Taiwan vs Hong Kong Lifestyle

Most of the expat guides to living in Taiwan are written for people who’ve never lived abroad or in Asia.

I’m a US Citizen, but I’ve lived in Hong Kong for 10 years. I’m trying to get an idea of what to expect. My HK Chinese wife got a job in Taiwan, so I’ll be moving there next year (depending)

Seems like relocating from HK to Taipei won’t be a huge culture shock for me. But you never know.

I’ve visited Taiwan twice, so I have some idea what it’s like. But those visits weren’t ideal: my wife was speaking Chinese with relatives and friends while I was monitoring my toddler-aged kids who were widly exploring new restaurants, stores, etc.

Here are my (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) assumptions/expectations below.
Curious what you guys on this forum think. Are they close? If not, please advise!


HK: Everybody knows English, Official Language. Meetings switch to English Around Westerners
TW: “Get By” with English in Taipei, Official docs in Chinese. Meetings probably stay in Chinese around Westerners.

Arts Scene:
HK: A town full of bankers and businessmen. Creative folks on the margins.
TW: A small, but vibrant, creative community (more like Portland than NYC/LA/Berlin).

HK: Big, condensed city Like NYC/Chicago, with nice islands and parks. Big glittering skyscrapers everywhere.
TW: Smaller, spacious cities (like Minneapolis/Macau). Tiny buildings. Easy access to mountains, forests and nature.

HK: Pay a fortune for a shoebox.
TW: Reasonable.

Price of Goods: HK: Expensive :cry: / TW: Generally Cheaper :blush:
Salaries: HK: Expensive :blush: / TW: Generally Cheaper :cry:

Garbage Collection:
HK: Recycling Encouraged, but do what you want. Public Trashcans.
TW: Recycling Mandatory. Schedule your waste pickups. Tightly monitored.

HK: UK Holidays + Chinese Holidays. Nice!
TW: Only Chinese holidays. Longer CNY holiday. No Xmas. Overall, less.


Western Expats:
HK: Small in number, but outsized role. HK prides itself on international outlook. France & UK are largest groups.
TW: Much Smaller population. Foreigners respected, but placed outside society at large. US is largest group.

HK: Wide range of international brands, more UK than US (i.e., M&S everywhere).
TW: Smaller, but decent range of international brands, tilts more towards US brands (Costco).

Asian Food:
HK: Great stuff from all over Asia.
TW: Everything HK has + Amazing night markets

Western Food:
HK: Wide range of nice western restaurants.
TW: Smaller in number, but decent options.

HK: Not too shabby, but don’t take off masks yet.
TW: Best in the world.

Work Culture:
HK: Crazy Competitive, High Pressure, Long Hours.
TW: Work hard with long hours, but some sense of work/life balance.

HK: Fairly conservative demeanor and lifestyle overall. People dress modestly. Very little “Alternative” lifestyles or hipsters.
TW: Hardly a Berlin or Los Angles, but more relaxed and open. Hipsters might be sighted in certain neighborhoods.


East vs West: Western individualism & loud behavior frowned upon. People are polite and social harmony oriented. Westerner’s cultural mistakes given a pass. Ironic humor and sarcasm not understood. ‘Face’ is very important.

Public Transport: Well-run, affordable and reliable. I won’t need a car in Taipei, either.

Medical Care: Both are High Quality & Affordable. TW: Less Expensive, even for private insurance.

My Eurasian Kids: Will stand out a little bit from classmates, but in a positive way, nothing too awkward.

Public Schools: Cram Style, test-oriented teaching. Wear uniforms. Rote Learning
Private Schools: Crazy expensive. Homework in English. Western approach to teaching.

Climate: Hot, sweaty, and humid for most of the year. TW may have cooler winters.


Shoe Shopping: My foot size is US13/EU47. Can I find shoes in TW? In HK, it’s very difficult, but possible.

HK expats (i.e., my wife): How do TW people feel about them? Welcome/Unwelcome? Same as TW people?

Can I find decent Burgers and NYC style Pizza in TW? Or is MacDonalds & Pizza Hut (shudder) the best I can do?

Last of all, anything I’m missing ??


Hong Kong had a much better dating life from my limited time there and trying out dating apps

Taipei is still pretty good, much better than bay area where there’s like a 2:1 nerd to female ratio

TW: some young people might know some english, or want to practice it - staff in shops ect. but most are too shy to speak it. Good luck getting a group of taiwanese buddies to switch to english. Learn the basics in chinese and it will serve you well.

Arts Scene:
TW: taiwan definitely has some really cool illustrators and stuff, but the majority of creative endeavours is girls taking selfies and putting them on IG.

TW: TP: less glittering skyscrapers, but still a big densely packed city. plenty of new shopping malls ect. and the old gong yu’s - 1-6 floor old style buildings do have some charm. The urban environment is definitely less appealing than hong kong’s but it has its own charm.

TW: TP: i’m sure its better than HK but its still shitty, you get very little for what you pay for.

Garbage Collection:
TW: complete shite.

TW: christmas is horrible in taiwan. chinese new year is dull. but moon festival is cool.


Western Expats:
TW: barely any foreigners, not really respected. 95% are english teachers. The foreigner scene is dire. But most i have met have been nice, only met a couple of sexpatty losers.

TW: very little international brands, lots of japanese though. M and S? no chance.

Asian Food:
TW: pretty good, tons of japanese options.

Western Food:
TW: pretty shabby. considerably worse off in this department than HK.

Work Culture:
TW: shite

TW: plenty of spoilt brat hipters.


Public Transport:
Pretty much the same but those trams in HK are badass.

yea taiwans winters are shit in taipei. the heat is similar. HK has stronger AC.


HK expats (i.e., my wife):
People love em.

Can I find decent Burgers and NYC style Pizza in TW?
Yes, more so the burgers. Pizzas are still catching up and always overpriced.


I don’t think the OP, who is coming to Taiwan with his wife and kids cares about the dating scene in Taiwan.

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Jimbobs going to jimbob.


I lived in hk for over 10 years prior to moving to Taiwan last year. I miss the big, international city elements of HK, but I much prefer Taiwan.

What I began to dislike about HK (that living in Taiwan resolves):

  1. Spending too much time in malls - IFC, Pacific Place, etc. with the kids.
  2. Outdoor activities limited to parks (HK Park), Disneyland, Ocean Park, Repulse Bay, DB
  3. Cost of living is really high - if you are renting, you can get a luxury flat with much more space for half the price. Even a movie ticket is a fraction of the cost.
  4. A lot of good local food I used to like to eat was less and less accessible, replaced by high end restaurants. Food scene is good, but at the high end. Unless I had to trek to Kowloon. Maybe this is because I wasn’t a local.
  5. Many locals - especially cab drivers and some food shop owners - are assholes.
  6. In general, even though there’s much to love about HK, living there became a grating experience.

A huge plus about HK was the ease of traveling. But once covid is over, I think you’ll see how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to fly from TW to the rest of Asia.

Taiwan, as an island - there’s a ton to explore on weekends. Within a 2 hour commute (by car or train). Tons of stuff for family that is interesting. The culture and environment is more laid back - you won’t feel like an alien if you’re not wearing a suit (I’m speaking specifically about central), and you have an opportunity to learn mandarin, instead of a dead language like canto.

Overall, Taiwan is not as sexy. So if you view yourself through the lens of a “professional white collar worker” - maybe it won’t be fulfilling. But if you are okay with a more laid back environment that’s not always on steroids, I think Taipei is great. Especially once flying is feasible. It’s a 1.5 hour flight to hk if you need a fix.


I feel like you have a much more reasonable grasp on the difference than most users here. Most of what you wrote is true.

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He’s fucking married. Try and be relevant.

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Unlike Franco Manca :sleeping: :sleeping: :sleeping:



  • TW has no decent Sunday brunch, there is nothing like the brunches served at Zuma, Marriott etc.
  • In general restaurants just aren’t as good in TW as in HK, and for some odd reason even the expensive ones have kids running around everywhere.
  • Hotel pools suck, the only hotels (including many “5 star” ones) that have a pool bar are W, Grand Hyatt and Mandarin Oriental.
  • Beaches suck, none of the accessible beaches have any nice restaurants you would find in e.g. Repulse Bay. All you get is basically 711 and lunchboxes.
  • Hotel breakfast sucks. Here again, only W, Grand Hyatt and Mandarin oriental have half decent food. Grand Hyatt breakfast is infested with kids running around tough, but food is OK.
  • Massage/spa not as good as in HK(at least for men). Haven’t found any Spa places with mens sauna, Jacuzzi etc.
  • Airport far away and not as many good connections as the one in HK.
  • Apartment buildings lack pool/sauna (or if they got one, you cant make it any warm, it doesn’t have the option you can throw water on it).


  • Far cheaper than in HK, for the same amount you would pay for a shoebox in midlevels you would be getting 1500sq ft in Daan. The apartment building probably wouldn’t have any decent outdoor pool tough.
  • More space, you can do road trips + the speeding tickets are cheap.
  • Laid back and easy to get ahead, not a lot of “competition” work/career wise.
  • More hiking opportunities(albeit close to Taipei they are less accessible than they are in HK)

They will think of them as huaqiao or half Taiwanese if they can speak good Mandarin. No big deal either way there are many HKers in Taiwan.

Taiwan is very different than HK in terms of working.
Since you have the privilege of not working and your wife earning probably megabucks …You will be fine. :sunglasses:.Otherwise I highly doubt you would survive in Taiwan. :grinning:. Also a lot of foreigners in Taiwan can speak passable to decent Chinese .

In terms of living it’s really what you are into. Taiwan has many more interesting natural spots and also local foods.

There is a very small foreign community in Tienmu beyond that we are very much distributed Taipei and then very small numbers through rest of island.

Taiwanese are very Asian whereas HK people are highly westernised.
This is the biggest difference you will encounter , especially with regards work or following international trends. Taiwanese pay very little attention to Western stuff really in general. I mean they learn English and travel and study overseas bit mostly not really into ‘western history, culture etc’ except maybe romantic ideas about Paris or Switzerland or Harry Potter…

Yea you are correct they are more America oriented as many have relatives or friends who emigrated to the US or would like to study there.


Lol another thread bitching about food and restaurants in Taiwan.


Another thing is you can have a more varied outdoor lifestyle in Taiwan . If you have a car you can go camping, up into the mountains, to the beach . I enjoy Taiwan very much because of this.

I know others who love cycling ,other who like heavy motorbikes, windsurfers , surfers, hikers . Yep there is plenty to do if you get out there ! I strongly advise you to try and find some local interests that get you out there (I also know some who never leave Taipei in guess that’s their choice too).

Oh yeah there is also a great coffee and tea culture in Taiwan . Another big plus for me.

Only drawback that has been noted before is very little sailing here .

Oh yeah and if you are into football (soccer) that is a huge difference with HK. Locals really aren’t into UK football or any football in general.and they prefer KTV to bars. But there are still bars in Taipei of course !

Last but VERY IMPORTANTLY Taiwanese are FAR nicer than Hong Kong people who I find insanely rude and pushy sometimes.

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In Taiwan no one will spike your drink with GBH and you won’t wake up in an alley with your wallet missing after visiting bars such as Dusk till Dawn. Allegedly. :face_with_head_bandage:

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Sounds like you are moving to Taipei. If you don’t live in the city, then you might find a newer building decently priced with community garbage dumpsters managed by the security company. If you absolutely have to live in the city, those places exist but are very pricey.

That being said, ever since COVID-19, the housing market shot up and it’s actually very hard to find a decent place to rent because most owners want to sell and cash in.

I’m assuming you’d be looking at over 30k NTD per month on the low end for these newer buildings even if you live a bit further out from the city.

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This is the thing that stands out most to me about Hong Kong. Some of the rudest people in the world. After a few days in HK I start feeling borderline homicidal.

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Compared to HK not only do those places exist. They are extremely cheap.

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If they are getting Hong Kong salary in Taiwan then yes, very very cheap.

Even if they are getting Taiwan salary (which they are not), the rent is far more affordable than in HK. It’s not even close.

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