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Healthcare in Taiwan

Healthcare in Taiwan is affordable and user friendly. Foreigners moving to the island will be well provided for by highly skilled medical personnel in well-equipped hospitals. Facilities at both public and private hospitals in Taiwan offer a high standard of care, although private hospitals afford both more choice and less waiting time than public facilities.

Public healthcare in Taiwan

Public health insurance in Taiwan, which is managed by the National Health Insurance Administration, is compulsory for all Taiwanese residents, including foreigners working in the country. 

Expats using one of Taiwan's excellent public health facilities are given access to heavily subsidised medical care. Services covered by National Health Insurance (NHI) are varied and range from traditional Chinese medicine to emergency care. 

Although public hospitals are world class, many inpatient services that are standard in the West may not be provided at Taiwanese public facilities and it is often expected that a patient's family provides these services. Another disadvantage is that patients seeking treatment may experience long waiting times at public care centres. 

Private healthcare in Taiwan

Although most expats rely on the public healthcare system, many also utilise Taiwan's high-quality private care in order to avoid long waiting times, to receive better patient care and to access a greater choice of treatment options. 

There are also many private clinics in Taiwan's urban centres which specifically serve the expat market. These are primarily staffed with English speakers, which can be more convenient for English-speaking expats.  

Private healthcare in Taiwan is expensive, so those planning to make use of this sector should explore their private health insurance options.

Health insurance in Taiwan

The majority of foreigners and Taiwanese citizens make use of government-funded healthcare through the NHI. Expats living in Taiwan for more than six months or who hold an Alien Resident Card (ARC) are required to join the NHI. New arrivals are often enrolled in the system by their employer with their contributions being automatically deducted from their salaries. Dependants, students or self-employed residents need to register at a hospital within four months of obtaining their residence status. Taking out private insurance is, however, still recommended.

The NHI is funded by employee taxes and government subsidies, but there are still co-payments and limited coverage for certain types of treatment. If an expat becomes ill, the capped coverage provided by the NHI may not cover all of their medical expenses. This is where additional private insurance is useful.

After enrolling in the NHI programme, expats are issued a Health Insurance Card, which must be presented in order to receive benefits. 

Pharmacies in Taiwan

Pharmacies are widely available in Taiwan. Though 24-hour pharmacies are rare, there are some operating in Taiwan's major cities. Doctors and hospitals often have pharmacies attached to their premises, making it convenient to pick up prescription medication after consulting with a doctor. 

Medicine is generally cheaper in Taiwan than many expats may be used to. Those who rely on a specific brand of Western medication should bring an adequate supply with them to Taiwan. In some cases, it can be difficult to find the exact same medicine, but there are usually local alternatives or equivalents under a different brand name.

Health hazards in Taiwan

Although Taiwan is mostly safe for foreigners, mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are endemic to the country. Expats can avoid mosquito bites by taking the necessary precautions such as using mosquito repellents, sleeping under a mosquito net and wearing long-sleeved clothing. 

Pre-travel vaccinations for Taiwan

There are no specific vaccinations required for travel to Taiwan, but expats should ensure that they are up to date with all routine vaccinations.

A yellow fever certificate is required if travelling from an infected area.

Emergency services in Taiwan

For ambulance or fire services in Taiwan, dial 199. Ambulance dispatchers may not speak English. For police, dial 110.

It's important to be aware of emergency evacuation procedures in the case of an earthquake or typhoon, both of which may occur from time to time.

Weather in Taiwan

Weather in Taiwan is at the mercy of the tropical monsoon climate that also affects the southern portion of China's mainland.

Expats moving to the island can leave leggings and the winter warmers behind as summers are hot and humid, while winters are relatively mild.

The northern part of the country can potentially experience slightly cooler temperatures off-season, but lows rarely dip below 54°F (12°C), with the average annual temperature sitting at a comfortable 72°F (22°C).

Rainfall is by far the defining characteristic of weather in Taiwan. Typhoon season settles in from late summer to the middle of autumn (June to October) and between three and four of these monstrous storms tend to wreak havoc on the tiny island each year. Devastating winds and heavy rainfall often cause damage and flooding. Taiwan also experiences the occasional earthquake, but these tend to come in the form of mere tremors rather than earth-shattering separation.


Working in Taiwan

Expats working in Taiwan will find themselves part of a continuously growing economy marked by low unemployment rates, rising salaries and increasing output. That said, most foreigners moving to the tiny island usually work in the ESL teaching industry or are transferred through multinational organisations. 

As of the last century, Taiwan has exchanged its agrarian roots for electronic extensions to become a global player in the information technology and electronics market. The small nation is a prolific producer of computer-related products, and it continues to promote enterprise in technology-intensive industries.

As a result, many multinational firms, including over 20 of the top communication and technology companies in the world, have opened up branches in one of Taiwan's three major cities: Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung.

Job market in Taiwan

Taiwan's key industries include micro-processing, electronics, communications and technology development, and industrial processing. That said, it can be difficult for foreigners to find prominent positions working in these sectors.

There are management, finance, design and marketing positions available in Taiwan but expats will need to work hard to prove that they hold exceptional skills and a high level of education and experience. Expats will find that learning Mandarin is a great way to get a foot in the door. More opportunities will materialise for those with even a mediocre grasp of the language.

Overall, though, the most common jobs for expats in Taiwan are related to the English language itself, including teaching and translation.

Finding work in Taiwan

Due to the large number of international organisations that operate in the country, intra-company transfers are a primary source of employment opportunities for expats wanting to work in Taiwan. This is the easiest way for foreigners to find a job in the country, especially for those who wish to find a senior management position.

Foreigners can also search for jobs through online job portals and through local publicationsOtherwise, expats should approach recruitment agencies who represent companies in Taiwan.

Work culture in Taiwan

In accordance with Confucian principles, maintaining a sense of harmony by carefully controlling one’s interpersonal relationships is paramount in Taiwanese business culture. Individualism is abandoned for the collective and in many cases, local work groups are a major source of identity for people. 

Creating and sustaining relationships is therefore integral to doing business in Taiwan. Local enterprises rarely engage in negotiation before establishing a connection between the parties involved. Expats should take note of the practices that support this concept, like gift-giving, and should avoid rushing business dealings in order to allow for relationships to develop.

The concept of 'face', meaning a person's or company's dignity and prestige, governs all actions and behaviour both in leisure and work culture in Taiwan. Foreigners should keep this in mind and realise that decisions are often made to give face or save face – not necessarily to act in the best interest of the business.

In line with this, new arrivals should make all efforts to avoid confrontation in business. Any loud or angry outburst will be considered unforgivably rude. Indirect communication or no communication at all is viewed as preferable to causing a colleague to lose face.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Taiwan

The Taiwanese economy is among the largest in the world and is underpinned by a reliable and efficient banking system.

Once new arrivals have the appropriate documentation, opening a bank account is easy. Taiwan is traditionally a cash-based society, and ATMs are plentiful and can be found throughout the country. That said, the card payment market is growing.

Money in Taiwan

The currency used in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD), which is subdivided into 100 cents. In common usage, Taiwanese money is often referred to as kuài or yuán, although this is not to be confused with the Mainland Chinese Yuán.

  • Notes: 100 NTD, 200 NTD, 500 NTD, 1,000 NTD and 2,000 NTD

  • Coins: 1 NTD, 5 NTD, 10 NTD, 20NTD, 50NTD

Banking in Taiwan

Taiwan has a sophisticated banking system, and expats have a wide variety of options when it comes to managing their finances.

Internet banking is available, although some banks don't have English versions of their websites.

Banking hours can vary but are generally from 9am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. Some banks are open from 9am to 12.30pm on Saturdays.

Opening a bank account

Expats moving to Taiwan have many sound banking institutions to choose from. Local banks that are popular with expats include CTBC Bank, Bank of Taiwan and Taichung Bank. Alternatively, expats can open an account at a local branch of a foreign bank such as HSBC, Barclays, Citibank or Standard Chartered.

While many new arrivals use foreign banks in Taiwan, this may not always be possible as some employers insist on paying salaries directly into a Taiwanese bank account.

In order to open a bank account in Taiwan, expats will need an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC). Other documents that may be required include a passport or other proof of identity, and proof of residence. A minimum deposit is also required when opening an account.

ATMs and credit cards

ATMs are widely available and operate on a 24-hour basis. While some ATMs only accept Taiwanese cards, foreign credit or debit cards can usually be used to withdraw cash in Taiwan but will incur charges. Even using a local card at an ATM operated by a different bank than one's own will incur charges.  ATMs in Taiwan offer English menus and have the facilities for transferring money and paying bills.

Credit cards are accepted by hotels and large retail outlets, but less so in smaller establishments. It's common practice in Taiwan to use cash whenever possible. 

Taxes in Taiwan

Expats staying in Taiwan will be subject to a withholding tax of 18 percent on their personal income for the first 183 days of their stay. Thereafter, both their income derived in Taiwan as well as their worldwide income will be taxed according to a progressive scale. 

Accommodation in Taiwan

Expats moving to Taiwan can expect to find plenty of accommodation options available to them. Although accommodation in Taiwan can be relatively expensive, there are so many properties on offer that, with a little patience and ingenuity, new arrivals are sure to find a comfortable, reasonably priced place to rent while in the country.

Some Taiwanese employers will provide foreign employees with a housing allowance over and above their basic salary, while other companies may provide free accommodation. Considering the high costs, it's worth trying to negotiate this as part of an employment package, especially if relocating specifically for work purposes.

Types of accommodation in Taiwan

Most expats live in apartments. Houses aren't very common, although they can be found in suburban areas on the peripheries of Taiwanese cities. The most commonly available type of apartment is of the small, studio-style variety. Generally, accommodation and room sizes are smaller than some new arrivals may be used to, especially those from the US. 

Most apartments have air conditioning installed (Taiwan is very hot in summer), but central heating is not common. It's also possible to find apartment blocks with indoor swimming pools and gyms, but these tend to be expensive.

Although some apartments are furnished, most apartments in Taiwan will come unfurnished, but it's relatively easy to buy second-hand furniture and appliances when in the country. 

Taiwan is a very safe country. Expats can rest assured that home security won't be an issue during their time in the country. That said, some apartment blocks do employ security guards for the apartment block foyers (a cost which is included in the rent).

Finding accommodation in Taiwan

The process of finding an apartment in Taiwan can be difficult, especially if one doesn't speak Mandarin. Foreigners can search for accommodation through online property portals (some of which have English postings) and through expat social media groups.

Otherwise, new arrivals should contact a local real-estate agent directly. Many Taiwanese estate agents won't be able to speak English, but there are some agencies that cater to the expat market. 

Those looking for accommodation should ensure that they are able to view the property in person before committing to it, as the quality of many listed properties may not match what is presented in the listing. 

Renting accommodation in Taiwan

Many expats rent in Taiwan's capital, however, accommodation in Taipei is rather expensive compared to the rest of the country, but it varies according to the area.


Typically, rental deposits in Taiwan are between one and three months' rent. This deposit is refundable at the end of the rental contract, provided no damage has been done to the apartment.


One to two year leases are common. If securing a lease through an agent, expats must pay an agent's fee which typically amounts to one month's rent. 


Sometimes rental prices in Taiwan will include utilities such as building maintenance and garbage disposal. Tenants must pay their own water and electricity bills, but these are relatively low. Most Taiwanese apartments already have internet connections installed. In these cases, the landlord would usually have included the cost of internet in the rent.

Utilities and bills can be paid at convenience stores, the post office, the bank or through the landlord. It's also possible to set up a direct debit at the bank.

Bins and recycling

Taiwan has set up strict recycling guidelines. Tenants need to separate their trash into cardboard, aluminium, plastic and glass. Each group of materials needs to be bagged separately and placed in the corresponding collection area.

Trash is typically collected daily. Many buildings have a designated area for collection, but in some cases tenants need to run out when they hear the rubbish removal truck coming and throw their trash in the truck themselves. These trucks usually play a jingle that makes it easy to identify.

Doing Business in Taiwan

Foreigners are often unprepared for doing business in Taiwan. The working culture is unfamiliar to most Westerners, and achieving an adequate understanding may require some cross-cultural training.

Though the country prides itself on its capitalist success, Confucian values still permeate the business environment and dictate etiquette and common practice. Expats should familiarise themselves with this system of behaviour to better succeed in the business sphere.

Taiwan was ranked 15th out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020, scoring particularly well for dealing with construction permits (6th), getting electricity (9th), and enforcing contracts (11th). One area of concern, however, is getting credit in Taiwan, with the country placing 104th in that category.

Taiwan is largely dependent on foreign trade and the number of multinationals in the country means that locals are often accustomed to interacting with expats in the business world.

Fast facts

Business hours

Office hours are typically 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Business language

Taiwanese and Mandarin are the official languages. English is rarely spoken outside large multinational organisations, so a translator may be necessary.


Formal and conservative, with dark suits for men and modest dresses and skirts for women. Pantsuits are considered business casual and might not always be appropriate.


Gift-giving is an essential relationship-building tool. A simple gift for all members involved in a meeting is appropriate. A slightly better gift may be presented to the most important member of a party. It is customary to open gifts in private.

Gender equality

Taiwan is a fairly equal society, but elements of patriarchy have prevailed. That said, women are taking on larger roles in the working world and the salary gap is decreasing. Foreign businesswomen are also treated with respect.

Business culture in Taiwan

While Taiwan’s highly developed capitalist economy is marked by modern enterprise, its business culture is rooted in old-world tenets.


With the exception of a few multinationals, most businesses in Taiwan are small- to medium-sized and family-owned. Senior managers assume a paternal role and not only take an interest in all activities but expect to be consulted on each decision prior to action being taken.

Hierarchy is established and greatly respected, although protocols are not as formal as in nearby Japan and South Korea. As a consequence, lower-level employees often lack initiative.


In accordance with Confucian principles, maintaining a sense of harmony by carefully controlling one’s interpersonal relationships is paramount. Individualism is abandoned for the collective and in many cases, local work groups are a major source of identity for people.

According to this line of thought, the most important aspects of business culture in Taiwan are ‘face’ and guanxi (relationships).

Creating and sustaining relationships are integral to doing business in Taiwan. Local enterprises rarely engage in negotiation before establishing a connection between the parties involved. Expats should take note of the practices that support this concept, like gift-giving, and should avoid rushing business dealings in order to allow for relationships to develop.

Saving face 

‘Face’ is a complicated concept relating to a person’s dignity, prestige and reputation. Both individuals and companies have face. Expats will find that the concept often informs both personal interactions and business decisions.

Giving face, saving face and avoiding losing face is so important that expats may find the principles that usually guide negotiation don't apply. For example, Taiwanese colleagues will avoid pointing out other's mistakes to allow them to keep face, even if this comes at a cost to the company.

New arrivals should abide by these principles, as causing someone to lose face will have a negative effect on business dealings.

Dos and don'ts of business in Taiwan

  • Do speak directly to the most senior person in a meeting, even if they don’t speak the best English

  • Don’t do or say anything that will embarrass or bring shame to the company. Causing a collective group to 'lose face' has an extremely negative impact on business relations in Taiwan.

  • Do accept any invitations to events outside of the normal working environment. Relationship-building is paramount, and it's important to capitalise on any and all opportunities to connect with clients and colleagues.

  • Don’t be afraid to depart from a meal during tea time, even if asked to stay or go somewhere else. This is a feature of all Taiwanese meals, and an appropriate time to leave.

Visas for Taiwan

Unless they are from a visa-exempt country, foreigners will need a visa to visit Taiwan. Those from the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland and several EU countries, as well as some Asian countries, can stay for 90 days without a visa. South Africans need to acquire a visitor's visa before travelling to Taiwan.

To stay longer, expats will need to acquire a residence visa, while those wanting to work in Taiwan will need both a work permit and a residence visa.

Visitor's visas for Taiwan

Expats looking to visit Taiwan for a short time, up to 90 days, without working will need to apply for a visitor’s visa at their local embassy unless they are from a visa-exempt country. Required documents include application forms, travel documents, passport photos, proof of airline tickets, proof of funds and a hotel reservation.

Residence visas for Taiwan

Expats will usually only be able to get their residence visa after finding a job and getting their work permit approved. In order to be granted a work permit, applicants send copies of their documents (including a health check and police clearance) to their employer, who can apply for a work permit on their behalf.

Once the company receives the applicant’s original work permit, then prospective expats can apply for a residence visa at their local embassy before arriving in the country. 

Some foreigners looking to work in Taiwan arrive on a visa waiver, find a job, apply for a work permit, and then use the work permit to apply for a residence visa in Taiwan. This process has been streamlined in recent years and is, for the most part, quite straightforward. For those not eligible for a visa waiver, it's best to obtain a work permit before arriving in Taiwan. 

New arrivals should remember that they cannot begin working in Taiwan without a work permit, even if they have started the permit process, which can take several weeks. Once an expat has their work permit, they can legally work while they apply for a residence visa and wait for it to be processed. The advantage of organising a work and residence permit before arriving in Taiwan is that an expat can legally live and work in Taiwan from their first day of arrival.

Note that after an expat receives their residence visa and is living in Taiwan, they need to apply for an Alien Registration Certificate (ARC) within 15 days of arriving in Taiwan.

Alien Resident Certificates in Taiwan

Once granted a work permit, the process for obtaining a residence visa and an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) can begin. Having an ARC entitles an expat to temporary residence in the country and allows expats to access Taiwan's public healthcare system, which operates under the National Health Insurance. An ARC is valid for the same amount of time as the holder’s work permit.

Foreigners must carry their ARC identification as proof that they legally live in the country.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Keeping in Touch in Taiwan

Keeping in touch in Taiwan is easy given the country's fast and reliable internet. There is free WiFi in many coffee shops, restaurants and public spaces such as metro stations. ADSL lines are also reliable.

The media industry is free and highly competitive, with an abundance of radio, cable television and newspaper choices, including English-medium sources.

Mobile phones in Taiwan

Foreigners can sign contracts with mobile phone companies, although the actual documentation required will differ from company to company. Some companies will allow an expat to sign a contract if they pay for a year in advance, while others will only allow an expat to sign a contract with a Taiwanese person as a guarantor.

Generally, expats will only need their Alien Registration Certificate (ARC), but some companies may ask for additional identification, such as a passport or ID. A deposit is also often required. Braving the process of getting a mobile phone contract is usually worth it, as prepaid options, while available, are generally more expensive in the long run.

Some mobile companies and contracts offer discounted rates in the evenings or to other phones on the same network. It is a good idea for expats to compare packages from different companies to find one that best suits their needs.

Internet in Taiwan

Taiwan's communications infrastructure is excellent and internet connections are generally fast and reliable. The internet isn't censored in Taiwan and social networking sites, as well as instant messaging services, are available and unregulated.

There's an abundance of internet cafés, and most coffee shops and restaurants provide free WiFi. In Taipei, the city provides a free WiFi service at MRT stations and in some other public spaces. Public telephone booths in the streets also offer WiFi.

English media in Taiwan

There's an abundance of cable television channels in Taiwan as well as five free-to-air television networks. Cable is popular due to the low subscription rates. The free-to-air channels and most subscription channels are in Taiwanese or Mandarin, with only a handful of channels in English. That said, many Western programmes are screened in the original language with Chinese subtitles, so expats will probably find there's always something to watch.

Cost of Living in Taiwan

The cost of living in Taiwan varies depending on the area expats choose to live, as well as their lifestyle. Most foreign nationals relocate to Taipei, although rural living and the south of Taiwan are much less expensive. The 2022 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Taipei at 28 out of 227 cities, making it more expensive than Paris and Milan, but cheaper than London and Hong Kong.

While Taipei may inspire the highest cost of living in Taiwan, it is still significantly cheaper than regional competitors like Beijing, Seoul, Singapore, and Hong Kong. That said, life in Taiwan is based on consumerism and expats living in Taipei, in particular, will have to battle the constant onslaught of trends, merchandise and entertainment if they wish to save money.

Cost of accommodation in Taiwan

Housing in Taipei is expensive and most accommodation is small and only has basic amenities. Affordable studio apartments will most likely be lacking a kitchen. That said, clean, spacious apartments with three or four bedrooms are easy to find. 

Buildings tend to suffer under the humid climate, and cheaper accommodation is therefore often plagued by mould and mildew. 

Utilities are affordable, although electricity bills increase significantly during the hot summer months, when it is all but impossible to live without air conditioning. Stoves and geysers are usually gas powered, which helps minimise costs. Initially, the most exorbitant household cost will seem to be the rubbish bags, which are sold at a premium to encourage recycling.

Cost of transport in Taiwan

Taipei has fantastic public transport that is affordable and reliable. The vast majority of both locals and expats in Taiwan make use of public transport as it's possible to get anywhere at any time without a car.

Owning a car is a significant expense as the monthly costs include not only the car repayments but also fuel tax, insurance, maintenance and extremely expensive parking fees.

Many locals (and some brave foreigners) have small motorcycles which are a cheap and convenient, if somewhat dangerous, way to get around. Those without motorcycles usually have bicycles, which are easy to ride on Taipei’s flat streets.

Cost of schooling in Taiwan

There are world-class English education schools in Taipei, but expats should be prepared to pay high fees. International school fees are typically pricey and additional expenses such as textbooks, uniforms and bus service are not always included.

Cost of health insurance in Taiwan

The healthcare system in Taiwan is extremely advanced and low cost.

In Taiwan, employers are legally required to subsidise the health insurance of their employees. Foreign employees will be placed on the National Health Insurance and receive the same benefits as Taiwanese locals. In this system, a small stipend is paid for access to Western doctors, Chinese doctors, hospitalisation, dentistry, prescription medicine and more.

Cost of food and clothing in Taiwan

The cost of food and clothing in Taiwan varies hugely, and it's up to the individual how much they want to spend, but it's fair to say that the quality of clothing is determined by price. As such, quality clothing tends to be limited to big name brands and is therefore expensive. Many expats prefer buying clothes when they visit their home countries or shopping online.

Night markets have cheap food and clothes, but the clothes are often made from poor-quality, synthetic fabrics.

There are many restaurants tucked away in side alleys that sell local food, which is often a fairly healthy and cheap option. Day markets sell large amounts of affordable fresh vegetables, and fruit is also readily available and relatively inexpensive.

Taiwan does not have much of a drinking culture, so alcohol is expensive. Spirits are the most affordable, followed by beer and wine.

Cost of living in Taiwan chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Taipei in January 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NT 20,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NT 13,000

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NT 45,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NT 31,000


Eggs (dozen)

NT 100

Milk (1 litre)

NT 95.60

Rice (1kg)

NT 93.16

Loaf of white bread

NT 60.44

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NT 270.21

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NT 130

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

NT 150

Coca-Cola (330ml)

NT 32.20


NT 97

Local beer (500ml)

NT 65

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

NT 1,200


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

NT 5.07

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable average per month)

NT 800

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

NT 2,700


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

NT 25

Bus/train fare in the city centre

NT 25

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

NT 31.14

Frequently Asked Questions about Taiwan

Expats considering a move to Taiwan may have some concerns about life in this culturally-rich country.

From questions about finding a job to language concerns, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Taiwan.

Do I need a car in Taiwan? What’s the public transport like in cities such as Taipei?

A car is not a necessity in Taipei. The public transport in Taipei is excellent and the MRT system reaches most of the city, including outlying suburbs. If wanting to drive, expats should be aware that traffic can be a nightmare at peak times and parking is expensive. New cars are rather costly in Taiwan.

On the other hand, if living outside of Taipei or looking to explore the island, a car can be useful. Renting a car is possible with an international driver's permit. 

Where is a good area to live in Taipei?

Taipei is one of the safest cities in the world, so foreigners can search for accommodation with cost and proximity to their work or children’s school as a first priority. There are many expat-friendly areas throughout the city.

Is it easy to find work in Taiwan?

For English-speaking foreigners, a common way of working in Taiwan is teaching English as a second language at local schools. Otherwise, those with a tech background should be able to find work, and those with good business acumen can usually find opportunities.

Generally, most expats living in Taiwan work in the finance and IT sectors and are often transferred from their home country. There are several large multinationals based in Taipei. If working for a Taiwanese firm, it may take a while to adjust to Taiwan’s business culture.

How do I make friends in Taiwan?

Taiwan has a large English-speaking expat community and, as a result, there are plenty of expat groups that one can join to make new friends. Of course, if working for a Western company or as an English teacher at a large school, expats will also have the chance to make friends with colleagues. 

Do I need to speak Chinese to survive in Taiwan?

Although Taiwan has a large community of English-speaking foreigners, Mandarin and Taiwanese are spoken more often. Even a small amount of Mandarin will go a long way to help ease the transition of living in Taiwan. It can also be beneficial for finding employment. It's a good idea to get a phrasebook with phonetic translations as well as Chinese characters. 

That said, it's possible to work and live without speaking any Mandarin at all, especially in Taipei. Many shops and companies have their names displayed in English as well as Chinese. Buses and trains in Taipei also display destinations in English.

Do I need health insurance in Taiwan?

In short, no. Taiwan has a national public healthcare system that foreigners are entitled to use if they have an Alien Registration Certificate – which is issued when an expat starts to work in Taiwan.

Moving to Taiwan

Taiwan is an island off the coast of mainland China with one of the highest population densities in the world. Expats moving to Taiwan will notice that it's extremely mountainous, home to the tallest peak in northeast Asia, and has an abundance of nature reserves and hot springs. 

Living in Taiwan as an expat

Taiwan has ultra-modern cities that still strongly uphold traditional Chinese culture while at the same time embracing a capitalist business culture that appeals to Western expats. As a result, many new arrivals find that the lifestyle in Taiwan is highly convenient as goods are easily accessible and both the public transport and healthcare are excellent.

Taiwan's main industries include electronics, industrial processing, and information and communications technologies. Expats looking to work in these industries should be highly qualified, as Taiwanese companies tend to employ qualified local workers. Due to this, expats looking to work in Taiwan tend to transfer to the country from within an international company. Otherwise, many young Westerners move to Taiwan to teach English.

Taiwanese are extremely friendly, helpful and gracious people. They will generally go out of their way to make visitors feel at ease. They pride themselves on being good hosts. Expats may find themselves asking a stranger for directions and end up being personally escorted and then being invited home for dinner. The language barrier is no obstacle to this hospitality and willingness to assist as many locals can speak English.

Cost of living in Taiwan

Although cheaper than many of its neighbours, the cost of living in Taiwan is generally high, with Taipei being by far the most costly city in the country. Accommodation, which mostly consists of apartment living, can be expensive. 

That said, public transport is extremely affordable. Local goods and produce, and even eating out at local restaurants, is also cheap. Western goods come at a high cost and those that choose to shop locally will save money that they can therefore spend elsewhere. 

Expat families and children

Most expats choose to send their children to International Schools in Taiwan, the majority of which are situated in the capital. International schools are extremely expensive though, and expats will therefore have to factor this into their budget or negotiate a school allowance into their contract. 

Parents wanting to spend some quality with their family will be happy to discover that weekend getaways are possible no matter where in Taiwan expats live, thanks to the extremely efficient and affordable public transport system. Although the cities can be crowded, it's easy to spend a family day outdoors as nature is never too far away. There are also plenty of family-friendly attractions, such as the Taipei Zoo, for the kids to enjoy. 

Climate in Taiwan

Taiwan has a tropical climate. Summers are hot and humid, and winters are mild. Although it rains all year round, the summer months are the wettest. Typhoon season sets in towards to end of summer and lasts right through to mid autumn. Temperatures in Taiwan range from a high of 90ºF (32ºC) at the hottest time of the year to 54ºF (12ºC) at the coldest. 

Taiwan is incredibly safe and foreigners moving to the country are unlikely to be affected by political tensions. In fact, those living there enjoy Taiwan's cultural richness, modern amenities and the country's embrace of the wider world.

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of China

Population: Around 24 million

Capital city: Taipei

Neighbouring countries: China, Japan and the Philippines

Geography: Taiwan is an island and is characterised by a contrast between rugged mountains, which run in five ranges from the northern to the southern tip of the island, and the flat to gently rolling Chianan Plains in the west that are also home to most of Taiwan's population.

Political system: Semi-presidential republic

Major religions: Buddhism and Taoism

Main languages: Mandarin (official), Taiwanese Hokkein, Hakka and English (mostly in Taipei)

Money: The New Taiwan Dollar (TWD), which is divided into 100 cents

Tipping: Tipping is not standard, although it's unlikely to be refused if offered. Baggage handlers at hotels and the airport will accept loose change. Hotels and restaurants typically add a 10 percent service charge to the bill.

Time: GMT +8

Electricity: 110 volts AC, 60Hz. 'Type A' two-pin plugs with flat blades and 'Type B' three-pin plugs with two flat blades and a grounding pin are commonly used. 

Internet domain: .tw

International dialling code: +886

Emergency contacts: 110 (police), 119 (ambulance and fire)

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right. Taiwan has an extensive public transport system that is easily accessible and reliable. 

Transport and Driving in Taiwan

Taiwan is a small country that is connected by comprehensive and affordable bus and rail services. Transport in Taiwanese cities is excellent and Taipei, where most foreigners live, even boasts a metro system. The public transport system is reliable, affordable and easily accessible, so expats should have no problem getting around in Taiwan. 

Public transport in Taiwan


There are buses that travel almost every main street in Taiwan. They’re clean, safe and run often. Taking the bus in Taiwan is a practical and safe way to get around town inexpensively. They're also a popular means for travellers who want to get to smaller or more rural destinations. There are a variety of buses to choose from with the most popular being the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle which covers more than 42 bus routes. Bus companies usually have offices near the train stations in most Taiwanese cities.


One can take the train easily from city to city. The trains in Taiwanese urban centres run frequently and are cheap. The announcements are in both Mandarin and English, as are all the signs.

The express train, Tze-Chiang, is the most comfortable and fastest way to travel around Taiwan. It is also the most expensive. Tickets should be booked in advance, especially when one plans on travelling over a weekend or public holiday.

For long-distance travelling, Taiwan has a high-speed rail system (HSR). In a little over two hours, one can travel the whole length of the island. The train is modern but can be expensive. 

Train stations in the larger cities in Taiwan usually have tourist information counters with English-speaking staff. Most cashiers at ticket booths will understand foreigners when they speak slowly, and buying train tickets should therefore be quite straightforward.

Taxis in Taiwan

There are taxi services in most cities in Taiwan. Taxis are metered and fares are cheap. Fares differ from city to city but no matter where in Taiwan an expat is located the cost of taking a taxi is much cheaper than in Western countries. Taxi drivers often don't speak English and expats should therefore have their destination written down in Mandarin. All of the taxi companies in Taiwan have an app that can be downloaded from the App Store. Expats can use the app to hail a taxi, or they can call the designated taxi company number. Uber is also available in Taiwan but only in certain cities, namely Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Taoyuan and Hsinchu.  

Driving in Taiwan

Driving in Taiwan is difficult due to the chaotic nature of the local driving culture. It's common for other drivers to disobey traffic laws and drive dangerously. In Taipei, traffic laws are enforced and driving there is safe and easy. That said, outside of Taipei, this is generally not the norm. Scooters also tend to weave in and out of traffic, which can result in accidents. 

An international driver’s licence can be used in Taiwan and, for those who plan on living in the country, it is valid for 30 days, after which new arrivals must obtain a Taiwanese driver's license. Taiwan has reciprocal license agreements with certain countries. Members of these countries can obtain a Taiwanese license without taking a driving test. Otherwise, expats not from these countries will need to pass the Taiwanese driving test, which can be taken in English.

Air travel in Taiwan

There are four international airports in Taiwan. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is for the northern part of the island and Kaohsiung International Airport caters to the southern part of the island. While Taichung International Airport and Songshan Airport also fly internationally, they only fly to certain destinations in Asia. There are also many local airports where one can book a flight to anywhere in Taiwan, including the islands out in the Strait of Taiwan.

Culture Shock in Taiwan

Expats should expect some degree of culture shock in Taiwan. Simple tasks and comforts that are taken for granted in an expat’s home country aren't as easy when a person doesn’t speak or read the local language.

Once expats start learning, speaking and understanding Mandarin, their understanding of Taiwanese culture will deepen and their frustrations should ease.

Language barrier in Taiwan

The most difficult thing to adjust to in Taiwan is the language barrier. Mandarin is the official language, while Taiwanese, Hakka and indigenous Formosan languages are also spoken.

The most important thing expats can do to acclimatise is to start learning Mandarin as soon as possible. While it is challenging, learning Mandarin can help expats feel less isolated.

Saving face in Taiwan

“Saving face" refers to maintaining personal and collective honour and integrity and is central to Taiwanese social relations. Expats should avoid losing their temper or embarrassing anybody. Self-control and subtlety are preferred Taiwanese strategies when dealing with conflict, as this allows parties involved to save face. This can be frustrating for foreigners accustomed to direct communication, but it's vital for smooth interactions. 

Taking off shoes in Taiwan

It is custom for people to remove their shoes before entering homes, tea houses and certain public areas. There are usually slippers available for people to wear once they have taken their shoes off.

Dates in Taiwan

Taiwan uses a different calendar to the West, with the first year of the Taiwanese calendar beginning with the country's founding in 1911. Payslips, bank receipts, licenses and tax slips often show the year of both the Taiwanese and Western calendars.

Many public holidays are also calculated according to the lunar calendar. Chinese New Year is the most important holiday and is at the end of January or beginning of February.

Public bathrooms in Taiwan

Many new arrivals from the West have never used a squat toilet, which are common in Taiwan. While some public spaces have both squat and Western-style toilets available, many only have squat toilets. Bathroom stalls with a disabled sign are also rare. Toilet paper may not be free at public bathrooms but can be purchased from a vending machine. Paper isn't flushed but must be placed in the provided bin.

Traffic in Taiwan

Taiwan’s traffic makes even experienced expat drivers nervous. Even crossing the street can be hazardous. Scooters often ignore road rules and drivers must constantly be aware of them. 

In order to navigate Taiwanese traffic, it's best to proceed slowly and avoid making any sudden moves, whether changing lanes or crossing a busy street, so that scooters have time to react accordingly.

Friendships in Taiwan

Expect friends to cancel plans at the last minute for family affairs – family takes precedence in Taiwanese society, and this isn’t considered rude. Unreliable RSVPs and uninvited guests, even when reservations are involved, are also common.

Local friends may also not directly tell an expat when they are upset with them. It can be difficult for foreigners to discern indirect cues from locals, especially when saying “no” is involved.

Even though Taiwanese people are less direct in some ways, they can be more direct in others. A Taiwanese person may not tell someone that they are upset or they may not express open disagreement, but many will make remarks about their expat friends’ complexion, changes in weight or other things that wouldn’t be mentioned in the West.

Gender in Taiwan

Expat women can expect to be safe, treated with respect and earn equal wages in Taiwan. On the whole, Taiwanese laws protect women. 

Maternity leave is guaranteed to full-time employees and most reproductive health needs are covered under national health insurance, except for birth control. It is more likely to find women who prefer an independent lifestyle and have chosen not to marry in Taiwan than in many other Asian countries.

Despite high levels of gender equality in Taiwan, some traditionally minded locals do wonder about women who are single, unmarried or don’t have children. Some employers might also be overly familiar and offer unsolicited life advice or have sexist notions about the emotional or family needs of female employees.

Articles about Taiwan

Work Permits for Taiwan

Most foreigners moving to Taiwan obtain a work permit with the help of an employer, which removes much of the stress and tension normally caused by navigating government bureaucracy.

Over the past decade, the country has made large strides in allowing more leeway for international companies to fulfil their staffing needs with foreign nationals. The application process for work permits has been streamlined and many restrictions have been relaxed or even lifted for multinationals.

A foreigner's work permit in Taiwan is tied to their employer. So, if an expat changes jobs or employers, then they must apply for a new work permit. An employer must start the work permit process by applying with the Workforce Development Agency. For a list of required documents, it's best to check the agency's website. 

Getting an Alien Resident Certificate in Taiwan

Once granted a work permit, the process for obtaining a residence visa and an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) can begin. Having an ARC means that an expat is a permanent resident and is therefore entitled to National Health Insurance.

In order to become a legal permanent resident and receive an ARC, however, expats must fulfil the following criteria at a minimum:

  • Pass a health check (not necessary for those from visa waiver countries or in possession of a residence visa)

  • Have a work permit (which will be arranged by their employer)

  • Have a residence visa (which can be applied for either at the Taiwanese embassy in one's home country or from within Taiwan if one has entered the country on a visitor’s visa)

An ARC is issued for the same length of time as a work permit. As soon as an expat's work permit expires or if they leave their place of employment, an ARC will become invalid.

Pros and cons of moving to Taiwan

With the ESL market expanding rapidly, Taiwan has become a popular expat destination, especially with younger expats. Like with most countries, a move to this East Asian country comes with ups and downs. While the warm weather and plentiful travel opportunities have drawn many expats in, the culture shock and language barrier have also led many expats to cut their stay in Taiwan short.

Below are some of the biggest pros and cons of living in Taiwan.

Accommodation in Taiwan

+ PRO: Affordable accommodation is easy to find

Accommodation in Taiwan can be expensive in certain areas, but it won't take much effort to find an affordable place that suits an expat's needs, even if they only speak English. There are plenty of dedicated groups on social media for foreigners looking for accommodation for long or short-term stays in the country. 

- CON: May not meet Western standards

The downside to accommodation in Taiwan is that apartments aren't all that modern and are generally rather small. Humidity also affects accommodation greatly. Apartments in Taiwan can get hot and humid in the summer months and, although most have air conditioning, cooling it down will result in high electricity bills.  

Quality of life in Taiwan

+ PRO: Taiwan is safe

Taiwan is a safe country; more so than what many expats may be used to. It’s possible to walk around alone in most cities, even at night.

- CON: Air pollution is a reality

Taiwan suffers from extreme air pollution. This is especially the case in larger cities such as Taipei. Even before Covid-19 it was very common to see residents walking around with face masks. There are also times when the air pollution gets so bad that residents are advised to stay indoors.

- CON: Taiwanese cities can be crowded

Large cities in Taiwan tend to be crowded and noisy. The cities are densely populated which can come as quite a shock to expats. Expats who are used to space and quiet will take some getting used to the hustle and bustle in Taiwanese cities. 

Lifestyle in Taiwan

+ PRO: Entertainment is easy to find

Taiwan has a variety of things for expats to do in their down time. It's very easy to find beautiful spots where expats can spend a day enjoying the outdoors, and Taiwan also has a fun nightlife scene. Most expats and locals are open and friendly, making it easy to find someone to have a drink with, even if it's short notice.

+ PRO: Delicious and affordable food

The food scene in Taiwan is incredible. Street food is delicious, budget friendly and can be found everywhere. Convenience stores like 7-Eleven also make it easy for residents to get tasty food on the run. Even going out for a night or eating at a nice restaurant in Taiwan is very affordable compared to the prices in most Western countries.

- CON: Expats will experience a language barrier

One of the biggest struggles for expats moving to Taiwan is the language barrier. Mandarin is famously hard to learn for those who haven’t grown up speaking it. With the language so hard to learn, it can affect different aspects of expat life like going to the grocery store, setting up banking or even going to the doctor.

Getting around in Taiwan

+ PRO: Excellent public transport options

The public transportation in Taiwan is excellent. The country has a wide range of options including trains, subways and buses. To add to this, public transportation is also very cheap. This makes it easy and affordable for expats to get around the country.

+ PRO: Google Maps is available

An issue many foreigners experience in Asian countries is that navigation apps in their home language aren’t available. That said, new arrivals can rest assured that they can still use their favourite navigation apps like Google Maps in Taiwan. 

- CON: Strict rules on public transport

Taiwan has very strict rules when it comes to using public transport. This especially applies to the subway system. Some expats may be shocked to find that they aren’t even allowed to drink water on the subway. The reason for these strict rules is to keep the subway system clean.

- CON: Driving can be dangerous

Many expats choose not to drive in Taiwan. This is because roads tend to be congested and dangerous to drive on. Many Taiwanese drive scooters and don’t seem to follow the rules of the road. This can take some getting used to. It’s therefore advised for expats to stick to public transport.

Weather in Taiwan

+ PRO: Winters are mild

Winters are famously mild in Taiwan. Average lows range between 54ºF and 58ºF (12ºC and 15ºC) during the day, while night-time temperatures in the northern region of Taiwan can dip to the mid 40ºF range (below 10ºC).

- CON: Summers can be extremely hot

Summers in Taiwan can take some getting used to. Temperatures can get extreme, with highs ranging between 80ºF and 87ºF (27ºC and 31ºC). What makes summers even more extreme is the intense humidity Taiwan experiences, which increases the real-feel temperatures considerably.

- CON: Typhoons and heavy rain occur frequently

Like in many Asian countries, Taiwan suffers through an annual typhoon season. Typhoon season in Taiwan usually lasts from July until September. This season is characterised by extreme rain showers, thunderstorms and strong winds. Expats need to invest in proper raincoats and umbrellas if they want to survive the Taiwanese rainy season.

Safety in Taiwan

Taiwan is an extremely safe country, and violent crime against foreigners is a rare occurrence. That said, expats in Taiwan, particularly in metropolitan areas like Taipei, should exercise basic precautions as in any large city, such as being aware of personal belongings in crowded markets. It's safe to walk around or catch public transport at night, but this should be done with company while avoiding isolated areas.

The police are genuinely helpful and people are kind – if a foreigner is in distress on the street, it shouldn't take long for someone to come to their aid. 

Gang-related crime in Taiwan

Prostitution and organised crime are common in Taiwan. There are some districts where businesses function as fronts for prostitution and are controlled by criminals. Expats should avoid these areas and rather attend nightclubs, barbershops and massage parlours that advertise themselves prominently and have store windows which passers-by can easily peer into.

This may seem scary, but for the average expat, it’s generally not an issue as gang activity is mostly confined to certain areas. Gangsters are more concerned with territory and making money than violence.

Pickpocketing in Taiwan

Although occasions of theft are rare, crowded public areas such as markets and public transport hubs are often targeted by pickpockets and occasionally even bag snatchers. In these areas, new arrivals should be careful not to carry valuable items in open bags and should wear bags in the front of their body rather than on their back. Bag snatching from motorcycles also happens occasionally. The usual rules of travel apply – keep photocopies of passports and other important documents in a safe place and, if possible, carry the photocopies themselves in place of the original documents.

Scams in Taiwan

Expats should be aware of scams in Taiwan. Credit card fraud can occur, as well as telephone fraud, where the scam artist will call the victim and claim to be from a government department, bank or other official office and request personal information such as bank details. ATM fraud is also a risk – when using ATMs, expats should be aware of their surroundings and not accept help from strangers.

Road safety in Taiwan

Taiwan's metropolitan areas often see major traffic jams, which is why many people opt for the scooters which are visible in abundance on Taiwanese roads. Although scooters allow a person to weave in and out of traffic and get around faster than other means, this sort of erratic driving does make for chaotic traffic, especially at peak hours, and bicycle and scooter accidents are common. Added to the confusion are ongoing repairs and extensions of the MRT underground system, as well as highway overpasses, which have resulted in congestion at peak hours. All passengers in all vehicles are required to wear seatbelts.

The highways in western and northern Taiwan are usually in good condition, but those in eastern Taiwan are sometimes in disrepair. Road closures due to flooding aren't uncommon during the typhoon season.

Food and water safety in Taiwan

Because of the frequent earthquakes, water pipes are often cracked, and so tap water can be contaminated. The quality of tap water in Taiwan varies, but in most cities, it's safe to drink after boiling and filtering. Expats moving to Taiwan should consider installing a good quality water filtration system or sticking to bottled water, as it might be unwise to drink even boiled tap water in Taiwan for an extended period of time. Drinking-water fountains in public spaces are already fitted with filter systems and are safe to use.

Natural disasters in Taiwan

Earthquakes are common in Taiwan and quakes measuring over 6.0 on the Richter scale cause damage at least once a year.

July to November is typhoon season. Typhoons have caused mudslides, road closures and collapsed buildings in the past, sometimes resulting in fatalities. Expats should be careful of travelling in the mountainous regions of central and southern Taiwan during this period.

Embassy contacts for Taiwan

Taiwanese embassies

  • Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 895 1800

  • Taipei Representative Office, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7881 2650

  • Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 231 5080

  • Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6120 1030

  • Taipei Liaison Office, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 430 6071

  • Taipei Representative Office, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 678 5413

  • Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 9 303 3903

Foreign embassies in Taiwan

  • American Institute, Taipei: +886 2 2162 2000

  • British Trade and Cultural Office, Taipei: +886 2 8758 2088

  • Canadian Trade Office, Taipei: +886 2 8723 3000

  • Australian Commerce and Industry Office, Taipei: +886 2 8725 4100

  • Liaison Office of South Africa, Taipei: +886 2 8175 8588

  • New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office, Taipei: +886 2 2720 5228

Public Holidays in Taiwan




New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Republic Day

1 January

2 January

Chinese New Year

31 January–4 February

21–24 January 

Peace Memorial Day

28 February

27 February

Children's Day

4 April

3 April

Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day)

5 April

5 April

Labour Day

2 May

1 May

Dragon Boat Festival

3 June

22 June

Mid-Autumn Festival

10 September

29 September

National Day

10 October

9 October

*When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, a deferred holiday is granted. Some holidays are based on the Chinese lunar calendar, so dates on the Gregorian calendar can change.