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An Expat Guide to Living in Taipei, Taiwan

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Continuously named one of our top recommendations as best places to live in Asia, Taipei is an obvious choice when it comes to your next move.

Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan, a city small in area yet packed with more than 2 million residents.

While I'm part Taiwanese and part Canadian, I grew up in Canada and didn't have the chance to live in Taipei until I was an adult and moved here to teach English.

While life here can be fast-paced and busy, its central location in East Asia makes it the perfect gateway to easy and affordable travels whenever wanderlust calls. For many expats, the metropolitan offers a high quality of life, with all of the buzz and glamor and none of the price tag.

Plus, the country of Taiwan is a beautiful island that holds a wide variety of outdoor adventures when you need a break from the city.

At the same time, pockets of old-time gems and diverse food options from local and afar expose travelers to a whole new world of cultural exploration and discovery. With an openness towards newcomers and a friendly atmosphere, it won’t be long before you find yourself feeling at home. 

Let's dive into why I love living in Taipei so much and think you will, too.

Short on time? Here’s the cheat sheet:

🌏Living in Taipei means an exciting mix of old and new at every corner.

🏠The best rule of thumb is live as close to a metro line as possible to have plenty of convenience stores around and to avoid the traffic.

👩‍🏫Many expats, myself included, are working here as English teachers. This is a very common way to get a work permit but is certainly not the only way to live here.

📚Make your transition easier and get a headstart learning the language with Mondly.

☂️Although this is a mega city with air pollution, traffic, and a little bit of chaos,

☀️Living in Taipei is continuously named one of the best places in the world for expats, with the pros greatly outweighing the cons.

Best Neighborhoods to Live in Taipei

A street in Taipei during Chinese New Year with a lot of people and red and yellow lanterns hanging over the street
A glimpse of the Chinese New Year mayhem in Dadaocheng

Deciding where to live in Taipei can be overwhelming for the newly arrived traveler and expat, as there are Taipei City and New Taipei City, with dozens of Taipei neighborhoods between them.

Simply put, New Taipei City is the municipality that surrounds Taipei City in the center. The more central you get, the heftier the price tag for accommodation and food options.

That said, rent is still much more affordable than many urban cities around the world. An older, shared apartment can go as low as NT5,000 ($150USD) per month, while a newer studio loft typically goes for NT20,000 ($650USD) or more per month.

Listings can be found on Facebook groups and the local site, 591.

A general rule of thumb is to find a place to stay close to an MRT (Taipei Metro) line. There is no shortage of 7-11s, clinics, shops and even night markets around the MRT for your daily conveniences. The efficient system of metros and buses easily connects the greater Taipei region and will make your commutes a breeze.

Xinyi District

In particular, the Tamsui-Xinyi Line, or the Red Line, is ideal for expats and travelers to find accommodations. The line ends in the financial hub, Xinyi District, where the iconic skyscraper Taipei 101 and ultra-luxurious department stores are.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in Xinyi District is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: 1 Bedroom near MRT: Just a quick 8 minute walk from Taipei City Hall MRT, this apartment is small but has everything you could need while you apartment hunt. 
  • Mid-Tier Stay: View of Taipei 101: This studio apartment is all about the view and the 24hr rooftop access. 
  • Luxury Stay: Luxury Cinema Apartment: Another studio apartment, this one is all about the luxury amenities and the near immediate access to the MRT.

Danshui/Tamsui District

On the other end of the line is the suburban and waterfront Danshui District, a popular choice for those who like to be close to nature.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in Danshui District is a good choice for you.

There aren’t many apartment rentals in this area but this 3 bedroom luxury apartment is hard to beat if you’re moving to Taipei with your family.

Zhongzheng District

In the middle, there is the centrally located Zhongzheng District, where you can hop on a coach, train or High-Speed Rail at Taipei Main Station and travel anywhere on the island.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living in Danshui District is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: City Center Studio Apartment: This centrally located apartment is a quick walk from 2 MRT stations, night markets, and shopping. 
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Bright Spacious Apartment: Great location and a unique rustic interior, this 2-bedroom apartment’s building offers plenty of amenities. 
  • Luxury Stay: Large 2-Bedroom Apartment: Want a little more space to spread out and a private balcony? This apartment right over Shandao Station has it all!

Along the Songshan-Xindian Line

Alternatively, Guting, Taipower Building, and Gongguan stations on the Green Songshan-Xindian Line are good options for students and a younger crowd. These stations are home to several universities and Mandarin learning centers, attracting many foreign students on exchange.

📍Before you decide to move to this neighborhood, I suggest you book a hotel or vacation rental for at least a night or two to get a real feel for it at all hours. This will give you the best chance to see if living along the Songshan-Xindian Line is a good choice for you.

  • Budget Stay: Stay at Gongguan Station: This serviced apartment will give you easy access to the rest of the city. 
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Right Near Guting Station: Moving with young kids? This 3 bedroom apartment is stocked with family-friendly amenities.
  • Luxury Stay: A Quick Walk from Guting Station: This incredibly spacious apartment is a walk from Guting but in a slightly calmer area that’s more family-friendly.
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How to Get Around the City

People sitting in the grass of a riverside park in Taipei, Taiwan
A popular spot to relax in the springtime- in the lawn of a riverside park

Public Transportation

Public transportation is the way to go for most of your travel plans. You can download the Go! Taipei Metro app to plan your trips and check up-to-date bus times.

Both the MRT and buses have English announcements. The MRT stations are well-marked, with helpful staff on-site, and most stations have multiple exits so you don’t even have to cross the road! 


Another quintessential way of getting around Taipei is the scooter. How else are you able to experience freedom and fumes?! I joke, but the scooter is a popular means of transportation for being efficient on gas while ideal for weaving in and out of Taipei’s narrow roads and heavy traffic.


More horsepower doesn’t equal more speed in this instance. Driving a car can sometimes take you longer as you dodge the scooters and circle around trying to find a parking spot.

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be a problem if you take a taxi or Uber. Affordable and easy to flag down, the drivers are known for getting you to places in record time, albeit sometimes at a dangerous speed.

For longer road trips to fully enjoy the island, you can rely on public transportation or rent a car to go at your own pace.


Finally, there is YouBike, Taipei’s public bike share system. Stations can be found near MRT stations and parks, making it a great option for errand runs and riding leisurely along the city’s many riverside parks. Most recently, there is also the option to rent a Gogoro electric scooter with GoShare

Get an EasyCard to Make Your Life Easy

As its name suggests, the EasyCard makes your life much easier as the one card that enables you to get around and even shop with a single tap.

It is essential for living in Taipei, as EasyCard payments are accepted across the entire public transportation system. Aside from paying for your fares, it can also be used to make purchases at many shops and restaurants throughout the city. The EasyCard can be purchased at the service desk inside an MRT station and can be loaded at the stations as well as at convenience stores. 

Job Opportunities for Foreigners

An open air street food kitchen in the heart of Taipei, Taiwan
Don't be shy when it comes to tasting all of the delicious street food

Taipei is a hub for creatives and digital nomads. With internet connections easily accessible and a huge community of expats, the possibilities are endless.

However, teaching English is the most common job for expats in Taipei. Positions range from teaching English as a foreign language to English literature. Even though teaching is what most expats choose to do, it's possible to get a non-teaching job in Taipei.

If you do not have a prior education background, you should try teaching at cram schools (after school learning centers). Cram school teachers are generally paid hourly and do not require teaching credentials. These positions can be found on Tealit.

Most private and international schools, on the other hand, offer salaried positions with monthly stipends for housing and transportation. They may be more selective with their teachers’ qualifications. Positions are advertised on their websites and at international school job fairs.

In general, to teach English in Taipei, you'll need to be a native English teacher and have your Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate.

How to Make the Most of Living in Taipei

National Theater Hall of Taiwan, photo courtesy of depositphotos.com

Get the Alien Status

Once Taipei has won you over as your next home abroad, you’ll want to start applying for an ARC, or the Alien Resident Card. This is a must if you are planning on staying in Taipei beyond your visitor visa, as it is illegal to work on a visitor visa.

You should first apply for a resident visa, which lasts up to 3 months while you seek employment. Once you find a job, your employer is typically responsible for applying for a work permit and helping you with the ARC. The ARC is good for up to 3 years and will entitle you to open a bank account, get a Taiwanese driver's license, set up internet services, etc. 

Although there are other options to receive an Alien Resident Card in Taiwan, working in Taiwan will be the most direct route to legally residing in the country. Another popular option is to study Mandarin at one of the programs offered at any of the many universities in the city.

Break Down the Language Barrier

The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese but you will find that many people do speak English, especially the younger generation. This is mainly true in Taipei itself but if you stick to places that are used to foreign tourists, you can get by just fine.

Regardless of if it's possible, I highly recommend you push yourself to learn Chinese, at least the basics!

Mondly is a great language app to help you get comfortable with basic phrases and vocabulary to make settling into life in Taiwan a little bit smoother.

Explore Local Hot Spots

The best finds in Taipei for me have almost always been accidental. In fact, Taipei’s maze-like streets and alleys make for serendipitous discoveries that make life here always full of surprises. The disorienting feeling is half the fun! 

Don’t be afraid to leave the expat bubble and explore local spots. Chances are, the locals are more than eager to show you the ropes and help you immerse yourself into daily life.

Best Things to Do in Taipei

Among the favorite pastime activities for the Taiwanese is karaoke. You’ll find Ximending with entire buildings dedicated to the people’s penchant for belting out 80s classics, sorrowful ballads, and everything in between.

Another uniquely local activity is shrimp fishing (or shrimping for short). Indoor shrimp ponds open late into the night and come equipped with grills for your fresh catch of buckets of shrimp. 

Aside from world-famous night markets that overwhelm the senses with delicious smells and pops of colors, wet markets throughout the city open in the early morning and at dusk. Here you’ll be able to find the freshest local produce and pick up a Taiwanese phrase or two.

Dadaocheng is an old port in the city where red brick buildings are preserved and converted into beautiful cafes and bistros. Speaking of cafes, Taipei has no shortage of spots that serve up a good roast with an ambience so cozy you’ll want to stay for the whole day. 

In the evening, Taipei is best explored by following the many neon signs that light up the whole city.

For Japanese-themed restaurants and bars, head to Linsen North Road. However, shopping districts such as East District and Xinyi District also have plenty of exciting options. My favorite bistro-bar, Indulge, regularly ranks as one of the top bars in Asia and beyond. 

Best Weekend Getaways

Pu Ji Temple in Tainan, photo courtesy of depositphotos.com

If you live in Taipei, you have to explore neighboring cities and areas. Although the rest of East Asia is at your fingertips, Taiwan in general has a lot to offer. The island is so small after all, you can easily reach one end of the island from another in 2 hours with the High Speed Rail.

I highly recommend you visit these spots for your first few weekend getaways once living in Taipei.


My favorite city outside of Taipei has to be Tainan, the historical and food capital in the southern part of the island.

If Taipei is the epitome of a modern metropolis, Tainan is the keeper of ancient stories and traditions. The city has an astounding number of ornately decorated temples, and just as many street food options. Here unique Tainan flavors such as the danzai noodle will wow your palates.

De Provintia Straat B&B in Tainan is a fantastic place to stay right in the heart of the city center.

Waiao & Kenting

On the other hand, surfers and beach bums will appreciate the sand and waves in coastal towns such as Waiao and Kenting. Avid hikers can attempt Baiyue, or the 100 peaks of Taiwan.

Whatever it is you like to do, from outdoor activities to ancient cities, trust that this small and compact island has got it. 

When visiting Waiao, you can't do better than booking a stay at Sealuv Homestay.

In Kenting, Shin Yu Homestay is the perfect place to stay a night or two.

Will You Try Living in Taipei?

I could talk about Taipei all day, but it’s time for you to pack your bags and see for yourself why it’s a favorite for expats from around the world.

Whether you stay for 3 months, 3 years, or move to Taiwan permanently, Taipei is the kind of place that one remembers vividly and fondly for life.

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