Yangmingshan:Paradise or Lonely,Isolated,Suicidal Existence?

My husband and I are traveling to Taipei and Shanghai in a week so I can have a look-see and decide whether I want to move the family to either of those places for 2-3 years. We have three kids. They’d be 15, 13 and 11 by the time we’d get there so a good school is a major issue. I have been reading about Taipei American School and I have to say, I’m rather disappointed that it doesn’t seem to be the haven of American diversity I was hoping for. I’ve read entries in the forum where people are lamenting the fact that there are very few White American faces at the school-well what about some Black or Brown American faces? I was hoping for a real mixed group but doesn’t seem like that’s a possibility.

SO, we’re going to check out the European School (British section) while we’re there. I’ve heard Yangmingshan is popular with expats, especially Europeans because of the school but it also seems like I couldn’t walk anywhere (groceries, dept. stores, cafes, etc.) or get to interesting cultural destinations. Is that true? Could I live in central Tien Mou and have the kids take a school bus to the European School or would they be in for a long ride?

My head is spinning. I don’t want to send them to a school where they are so obviously the “only ones”-we could have stayed in Oregon if I wanted to continue with that-but I can’t see living in Yangmingshan if it means that while my husband is working and the kids are at school, I’m alone in the sticks with no easy way to connect with other expats.

Also, since I’m on a roll, would living in Tien Mou near a school be a ridiculous decision if my husband is working in Hsin-Yi District?

Thanks so much for any direction you can offer!!!

Yangmingshan is cool. Move there.

Can it really be that simple? What’s so cool about it?

Seems like the American school or British school will be diversified enough. At least the kids at either school will speak English.

When I was 11-15, I would have enjoyed having a mountain for a back yard. If your kids wouldn’t enjoy the mountainess, then Tianmu would be a good choice.

I think there are speedy ways from Tianmu to Xinyi (by car, I don’t have one) but a lot of the speediness would depend on what time he has be at work. Traffic in Taipei only REALLY sucks during rush hour.

That’s what Forumosa’s for :smiley:

Sounds to me like Tianmu’s the place for you. I never go there, but it does seem to be “foreignertown.”

I have friends from France who have lived on Yan Ming Shan for three years. Their three kids are going through the British system at the European school and liking it. They have a diverse bunch of friends from all over the world, including Africa. The house is beautiful, the location is great, and they have a lot of neighbours they seem to like.

Stores, cafes etc are within walking distance, and there’s a good reliable bus service down the mountain. You would still want a car though.

They are being pressured to move to Shanghai for work, in fact they should have gone months ago, but they’re resisting. They expect to end up in Hong Kong eventually as a compromise. It all comes down to the pollution. Do you want your kids to breathe fresh air for the next few years or not?

A friend of mine lived and worked up there for quite a few years. Nice environment but not much up there for shopping and stuff. They seemed to be on the bus going up and down alot but finally got a car.
I remember on the weekends the traffic could get really bad with tourists.
Also corrosion was bad as it’s damp and I guess a certain amount of salt blows in from the ocean. Any metal object in their house seemd to be corroded.
Also, whenever he went out for walks he’d carry a stick to beat off the packs of wild dogs.

OK. I’ll let you know what happens on our trip. That is, of course, if I’m not torn apart by a pack of wild dogs. I’ve already put my stick in the suitcase.

[quote]Also corrosion was bad as it’s damp and I guess a certain amount of salt blows in from the ocean. Any metal object in their house seemd to be corroded.
Also, whenever he went out for walks he’d carry a stick to beat off the packs of wild dogs.[/quote]

It’s not salt air, but rotten egg gas that corrodes things on Yang Ming Shan.

I think it would be much better to live up there than down in TienMu. Yang Ming Shan is Tien Mu’s one redeming feature besides the schools so why not live on it.

The European School runs an extensive bus service so that won’t matter if you choose that school and decide to live up or down the mountain.
Living up…

  • closer to nature
  • close to school
  • closer to hot springs
  • great views and fresher air
  • hiking etc.
  • free standing houses with yards/gardens
  • one supermarket and a few other small stores, no department stores etc.
  • there is only one reasonable road that serves the mountain: when traffic is bad you are stuck in a long line of traffic especially on holidays and at heavy commuter times.

I read once somewhere that the radiation levels are higher up on Yangmingshan.

Personally, I’d live in Tienmu and use the buses for the kids going to school up on the mount.

How far is XinYi District from Shilin?

Fox, thanks for the pic of the “wild dog”. If I’m going to get shredded, why not by one with a saucy pink bow?

Hsyni is a very long way from Shilin. I think the nicer area to live that is fairly close to Shilin and very modern is Dazhi. It is also close to the lakes and along the river so you have great areas for your kids to play and some where to exercise and relax. It is only 10 minutes from Shilin. There is excellent shopping in this area as well. It will, in the nest two years, have an MRT to downtown. If I were you that’s where I’d be heading, especially if your kids were going to Taipei American School.

da zhi is ‘modern’? you must be joking. it is just a ‘hole’ for rich KMT members and big hat mafiosi. to go the river parks, you have to go through one of those filthy road and if you get there by car, you always have a hard time parking. i know, i lived there during my 5 first years in taiwan. currently there is still no mrt and i can attest it is probably one of the most unconvenient place to get to during rush hours simply because there is only one road… da zhi > tianmu is a nightmare during rush hours!!! sure, things might change when the mrt is done but the fact is that it is not at the moment. da zhi is like a small village where i can imagine an expat family will quickly get bored…
ah, you forget to mention that it is close to a very very large (and still growing) army base which i don’t consider very ‘safe’ :unamused:

meow, i’d recommend affordable downtown areas close to long xing park. freeway and mrt nearby. lots of shops and restaurants, and a wonderful park for the kids. it isnt very far by bus from the european campus (british school). of course, there are not as many expats here as in tianmu or yanminshan and i think it all depends on wether you are a city cat or a country cat.
as for the british school, it is actually at the same location as the french and german schools so your kids will be in a very ‘international’ environement. great (but small) place actually. not sure they’ll accept your kids if you are american citizens though.

Per my knowledge, the European school does accept US citizen children. You just gotta pay the tuition, which I believe is about NT$ 550,000 for the first year per child.


I think 5566’s comment about being a country cat or city cat is on the money. If you like greens, scenery, “suburban” life, then Yangmingshan is the place to be. If you are a city cat, need to be within walking distance of a 7-11 grocery store, then Yangmingshan is the worst place to be. You’ll need wheels (car or 125cc or better scooter).

I live in a concrete jungle called Zhonghe. I like the convenience but the greens above Taipei are sure nice. Besides, the hotsprings are quite an attraction there :slight_smile:. But the commute to Xinyi sucks. I think it’s better to live closer convenience for the kids rather than for the work. There’s a reason why most of the expats are put up in Tianmu/ Yangmingshan/Beitou-ish (not that I would know :wink:).

I live 5 minutes from the Mirima Mall. It is easy to get to Shilin. I agree the peak hour traffic to Tienmu is horrible, but that’s what makes Dazhi a better option. It is much closer to the city 20 minutes by car through Tiding than Tienmu 45 minutes by car. I don’t know about the rich KMT fat cats or mafiosi. My next door neighbor is a gabage collector.

If you are living in Dazhi and dropping off kids at Taipei American School you would largely be driving against the flow of peak hour traffic. At least on the way there or if they took the bus.

So here’s the thing: I am a city cat. Grew up in Chicago and all. Love the city. Flipside: would feel pretty guilt ridden sticking the kids on the bus for a long ride just so I’m not in the house on the mountain with my head in the oven. :help:

We’ve got an appointment at the European school and they know we’re Americans so I guess they’ll consider letting us in. :slight_smile:
We can always tell the other families we’re Canadian if they want us to.

I’m confused. Is there a downtown area in Tien Mu or does “downtown” refer to some other district within Taipei? I thought
Xin-Yi District was THE downtown.

Is Xin-Yi livable for a family? From what I can tell on the web they are opening up some expat areas over there. Of course, let me guess, there’s no international school? Does anyone know?

Let me thank all of you for weighing in. You are helping me ENORMOUSLY. I am humbled by your generosity.

Anyone have opinions on Shanghai vs. Taipei?

I can see the problem. Kids commute up the mountain or you commute down to find some city life and hustle and bustle. The kids will of course have the same problem as you up the mountain when not in school.

I have a 17 y.o. back in Australia who has grown up on a farm that is a little isolated. She loved it right up until this year. Now, she wants to be in the middle of the city.

I think the winter time humidity will bother you as well as the other problems mentioned. I’m up a mountain and we have to run the dehumidifiers constantly in winter or we get mould problems. (Black mould on walls and cupboards where the items in back become covered in a greenish mould)

[color=blue]Expat dudes, how long is the bus commute from Tianmu to school?[/color]

Others can fill you in better on the city and locations.

I commute up from 1 hour south for city life once a week and sometimes 3 or 4 times a week. I have also found a nice expat community in my isolated area. Forumosa helps there. I found an Austrian dude one suburb over and we now do Chinese together at a nearby University. (This would help you with boredom. Study Chinese. It hurts my head and fills in the gaps in each day so they are brim full as I work full time as well)

[quote=“meow”]I’m confused. Is there a downtown area in Tianmu or does “downtown” refer to some other district within Taipei? I thought
Xinyi District was THE downtown.[/quote]
Taipei has a bunch of downtowns. Each district or county probably has it’s own little downtown. The Xinyi district definite has A downtown, but I don’t think it’s THE downtown of downtowns, but it might be THE downtown of something (probably LV, Proda, and crap like that :slight_smile:.)

Tianmu also has it’s own downtown of sorts, I seem to remember a street lined with restaurants and another lined with shops. Compared to most cities in the US (I’m from Milwaukee, and visited Chicaga all the time to see my Aunt) everywhere is pretty much a downtown. Business and residential districts aren’t seperated the same way they are in the US so downtownish things are almost always nearbye.


That is something we need to define. Taiwan does seem to have little hubs of intense retail and restaurant activity as soon as you get more than a few houses in the same spot.

Defining them into what expats would call downtown is more difficult.

For me, downtown is when I start to meet expat needs such as western style food and service, movie theatres and shops that sell a broad range of merchandise and most importantly more expat faces on the street.

I guess its going to be dfferent for others. Downtown could be when there are more than 5 different types of Tofu, a choice in traditional Chinese medical practises and lots of choice in prayer burning money and the relaxation of knowing you can drive up the footpath on the wrong side of the road and lean into a stall to get your choice snack.