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!
STUFF I EXPECT TO BE VERY DIFFERENT :
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.
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.
Price of Goods: HK: Expensive / TW: Generally Cheaper
Salaries: HK: Expensive / TW: Generally Cheaper
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.
STUFF I EXPECT TO BE SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT:
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).
HK: Great stuff from all over Asia.
TW: Everything HK has + Amazing night markets
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.
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.
STUFF I EXPECT TO BE ABOUT THE SAME :
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.
STUFF I HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT:
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 ??