I live in Tai/chung…
Hmmm…Tai/chung (not @#*$&@ Taizhong) is in all aspects less developed than Taipei. It is much more provincial and gang-ridden, has fewer parks, museums and other cultural items, and very few good western restaurants. Western foods are not easy to find either. People may be friendlier, but there is a lot more crime, and a lot more of the curses of Taiwan, like gangsters and trash-burning.
Plus side is, like the other posters said, easy access to mountains and southern Taiwan. Ken/ting can be done in a long weekend trip, impossible from Taipei.
Rent is lower here, I live in a 5 BDR house for 10,000 a month, and we have a yard. Next to a scenic area too…local food is much cheaper. Taiwnese everywhere, little English, gives you a chance to practice Mandarin.
Here’s a pic of our house:
It all depends on what you want. I miss the MRT and the cultural life, but we have a big backyard and a big dog, which we couldn’t in Taipei.
As for places to live, there are several good ones. Around Fengchia University is a huge night market and lots of good eateries. Chung Hsing University too. The area around Nova computer and Sogo is filled with foreigners. The east side of the city is an industrial warehouse nightmare, avoid like plague. The south side, toward Wu Er, is equally nightmarish. I would like in Beitun or Hsitun on the north and west, or in Tanzi, where we live, or around the universities, or near Sogo/People’s park area. Southern Tai/chung (not @#*$&@ Taizhong, a city in the brutal authoritarian state of China), Wufeng and Tali, is small factories and warehouses. Ugh