Moving to Taiwan

 

When the Portuguese sailors breathlessly exclaimed, “Ilha Formosa!” (Beautiful Island) upon the discovery of this island, it was because of the panoramic peaks, lush greenery, crater lakes, waterfalls and hot springs of ancient Taiwan.

Most Westerners might raise their brows at this claim, as unsightly signs of neglect in modern Taiwan are everywhere. However, you only need to look a little deeper to find the beauty these explorers were able to witness.

This ugly duckling has been transformed. It is like a real life version of Urban Planning Game or SimCity.  Yes, Taiwan is the most computer-savvy destination in Asia. Statistics shows that only 5% of the Taiwanese population (including infants) does not possess their mobile phone. 75% of households have Internet access and 45% of the population shop online. 

Dubbed by the New York Times as "the most underrated tourist destination in Asia," Taiwan boasts Austronesia roots, Chinese and Japanese influence, a hybrid blend of cultures and beliefs, a balance between the old and postmodern world, unforgettable attractions and, most of all, the extraordinary Taiwanese warmth. Lest we forget, Taiwan is also one of the Four Asian Tigers, along with Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea.

There are countless reasons to move to Taiwan. Taipei, the capital city, is home to must-see temples and museums; Wulai provides the mountains, rivers, and wildlife; Penghu's beaches remind you of Hawaii; South Cross Island has the peaks and hot springs; Tainan's temples, old relics, and traditional food are the portal to ancient Taiwan; Pinglin serves as the tea-growing region and the adventurer's paradise. The list goes on.

Japan lies to the northeast, Mainland China to the southeast and the Philippines to the south. Situated on the Tropic of Cancer in Asia, the climate is marine tropical, and typhoons and earthquakes are quite common in the region. With the rainy season between January and March and hot, humid summers from June to September, it is advisable to bring appropriate attire for each season and arm yourself with a trusty umbrella when going outdoors.

Taiwanese shops offer cheaper clothes than most Western countries; hence, you could pack lightly and purchase clothes when you get there. But then again, Asians are typically smaller in frame so expats of above average height or weight should take as many clothes as they can.

To bring or not to bring pets? The limited number of kennels, boarding facilities, veterinarians, and pet supplies in Taiwan can be discouraging. For specific details on government regulations for importing your canine or feline friends,  visit ExpatFinder's pet relocation section. 

Gift giving is common; it is expected when invited to a home for dinner, Chinese New Year, births, weddings, and funerals. Choice gifts in Taiwan are fruits, chocolates, wines and pastries - preferably branded ones. It is best not to give white envelopes or wrapping gifts in white, as the color is associated with death.

Most importantly, make sure to bring an open mind and cheerful readiness for what awaits you in Taiwan. Familiarize yourself with the local delicacies. No matter what religious beliefs you hold, give a temple a visit, and read up on Buddhism and Taoism. People might be happy to communicate with you in English, but surprise your colleagues once in a while with a quip in Mandarin. It will truly make your stay in Taiwan all the more pleasant.

 

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