Taipei or Taichung for a Newbie?


Hi all.

I’m making preparations to move to Taiwan hopefully in June. I have a BA in English and a TEFL certificate and I’ll be seeking a teaching position.

I’ve been reading that Taipei not only has a higher cost of living, but that beginning teachers are paid less there as well. Can anyone confirm this?

After hearing those facts I had decided to try Taichung instead. However, the mass transit situation and the smaller foreigner support base in Taichung give me pause. I don’t know if higher wages are worth having to risk my life getting from place to place on a scooter!

Any ideas/suggestions would be appreciated.


You’ll likely end up driving a scooter even if you live in Taipei. It’s the best way to get around. Still, Taichung has a lot to offer. Do a search on Taichung–several threads have addressed its pros and cons (and I don’t mean prostitutes and convicts. or maybe I do.).


I’m just presently exploring my options as I will be graduating in June and heading to Taipei ASAP. But I was wondering, despite my dislike for teaching while yet regarding it as a parachute, do you really need a TEFL cert? And if so, how much and how long did it take you to get one?

I’ve been to both Taipei and Taichung, and I prefer Taipei over the latter.



If you don’t plan to stick with it, there’s no point in getting certified. If you plan to teach for several years, it’s probably worthwhile.

Certifiably yours,


Taipeh? Where is that…?:slight_smile: Fortunately I’m too far away from most participants here so they probably wouldn’t be able to beat me up, but I still say Taipeh is not Taiwan. If you travel through the whole island once you will find people in Taipeh being different in many aspects.
Yes, Taipeh is very convenient. If you have something to solve at any office/agency/bureau/whatever there will definitely be a place in Taipeh to go to - while you may have to travel a few kilometers more if you are living somewhere else. But if you want to see a bit more of Taiwan and not only end up in another expat community hanging around in bars (no pun intended) you should go to Taichung or even to Tainan.
For “native” english speakers teaching the language is always a “parachute”. You may have to teach under somehow strange conditions, but you still can get a visa this way. While the greater Taipeh area offers a lot more job opportunities for non-teaching jobs than other areas, you are relatively free if you can at least “fall back” to teaching.
You will need a matter of personal transportation almost anywhere except Taipeh, because unfortunately the public transportation is not very developed in most areas. If you have reservations against a scooter, you can still ride a Zing/Husky/Drag Fire. It may sound silly, but actually people have more respect of you if your bike is a bit larger - and more expensive. The downside is parking will become a problem with such a “monster”.
So, basically everything is open…


Have to agree. Taipei has it all and is easier to get around in. You dont need a scooter if you dont want one as the MRT and buses are pretty good. As for pay etc, not sure, depends where/what work you do. Taichung, from the little ive seen, is also a nice place. Much cleaner and a lot cheaper to live in. However you can find cheap housing in Taipei also, similar pricing to Taichung, but you would most likely get a bigger/better place for the same price in Taichung. Taichung or Taipei? Both are good, if you dont mind going in the deep end, well Taichung is a little more off the beaten track then Taipei, go for Taichung. If you want a safe first year or so, pick Taipei, you can live cheaply there if you want to. Hope that helps.


I’ve lived in both cities for extended time since I grew up in Taipei and studied in Taichung. I will say that Taipei is probably better for a newbie like you, especially if you want to learn Chinese too. I don’t think you can find as many Chinese learning programs in Taichung as you can in Taipei. However, the living cost & weather are much better in Taichung than in Taipei (especially weather…Taichung probably has the most wonderful weather in Taiwan… ). Regarding the traffic issue, well, if you don’t have your own transportation, you can almost go no where in Taichung, while in Taipei, you don’t really need one because of convenient MRT, bus, and Taxi. So, think twice before you make your final decision.

Welcome to Taiwan!..


Taichung is definitely a better place to live, as far as cost of living, weather and the attitude of the locals towards foreigners is concerned.

The major drawback though is the public transport system. despite that I am not sorry that I chose Taichung.


“If you don’t have your own transportation, you can almost go no where
in Taizhong”… lies lies. All bus routes meet in the center. If you
want to go from spoke A to spoke B you transfer in the center. Also
carrying an opera glass helps you get positioned early for flagging
down the right bus with its tiny numbers as several come roaring down
the street. Note route X of one bus company is different than the
same numbered route of a different company… apparently a way to
confuse invading communists without their own transportation.

My pals at are looking for help making maps. Perhaps
those who feel Taiwan’s bus maps leave something to be desired could
sign up there and make a good one.


Maybe I am the only a little disturbed the person who said he doesn’t like the thought of teaching but wants to use it as a parachute. Do you honestly think your students are not going to catch on that you hate what you do? Do yourself a favor and just come and study Chinese if you want to just spend time here.


Teaching is never a parachute. You either come to love it or to loath it. If you know where your dice will fall you can be a better judge of whether or not you should attempt it. Remeber one thing, your decision also affects the children you work with, your possible colleagues and the general impression people have of foreigners in general and people from your country in particular. Do us a favour and think before you make your choice.

Having said that/off the soapbox… Taichung chose me, but I have never regretted the decision to come here. Finding things may be a tad more of a challenge at times (especially when posted in these forums since most people just assume you are from Taipei) but it also makes the experience more fun.

taichung or Teipei… your experience is what you make of it.