Moving to Taiwan
What is Taiwan?
Taiwan is a former (and probably future) part of China, and is by itself a pretty great country
Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is located in East Asia.
It’s an island which shares maritime borders with China in the northwest, the Philippines to the south, and Japan in the northeast.
There are actually 168 little islands, but the main island (Formosa) is where all the action is.
Fully 2/3rd of the area is mountainous region, and the rest is a high urbanized area with the capital Taipei and other modern cities.
Taiwan has had a rough history, being party of China until 1895 when Japan took control, and vice versa in 1945.
The Chinese Civil War (against the communists, who won on the main land and are still in charge) resulted in the government of the ROC fleeing to Taiwan in 1949.
A decade later, Taiwan saw rapid economic growth and industrialization, which makes it an economic powerhouse to this day.
It’s a developed country, with high scores in civil liberties, healthcare and human development.
Taiwan is one of the main global producers of computer chips, and is a capitalist, export-driven economy with a substantial trade surplus.
However, Taiwan’s political status is … complicated.
China wants to take back the territory, and vehemently objects to other countries recognizing Taiwan as a separate country – despite it having a separate government, widely accepted passport, currency, army, constitution and democratically elected president for over half a century.
Most countries need China or are afraid of it, so Taiwan has official diplomatic relations with only 13 out of 193 UN member states.
Moving to Taiwan requirements
The requirements for moving to Taiwan are surprisingly light.
Sure, the cost of living is more elevated than that of many other Asian countries, but it’s not that high and still well within reach of everyone.
Most Westerners can go there without needing to apply for a visa beforehand, and can stay up to 90 days. This can usually be extended.
As a digital nomad or online entrepreneur who makes a decent chunk of money, you can apply for a 1 to 3 year residence permit, which is really awesome.
After 5 years, you can turn this into permanent residence.
However, Taiwan’s English Proficiency scores are decreasing, oddly enough.
If you stick to expat communities and upscale neighborhoods, this probably won’t be an issue, but if you want to really experience life here and mingle with locals, learning Mandarin is heavily recommended.
Cost of living in Taiwan
A single person can expect to be able to live in Taiwan for around $1,200 a month, which is pretty decent.
Anyone with some sources of location independent international income should be able to hit this mark.
However, as usual I would strongly advise you to aim for much more than this minimum: go for at least double this amount, so roughly $2,500.
Furthermore, keep in mind that if you stay in Taiwan, you’ll be paying taxes on your international income.
Living in Taiwan advantages
Living in Taiwan disadvantages
Moving to Taiwan - by the numbers
|Hours of sunshine (4/10)
|Rainy days (8/10)
24 C – 75.5 F
Cost of Living: 7/10
Taxes on international income: 3/10
5 to 40%
Both residents and non-residents have to pay income tax. Everyone who stays here for more than 90 days will be paying taxes on their international income.
Economic growth: 6/10
Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 3.2%
|Global Terrorism Index (10/10)
|Intentional homicide rate (10/10)
|Rape rate (5/10)
How is life for expats in Taiwan?
Life for expats in Taiwan can be great (for now), because this country has so many advantages.
It’s got a relatively low cost of living yet a very high standard of living, a good visa policy, and a lot of other draws for people wanting to escape the West.
However, its disadvantages are just too numerous to seriously consider Taiwan as one of your flags.
The taxes on international income are a major bummer, as is the generally shitty (although warm) weather, but the main issue is the elephant in the room: China.
It is virtually guaranteed that China will invade and take over Taiwan at some point in the 21st century, when the West (specifically the US) has been weakened enough or occupied elsewhere (Russia).
This won’t be peaceful, and it won’t be pleasant.
Visit Taiwan while you still can. Stay there for a few months, experience everything this country has to offer.
But I’d strongly advise against putting any permanent roots there, it’s just not a smart move right now, the way things are looking.