risk more so than other places.

Depending on the location of your work which as posted is likely in the boondocks it may be far better to live in kaohsiung and commute.

Kaohsiung is a city with city things. Greater Tainan is a sprawl. Central Tainan is, at most, quaint if you like touristic coffee shops.

There isnt a lot to do in Tainan unless you like going to the beach and dating is fairly absymal as it has a small town mentality.

Seriously consider Kaohsiung and commute.

Edit Kaohsiung pollution can be bad as well, but far far better civil services.

I seem to recall the boss said it is close to the high speed rail station.

How are property prices there to buy or rent? Are they relatively new builds? What’s the neighborhood like?

If true, most wouldn’t find that appealing at all as most of the HSR stations are quite a bit outside the city center. Would need to factor that in to your calculus. Doubt you’d want to live out there.


Ok that’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It’s about a 30-minute drive from town.

All the positive things I said earlier about Tainan only applies to town.

Good luck.

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