Taipei, Taiwan Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan 07/26/20

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

We have lived in Asia, Southern Africa and Central Europe.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

It takes about 12 hrs to fly directly from the west coast of the US.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We live in the Neihu/Dazhi area in a high-rise apartment, (3 bed, 3 bath) with amenities such as a lounge, pool/sauna/kiddy pool, gym, toddler play room, library and kids’ library. It is next to a park with a small playground where people do tai chi in the mornings and walk/run/jog around our block since it has wide sidewalks and shade.

It is about a 10 minute drive or 20 min MRT subway ride to AIT and 20-30 minute drive to Taipei American School (TAS) and 20 min subway ride to downtown.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

We have Costco! International food/groceries are easy to find, but can be more expensive than in the US. You can find western food/groceries in Carrefour or Jason’s. Higher priced international grocery stores are commonly found in the basement of malls, which are plentiful in Taipei. Fresh produce, meat and tofu can be easily found at your neighborhood wet market. Prices at the indoor (A/C) wet markets are about the same as or more expensive than in the US. Perhaps the increase in price is because the indoor wet markets are regulated by the government to ensure food safety.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Rice Krispies, Kraft Mac n Cheese (I have kids!) toiletries such as American deodorant, wrapping paper, tissue paper, but really, nothing that I can’t live without! (Except deodorant!)

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

UberEats and FoodPanda are the most popular food delivery services. There are a wide variety of food choices -- Gordon Biersch, American BBQ, Italian food, Asian food, bubble tea and Starbucks. UberEats and FoodPanda take American credit cards. Some expats have found it easier to use apple pay to make online purchases.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No. If there are problems, it is generally manageable with bug traps or spray. Yards in Yangmingshan sometimes have snakes.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

If we’re mailing to the US, we use the DPO in AIT. If we are mailing to other countries, we use local postal service, which is cheap and efficient. I’ve also used DHL to express ship packages.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It is easy to find household help in Taiwan. Most household help are from third countries. You will need to sponsor them and AIT will help you submit the proper paperwork. For part-time work (cleaning and/or babysitting), you can expect to pay 300NT (about 10USD) per hour. We do not hire anyone full-time, so I am unsure about their salaries.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are Taipei city sports centers in each neighborhood, as well as private gyms. At the city sports centers, you can hire instructors for a reasonable rate (cheaper than the US).

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most large stores/restaurants accept credit cards, however it is still a cash-based society. ATMs are common and safe to use. In general, Taiwan is very safe and you can leave your phone or wallet in a taxi and expect to get it back.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Knowing basic Mandarin will help you get around via taxi, at the wet markets and mom and pop restaurants/stores. The younger generation knows English and Taiwan people are very friendly and helpful if you need assistance. You can easily find quality language tutors/classes such as Taipei Language Institute (TLI) or Survival Chinese at the Community Services Center in Shilin.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I believe it would be somewhat difficult as there are a fair amount of older buildings around the city which have narrow doorways and only stairs. Newer buildings, malls and public transportation (subways, buses) have elevators and wheelchair access.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes! Convenient, clean and affordable public transportation is one of the best things about Taiwan! There is a high-speed railway that will take you to the south to Kaohsiung in 2hrs or less.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Roads are well maintained, but parking spaces are often small. But we drive an American made Honda Odyssey and can get around almost everywhere.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, DSL. You can get it installed within 1-2 weeks of requesting this service through AIT and Chunghua Telecom.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring your unlocked cell phone and buy a local SIM card. No, we did not keep our home country plan.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

We do not have pets at this post.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Some are telecommuting and some work on the local economy (part-time) at the international schools, or at the Community Services Center (teaching courses, coordinating classes/events/communications). There seem to always be full- and part-time jobs available at AIT for EFMs.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Pet rescue shelters, beach clean ups, etc.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at a typical office, business casual at a school, fairly casual out in public probably because of the high humidity and heat 9 months out of the year.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Taiwan’s public health system and medical care is exceptional. Several Taipei hospitals have international clinics catering to those paying in cash and do not have Taiwan’s National Health Insurance. English and other language services are available at those clinics as well as some other public hospitals. We’ve had very good experiences at Taiwan Adventist Hospital, National Taiwan University Hospital, and Tri-Service National Hospital in Neihu. Most of the doctors from those hospitals were recommended to us by the AIT Health Unit. The only time I could see a medical evacuation being an option is if the patient’s support system was in another country.

It is worth noting that the Taiwan government’s response to COVID-19 was one of the best in the world, if not the best. Taiwan learned from its experience with SARS in 2013 and infectious disease protocols were already in place and followed when COVID-19 hit. The government rationed masks and critical supplies so hoarding was not a problem. There was already high public awareness of how to handle an epidemic—not to gather in groups, wear masks if you must go out, wash hands often and sanitize surfaces were all practiced. Regular reporting by Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) about COVID-19 and their transparency prevented panic and built trust in the government.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good AQI. There are only a few of days out of the year with bad AQI and in those cases, they cancel outdoor activities for the kids at school.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Pollen allergies tend to be fairly bad in Taipei. Peanuts are somewhat common in Chinese cooking. Taipei American School is a nut-free school.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Extremely hot and humid for 9 months of the year.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The 2 most popular international schools are Taipei American School (TAS) and Taipei European School (TES). We also know expats who send their kids to the Taipei American Adventist School and Dominican International School.

Our kids attend TAS. The last two years they have been in grades 2-3 and grades 1-2. It was a big adjustment as they came from a much smaller school, but have come to really love TAS! Their teachers have all been excellent—caring and dedicated to their students. It is academically rigorous, but there is minimal homework for the lower school grades (mostly reading and Mandarin). When TAS closed for a few weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19, teachers went above and beyond to ensure all kids were on target.

Extra curricular activities are handled by a separate organization called, Taipei Youth Program Association or TYPA (https://www.typa.org.tw/) TYPA activities are located at the TAS campus.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

There is an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) for those students who need the extra help. My children have benefited from reading specialists and speech therapists. There are English as an Academic Language (EAL) specialists as well.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, many preschools are available! Some expats in Neihu/Dazhi enroll their preschool age kids at Little Lily Montessori Preschool or Tinkerseeds in Dazhi. Some expats in Tianmu enroll their preschool age kids at TYPA Tiger Tots.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Many are available especially if they are Mandarin speakers. My non-Mandarin speaking kids do a combination of TYPA activities at the TAS campus, piano lessons at a Yamaha music center near our apartment and FC Tigers soccer at TAS. There are private tutors galore for all subjects/activities/sports!

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large expat community, especially concentrated around the international schools in Tianmu. Moral is great! COVID-19 is under control so people are cautious, but out and about doing normal meet-ups and activities.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

You can meet new people through classes and activities at the Community Services Center (www.communitycenter.org.tw) in Tianmu. There is also the American Club Taipei (americanclub.org.tw) and Taipei International Women’s Club (http://www.tiwc.org/activities/social.html)

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

All! It is safe and there are so many thing to do in Taipei.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes! Taiwan is the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in May 2019.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Somewhat difficult because I don’t speak Mandarin.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I’ve experienced. Taiwan people are very polite and enjoy interacting with foreigners.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Sampling all the good food along Dihua Street during Chinese New Year! Watching the Taipei 101 new year fireworks from the roof of our apartment building! Fun beaches are only 1 hr away - Baishawan and Waiao Beaches have fun waves, Fulong Beach has a sand castle festival in the spring, Heping Island Park has fish pools you can swim in! Visiting Taroko Gorge in Hualien is a must due to its beautiful scenery and hikes!

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Hiking gorgeous waterfalls near Sandiaoling Station, about 1 hr away from Taipei. Seeing the volcano steam vents in Yangminshan (Xiaoyoukeng Visitor Center) are unique and only about 30 min away!

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Some people buy antiques. There isn’t a ton of handicrafts or artwork like in Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Extremely safe, reliable and convenient public transportation, good medical care, cost of living is lower than the US, there is a good amount of green space/public parks within the city and mountains/beach are within easy reach of the city. Because it is so safe, it is an excellent place to let your pre-teen/teen explore on their own!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

To be honest, I would have lowered my expectations about food. There are many excellent high-end restaurants around town, but of course they are pricey. Local Taiwanese food is very different from the Cantonese-style Chinese food in the US. It is still quite tasty, but just not my favorite. Night markets are also very popular among locals and tourists. I am not a huge fan, mostly because I don’t love Taiwan street food (which was a surprise for me because I generally love street food elsewhere).

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES! It is a fantastic post.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Big American-sized SUV.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure! Try some stinky tofu!

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

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6. Do you have any other comments?

I was initially worried about island fever, but Taiwan is so large with many things to do! If you love city life, there are many malls, cafes, restaurants and museums. If you love nature, there are many hiking trails, beaches and diving/snorkeling places to visit.

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Taipei, Taiwan 12/31/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I've lived in Kuala Lumpur and Brasilia prior to living in Taipei.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC, USA. It's about 24 hours total in transit, travel isn't too hard here. Usually you connect through Tokyo or Seoul, though there are direct flights to LA and SF from Taipei, which is only about 12 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two and a half years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission; my spouse is with AIT.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We live in a single family home with a very large fenced yard in Yangmingshan (YMS). All other housing is in apartments. The homes in YMS are large, between three and five bedrooms, three to five bathrooms, large living rooms, plus an extra nanny/maid room. The homes have fireplaces and large US-style kitchens and ovens. The tile in the bathrooms and kitchen is a little dated, but the homes are well-built and have new windows and solar-powered water heaters.

The street the homes are on is a cul-de-sac so there is very little traffic and the neighborhood kids often ride bikes and play outside together. In the past apartments were quite small, minimalist with little storage, but the budget has been increasing and now AIT rents several new apartments in Tianmu and Neihu that are three or four bedrooms. They offer bunk beds for large families living in apartments. The AIT office building has been scheduled to move to Neihu from Da’an for several years, though still has not moved due to many challenges of aligning the high volume of disparate demands from different government agencies involved in both building a new facility and physically moving the office.

Commute times to the current building in Da'an range from a ten minute walk for people who live in Da'an to 20-30 mins for people in Dazhi and Neihu and 40 minutes for people in Tianmu and Yangmingshan. When the commute changes to Neihu, it will be about the same for Tianmu and YMS and Dazhi, longer for Da'an, and shorter for Neihu.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can buy almost anything you want on the local market. The island has a great climate and fruits and vegetables are available at all times. If you buy seasonal produce it is cheaper than in DC, but if you want to buy off-season imports they are more expensive. I've found cleaning supplies to be readily available, with many western brands available at Carrefour and Costco, and local brands at all other stores. Like most posts, you may need to figure out which local product works best for your need, but after that it's very easy to find what you need.

For the stuff you can't, Amazon ships here, even if you aren't using diplomatic mail.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

The only thing I've not been able to find here is dried black, pinto, and garbanzo beans, but you can buy cans at Carrefour. I ship the dried beans from the States every so often.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Taipei has a huge array of food options and a lot of expats. Lots of street food stalls in every corner of the city, as well as restaurants packed into every available spot. Daan has a lot of different cuisines, and Tianmu has a lot of international/western food in addition to a lot of local food, but almost everyone I've met says their neighborhood has the best food. Expats live all over the city so it's hard to say that there's one type of takeout or restaurants used by expats. People use Food Panda and Uber Eats to deliver.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Most apartments in the city are devoid of bugs, which I personally find a little scary because I'm not sure what they're using for abatement. All the parks have tons of ants and other bugs. In YMS we have the occasional ant problem indoors, though most bugs stay outside. That's actually been a great part of being here - my kids have learned a ton about the different bug and animal species here.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Local mail is straightforward and affordable and most offices have someone who can speak English in addition to the signage having English, though most AIT employees utilize diplomatic pouch or DPO at work.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

There are many Filipina nannies who work for expat families and move from family to family as people depart. The hourly rate for part-time help is about NTD$300 or US$10. If you hire full time it can be less per hour because you pay to sponsor them and for their health insurance and travel home once a year. Taiwan-born nannies/helpers are usually more expensive, so people tend not to have local household help. We have employed a Taiwanese Ayi to help everyone learn Chinese, but we seem to be in the minority.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a lot of private gyms like World Gym around the city, but Taipei also has several public sport centers. Most have pools, gyms and an assortment of sport courts, and some have climbing walls or other features. There are also public pools throughout the city and outdoor exercise equipment at almost every park as well as running trails along almost every river. There is also an ice rink downtown where people do hockey and figure skating.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are accepted at most malls and larger restaurants, but Taiwan is still largely a cash economy. ATMs are common and usually quite safe, though I have recently had two friends have their cards compromised. We use ATMs at least weekly and have never had a problem.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You don't have to speak any Chinese to get around. Many expats never learn any Chinese at all. That said, speaking some Chinese can go a long way to help with day-to-day stuff and just building goodwill as you go about your life. Chinese classes are readily available. Many Tianmu expats take Chinese at either the Community Services Center or TLI, AIT also offers spouse classes.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It seems that each neighborhood has areas with accessible places and large sidewalks, though it might be difficult to get around the smaller alleys or walkup apartment buildings in older areas of the city. The MRT and buses are all accessible though sometimes crowded.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transportation is amazing here, safe, and cheap. The MRT is quick and reliable and each station has buses that extend the service to non-MRT areas. We used taxis, buses and MRT exclusively for the first three months here and were able to get around very easily from YMS. Bus and MRT signs are in English and Chinese, and Google Maps will give you route options for nearby buses with up-to-the-minute arrival times. Uber is now legal here so many people use Uber to get around, but taxis are also numerous and readily available from almost anywhere.

To leave Taipei, there are also buses and trains going to almost every corner of the island from Taipei Main Station and then public buses to extend your travel from the other city's train station.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Almost any car is ok to bring. We have a minivan, and while there are a few alleys that have been a tight squeeze, I've been able to drive and park everywhere I've needed to go. The highways are well-maintained and the roads in Taipei are all wide and people generally abide by the laws. You don't need to drive to get around Taipei and many people don't, but if you have kids in multiple schools or involved in sports you may find it beneficial to have a private vehicle.

If you aren't used to driving with scooters and motorcycles then you'll need just a quick minute to get used to the patterns here, which is that cars drive to the left side of a lane and scooters pass on the outside right. If you need to turn right, you just signal and then slowly make your move, the scooters will adjust around you. In this regard smaller cars make it easier for you to see everyone around you, and reduce your blind spots. If I could do it all over I'd probably buy a local Toyota Wish, which is a five-seater station wagon with an optional pop-up third row to fit seven.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High speed internet is readily available and quick to install. Our sponsors installed it prior to our arrival, but people who've come with private companies have had it up and running in two or three days.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We have a local plan through Chunghua, but there are also other companies, including Taiwan Mobile. Most expats I know use a local cell plan with an unlocked phone. We pay approximately USD$80 a month for unlimited data on two cell phones, a landline and home internet.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

The pet quarantine just changed last year from 21 days to 7 days, so it is getting easier to bring a pet, though I believe the paperwork coming in is still quite rigorous and shots have to be all up to date and arranged well in advance of your arrival. People here love dogs and often you'll find people walking them in strollers through parks and streets. I've also seen people with cats on leashes at parks. In YMS there are large mountain dogs who are "owned" but not necessarily on leash or even monitored, though I've never seen any of the dogs be violent with people or other dogs and I run around the area a lot. Vets are many and reliable, and open on weekends. We use one in Tianmu and the staff speaks English which helps immensely.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Expat spouses/partners have a huge range of jobs. Some work at local schools teaching English, some work at TAS or TES, or substitute teach at those schools. Many telecommute to jobs in DC. There's also a crafters market, so many sell things they make at fairs or bazaars. Some work at one of the many universities in Taipei. The local salary scale is much lower, probably half of what you'd get at AIT or a multinational company.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I know of some people volunteering with animal shelters but have also heard there aren't a lot of volunteer opportunities other than through the schools.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Taipei feels very much like the States, or DC in particular. There are not too many chances to formal wear but people wear business attire to work. Outside of work it's quite casual and often recreational. People here love hiking and exercise, at least the people in YMS and Tianmu. There isn't quite as much skin shown but mainly because most people want to avoid getting tan/sunburned and not out of modesty.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I've always felt very safe. Often if I've left my bag unzipped, someone will alert me to it.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care here is exceptional. We had a child here and the pre and postnatal care was great. All other occasions when we've needed medical help we have found it immediately. Most doctors speak English. Many expats in Tianmu go to Veterans Hospital, but expats also use NTU. AIT recommends Adventist Hospital's Priority Care Center, which is indeed very western, with English speaking receptionists, but usually about three times the cost of going somewhere else.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Generally the air quality is good throughout the city. There are occasional bad pollution days, but they are few and far between. On YMS the PM2.5 is usually much lower than the rest of the city, so some people with asthma or other respiratory concerns choose to live there.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

There is shrimp and pork in a lot of locally produced food, but I think that people are increasingly aware of allergies and food sensitivities, so you can get around pretty easily if you have allergies. Also there is a lot of imported foods, so you can check labels.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There are four clear seasons in YMS, though the temperatures are usually about 10 degrees F cooler on the mountain than in Da’an at any given time. It's quite warm from May - October, no need for coats or even really long sleeves. In July and August it can be really hot, so living up higher is a boon. In November it starts to cool off, and by January we use coats and long pants, though the lowest temperatures are usually in the 40s. It can get warm starting in March, but often stays at a very pleasant temperature until mid-May. It does rain a lot in Taipei generally, so bring your rain gear.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are quite a few international schools, most AIT people go to Taipei American School, though a good portion use Taipei European School and Taipei American Adventist School as well. We have used TES, and found it to be really a great environment for our child. They have a holistic approach to the child learner. Everyone I know at TAS loves it, says the teachers are amazing and the facility is new and amazing.

There are also quite a few expats who utilize local schools, both private and public. Lih Jen is a private school near AIT Da’an and has a few AIT families, it's a bilingual curriculum but has a lot of homework compared to what most US schools demand so the families have to be really committed to Chinese language learning. There are also a number of expat families at Shidong elementary in Tianmu and at other local schools around the city. Taipei has a lot of ABC or mixed-nationality families whose kids are at local schools, so odds are any place you're looking at will have had an expat at some point.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I've heard that both TES and TAS make it quite difficult to enroll a special-needs child, but if you can somehow slip through the admissions process then they provide great support to the child.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschools are readily available all over the city, and start at 2.5 years old. They vary in price, though the ones associated with TAS and TES (English language instruction) are the most expensive, and local preschools offering Chinese instruction would be cheaper. It is usually cheaper to hire an Ayi than to send your toddler to school.

There is an extensive after-school program at TAS called TYPA, though the prices are quite high. They do offer almost every possible activity, but you can't always get in. TES has after school programs as well, but slightly fewer offerings. There are also private bushibans all over the city that will take your child from school to the after school program where they do homework or more school. Taiwan is a very academic-focused place, and most local after school services are academic in nature.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Soccer is available both through local teams and through schools. TAS has an evening team that anyone can enroll in called FC Tigers/Heartbreakers, TES offers teacher-run and third-party sports teams.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It's huge. There are expats all over the city. Tianmu is known for having expats because it's where TAS and TES are located, but there are expats everywhere. Almost everyone loves it in Taipei, because it's an incredibly easy place to live.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

I've met most my expat friends through schools or work. The Community Services Center in Tianmu offers classes and tours in English for people looking to get out and explore with someone who can lend some expertise to the local culture. There is also meetup and several FB groups for expats, including FIT Friends in Taiwan, Expat Mamas Taipei, Expats in Taipei, and many many others.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's good for everyone.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

The city had a reputation for being very open and welcoming to LGBT community but just this year the populous just passed a referendum rejecting the supreme court's ruling that the legislature had to pass a law protecting same-sex marriage. So I think this isn't necessarily a bad place for LGBT expats but there is some socially conservative thinking in the general population.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I've found it easy to make friends with locals, though the language barrier is the only restriction. If someone speaks English or is willing to suffer through my bad Chinese they are very open to friendship.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Taiwan is really an amazing place to live, with beaches, mountains and forests, national parks, and remarkable public transit to almost anywhere. Taipei is an incredibly convenient place to live, anywhere in the city. Everyone thinks their neighborhood is the best, most convenient place.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's very safe, very convenient, you can find almost anything you need, and the people are friendly. It's accessible to tons of recreation and the schools are good.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I would absolutely move here again.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Leather jacket.

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3. But don't forget your:

Camping gear.

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Taipei, Taiwan 07/14/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

We've lived in China, Ethiopia, and Belgium.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

The Netherlands. There's a direct flight from Taipei to Amsterdam, or if you want to save money you can fly via a number of connecting airports, the ones in China being the cheapest.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Four years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Business.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

You can find all kinds - big and small apartments in serviced flats with pools and recreational facilities, townhouses, houses with gardens, all either furnished or unfurnished. We pay about 1,200 USD for a nice 3-storey townhouse near the MRT, five subway stops north of Main Station. With the subway system being so great, location is not very important, since you can go anywhere fast and cheap, but proximity to an MRT station is recommend when choosing a place to live, although that will be reflected in the rent price.



For some reason most expats choose to live in TianMu, which is comfortable, and it is where the two main international schools are located, but it's not the cheapest or most central part of the city to live in. It's a bit of an expat bubble, although expats are still a small minority there.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find everything you'd like, with shops like Costco, Carrefour, IKEA, and lots of import supermarkets. If you shop at local supermarkets and fruit and vegetable markets, you'll save a lot of money though. You can order online from Carrefour, and they will deliver to your house.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing, I've been able to find everything we need or crave.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Taipei has so many restaurants that you can find pretty much any kind of cuisine you desire. It seems Japanese restaurants are especially popular (Taipei supposedly has the best Japanese food outside of Japan), so plenty of those around. There are many great restaurants, and you'll never run out of new and interesting restaurants to try. Eating out is cheap (western restaurants will be more expensive), and there are many colleagues that eat out 4-5 nights a week. Lots of vegetarian restaurants as well, and it was voted 'Best city for vegetarians worldwide'.



Almost all restaurants offer take-out, and quite a few restaurants deliver (several apps available for that, including Uber Eats, and Food Panda), and many big chains are present, although why would you go to KFC when there are so many better options not more than a stone's throw away?

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There are quite a few cockroaches during the summer, but as long as you don't leave any food out, clean regularly, set traps, and kill the few that have managed to enter your house, you shouldn't have any problems. We had quite a few after first arriving (I think the previous tenants were not very big on cleaning), but having taken the steps outlined above, we rarely see one anymore. If you live at the edge of the city, you'll occasionally see a snake in your garden.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The local post office is cheap and reliable, for both sending and receiving. Sending a postcard from Taipei to Amsterdam is cheaper than sending one within The Netherlands itself. All the mail sent to us to our Taipei address has reached us without problems, usually taking 10-14 days.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Filipino maids are easy to find, and cost about 10 dollars per hour. Filipino nannies are about the same rate when hired part-time, or you can pay around 1,300 USD per month for a full-time live-in nanny.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many gyms, with World Gym being the largest chain. Every district has a government-run sports centre, that will have gym as well, in addition to many other facilities.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problem using credit cards, and ATMs are everywhere. Not all ATMs will take foreign cards though, but opening an account at a local bank is easy.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not religious myself, but Christian friends have no trouble finding English-language services around the city, although in some parts they will not be available.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can make do with only English, but of course it helps greatly if you know some phrases in Mandarin. Language classes are easy to find, and about $10 USD per hour I think.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I don't think so. Public transport is very accessible for wheelchairs (especially the MRT), and many streets have well-maintained sidewalks, apart from the smaller ones.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, yes, and yes.



Public transportation is near-perfect in Taipei. The MRT trains are clean and fast, with short waits (usually 3 minutes at most), and low ticket-prices. Stations are everywhere, and the staff is very helpful. There are also cheap and easy-to-use rental bikes (YouBikes) at every MRT-station (and lots of other locations) to make it even easier to get around. I haven't seen a better MRT system anywhere in the world.



Taxis are affordable and plentiful, and Uber is also available. Scams are extremely rare, and there are many stories of people who forgot their phone or bag in a taxi, only to have it returned by the taxi driver at no charge.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any normal car will do, although you don't really need a car with the public transportation being so convenient. It might be nice to have a car to take trips across the island though on weekend and holidays. If you do get a car, you'll find that parking can be difficult sometimes.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, our was installed within three days, and the speed is great.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local providers offer affordable plans, and reception is good almost everywhere.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Many kennels and vets available, and I think there's no quarantine upon entry. If you have a big dog that needs a lot of exercise, choose the location of your house carefully, as not all locations have big parks or beaches nearby. Lots of little parks everywhere though, but leashes are required.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Local salaries are quite low. There are some opportunities, but it will take some time and energy to find them.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are local orphanages and animal shelters that can always use volunteers.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Taipei is a very, very safe city, and one of the safest ones worldwide, if statistics are to be believed. Of course, crime still exists (rarely violent though), but I've never encountered it, and feel extremely safe anywhere. I don't think there's any part of the city where I would be hesitant to go after dark. People are very respectful and polite. Women walking by themselves after nightfall will feel safe as well.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is good and cheap, no need to fly abroad for treatment. I do feel GPs prescribe medicine too generously, as though a doctor's visit wouldn't be complete without leaving with at least two types of medication.



Everyone that legally resides in Taiwan is insured via the national health insurance, which covers all the basic treatments, although you still pay 5 USD per visit yourself. Basic dental work is also covered.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Overall pretty good, but there are bad days. Air quality apps will tell you when it's better to stay indoors, although 'red days' are rare. It's great compared to Beijing, but obviously not as good a Swiss mountain village. We have kids, and don't feel the air quality warrants a move to elsewhere.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The only real negative for this city is the hot and humid summers. Indoors you'll need ACs (almost all houses will have one in every room), and outdoors you'll sweat a lot. This weather lasts from late May till half September. During the summer there will be an occasional typhoon, which aren't as bad as I previously imagined (lots of rain and heavy winds), but nothing close to Armageddon. The rest of the year the weather is quite pleasant; shorts and t-shirt weather for most of the year, and a mild winter that sometimes requires a sweater or coat. Occasional showers year-round.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are two big international schools: Taipei European School (TES), and Taipei American School (TAS). Academically, TES is a bit better, but they're both good schools with excellent results, with a steep tuition however. Both have plenty of after-school activities.

For high school, TES has IB Diploma Program, while TAS has AP. Both schools will get your child into good US colleges, while IB is better for European universities. Most parents of course choose the school that is most in line with the school their kids attended before moving to Taipei, or will possibly attend after. TES has more international students, TAS has a nicer campus (TES is building a new one) and has a more convenient location.
You can't go wrong with either school, if you can afford them.

There are also some (very) Christian (more or less international) schools around the city, if you want religion to be a big part of the education.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

TES accommodates special-needs more than TAS, but both could do better, as I understand it.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, there are many pre-schools and daycare facilities, but they're not cheap, although some budget options exist. Local schools can accommodate kids from 3 years and up.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, many options. Lots through school, but also other options exist.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Plenty of expats from all parts of the world, but given the size of the city you'd expect more. If you live your life mostly in TianMu, you'll see more than enough expats. Morale is high; 99% of the expats loves living in Taipei, and there's very little to complain about, apart from the hot weather in the summer. Also, the Taiwanese are so extremely friendly and helpful (but not pushy), that you feel very welcome.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Single people won't be bored, although it's easier for single men than for single women to find a partner – single expat men find it relatively easy to date local women, but local men don't seem that interested in expat women, so single women have a smaller pond to fish in. Nevertheless, many of our (previously) single female friends have found someone here.



Couples have lots to see and do here, and Taipei is very well-suited for families: there are free government-funded play centers for small children in every district, the city is generally very stroller-friendly, and there are many activities for kids. I'd say it's one of the best places in Asia to start/have a family.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, gay marriage is about to be legalized, and they are many bars catering to the LGBT-community. Taipei has the biggest Pride parade in Asia, after Tel Aviv.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Exploring the city, with surprises to be found everywhere: nice independent shops, small temples, cute parks, riverside bike lanes, night markets, etc.
The rest of the island has lots to offer, both nature and culture, and it's all very accessible. If you like hiking, you can spend multiple lifetimes in Taiwan, never walking the same hike twice.

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5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?



- Songshan Creative Park (including Eslite store)

- Huashan 1914 Creative Park

- Maji Maji

- Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, but after the sun goes down, when hordes of teenagers practice their dance routines.

- Elephant mountain

- Wistaria Tea House

- Millenium Public Hot Springs (2 USD)

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6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not really, Taipei doesn't really have obvious souvenirs. Plenty of nice things to buy here, but I always struggle to recommend typical Taiwanese souvenirs for visiting friends. Taiwanese pineapple cakes comes closest to being the souvenir of choice, but I'm not a big fan myself.

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7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Biggest advantages:

- Friendly and helpful locals

- Great MRT system to get anywhere fast, it really makes that you can take full advantage of the huge city that Taipei is

- Bike friendly, and the YouBike bike rental system is very convenient and cheap

- Lots of activities, fun shops and interesting neighbourhoods

- So many good restaurants

- Cheap, apart from rent prices

- Easy to fly to other Asian destinations, with cheap tickets to The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, China and South Korea.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely, in a heartbeat. I can't think of a nicer city to live in.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Appliances that need 220V (Taiwan has 110V outlets) and very thick winter clothes (it gets a bit chilly a couple of weeks each year, but nothing serious).

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3. But don't forget your:

Shorts and if you have a generous shipping allowance, I might recommend bringing some nice pieces of furniture. There's an IKEA, but not many obvious shops to get well-designed furniture. They're there, but you won't find them immediately. If you care about nice furniture, opt for an unfurnished apartment/house as the ones that are furnished usually come with ugly couches, tables and chairs.

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Taipei, Taiwan 03/06/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This was my first overseas post!

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

I am originally from Washington DC. Flying to Taiwan I flew to SFO and then to Taipei. If you want to cost-construct from NYC, you can fly NYC to Tokyo and then to Taipei.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I have lived in Taiwan for just about 2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am working at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

I lived in the Dunhua apartments and loved it. As a single, I was given a 3-bedroom 2-bathroom apartment (guest bathroom also had a bathtub) with a large kitchen and living area. The apartments are modern and clean- in my whole time in Taiwan I never saw one bug. There is a gym with basic equipment, and a recreational room that you can reserve for parties. It is close to everything and often served as the meeting point for my friends and I on the weekends before going out in the city. Trash can be placed outside of your door every Monday-Friday for disposal by the building staff (which is actually a big perk since people who do not live in serviced apartment buildings have to go outside at designated times to catch the garbage truck certain day during the week).



Downside: many of the apartments face an office building on one side, so one of my bedroom windows and all of my living room windows look directly into the office building.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries, especially if you like to frequent wet/outdoor markets, are much cheaper than in the US. If you want to buy luxuries from home, they are readily available, but at a higher price. For example, Charmin toilet paper will cost you about 6 dollars/ roll.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I shipped everything I needed- but for the unsuspecting definitely ship your own feminine products if you have a particular brand you like, and deodorant/toothpaste.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You can find all different types of food here. It may not taste like the food from home, but you will have a wide array of Western and local options available. There are several US fast food options if you like that kind of food as well (Domino's, Pizza Hut, KFC, Starbucks, etc). There is also a COSTCO. That said, there are hundreds of unique cafes that each sell different variations of western or international food. They are really fun to explore and have way better coffee than any US chain.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not at all. I never saw a bug in my apartment. However, employees living in the mountains can expect some bugs.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I used the mail room at post.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I had a helper to assist with laundry and cleaning once a week, which cost approximately 33 USD. The CLO newsletter typically has information on household helpers looking for employment.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

I used the gym in my building, but I had friends who joined gyms for about 40 USD/month.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Taiwan is largely a cash economy, but nicer restaurants and cafes take credit. I have had no issues with security. ATMs are also plentiful and appear safe.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I do not have any personal experience with mobility issues, however I have noted that the sidewalks in Taipei tend to have really high curbs and only some sidewalks have ramps to get on or off the curb. Additionally there are some metro stations/ tunnel systems that do not have elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taking the metro or train costs the equivalent of about 30 cents. Both are very clean and efficient. If you prefer taxis, a 4-dollar taxi can get you most places in the city. Very rarely will you pay more than 10 dollars (and that's for a 25 minute ride to a suburb). Taxis to and from the Taoyuan Airport (the airport with the majority of international flights) are about 40 dollars, whereas the bus is about 4 dollars (but only comes at specific intervals). Most taxi drivers also have a fixed price service for popular tourist destinations and airports. If you ask a taxi driver for their card, you can call them to schedule a airport pick up for a fixed fee- typically 1000NTD (about 33 dollars) as opposed to the slightly higher unfixed price.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I did not have a car and got around just fine with public transportation. If you do bring a car, I recommend something small.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Unlimited home internet and cell phone data costs about 60 dollars per month. Most places in Taipei have free internet, and most people do not call or text, but instead use a messaging app called "Line." If you do not use a lot of data to stream music or videos, it probably would make sense to get a more limited plan. But either way, the unlimited plan is only about 30 dollars. This was all set up by my sponsor before arrival at post.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

I did not personally have a pet, but there are a plethora of pet stores and hospitals. Taiwanese people really value their pets and make sure they are well groomed and cared for.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

n/a

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I feel safer than I have ever felt anywhere in the world in Taiwan. I have no concerns about my safety here.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The weather is damp, so it can irritate your skin depending on if you have dry or oily skin. For the average person, there are little to no health concerns here.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Some days the air quality can reach levels similar to a city like Los Angeles, so if you have asthma you may find it irritating.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Eggs, gluten, and nuts are typically in or near everything. Be sure to only eat at places where you can clearly explain your allergy or to cook most meals.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The weather is damp and humid all year around.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There are many expats in Taipei city. If you are interested in meeting other expats, consider looking into social groups on MeetUp or InterNations.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a great post for all since there is a lot of things to do all the time. Dating tends to be more vibrant for foreign men as opposed to foreign women, however if you are willing to put yourself out there you can definitely have a dating life or even find a relationship while here. It takes a little more effort for women, but it's possible.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Taiwanese appear to be very welcoming of the LGBT community. Taiwan has the largest Pride Parade in East Asia. There are also several bars/restaurants/businesses that openly express support for LGBT rights. That said, I have no personal experiences as a member of this community, but my friends who identify as LGBT have never indicated that they felt discriminated against. They have also expressed that there is a vibrant dating scene for LGBT people living in Taiwan.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I found Taiwanese people to be very welcoming of people from all backgrounds. As a black woman, I have experienced some inquisitive looks and sometimes stares (especially if my hair is out), but never any perceptible discrimination. Typically people who stare are older and have not travelled outside of Taiwan and are looking forward to practicing their English with a foreigner. People here are some of the warmest people I have met.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Of course! Great place to live.

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Taipei, Taiwan 11/07/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Small New Zealand town; Bogota, Colombia; Moscow, Russia

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Grand Rapids, Michigan. 22 hours with connections in Tokyo, Altlanta and Detroit

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Other than a few houses available on Yangmingshan Mountain, it is all apartment living. Apartments are smaller than in many other countries. Housing areas are located downtown, near the schools or near the NOC.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

It may take me a few stops, but I've learned which products are available at which stores. I can find most things locally, especially if I'm willing to pay premium prices. There are several Costcos around Taipei and grocery stores range from Carrefour to local chains. There are some specialty international grocery stores as well. Milk is currently $6.00 USD a gallon and cereal can run $6.00 a box. It is often cheaper to eat at roadside stands than to cook at home.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I purchase all my tortilla chips and cereal online and have it shipped to post.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Street stands and quick eateries provide a plethora of local cuisine. Night markets are a great place to eat local food on the weekends. International restaurants are plentiful with prices similar to home. Fine dining is available as well.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not too bad considering the tropical climate. The houses in the mountains have snakes and more bugs. Cockroaches can be a problem if you don't clean well.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I receive my letters and packages by diplomatic pouch. (Expect mail to take 2-4 weeks to arrive.) We can only mail out letters and the smallest flat rate boxes. I use the local post office for boxes. It is fairly inexpensive to mail internationally and times for delivery are less than what it is taking for mail to arrive via the pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I have part-time help at $8.00 USD/hr. Filipino maids & nannies are common.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many apartment buildings have gyms. There are gyms in the city one can join as well, including cross-fit gyms. There are excellent bike and running paths along the river and hiking trails in the hills.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMS are available and safe to use. They are a bit confusing so sometimes I have to walk from corner to corner to find one that will take my card on that particular day. In major stores and restaurants they accept credit cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, Non-denominational, Mormon.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I don't speak any Chinese. It limits me, but I get around fine. Most people take a period of language classes to learn everyday phrases.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

No, excellent public transportation assistance for those with handicaps. Most buildings are well equipped with elevators. Getting around should be assessed before choosing housing.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The MRT is about $1.00 USD, the bus is $0.50 and bikes are available to rent. Taxis are plentiful and fairly inexpensive. All public transportation is safe, clean and timely.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Not to large or tall. Parking garages have low ceiling clearance.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it is available.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We brought unlocked phones and use sim cards. We pay around $25-30 USD/month for unlimited data.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

You must begin your shots about 6 months before arrival in country. Be sure to make sure you have the correct paperwork. Your pet cannot arrive before you do. There is a required government quarantine kennel that your pet must stay in for 3 weeks. The care there is excellent and you are able to visit your pet. Excellent veterinarians are available and there are good kennels available in the country side where your dog will have more room to exercise while you are away.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

School, orphanages.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business attire at work. Casual in public places. Very hot summers bring out a lot of shorts and t-shirts. A 70F day will bring out jeans and a down jacket.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Very safe. My high school daughter has the freedom to use the buses and MRT to get around town.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Extreme heat in the summer makes staying in the air-conditioning desirable. A paternalistic view of medicine, so communication and getting questions answered can be difficult. Diagnosis is sometimes off.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The spring has a period of air pollution as it blows in from China.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Lots of nuts here. They love peanut butter.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Summer is extremely hot. This past summer we had 5 months of temps. over 90F and often in the 100's with high humidity. Fall is typhoon season with several going through each year. The city is well prepared. Earthquakes are frequent as well.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Taipei American School; Taipei European School; Morrison Academy. We have a child who is a Jr/Sr. at this post. TAS has been a very challenging academic and social environment. TAS is a local school with an American curriculum making it very difficult for expat students to integrate.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not much.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Several dual-language or English-language preschools available throughout the city.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Only in Chinese.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Good morale. Smaller expat community than in most places I have lived. The American Institute and schools seem to bring the majority of expats to Taipei.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good city for all. Something for everyone.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Very accepting.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

This seems to be a very easy city to live in.

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5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Good hiking. Enjoyable concerts. A few good museums. It's easy to get around the island on the train and HSR. Easy to drive the island. Good day trips to the beach.

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6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's easy. Low crime. Good public transportation. No one is watching you. Freedom to move about. Accessibility to products.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

The city has been great, but if I could do it again I would not come until my child is out of school.

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Taipei, Taiwan 09/18/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

In Asia, Europe, and Africa

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

D.C. We used to take a direct United flight to San Francisco, 12 hours, or fly to Tokyo and then direct to Washington. However, now Delta has the contract and people have already had to fly to Tokyo to NYC to Washington, so at least 17 hours in the air without the transfers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over two years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Some houses on Yangmingshan mountain, former U.S. military housing. But it's about 45 minutes from downtown. Many people like to live by the 'American' school in Tienmu. Apartments are nice, but smaller than what most people are used to, so every fall there are several appeals to the housing board, until people realize how expensive housing is here and that no, other people are not living in larger housing than what they have. Same as with Dazhi and Neihu, newer neighborhoods closer to the new AIT site that will be in use in 2017 or 2018. And some people of course like living in downtown.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Several Costcos are here, which is a great benefit. But there is also Carrefour, and other very good supermarkets. Also of course local wet markets for a large variety of vegetables.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Really nothing. Can get just about everything here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Many decent restaurants are available, people eat out all the time. Everything from McDonald's to Outback to Chili's is here, and many Japanese/Indian/Italian//Vietnamese restaurants are everywhere. One can certainly go to places over a hundred dollars per plate, but also many many places for five dollars.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Normal insects as a result of a lot of humidity and rain. Mosquitoes and cockroaches if one is not diligent.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Dip pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Many couples with young children have nannies, but have to sponsor them. Others share a maid, for I think about US$300 a month part time.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many of the apartment buildings have gyms. There are also chains, which usually appear to be busy, but I don't know the cost.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We used to use our credit card almost exclusively to rack up United miles. Some smaller places don't take credit cards, but most places do. Some restaurants and taxis even take the easy card, which one uses to travel on the subway and buses. And to pay at some parking lots.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It is very useful to be able to ask questions and to direct taxi drivers. However, a lot of Taiwanese have studied in the states or Australia, and are almost always helpful.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Very safe and affordable. Subway and buses have English directions and will, among four languages, state in English the next stop. Most taxi drivers do not speak English, so best to have the address you want printed in Chinese. We have used Uber about three times, but the availability is low, probably in large part because there are so many taxis and they are very affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I would not bring a large SUV, as some streets are small with scooters parked everywhere. Having said that, one of the 'in' cars now is the Toyota Sienna, limited edition, so plenty of people are driving minivans. But I would recommend smaller if your family size allows. Several people at work did not even bother to bring a car, Taipei is certainly doable without one. Unless one lives up on Yangmingshan mountain.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

We have it included in our cable bill, pay about fifty dollars a month. Although the last few days it has been frustrating, usually it's fine for streaming video. We usually use Hulu or Netflix every night with no problem.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Either bring an unlocked phone and buy a SIM card or can sign a two year contract and get a new iPhone with it. We did both. Unlimited internet for twenty five dollars on the phone per month. Everyone has a cell here, so very easy to buy one or just get a sim.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Taiwan has strict rules. People usually have to start paperwork six months before they come, and their pets will be quarantined I think for three weeks. But they allow family members to visit the pet every day. One will see many people carrying their dogs or pushing them along in doggy strollers. Many vets and pet stylists here.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are many English teachers here, but I don't know the salary scale. None needs a work visa to work here, and I think most jobs would require fluency in Mandarin.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

In public usually relaxed. It is pretty hot most of the year, so shorts are common among all ages and both genders. Even very wealthy Taiwanese away from work are casually clothed.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Complacency is the biggest problem. Crime is very low, but the last couple of years have seen mentally ill persons attack people with knives on the subway. Everyone is so engrossed with their phones that they don't pay attention to events around them.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Very good healthcare here. Several doctors and dentists received their medical degrees in the States so no need for interpretation. When my wife had to spend four nights in a hospital she got her own room for basically US$330 a night.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Pretty good. Taiwan has moved many of its factories to the mainland or down south. Also, Taipei has an abundance of trees, everywhere.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Similar to a lot of SE Asia. Warm in the summer, up to 38C or so. Quite pleasant from late October through March. It does not go below 15C or so, although January and February can feel chilly with the rain. Typhoon season brings four or five typhoons, but the city is very well-organized with great infrastructure so it never floods in the city.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Taipei American School, which is about 85% rich Taiwanese kids who have an American or Canadian or Japanese passport, and the Taipei European School. TAS is good, although not as good as they revel in telling you they are, every week. The gap between TAS and a good Fairfax county high school is not that high. The school manages to confuse frequency of communication with effectiveness, so despite a multitude of emails each week they mange to leave out useful, needed information. And if your child likes to play sports, know that the school does not care about athletics. Parents will have to provide all of the support for the team. The kids sometimes get disheartened because they see how little support they get from the school administration.

We do have more kids now going to TES, for a variety of reasons. I am not at all sure that if we had the decision to make over again that we would not send our child to TES instead.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

TAS makes very little, and although TES is a bit better, they don't have the staff to really accommodate special needs. Families really need to research this before coming, I have seen two families really struggle here because they probably should not have come here for this reason.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

I know several parents have used Dalton, a chain here of preschools, but we have no direct experience.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Not that large, many of the former expat positions have been moved to Shanghai or Beijing or Singapore. Morale is very good, most people fully realize the safety and ease of living in Taipei. If someone is unhappy here, it can usually be traced back to their boss.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Eating out. Many eating out some more. Taipei is so big with so many restaurants one can never know them all. Also plenty of nice movie theaters. And lots of sports and hiking opportunities.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Certainly good for families. I have never heard singles, female or male, complain about life here either.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None that I have ever heard about, which certainly doesn't mean they don't exist. But in the main Taiwanese are too polite to really express prejudices.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The people are very friendly and polite. That is one of the reasons I think this is one of the better posts in the world, along with the transportation and safety.

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7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It is a very easy city to live in. Great public transportation, safe, with lots of good food. If one does not want dumplings every day there are many American food chains, but even better lots of Japanese and Indian restaurants. Unlike say Tokyo, the subway system has English everywhere so if one does not read Chinese, it is still very easy to get around.

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8. Can you save money?

Yes. Eating out can be relatively cheap, and travel on public transportation and the high speed rail down south is too. I think most expenses are incurred because people take advantage of the comparatively short flights to most of Asia for tourism.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. This is such a safe and easy place to live.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Snow gear. And belief that this is China. It is not the mainland, people here are polite and friendly.

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Taipei, Taiwan 08/02/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

no, previously lived in China and India

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

I'm from the East coast of the U.S. So it is a long trip back home but doable. Best route is Tokyo to Atlanta.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is mostly apartments with a few stand-alone houses with yards in Yangmingshan. People with large families sometimes like the houses but they are far away from work and a bit isolated from the city. You would definitely need a car. Tienmu is close to the American School and a very western neighborhood, but does not have its own metro stop. Dazhi is a great neighborhood with malls, restaurants, and very close to both hiking and the river biking paths, but apartments are smaller. Dazhi housing is the closest to the metro stop and is a 30 minute commute to work on the metro. There are also some apartments downtown but not necessarily close to work. A lot of single people live downtown but there are also some large apartments for families.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

I would say that food here costs the same or a bit less than in the U.S. There is a Costco here so you can get pretty much anything you want. It is not as cheap as the U.S. Costco but not too expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

you can basically get everything here. I even brought a ton of shampoo and conditioner here but was able to find the same brand here. There's even an Aveda store in Taipei. The one thing I could absolutely not find was tampons! At least you can order those online.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

many great Japanese restaurants that sell ramen noodles or sushi or Japanese barbecue that are good quality and much cheaper than in the U.S. There are also many Western restaurants that are cheaper than similar places in the U.S.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

mosquitoes are everywhere and bite a lot but they don't carry any diseases that I know of.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

AIT only has pouch, which is a bit slow. It takes about three weeks to receive mail from the U.S. And you cannot send things to the U.S. Through the pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

almost everybody has some sort of domestic help whether it is someone to clean once a week or a live-in nanny.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

there are more and more gyms opening in Taipei. World Gym is a large gym that has everything. There are two crossfit boxes. There are a few yoga studios and there is even a pole-dancing studio. Most local Taiwanese enjoy running and biking. There are many running races in and outside the city that are fun to participate in.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

There are ATMs around the city and you can use credit cards at most large stores. Cash is required for smaller shops and the markets.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Some basic Chinese definitely helps but I do know quite a few people who get by with no Chinese at all. There are quite a few people here who can speak English.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

the city seems very accessible. I have seen blind people and people in wheelchairs on the metro.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The metro in the city is reliable, safe, clean and much better than any metro system in the U.S. Taxis are safe, clean, reliable, and the bus system is also very convenient and clean. The trains are fast and convenient.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

i have a small SUV that has been great. It's small enough to navigate some of the tiny alleys but large enough to drive into the mountains. We love having a car here and have driven around the whole island. No security concerns at all.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High speed internet is available for cheaper than in the U.S. Taipei even has free wifi throughout the city.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

everyone here has an iPhone. The plans are cheaper than in the U.S. and the Internet here is fast.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

There is a 3 week quarantine for all pets entering Taiwan. It is very expensive, but the facility is clean and the vets and caretakers are knowledgeable and friendly. Once the pets are out of quarantine, Taiwan is a very pet-friendly post. Plenty of places to walk dogs (and even cats!), and there is a huge dog park near Dazhi. People in taiwan love animals.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

aside from teaching I do not know of any other good jobs.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

there are many animal welfare groups here that you could volunteer for.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Work is business clothes for Americans but locals dress very casually. Even at a nice restaurant you will see people in cutoff shorts and flip flops.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Taiwan is extremely safe! The only danger is that it is so safe it will make you lazy and careless about security. You could leave your apartment door unlocked and never have a problem. People have lost their wallets and had them returned with all of their money inside. I have seen people drop money on the metro and then be chased down by someone returning it. The only danger might be the traffic which is more chaotic than most Americans are used to.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

medical care here is excellent and cheaper than in the U.S.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

the air quality is getting slightly worse because of pollution from mainland China, but it is still always within safe levels. Some people with asthma have mentioned breathing problems, but most people who do not have a condition have not had any problems.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The climate is warm and tropical with a lot of rain. Summers are miserably hot and humid. Winters are cold and damp. In the spring and fall you will suddenly have days that are just gorgeous, but they won't last long!

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

there is the American school and the European school. Most families send their children to one of those. There are also some local or bilingual schools.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

AIT is much larger than any other foreign mission in Taipei so most of the expats are American. There are quite a few expats here who are teachers. It is easy to make friends outside of AIT which is nice.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

many great restaurants and some decent bars.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Families love it here. Taipei is definitely very kid-friendly. Couples without kids also enjoy going to restaurants and bars. People who like outdoor activities have a lot of fun. The dating scene might be tough if you are single. While there are more and more expats here every year, they tend to be college-aged students or people who have recently graduated college and are here teaching English. Older singles might not have many opportunities to meet people. People who do not like outdoor activities might be bored. There are some good bars and restaurants but maybe not enough to go out every night. Taipei is not a huge nightlife center but there are more and more bars popping up.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

yes, Taiwan is very gay-friendly and there are a few gay bars where you can meet people.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No, people in Taiwan are very friendly and polite to everyone and there is religious freedom here.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

outdoor activities in and around the city such as running, hiking, biking, walking the dog, waterskiing, surfing, stand up paddling and just hanging out at the beach.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

strolling around the little alleys you can find cute cafes, restaurants and boutiques. If you have a car getting out of the city is a lot of fun. The hiking is great and there are beautiful spots north of the city. Jiufen is a great spot to enjoy the view, drink tea, and buy pottery.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

ceramics, pottery, crazy tshirts from the night market

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Living in Taipei gives you the convenience of living in a small city as well as the opportunity to enjoy nature (something I have realized is rare when living in big cities in Asia). Taipei is a very comfortable city with all the conveniences you can imagine including a wonderful metro system and plenty of safe, clean cabs and reliable high speed rail. Along the river that runs through the city are miles and miles of bike paths and parks that are great for running, biking, and other sports. Yangmingshan national park is 30 minutes outside of the city and has many beautiful hiking trails. There are beaches an hour's drive from the city.

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10. Can you save money?

yes, if you don't travel off-island you can save a lot of money.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I had known how wonderful it was. I wouldn't have joined the foreign service - I would have just moved here! Most people here try to extend and now I know why. I don't want to leave!

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES! Definitely.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

snow gear, ski equipment

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4. But don't forget your:

raincoat and rain boots and thick sweater for the cold, damp winter

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Taipei, Taiwan 04/07/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Colorado. There is now a direct United flight to SFO, which is very easy. Otherwise, connections through Tokyo and direct United to Denver. Considering how far away Taiwan is from the U.S., the "commute" really is not bad at all. Also, EVA is a great airline, direct to LAX.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2.5 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is spread around the city, but there is an effort to find more units near the new office compound, in the Northern part of the city, in Dazhi or Neihu with an easy 30 minute commute door-to-door. Many singles and couples still live downtown. Families tend to be in Tienmu, near the American School. No metro access in this area means you may be more isolated, however, and I wouldn't recommend it for singles. Some families perfer the seperate houses in Yangmingshan, though it's a long ways from work. Most people are happy with their housing, or seem to be. The most common complaint would be size and lack of storage space. Still, the ease of moving around the city in cheap taxis or the Metro make everything accessable. People seem to really like the Dazhi neighborhood becuase it is close to parks and outdoor space, with an easy commute to work or the American School. There will likely be a lot of retail and restaurants in this area soon, but most are still under development.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can basically find everything. Cost is reasonable, cheap if you buy at the local wet markets. Wash everything though! There have been a lot of local food safety issues, which is a bit surprising - and scary.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

If there was a way to get good, cheap cheese.... Other than that, you can find most everything you need. There's a local Ikea and Costco. Amazon deliveries are 2-3 weeks.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Starbucks, TGIF, Chilis etc. Lots of sidewalk noodle shops. Excellent Japanese food. A few options for GOOD western food, though your standards fall quickly. Decent steak houses, some good Italian and Indian. Awesome ramen. Limited Thai.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

No DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We employ a once/week, half day cleaner for approximately US$30/week.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

We belong to World Gym, which is a poor imitation of a Western gym. But, it's convienant. About US$50/month. There's an active local Cross Fit community. AIT has a small gym. There are yoga studios, running clubs, biking, hiking etc.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Totally safe.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not sure, but it seems there are many services. Taiwan is one of the most religiously diverse places in the world.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. It helps, obviously, especially outside of Taipei. But, you can survive easily without langauge.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

No, would be a very easy city. Except for the hills in Tienmu and some uneven sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taiwan has the best metro in the world, without compare. It's cheap, clean, fast, and reliable. Taxis are honest and cheap. This has also been a highlight of our time here, the incredible public transportation.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I think most anything would be OK. What's a carjacking?

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

We pay US$30/month (I think....) for moderatly fast internet. We use a VPN and are often uploading or downloading major files, streaming videos etc, so some of the issues may be in-house.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Taiwan basically invented cell phones. About US$30/month for 3 or 4G.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, long quarantine - three weeks. It's expensive, but seems to be high quality. They let you visit your animal while the pet is in quarantine. Good pet care on the island. Many dogs around; many dogs in baby carriages (strange but true). Surprisingly lots of stray mountain dogs though! Taiwan could do more to promote spaying/neutering.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Eh. Not really. You could probably substitute at the American School. Otherwise, langauge is a barrier. There are a few EFM jobs, though many require Chinese.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Probably quite a few, though langauge might be a barrier. There are a lot of animal welfare and rescue groups.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

At work is business, for Americans. The "rules" for the local staff is less strict with some interesting results. Men wear suits and jackets to meetings.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Ha, no. I hear of more people getting lost items back, than I do of theft.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No health care concerns. To the contrary, most people with any medical issue would be well take care of on the island. Medical care is good and cheap. Most doctors are U.S. educated and there are enough that you can shop around until you find one you like.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Seems to be getting worse! Just walking to work from the metro (about 5 minutes), you feel the pollution. Still not near as bad as most other Asian big cities. Most houses are away from down town where pollution is worse.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Maybe some seasonal allergies?

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Great except for summer which is truly miserable.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The American School is amazing. The facilities are out of this world, better than some U.S. colleges. Still, the academics are intense and some parents are put off to find their previously "gifted" student isn't in the highest level math class, for instance. All the local parents are convinced their kid is going to a school in Boston, and have 2-3 after hour tutors lined up to help make that happen. I think TAS recognizes this and seems to have increased the number of "normal" classes, support staff, sports, activities etc, to support those 13 year olds who aren't in Calc II, for expample. Still, this intensity sees some families choose the European School, which also has a good reputation.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Increasingly more so. Still, these are private schools and some families may need to do extra research to ensure their kids are going to thrive.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Not sure, though it seems like most people have to interview many places before finding a good fit.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

TAS has a wide variety of sports or after school activities, most all of which cost money.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The U.S. presence on the island is about 10x that of the next major "diplomatic" partner. So, you miss the larger expat community. But, people living/working at AIT seem to be very happy, especially families. Most everyone tries to extend.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Well..... Taiwan is not a (alcohol) drinking culture. There are very few bars for a city this size, you end up going to the same five places over and over. Most young Taiwan singles and couples seem to go to cafes and restaurants to hang out, drinking juice and taking pictures of their desserts for hours on end. Many American singles and couples lament the lack of casual drinking establishments, sports bars, happy hours, etc. Still there are some night clubs, plenty of outdoor activities, great restaurants etc.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Families like it the most. Some couples may get bored, especially if they aren't outdoor types. Singles, also might be bored at the lack of after-hours activities. The locals grow up very slowly, the local 20-year old Taiwanese is socially equal to a 16 year old American. So, socially, it can be a very quiet place. The dating scene would be very difficult for anyone not interested in dating locals. But, the quality of life is excellent, just a lot quieter than you would expect for such a large city.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely. Taiwan is incredibly gay friendly, in my opinion. First gay pride parade in Asia. It may even be the first to legalize gay marriage.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The only issue I've heard of is with Asians who don't speak Chinese, that always surprises the locals. Still, they are too friendly and passive to do/say anything offensive. To the contrary, they give foreigners a lot of deference which is sometimes a little odd.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Taipei is great, really a perfect little Eden. We've loved living in such a safe place. Everyone is very friendly and will go out of their way to help you. Unlike so many places, they love Americans and really want you to love Taiwan. The regional travel has been a real highlight too. The Japanese food has been a great surprise. Not sure how I will handle not having access to cheap, high quality sushi.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots of little neighborhoods to explore - Huashan, YongKong, Ximending, the streets around Zhongxiao Dunhua. Tiapei seems to be undergoing a lot of changes, there is always a new restaurant or area to explore. Silks Palace in Taroko is amazing for a few days. The weekend flower market is one of my personal faves.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Nothing. Taiwan doesn't really make anything besides semi-conductors. There are fun teas, local ceramics etc, but there isn't really a typical Taiwan product or gift.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Safe! Taiwan is incredibly safe and friendly. It's like a larger, Asian Mayberry. There is basically no crime; they don't even jaywalk! Day trips around Taipei, into Yangmingshan are easy and gorgeous. Touring around Taiwan is limited, however. Taroko Gorge is truly amazing, and....that's about it. The mid-mountain range is beautiful, but not really established as a proper tourist destination, yet. Sun Moon Lake is a lake. But, excellent regional travel. It can be expensive to get off the island during major holidays, but you can't do anything about that. The weather is great, except in the summer which is wretched - hoooot and humid. Stay inside or plan to leave the island. You can save money here; the cost of local food, goods and services is very reasonable.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, we've traveled a lot and managed to save money and pay off debts.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Taiwan people are SO friendly, but with that also SO passive and a bit naive. You need to be very patient as it can be a bit like dealing with children! They won't make a difficult decision or do anything that would "rock the boat." Very timid people. But kind, considerate, (Very!) well educated, amazing people.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Totally.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Snow gear, unless you want to go skiing in Japan!

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4. But don't forget your:

Tampons. Seriously.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

In the end, you'll find the things you complain about are incredibly trivial. Taiwan is awesome.

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Taipei, Taiwan 09/12/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Baghdad, Iraq and Bern Switzerland.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home based in DC, travel takes about 18-20 hours transiting through Tokyo Narita airport.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is downtown (singles and families without school aged children)- 5 minute commute 80NT cab ride, Dazhi (singles and some families) -20-30 minutes ride on the MRT for 18NT, Tienmu (4-5 family members) and Yangminshan (big families) both use the AIT shuttle for US$2.70 each way.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are about 1.5 times more expensive than USA, but there is Costco where you can stock up on U.S. goods.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Not much, everything is available.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

American chain restaurants of Chilis, TGI Fridays, Gordon Biersch, Macaroni Grill, Outback Steakhouse, KFC, McDonalds, and a few others are all over the city. They are more expensive than in the USA, but delicious. All local restaurants are safe and delicious.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitos are out there. I kept a bug zapper in my apartment, which would find many flying victims every week.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I have sent a few packages through the local post office easily and cheaply to the USA. Receiving packages from the USA through AIT takes 2-4 weeks. Letters oddly were taking 5 weeks.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Many Filipino, and a few Thai maids available for 250-300NTD an hour. Most singles hire a maid for 4 hours a week. Easy to find.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is a smallish gym at AIT, but there are a few American style gyms throughout Taipei. I used to go to the World Gym in Taipei 101, it was really nice, had fitness classes and a great view.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

This is a cash culture, but ATMs are abundant and safe.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Protestant services are available. Mormon church is large and has a strong following.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

I had Chunghwa MOD tv service for 1,100 NTD a month. Most programs were in Chinese and English, with many American TV series and sports available. Taipei Times is a pretty good news paper.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Knowing Mandarin is very helpful, but I know many expats who never bothered to learn any Chinese and have lived in Taiwan for over a decade without a problem.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Sidewalks are mostly paved with marble which gets extremely slippy when it rains and not all businesses are accessible by anything other than stairs.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All are cheap, safe and reliable. Get a smart phone with a maps program to help figure out the bus system, but once you do, it is extremely easy to get anywhere in the city, cheaply.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

No issues. I brought a very large American sedan. It was hard to park, and parts weren't available. Toyotas are everywhere, which would make it easier for parts and repairs.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available and CHEAP! Cost is about 800NTD for 20mpbs.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Chunghwa Telecom covers the city really well.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

3 weeks and a lot of paperwork.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Great, Taiwanese treat their pets very well.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

English teaching jobs are available for anyone who speaks English. Other than that, not many jobs on the local economy for expats.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at work, but in public shorts and a battered white t-shirt with flip flops is the standard for Taiwanese men. For women, super short shorts are ok, but cleavage is frowned upon.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

It is very, very safe crime wise. But, I have had some issues with persons with mental issues getting excited about seeing a foreigner.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is outstanding! Most doctors are U.S. trained, speak English, and costs are very low. Dentists and Opticians seem to be more prevalent than Starbucks.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate, there are some scooters that pollute, but this isn't Beijing. If you need cleaner air, the mountains are close.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very hot and humid in the summer. Grey and cool, not cold, in the winter. It rains a lot in Taipei, so having a sturdy umbrella is a very good idea.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Taipei American school and Taipei European School are the go-to places. I don't have kids yet, so no direct experience, but both schools are very well respected.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There are few other diplomatic expats outside of AIT, but numerous English teachers.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very High! Taiwan is a fantastic assignment.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Famous bands (i.e. Megadeth, Lady Gaga), traveling shows (i.e. Cirque Du Solei) all make a stop in Taipei. There are bars, KTV, and a bunch of night markets to keep you entertained.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a good city for all groups, but, it is not Bangkok. Nightlife is somewhat tame for singles.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Very Good! My gay friends have not experienced any issues and there is a large and vibrant gay scene.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Nope. Taiwan is very accepting of most foreigners. I have heard some stories from darker skinned or Asians from other countries receiving some difficulty with service, but in comparison to what I saw in Europe, it is not that bad.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling outside of Taipei (Taroko Gorge, Kaoshiung, the mountains surrounding Taipei, etc.) The drive down the east coast from Taipei to Hualian was the most beautiful and engaging road trips I have ever done.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

FOOD! Great food available all over the city. National Palace museum, artist village, Taipei 101, shopping, night markets and some great parks. Day trips outside the city to the coast are easy and a great way to get out of the city.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Tea, there is some amazing tea available.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The safety and friendly people. I have had people run out of their house to give me an umbrella when I was caught in a rain storm. I have gone out at 2am and never worried about safety. It really is a great place to live.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, eating can be cheaper than cooking. Avoiding western food and goods makes living super cheap.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, I would move back if I could.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Weapons, love of open space, impatience.

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3. But don't forget your:

Electronics (very expensive in Taiwan).

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Taipei, Taiwan 07/07/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

It's always about a 24 hour trip from Asia to the US, no matter what. United is the contract carrier, and most all connections are through Tokyo. United is supposed to open a Taipei - San Francisco route, but it keeps getting delayed. A new Tokyo - Denver route was opened June 2013.

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3. How long have you lived here?

11 Months

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government - Foreign Service

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

AIT is working to move more people towards the New Office Compound in the Neihu neighborhood. So they are placing more singles and couples in the Dazhi neighborhood, whereas they had previously been assigned downtown. Commute time from Dazhi to either new or old AIT is 20-30 minutes. Families live in Tienmu or on the mountain, Yang Ming Shan. There is an AIT shuttle for these, but the commute is still an hour, one way.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Western style groceries and grocery stores are increasingly popular. Still, some "familiar" goods may be more expensive. You can find most everything you need if you hunt or ask around.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

We can find most everything we need here. And Amazon is so useful for any cosmetic particulars, for instance.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

In Taipei, people tend to eat out more than they cook at home. Thus, there are thousands of restaurants at every price point. McDonald's, Burger King, Subway etc. Though I'm not sure why anyone would eat there with so many other options.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We are in a highrise apartment and have no bug issues.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We are more limited than other posts in what we can send because there is no diplomatic pouch. But recieving goods is no problem.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Many families employ a full-time "helper." Part-time help costs appx $250 NTD/hour, or just under $8/hour. Many singles and couples will hire someone to come over and clean for a half day, once a week. No problem.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. AIT has a very small gym, as do many of the apartment buildings. Large Western-style gyms are increasingly popular.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Very safe. I've never even heard of anyone having an issue.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We do Hulu and Netflix via VPN.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It obviously helps, especially as you get out of Taipei. In Taipei, all public transportation and street signs are in english. Many people speak enough english to help you get by.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Everything is fairly handicap-friendly. Lots of escalators, good sidewalks etc. Certain areas of the city, like Tienmu, are very hilly though.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

YES! Such great public trasportation - metro, buses, cabs etc. All are very reliable and cheap!

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

People have all kinds of cars of various makes and models. No problems.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Obviously. I think about $30/ month?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

AIT will help you set up a plan with one of various Smartphones including iPhones. Very common and useful here.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, three weeks. And there is a significant amount of paper work.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, pet ownership is increasingly popular in Taipei.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are plenty of jobs for someone who wants to teach English. The American School, however, only hires "real" teachers or people with a teaching degree and experience. Other than that, I'm not sure.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Ties, suits, heels.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No. None. Zero.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Great medical care. Most doctors are U.S. trained. We've had equal if not better care here than we had in the U.S. -- and at a minimal cost.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate. Some air pollution resulting from the scooters, but otherwise OK.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Summer is HOT and HUMID. It's a sub-tropical climate, so lots of humidity and rain. But spring and fall are very nice. The humidity makes the winter feel colder than it actually is, but still not too bad.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No kids, but hear great things about the Taipei American School.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I have heard that TAS is doing more to make accommodations for special-needs kids, such as hiring special-ed or experienced teachers.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

This is a mid-size post with approximately 150 AIT American FSOs.

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2. Morale among expats:

High, people seem to like living here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

My only complaint would be the fact that it's not a huge drinking culture. Drinks are served at dinners or at night clubs, but there aren't many casual bars, or dive bars here. The lounges and cocktail bars can be fun, KKTV isn't too bad. Beyond that, there is still lots to do. You can have as much fun as you want -- you might just have to look harder than at other posts.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, Yes, Yes. As with most Asian posts, women looking to date may be disappointed. Still, there are a lot of fun things to do here: decent bars and nightclubs, good restaurants, etc. Great for couples and families.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, especially for Asia. There are several fun gay bars.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There is a strong emphasis on the beauty of pale skin, so some African-American colleagues have felt a bit uncomfortable.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

We love the fact that from our apartment we can be in the heart of Taipei or up in the mountains, either way in 20 minutes. Taiwan is incredibly diverse with mountains, beaches, cities etc. The people are some of the friendliest in the world.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Markets, hiking, biking, massages, restaurants, etc. All the convienences of a big, modern city.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Hmmm, most interesting products here are imported. But we have beautiful flowers (orchids) around the house for 1/5th of what they cost in the states.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Taipei is the safest place I have every lived! It's incredible. I've heard of more lost purses and wallets being returned than stolen. Also, the public transportation is fantastic.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't spend it all on regional travel and expensive restaurants.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Totally. Without question.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

winter gear. It gets cold(ish), but a medium-weight coat and sweater are fine.

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3. But don't forget your:

umbrella, rain boots and rain coat.

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Taipei, Taiwan 05/13/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Milan.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

US, about 24 hours. There are direct flights from Taipei to LAX, but most of the time we connect through Tokyo and then to the west coast.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2.5 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. State Department.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

State Department housing varies from 3-5 bedroom houses with yards on Yangmingshan, to large apartments in TienMu, to smaller (but nice) apartments downtown. I live on Yangmingshan. It is 45 minutes to AIT. From TienMu it is 30 minutes. AIT provides a shuttle and public transportation is easy.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries cost more than the U.S., but they are do-able. We have three Costcos (and I heard more to come), and they have lots of US products. We can't complain.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I'm picky about makeup and hair products, so I bring both. Bring your own deodorant because it is almost impossible to find. Also, bring a certain unmentionable female sanitary product that most American women prefer, but hasn't seemed to catch on in many other parts of the world. In fact, bring a large supply of the afore-mentioned products if needed. You can order them off Amazon if necessary, but they are nearly impossible to find on the local market. Also bring children's pain relievers and cold medicine.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King, Subway. Other American restaurants include Chili's, TGI Fridays, and Macaroni Grill, but you pay about twice what you would in the U.S. Local restaurants are cheap. Great dumplings, Indian and Thai food.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes and cockroaches are problems. As are the huge spiders.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We do all mailing through AIT. We have a pouch address, but it isn't a regular DPO. We can't get any liquids.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Readily available. Most domestic helpers are Filipina, but there are also Thai and Indonesian helpers available. Cost is around $10US per hour for part-time or $800US per month for full-time live-in.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards can be used in many larger restaurants, gas stations, and malls. But most purchases are done with cash. ATMs are readily available at 7-Elevens,, which are on almost every street.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic, Mormon, Baptist, Non-denomonational Christian.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It helps, but it is not mandatory. I speak only pleasantries and get along fine. Taiwanese learn English in school, so most speak at least some. And they are very willing to step in and help if necessary.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Sidewalks are a little bumpy and uneven, but by and large I think the Taiwanese would be quite accommodating.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Very safe and very cheap. The taxis in Taipei are the cleanest, nicest taxis I've ever experienced. However, most of the drivers don't speak English. But they are very friendly. I usually show them my destination on Google Maps on my iPad, and they can always get me where I need to go. Buses and MRT are safe and clean. My kids use all forms of public transportation, day and night, and have never had a problem. One of my favorite things about Taipei is the freedom my kids have to get around the city.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You can drive almost anything here. There are lots of luxury cars. Smaller cars are easier to park. We drive a minivan and have never had a problem.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Great internet; quite fast. About $30 per month.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, and it's a bit of a problem.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Many good vets.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

AIT jobs for State Department EFMs, some jobs at the international schools, and some English-teaching jobs.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Similar to US.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Only if you drive a scooter; then you take your life in your hands. Otherwise, this is the safest place I've ever been.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Great healthcare, dental, orthodontic, physical therapy. Most doctors and dentists are American trained.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very wet. Mold is a problem. Spring and Fall are beautiful. Winter is a little cold, and Summer is very hot. It is always humid.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Most State Department families send their kids to Taipei American School. It is a great school that is highly respected in the international school community. We have had a great experience there. However, it is a highly competative school with a lot of homework. We have had to hire tutors for our kids. If your kids are gifted, there is no better place for them. If they are normal, average students, they will struggle. Most of the students come from very wealthy local families who are trying to get their kids into US Ivy League universities. Tiger Moms abound! And the school caters to those families. But the school has lots of money and resources for helping kids catch up to their standards. Quite a few State Department families also send their kids to Taipei European School. Families seem happy with it. There are also a few religious schools. If TAS or TES won't accept your kids, the religious schools usually will.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

TAS and TES don't have the accommodations for kids with more serious special needs. But TAS has a great resource department for kids with mild learning issues. Not sure about TES. Taipei American Adventist School accepts more kids with special needs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Many to choose from. Some expats send their kids to a local preschool that is all Chinese. Others send them to schools that are half Chinese and half English. TAS and TES also have highly-respected preschools, but they are more expensive.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. TAS has a huge program at the school called TYPA. They have every class imaginable. TES also has after school programs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very happy. If you can't be happy in Taipei, then you shouldn't be living overseas.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Fun restaurants, nightclubs, karaoke bars, movie theaters, and baseball games. Lots of American singers and musical groups do concerts in Taipei.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for families. Singles and couples also seem happy here. There seems to be a fun nightlife downtown.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It seems fine. The Taiwanese are very accepting.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The people. The Taiwanese are some of the kindest people we have ever met. Also, Taiwan is incredibly safe. Our kids ride public transportation at night, and we never worry. Also, there are great places to visit around SE Asia, such as Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Singapore.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Temples, night markets, beaches, hot springs, shopping for jade, pearls, ceramics, and silk.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Jade, pearls, silk, and pottery.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Lots of great things to do, very friendly people, fun cultural opportunities.

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11. Can you save money?

We about break even.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

In a heartbeat. I could live here for the rest of my life.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

wool sweaters and parkas.

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3. But don't forget your:

rain gear, umbrellas, mosquito repellant, and deoderant.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

The biggest drawback to living in Taiwan is that it is an island, so you have to fly to go anywhere. And flights aren't cheap out of Taipei.

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Taipei, Taiwan 05/28/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

My third.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

USA: about 24 hours through Japan and one stop in the States.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Spouse of a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Lots of apartments in the cities. If one is with AIT, they have apartments near AIT, apartments in Tienmu and then some 3-5 bedroom, single-family houses on Yangmingshan. The commute from Tienmu is about 30 minutes, from Yangmingshan, 45 minutes.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find just about anything here if you are willing to pay the price. There are a few little stores that carry hard-to-find groceries, but you pay for them: $1 for a Dr. Pepper, $11 for Crisco and such. They also have Costco for bulk purchases and Wellcome and RTMart that are more typical grocery stores. Lots of fruit and veggie stalls in the city.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Anything liquid you really want to have. Medicines, sunscreen, favorite conditioners.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

BK, McD, KFC, dumpling stands, fried rice and all kinds of stalls if you walk through the nightmarkets or tourist towns. Plus lots of sit-down places everywhere.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

I think gluten-free items would be hard to come by.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We have plenty of ants and spiders, but you just have to stay on top of treating for the ants.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have DPO for receiving mail and sending letters, but we have used the local post office as well. A bit expensive, but not terrible.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It isn't as cheap as where I have been, but somewhere around $600 for full-time or $30 for half a day.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, throughout the city.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

They have the machines everywhere, but we choose not to use them.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Plenty.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I know little and have done okay. There is usually someone around who will help you out if you really need it.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be hard, as sidewalks are limited and don't always have ramps.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All is readily available. Buses and metro rides are cheap and easy. Taxis, I think, are a bit expensive, and you never know if the driver will speak English or not.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Smaller would be easier, but we have a minivan and do okay. For repairs or oil changes we just give it to the motor pool and they take care of it or get someone to do it. It has all been done without much expense.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

I think we pay $30 a month and it is fast and decent internet.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We pay US$30 a phone for unlimited usage. There are cheaper plans as well.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, and lots of paperwork ahead of time.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Lots of nice vets. But no kennels.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Maybe teaching.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Suits and ties or women's equivalent for work. After work you will see jeans, shorts, and skirts.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical and dental care here are good.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Rain, rain, rain, with cool winters. We saw some dips into the 30's during our first winter and plenty of 40's. Hot humid summers. The rain here isn't a shower and then sun. It rains for days. It made Dec. and Jan. particularly hard for me, as the sun only comes out for a few days for the entire month, and it is too cold to just play in the rain. Even during the rest of year, it is usual to have weeks of rain with a few days of sun and then more cloudy rainy days.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The three I know something about are Taipei American School, Taipei European School, and Taipei Adventist American School. It seems they all have their issues, but they are still good schools.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

TAAS seems willing to take on kids with issues, but you need to make sure they can offer the support your child needs. The classes are small. TAS and TES will take special-needs kids on a case-by-case basis, with TES seeming a tad more willing. They have a speech therapist and reading help in the lower grades, at least. They, however, were unwilling to take my son, who has a severe speech issue and needed speech daily.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschools are around in Chinese, or if you don't mind paying, TYPA at TAS and TES have preschools. There are none on Yangmingshan-

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

TYPA offers lots of classes for elementary and middle school. The schools offer them as well.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

Seems great for those I have talked to.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it could be good for all. There is a nightlife, if you like, and activities for kids and places to visit.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I haven't heard of any, unless you look Chinese and don't speak it.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Temples, beaches, night markets, beaches, Taipei 101, the zoo, movies.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Travel.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

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11. Can you save money?

If you are single or a tandem couple.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, we have enjoyed our time here. We are on Yangmingshan, and the kids love having other kids to play with close by.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

snow gear.

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3. But don't forget your:

rain gear and some cool-weather clothes. It gets colder here than I thought it would.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Taipei, Taiwan 06/10/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

First time.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Since August 2006 - almost three years now.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US State Department.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Direct flights to LA and San Francisco on Taiwan carriers, but most US diplomats fly via Tokyo on United. With a layover in Tokyo, the trip from the East Coast takes almost 24 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Very spacious and modern. Housing is scattered across the city, but most families live on Yangmingshan Mountain (30-40 minute commute to the city) in well-maintained houses with yards. Couples and singles are housed closer to AIT (20-30 minute walk) in the Da-An district. Tienmu is another housing location set in the foothills of Yangmingshan with one of the biggest concentrations of ex-pats in the city - close to the schools.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Dairy products, beer, wine, liquor, and cereal will set you back more than in the US, but you can't beat the price of local veggies, fruits, fish, chicken, pork, tea, rice, etc. Costco has lots of American hard-to-find goods in bulk prices. Sour cream, buttermilk, cottage cheese, western yogurt, baking supplies can be difficult to impossible to find.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Good beer, wine, and liquor all of which are expensive and hard to find.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

CHEAP! My wife and I rarely spend more than $10 for two eating out in Taipei. More varieties of Chinese food than you'll ever find in any big mainland city. Every block has at least 2 or 3 places to eat. Lots of great cheap international food as well in Taipei. Most of the usual American fast food chains are here of course.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Taiwan Post can be a bit pricey to send packages to the States, but AIT has a pouch service for mail (2 weeks each way).

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Many affordable and highly qualified domestic workers available.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Lots of big fancy gyms all over the city. Lots of parks also have simple workout machines. There are running tracks and pools all over as well.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most small stores and restaurants are cash only, but there are ATMs at every 7-11 (which means every corner - sometimes 2 or 3 on a corner).

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable TV has CNN, Discovery, National Geographic, and a bunch of movie channels in English. The China Post and the Taipei Times both have English versions, plus the Herald Tribune can be found some places.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It definitely helps to be able to speak some Chinese - numbers, directions, etc. Many people speak English in the cities, but it gets a bit tougher in less populated areas. Luckily Chinese is a pretty forgiving language and the Taiwanese love helping foreigners learn. Set up a language exchange to get free lessons!

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Only the major streets have sidewalks (which can be sloped and have small steps), so getting around on foot can be a hassle on the smaller alleys and lanes where pedestrians are low on the pecking order behind scooters, cars, and taxis. The MRT (subway) is very accessible for people with disabilities, but buses rarely have lifts for wheelchairs.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Very very cheap and safe. Basic fare in cabs starts at around $2.50 - most rides are less than $5.The subway (MRT) costs a dollar or two for most trips - half that for the bus.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A small compact car is nice to have for trips outside the city, but you don't need a car for trips around town - the MRT and buses go everywhere. Parking is cheap, but not very easy to find.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

We have a speedy 1MB/s DSL connection for $35/month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Every model ever made is probably available for sale in Taipei. Lots of prepaid options, and very affordable monthly plans. I paid $9/month for plenty of minutes and texts.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are lots of vets in town. Check out Animals Taiwan if you're interested in helping with rescued cats and dogs.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Lots and lots of English teaching opportunites that pay pretty well.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Taipei is stuck in the middle of a basin, so smog accumulates frequently - especially on hot humid summer days. It's still a far cry from the pollution levels on the mainland, but clear crisp air is fairly rare. The cities along the coasts have better weather and air quality.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Taipei is one of the the safest cities I've ever spent time in. I've never felt hesitant about being anywhere in the city at any time of day. The roads can be dangerous, however, so watch out for scooters careening down city streets (and sidewalks) at 80kph.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Generally high quality hospitals and health care - much cheaper than in the US, although submitting paperwork for insurance reimbursement is a bit of a pain. Our son was born at the Adventist hospital, and we were very satisfied with the doctors and care provided.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very hot, sticky, and humid during the summer, which can last from May to October. Cooler (in the 40s-50s sometimes) and damp during the "winter" months. Lots of heavy rain and typhoons during the summer.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No school-age children yet, but lots of families are starting to switch to the European School instead of the bigger American School.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Lots of excellent household help/nannies available to work.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Lots of English teachers and diplomats. Join the frisbee team (Renegade Province), a soccer/baseball/softball/basketball team, the hashers, hiking clubs, etc. and you'll meet lots of great people.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very high.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Some fun bars and clubs downtown. Nice movie theaters with all the latest Hollywood productions. Bustling night markets.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Excellent! Lots of interesting museums (one of the biggest collections of Chinese art in the world), parks, playgrounds, water parks, glitzy shopping malls, amazing restaurants (very affordable prices), fun bars and clubs, bike paths along the rivers, hiking trails and hot springs within city limits, great public transportation, and incredibly friendly people.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None that I've noticed.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Loads. Night markets, bike paths, hiking, hot springs, observation deck on the world's tallest building, shopping malls, rock climbing, mountain biking, movie theaters, IMAX, paintball, laser tag, karaoke, beef noodle soup, flower markets, giant bookstores, ferris wheels, SCUBA, potstickers, Chinese cooking classes, wet markets, surfing, beaches, bubble tea, the zoo, baseball games, ex-pat sports teams (soccer, baseball, rugby, frisbee, basketball, etc.), golf, tennis, hash house harriers, antiques, electronics, bowling, mahjong, Tai Chi, dragon boats, firecrackers, lantern festival, water parks, golf, tea houses, comedy clubs, Chinese lessons, teaching English.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Beautiful furniture and artwork from the mainland, caligraphy,

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9. Can you save money?

Definitely. 30% COLA. Super-cheap food and restaurants. Depends on how much you travel, but most places in SE Asia are pretty cheap anyway.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

For sure!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Skis, down parka, traffic rules, clear crisp skies, wide open spaces

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3. But don't forget your:

Umbrella, hiking boots, swim cap for hot springs and pools, surfboard, SCUBA gear, bike, sunblock

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Must see/do: Taroko Gorge, Green Island, Sun Moon Lake, Kenting, driving the east coast road, rock climbing at Long Dong, Wulai hot springs, Beitou public hot springs, Yangmingshan hiking, eating Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung, people watching at Ximending, Taipei Main Station, all the night markets, all-you-can-eat hot pot, handicraft market, exploring the bike paths, beef noodle soup festival, lantern festival, western breakfast/brunch at The Diner,

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