Amidst the dynamic landscape of global relocations, Taiwan emerges as a compelling destination that harmonizes tradition and modernity. For those considering moving in 2023, this article, authored by Eastgate Relocation, will serve as a definitive guide to navigating this enchanting place that offers a rich cultural heritage and thriving technology hubs. Its safety, effective healthcare, and quality of life contribute to its attractiveness as a relocation choice.
Against this backdrop, Eastgate Relocation surfaces as a seasoned expert in Taiwan’s tourism destination management, with a legacy dating back to 1990. Renowned for its proficiency in providing referral and immigration solutions, the company orchestrates seamless transitions for both multinational corporations and individual service recipients. It’s worth noting that Eastgate Relocation is a trusted partner of the Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group, a testament to its extensive network and collaborative approach. For more information and assistance, please visit www.eastgate-relocation.com.
Discover the synergy of Taiwan’s attractiveness and Eastgate Relocation’s recommendations as you embark on a well-informed relocation journey in 2023.
SECTION 1: UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS
What It’s Like to Live in Taiwan
As one of the travel writers once said, “Taiwan is a hugely underrated gem of Asia, and any time you spend there will be richly rewarded.” The rich historical background is formed by the different ethnic groups that have contributed to the diversity of its unique culture. The people are very friendly and hospitable, especially to foreigners. Living in Taiwan offers a unique blend of modernity, rich culture, and natural beauty. Here’s an overview of what it’s like to live in Taiwan:
Convenience: There are over 11,000 convenience stores all over Taiwan. These convenience stores are open 24/7, providing round-the-clock access to various products and services. They are not just places to buy snacks and drinks. You can also pay bills, print documents, send packages, and even buy event tickets at some locations. The convenience store culture in Taiwan is deeply ingrained in everyday life, making it easy for both locals and tourists to access essential items and services at any time of the day or night.
Cost of Living: The cost of living in Taiwan varies depending on the city and lifestyle. Generally, it’s considered affordable compared to many Western countries, especially for basics like food and transportation.
Safety: Taiwan is considered one of the safest places to live in the world. Crime rates are low, and people generally feel secure both during the day and at night.
Food: Taiwanese cuisine is famous worldwide for its diversity and deliciousness. From street food like stinky tofu to gourmet dining, Taiwan offers a wide range of culinary experiences. Night markets are especially popular for sampling local dishes.
Natural Beauty: Taiwan is known for its stunning natural landscapes, including lush mountains, beautiful coastlines, and hot springs. Hiking and outdoor activities are popular among residents and tourists alike.
Healthcare: Taiwan boasts an excellent healthcare system. It offers universal healthcare coverage, which means access to quality medical services is affordable and widely available.
Transportation: Taiwan has an efficient and extensive public transportation system, including a high-speed rail network. Buses and trains can easily take you around the island. Many people also use scooters as a convenient mode of transportation.
YouBike: YouBike is a public bike-sharing system in Taiwan that also provides convenient and eco-friendly transportation options for residents and tourists. It allows users to rent bicycles from various docking stations located throughout Taipei and other major cities in Taiwan.
Technology and Innovation: Taiwan remains a global technology hub, known for its electronics industry. It’s home to companies like TSMC, ASUS, and Acer. This environment fosters innovation and job opportunities in the tech sector.
- Taiwanese people do not need as much space as Westerners do. They live in more crowded conditions and are not as uncomfortable sitting or standing close together.
- Small Talks: Don’t be surprised if people who don’t know you well ask very personal questions.
- Don’t be confused when people say OK/Yes, which can mean “maybe” or “got it.” Rather than disappoint another person, they will often agree to do something. They generally avoid saying “no” and instead use phrases like “Understand and we’ll try.”
- Smiles are often just reflexes in situations where a person feels embarrassed, anxious, or uncomfortable. They seldom mean the person is laughing at you.
Language Embarrassment: The phrase “neige-neige” is often added in between conversations. It’s an absent-minded filler word, like “um” or “ah.” Although it sounds close to a rude epithet sometimes referred to as the “n-word”, the resemblance is merely circumstantial, and no offense is meant.
Mandarin Chinese is the official language of Taiwan, used daily by the media and taught in schools. This is based on, but not identical to, the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, known in Chinese as Putonghua (普通話). However, more than 50% of the population in Taiwan speaks Taiwanese at home. Like Mandarin, the dialects are all tonal languages. Even within Mandarin, there is often the use of local slang or terminology. Getting to know some of the commonly heard and spoken phrases in both languages may help you understand the people and the culture better in day-to-day living in Taiwan.
Economy and Job Market
Taiwan boasts a robust and export-oriented economy. The country is renowned for its advanced technology and electronics manufacturing sectors, including semiconductor production, which plays a crucial role in the global supply chain. Taiwan’s economy was marked by robust economic growth, high levels of innovation, and a competitive export sector. Key industries included electronics, information technology, manufacturing, and services. The country maintained a reputation for producing high-quality consumer electronics and served as a significant player in global technology markets.
Regarding the job market, Taiwan’s economy provides a diverse range of employment opportunities. The technology sector significantly drove job creation, offering positions ranging from research and development to manufacturing and engineering. The services sector, encompassing finance, healthcare, and tourism, also presented a variety of job prospects. Additionally, Taiwan placed a strong emphasis on education and research, contributing to employment opportunities in academia and related fields.
SECTION 2: COST OF LIVING AND LIFESTYLE
Cost of Living
The cost of living budget varies depending on an individual’s desired quality of life. Monthly rent, food expenses, housing costs, and transportation options in Taiwan are determined by whether you choose a strict budget or a luxury budget. Monthly rent will be your largest expense, and prices vary widely based on your type of accommodation. The costs of renting a basic-level one-bedroom apartment in Taipei range from USD 400 to USD 1900 (TWD 12,000 to TWD 58,900) per month. (TWD 31 = USD 1)
- The estimated monthly cost for a family of four in Taiwan is $3550.
- The estimated monthly cost for a single person in Taiwan ranges from $1300 to $2200.
- Taiwanese are known for their strong work ethic, often resulting in longer working hours compared to some other countries. The standard working days in Taiwan are Monday to Friday, totaling 40 hours. The Taiwanese people value a strong work ethic, including hard work, long hours, self-sacrifice, and the virtue of thrift.
- Public transport in all Taiwanese cities is comprehensive and affordable. Taipei boasts a subway, while smaller cities still have rail transport and a busy bus network. Additionally, there is a high-speed rail that connects cities, allowing travelers to journey end-to-end in just over two hours.
- For leisure, there are great activities available year-round for both indoor and outdoor enthusiasts. Activities include watching television and movies, listening to music, dancing, and enjoying tranquil moments of reading in rustic atmospheres with a cup of coffee in some of the bookstores. Concert halls, music centers, tea houses, serene temples, secret gardens, and theme parks are also abundant. For mountain climbing enthusiasts, there are many hiking trails along forested mountains. The beautiful coastlines offer opportunities for kayaking and river rafting in the east. The excellent public transportation system makes it easy to travel from the super modern to the historic within a short ride in a day.
- Food costs in Taipei can be quite expensive, especially if you purchase a lot of imported foods. However, it is possible to eat well without breaking the budget. Locally produced fruits and vegetables are available in season at reasonable prices.
- The weather in Taiwan is subtropical with high humidity. Summer is hot and lengthy, requiring air conditioning for about 8 months. Portable dehumidifiers can also help alleviate humidity.
- Serious issues with air pollution have been observed in the central and southern regions of Taiwan.
- It’s advisable to always wear a mask when going out. Having air purifiers at home and the office can also be beneficial.
- The municipal water supply in Taiwan is pure at its source but often becomes contaminated in transit to the consumer. It’s not recommended to drink directly from tap water. Instead, opt for bottled water or use a water filter and boil the water before drinking.
- Taiwan has a high density of scooters and vehicles. Many people drive recklessly, and traffic rules are often not followed.
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer extracted from seaweed and extensively used in local dishes. Some individuals may experience distressing side effects after ingesting MSG.
Types of Healthcare in Taiwan
Taiwan features a comprehensive healthcare system, classifying hospitals into medical centers, regional hospitals, local hospitals, and basic-level medical institutes. Medical treatment across these classifications of medical institutions is divided into Western and Traditional Chinese medicine.
Upon enrollment, legal foreigners receive equivalent medical insurance coverage as all citizens in Taiwan. Some foreign nationals working in Taiwan are required to undergo a health examination within a month of their arrival, including an HIV test and potentially a vaccination for Japanese B encephalitis. This may be necessary before obtaining an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) for legal residence in Taiwan. All ARC holders, including dependents, are required to make monthly contributions to the National Health Insurance System and are entitled to full coverage for medical treatment. Employers and the government also make contributions for each insured person.
Most public hospitals and large medical centers in Taiwan offer Chinese and English healthcare services. Some hospitals even have international healthcare centers that provide convenient services, including interpreters for foreign patients during consultation sessions. Payments can be made in hospitals by cash or credit card.
Although a high percentage of hospitals and clinics in Taiwan are privately owned, they provide services under the National Health Insurance system. Generally, healthcare in Taiwan maintains high standards, with many doctors having trained in the West and capable of speaking English. While some major medical expenses may not be covered by insurance, medical costs in Taiwan are generally relatively low compared to most Western countries.
For minor illnesses, individuals can seek out general practitioners (GPs) or related medical clinics with the NHI logo. During each visit, showing the NHI card upon admission incurs a fee of NTD 200 to 250. These practitioners often accept patients without appointments and can promptly prescribe medications.
Note: When an ARC expires, the holder loses eligibility and should apply for withdrawal.
International schools: There are various international schools in Taiwan offering the expatriate community American or European-based curricula. These schools are usually popular choices for foreign nationals moving to Taiwan with children. To gain entry to an international school, a child must hold a foreign passport. Due to the limited availability of first-tier international schools in major cities like Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, it is strongly recommended that parents select at least two schools and begin the admission process as soon as the transition becomes evident.
Students are required to hold a foreign passport. Since the main schools do have waiting lists, it is advisable to apply as early as possible. Admission to most international/English schools is based on their own set of prerequisites. While each school differs regarding age requirements, many campuses offer early childhood education classes for children aged 3 to 4. At age 5, depending on whether the school follows the American or British system, they will start either kindergarten or lower primary classes, respectively. Age cutoffs also differ between curriculum models. While some schools allow students to test out of or into classes, others follow strict age limits.
International Baccalaureate (IB): This popular international curriculum, known as the International Baccalaureate (IB), is in high demand and carries weight with many universities. The IB diploma program is offered in several international schools for students in their upper years. You may need to ask the admissions advisors at the schools you visit whether the IB programs for primary, middle, or high school years are offered and if they are right for your child.
Public Schools: All public and local private schools are established for children with Mandarin Chinese as their native language. Foreign national children may find it difficult to adjust to local schools if they do not have any support at home in Mandarin. Homeschooling is also an option. Parents who wish to enroll their child/children in a public school must reside in the same jurisdictional district as the selected school.
Bilingual Schools: Additionally, there are several private bilingual schools in all cities of Taiwan that serve as an alternative education option for parents who wish for their child to immerse in Mandarin Chinese proficiency in both writing and speaking while staying in Taiwan.
SECTION 3: LEGAL AND IMMIGRATION ASPECTS
Legal Considerations When Moving to Taiwan
Anyone wishing to move to Taiwan for a period longer than 90 days needs to apply for a visa to enter the country. In this case, you will need to apply for and obtain a Taiwan resident visa. There are several resident visas that you can apply for, depending on the reason why you want to move to Taiwan. The Taiwan resident visas are issued for long-term stays in Taiwan.
If you are moving to Taiwan permanently, you are required to apply for a visa that allows you to stay for an extended period of time for one of the following reasons listed below:
- Moving to Taiwan to work
- Moving to Taiwan to study.
- Moving to Taiwan for family reunification.
After you receive your visa, you will also need to apply for a residence permit, known as an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC). A residence permit is required to allow you to remain in the country for an extended period of time and can be issued for one, two, or three years. Applications for residence permits are submitted at the local service center of the National Immigration Agency.
Process of Acquiring Work Visas for Professionals and Their Families
If you are a foreign national who wants to work in Taiwan, you must acquire all three of the following:
- (Prior to Arrival) Work Permit – Sponsored by a Local Employer
There are requirements for both the employer and the applicant’s fulfillment:
- Copy of your passport data page
- Your email address, contact number, assignment period, position, job description and monthly salary
- Copy of your Diploma
a) If you are holding a PhD or Master’s degree, a work experience letter or training certificate is not required.
b) If you are holding a bachelor’s degree, you must have 2-year relevant working experience after graduation.
c) For academic degrees below university level, a training certificate and a 5-year relevant work experience letter are required.
- Application Form
- Business responsible person’s passport ID, or ARC (copy) – Taiwan company
- Business Registration Certificate (copy) – Taiwan company
- Finance form 401 (Year before the application year) – Taiwan company
- Employment contract (copy)/ Assignment Letter (copy) – Signed by you and Taiwan company
- Work Experience Letter (required only for those who hold a bachelor’s degree)/ A training certificate (required only for an academic degree under the university) – Current/ Former Employer
a) If you are holding a PhD or Master’s degree, a work experience letter or training certificate os not required.
b) If you are holding a bachelor’s degree, you must have a 2-year relevant working experience after graduation.
c) For academic degrees below the university level, a training certificate and a 5-year work experience letter are required.
Notes: All supporting documents for a work permit application need Taiwan company’s stamping (company seal and representative’s seal).
- Application for a Residence Visa
- Upon Work Permit Approval, you will need to apply for a special entry permit online at the Taiwan Representative Office Overseas in your home country.
- Complete the online visa application first, and print out the completed application form along with other required documents to submit the visa application at https://visawebapp.boca.gov.tw/BOCA_EVISA/ (Select General Visa application->Employment Visa / Joining Family Visa for dependents)
Notes: The online visa application form will be automatically deleted in 30 days. Hence, a hardcopy application must be submitted to the Taiwan Representative Office within 30 days upon completing the online form.
Required documents for Employment Visa:
a. Your passport with a validity of over six months
b. Application form (Completed online and printout) with two passport-size photos in color taken within 6 months
c. Work Permit approval letter issued by the Taiwan Workforce Agency
d. Other relevant documents requested by the Taiwan Representative Office Overseas (where the visa application is submitted)
Required documents for Dependent Visa:
a. Your passport with a validity of over six months
b. Application form (Completed online and printout) with two passport-size photos in color taken within 6 months
c. Marriage certificate and birth certificates notarized by the Taiwan Representative Office Overseas (Country where the certificate is issued)
d. Other relevant documents requested by the Taiwan Representative Office Overseas (where the visa application is submitted)
- (Post-arrival) Alien Resident Visa (ARC)
Applicable to those who plan to work/stay in Taiwan for over 6 months with the following requirements:
a) Your Passport (copy)
b) 2-inch passport photo x1 – White background; no hat; no teeth; no glasses; at least 1-200 pixels; no shadows; taken within the last 6 month
c) Residential letter (copy) – Taiwan company
d) Employment Certificate (copy) – Taiwan company
e) Work Permit approval letter (copy)
f) Your Taiwan contact phone number
Processes for Setting Up a New Business or a Branch of an Existing Company
The Taiwanese government actively promotes international companies. In reality, owing to Taiwan’s openness to foreigners and commerce, many organizations (particularly tech firms) decide to domicile their Asian operations there. A Taiwan company can be 100% owned by foreign investors. There is no difference in the rights and obligations between foreign and local shareholders. The director is not required to stay in Taiwan, thus can run the business in Taiwan from all over the world. Before kicking off the process, you must decide what type of business structure to use in setting up a company in Taiwan. The limited company and branch are the most typical types of businesses.
Step 1: Request a Company Name Search and Reservation
The business must complete this step to reserve its company name. Applications for reservations can be submitted by businesses either online or by mailing them to their offices. The company name must be in Chinese.
Step 2: Request Approval for Foreign Investment
Your business must submit the necessary paperwork to the MOEA after having the company name approved in order to be recognized and registered as a Taiwan company or branch. For the case of setting up a company, a business plan must be included to explain the business activities, financial forecasting, and the source of funds. The processing time will normally be from 2 weeks to 1 month, depending on the judgmental opinion of the government officer, and additional documents or explanations will be needed to provide if required.
Step 3: Preparatory Bank Account Opening and Capital Injection
Find a local bank to open a preparatory bank account and inject the capital for your Taiwan company or branch. Before you choose the bank for account opening, you should consider the following questions:
- What are the requirements of the bank for account opening?
- Does the bank have an English e-banking system?
- What is the transaction charge fee?
The processing time for preparatory bank account opening ranges from 1 day to 1 month, depending on the type of bank you choose (multinational banks usually take longer).
The capital must be injected from the shareholder’s overseas bank account, and the currency must be in foreign currency, e.g. USD, EUR (NTD is not allowed). The capital injection must then be examined by a local certified public accountant (CPA) before being submitted to the MOEA. The capital injection and CPA audit will take around 1 to 2 weeks.
Step 4: Request a Business Registration
Once you complete the capital injection, the next step is to file for business registration with the Department of Commerce, MOEA. The processing time will take around 2 weeks. After you receive approval from the MOEA, your Taiwan company or branch is officially set up. The company/branch registration form will also be attached to the approval letter, from which you can find the GUI number and the relevant registration information.
Step 5: TAX Registration
The 5th step is to file for tax registration. The processing time will take around 2 to 3 weeks, and then you will receive an approval letter along with a notification for the tax interview. For the tax interview, you need to make an appointment with the tax officer and prepare the following documents:
- GUI chop
- Copy of the approval letter for company registration and the registration form
- Copy of the office rental agreement and house tax receipt
- Company chops
The interview will take around 20 minutes, and the company’s representative should attend it in person. A power of attorney might be accepted depending on the internal policy of the tax office if the representative is not available to attend it.
Step 6: Transfer to Official Bank Account
The last step is to transfer the preparatory bank account into the official account. You need to provide all the registration documents to the bank in order to input the details of the company bank account. Additional documents will be required for the know-your-customer and anti-money laundering process as follows:
- Shareholder structure
- Director and shareholder list of the direct and indirect holding entities
- Copy of passport of ultimate beneficial owners
Once the official bank account is established, you can start using the capital funds for business operations. Last, but not least, it is also suggested to install the e-banking software when you visit the bank so you can conduct online transactions via the internet afterward.
Requirements for setting up a branch of an existing company
- Chinese company name: Your foreign company will need a Chinese company name. The Taiwan branch will adopt the headquarters’ name with the wording “Taiwan branch” at the end of the name for registration.
- Capital requirement: You need to decide on a capital amount to register for your Taiwan branch office. The capital must be transferred from the headquarters’ bank account in foreign currency and exchanged into New Taiwan Dollars for business registration. If your Taiwan branch needs to hire foreigners, additional capital requirements must be met.
- Business scope: Foreign and Taiwanese companies are subject to the same company laws in Taiwan. Therefore, your Taiwan branch can essentially conduct business in Taiwan just like a local company. However, if you intend to engage in regulated business activities such as construction or logistics, you will need to apply for a special license.
- Legal representative: You need to appoint a legal representative for the Taiwan branch. The representative can be a foreigner of any nationality, and residence in Taiwan is not required.
- Registered address: An address is a requirement for your Taiwan branch office. You can either rent an office space or utilize a business center solely for registration purposes.
Taiwan Branch Registration Process
The branch registration process is similar to setting up a limited company. You need to prepare the required documents and submit them to the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Economic Affairs. The total timeframe for government and bank processing will be around 3 months, and the process and time for each step are described below:
- Reserve a Chinese name for your company (3 working days)
- Apply for investment approval (2 to 4 weeks)
- Open a preparatory bank account (1 day to 1 month, depending on the bank you choose)
- Inject the capital and undergo the capital audit (1 week)
- File the branch registration (2 weeks, officially setting up the branch)
- File the tax registration (3 weeks)
- Open the official bank account (1 day to 1 month, depending on the chosen bank)
As the official language is Chinese, we suggest you engage a certified provider to handle the submissions on your behalf. The bank account is also crucial during the incorporation process, and a knowledgeable agent should be able to recommend a suitable bank for you.
Requirements for Permanent Residency or Citizenship
Permanent Residency in Taiwan
Obtaining permanent residency in Taiwan requires foreign nationals to meet specific criteria, which include:
- Residency Period – You must have legally resided in Taiwan for a certain number of years. The exact duration can vary depending on factors like your profession, investment, and personal situation.
- No Criminal Record or History of Bad Behavior – You are required to demonstrate good moral character and abide by local laws and regulations.
- Financial Stability – Certain categories of permanent residency may necessitate demonstrating a certain level of financial stability or investment in Taiwan.
- Language Proficiency – Depending on the circumstances, you might need to demonstrate proficiency in the Chinese language.
- Special Circumstances – Some categories of applicants, such as those with exceptional contributions to Taiwan or family members of Taiwanese citizens, might have different or more lenient requirements.
Citizenship in Taiwan
Regular Application: If you are currently holding an Alien Resident Certificate, you are eligible to apply for Taiwanese citizenship only if you have legally resided in the country for at least 5 consecutive years (or 3 years if your partner is Taiwanese) and spent more than 183 days per year in Taiwan. Once this requirement is fulfilled, you can obtain a Taiwan Alien Permanent Certificate (APRC). This process of acquiring citizenship is referred to as citizenship by naturalization. However, there are multiple pathways to obtaining Taiwanese citizenship, including:
- Citizenship by Birth.
- Citizenship by Descent.
- Citizenship by Marriage.
Taiwan recognizes dual citizenship, but solely for individuals born in Taiwan. This means that if you are born to ethnic Taiwanese and mainland Chinese parents, you can maintain both Taiwanese citizenship and another citizenship without needing to renounce either, provided you meet this criterion.
If you attain citizenship through naturalization, you will generally be required to renounce your existing citizenship, unless you work in a reserved occupational field.
SECTION 4: BUSINESS CULTURE AND WORK ETHIC
Working With Taiwanese People
Taiwanese people exhibit strong courtesy and politeness, placing great emphasis on following proper forms and ceremonies. Doing what is considered “right” holds significant importance. Gifts are commonly exchanged during dinners, home visits, and various social gatherings.
The Taiwanese are eager to accommodate others. Instead of causing disappointment, individuals might agree to tasks they can’t accomplish. This can be frustrating for Westerners who later realize that a “yes” might actually mean “maybe” or a polite way of saying “no.” Westerners may perceive this as dishonesty, while Taiwanese view it as politeness. Interestingly, Taiwanese individuals can also be modest, sometimes expressing “no” or “I don’t know” even when they possess the knowledge. This politeness can sometimes obscure their expertise.
Taiwan’s culture values harmony and avoids confrontation. The concept of “saving face” takes precedence in relationships. It’s essential not to corner someone, as maintaining one’s dignity is crucial. If a disagreement threatens to cause loss of face, finding a compromise is advisable. In such situations, maintaining the appearance of harmony is vital. Blunt or direct speech can often be interpreted as rudeness.
Seniority is highly respected and adhered to in Taiwanese culture. When working with a local team, it’s important to understand that if a senior member assigns you a task, fulfilling it as instructed is expected. Sharing opinions or suggesting improvements to superiors, especially in the early stages of a relationship, might be seen as criticism or even arrogance.
Many Taiwanese are content with the concept of “cha bu duo,” which translates to “good enough.” They might not consider it a major issue if, for example, a tablecloth they’ve made doesn’t have the full nine-inch overhang. A seven- or even six-inch overhang might be deemed sufficient in their view.
The differences in business customs in Taiwan from other countries
- Businesspeople in Taiwan are known for being tough negotiators and might seek concessions through persistence. Demonstrating patience is key. Avoid pushing too hard or rushing through negotiations.
- When engaging with a Taiwanese company, it’s advantageous to identify individuals with executive decision-making authority. Communicating with someone lower in the hierarchy could lead to delays. Building a connection or “guanxi” with decision-makers is highly beneficial.
- Decisions are often made collectively, which can extend the negotiation process. Once facts are established, agreements may be reached swiftly.
- “Guanxi” refers to personal connections and relationships, crucial for success in Taiwanese business. Building a personal relationship with Taiwanese counterparts is often a prerequisite before conducting business.
- Taiwanese individuals are generally candid when expressing their ideas, yet they tend not to outright say “no.” Instead, they might respond with “We’ll try.” Similarly, “yes” can sometimes imply “I understand.”
Typical Workday and Work Week
The standard weekly working hours are 40, excluding lunch breaks. Office hours vary among establishments, primarily depending on factors such as ownership type and business nature. Some private companies offer flexible working hours from 09:00 to 10:00 am in the morning and 06:00 to 07:00 pm in the evening, which is considered an employee benefit. Those working in banks typically have shorter hours due to their opening times from 09:00 am to 03:30 pm. However, their internal auditing process starts after public access is closed. If tasks remain incomplete by the regular 06:00 pm closing time, overtime may be required.
However certain government agencies, such as post offices, water, and electricity companies, commence work as early as 08:00 am. They maintain service availability through lunch hours, albeit with limited staffing. Telecommunication carriers, meanwhile, usually operate starting from noon and remain open on weekends.
According to local labor law, everyone is entitled to 2 days off, which include 1 official holiday and 1 rest day. Workers seeking additional income can choose to work on their rest day if the company permits. Those exceeding work beyond the 6th day are eligible for the following overtime pay and day-off compensation:
- One-day regular pay
- Overtime pay
- 1 replacement off day
Tips for Making Good Business Relationships
- Exchanging Name Cards: Names and titles hold significant importance in Chinese culture. It is customary to exchange business cards upon introduction. Keep them in your wallet at all times. It’s best to have cards with both Chinese and English on both sides. When presenting your card, use both hands and avoid simply placing it on the table. Always offer your card if you receive one.
- Punctuality: Being on time is appreciated, but arriving a few minutes early or late is generally acceptable.
- Greetings: A nod of the head or a slight bow is considered polite for the first meeting. Handshakes are typically reserved for male friends.
- Introductions: It’s important to wait for a third person to introduce you. At parties or business meetings, let the host introduce you.
- Appropriate Attire: Dress appropriately to convey seriousness and respect for your meeting partners.
- Building Relationships: Friendship is highly valued in Taiwanese business culture. Taiwanese businesspeople usually prefer to know you personally before conducting business. Show sincerity, commitment, and respect to your Taiwanese counterparts.
- Accepting Compliments: Be humble when receiving compliments.
- Family Matters: Inquire about someone’s family, as family is central to Taiwanese culture.
- Entertainment: Entertaining is a crucial aspect of successful business interactions in Taiwan. Consider it an opportunity rather than a waste of time. Choosing the right restaurant and hosting well can significantly boost your chances of success.
- Late Hours: Business entertainment often extends late into the night.
- Business Conversations: Avoid discussing business during dinner unless your hosts initiate the topic.
- Political Sensitivity: Exercise caution when discussing the Taiwan-China political issue unless you are familiar with your business acquaintance’s views. Some might be offended if you imply that Taiwan is part of China, while others could be offended if you assert Taiwan’s independence. It’s never a win-win situation!
SECTION 5: HOUSING AND ACCOMMODATION
Commonly Available Accommodation
The most commonly available rental housing options are 3-bedroom style apartments, while 4-bedroom apartments are scarce due to market conditions. Generally, rental housing choices encompass condominiums and apartment buildings with 24-hour security. Single homes and villas are accessible on the outskirts of Taipei. Rental rates are elevated in newer, upscale apartments located in the city center and neighborhoods close to international schools, favored by foreign nationals. Although larger luxury apartments are on offer, they also command the highest rental costs. Rental prices are steep, and apartments are often smaller compared to those in other countries. The rental market is competitive, and the actual size of apartments frequently falls short of expectations.
Housing Prices Across Different Regions
Demands are in strong competition up to date due to international investments in multiple industries across Taiwan. In addition to semiconductors, foreign companies in sectors such as technology, manufacturing, energy infrastructure, and pharmaceuticals are flourishing throughout Taiwan. Overseas investment in the past 4 years has grown by 49% compared to the previous 20 years. Some landlords are reluctant to rent due to tax issues or concerns about bad tenants and the like. However, supply and demand have remained balanced throughout Q2 2023. Be open-minded and flexible when considering appealing housing options, as landlords are less accommodating and tend to favor parties with fewer or no requirements and better offers.
- Taipei – Rental costs have slightly increased compared to H2 2022. The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment ranges from USD 3,300 to USD 5, 800, and from USD 5,800 to USD 12,903 for a high-end 3-bedroom apartment.
- Hsinchu – Taiwan’s house prices have been rising consistently for years, and nowhere is the overheated housing market more apparent than Hsinchu.
- Figures from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics show that the housing rental index for May reached a new record of 103.53. The city is now the second most expensive for housing in Taiwan, with prices in Zhubei City gaining particular attention due to its link to the silicon industries in Hsinchu. Most landlords are either working in the technology sector or are investors from other cities. They are very selective and negotiations are difficult. Rental costs for a 2-bedroom apartment range from USD 677 to USD 1,1162 and from USD 1,741 to USD 2,900 for a 3-bedroom apartment, and USD 2m258 to USD 5,800 for a 4-bedroom apartment.
- Taichung – Housing rentals remain fair compared to Taipei and Hsinchu. Rentals range from USD 1,290 to USD 2,741 for a 2-bedroom apartment and from USD 1,612 to USD 3,225 for a 3-bedroom apartment as of Q2 2023.
Key Considerations When Searching for Housing
Location – This may be the key consideration when searching for a home in Taiwan. For families with children, it’s important to consider living in a location close to the attending schools, either within walking distance or a short ride away. For singles, choosing accommodations near work may be more ideal to reduce time and energy consumed during the commute.
Public Transport – For those who don’t plan to drive, there is a wide range of ground transport options, including conventional trains with multiple stops at towns and cities throughout the island. The Taiwan High-Speed Rail (THSR) makes it easy to travel for work and intercity trips.
Mold – Taiwan’s hot and humid climate is conducive to mold growth. Many old apartments may have mold on the ceiling or walls. To address this issue, keeping windows open, running the A/C, or using a dehumidifier can be helpful.
Wall Cancer – Unlike most Western countries, there is no law in Taiwan prohibiting landlords from renting houses with hazardous conditions such as wall cancer. Due to water leakage and high humidity, it can sometimes cause disfigured concrete walls that resemble tumors.
Just as you would when considering a property in your own country, keep in mind the following:
- General appearance of the property
- Condition of all provided electrical appliances, including air conditioning systems
- Good plumbing and heating (heating is sometimes supplied through the air conditioning system)
- Check for humidity and damp damage
- Ensure the housing is well equipped with fire safety equipment
Rental Properties and Real Estate Agencies
- Realtors work with both landlords and tenants. They are likely to lean towards the landlord’s side to maintain a good relationship for future business. It’s essential to have a specialist in your host city to ensure your interests are protected.
- Online property listings often use fake pictures to attract tenants. Always collaborate with reliable partners who possess good knowledge and local expertise.
Process of Purchasing a Property
Foreigners in Taiwan are generally allowed to purchase real estate, but there are certain restrictions and processes that they need to follow. Here is a general outline of the process for foreigners to buy a house in Taiwan:
- Eligibility and Approval
- Foreigners are generally allowed to purchase residential and commercial properties in Taiwan. However, certain restrictions might apply based on factors like nationality, residency status, and other considerations.
- In specific instances, particular property types (such as agricultural land) could come with additional restrictions.
- Seek Legal Advice
Given the legal complexities, it’s advisable to engage a real estate lawyer or legal expert familiar with property laws in Taiwan.
- Property Search and Due Diligence
- Conduct research to identify properties that align with your needs and budget.
- Undertake thorough due diligence, including property inspections, title searches, and verification of ownership.
- Negotiation and Offer
- Negotiate with the seller or the seller’s agent to reach a consensus on the purchase price and terms.
- Once terms are agreed upon, you can sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to outline the basic agreement terms.
- Purchase agreement
- Collaborate with your lawyer to draft a legally binding purchase agreement that encompasses all sale terms.
- The agreement should encompass details like the purchase price, payment terms, deposit amount, and any contingencies.
- Review by Foreign Investment Commission (FIC)
If mandated by law, the purchase agreement might necessitate approval from the FIC. The need for this step can vary based on the property type and the buyer’s nationality.
- Payment and Title Transfer
Fulfill the agreed-upon deposit and remaining purchase amount according to the terms outlined in the purchase agreement.
The property’s title will be transferred to your name through the local land office.
- Taxes and Fees
Settle the necessary taxes, fees, and stamp duties tied to the property transaction.
Officially record the property transaction with the local land office, thereby transferring ownership officially.
Upon completing the transaction, you will receive the property’s keys and officially take possession.
It’s important to note that real estate laws and regulations can be complex, and the process might vary based on factors like the property’s location and type. It’s highly recommended to collaborate with experienced professionals, including a lawyer, real estate agent, and financial advisor, to ensure a smooth and lawful property purchase process in Taiwan. Always verify the latest legal requirements before proceeding with a property purchase.
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SECTION 6: TRANSPORTATION AND CONNECTIVITY
Internet and Mobile Connectivity
How is the Internet and mobile connectivity in Taiwan?
Taiwan is renowned for its highly advanced and well-developed internet and mobile connectivity infrastructure. The nation takes pride in possessing one of the swiftest and most dependable internet networks globally. Below is an overview of the situation as of that time:
- High Speed: Taiwan boasts a robust fiber-optic broadband infrastructure, offering high-speed internet access to a significant portion of the population, encompassing both urban and rural areas.
- Fiber Optic Penetration: The prevalence of fiber-optic internet extends widely, ensuring that households and businesses can access ultra-fast broadband connections as a common convenience.
- Public Wi-Fi: Numerous public spaces, including cafes, restaurants, airports, and transportation hubs, provide complimentary Wi-Fi access for both residents and visitors.
- 4G and Beyond: As of 2021, Taiwan had already deployed 4G LTE networks and had commenced the advancement of 5G network infrastructure.
- Network Coverage: Urban areas consistently experience superior mobile coverage, characterized by swift data speeds and steadfast connections. Even in sparsely populated regions, mobile coverage remains generally robust.
- Competitive Market: Taiwan’s telecommunications sector is marked by competitiveness, motivating service providers to consistently enhance their networks and provide appealing data and voice plans.
Best Cities or Regions for Commuting to Work
Several cities and regions in Taiwan are well-known for their efficient transportation systems and convenient commuting options. Keep in mind that the “best” city or region for commuting can depend on your specific workplace location, personal preferences, and the type of transportation you prefer. Here are a few cities and regions that are generally considered favorable for commuting:
As the capital city, Taipei has a well-developed public transportation system, including an extensive metro (MRT) network, buses, and bike-sharing programs. Many job opportunities are concentrated in Taipei, making it a popular choice for commuters.
New Taipei City
Adjacent to Taipei, New Taipei City also benefits from a developed transportation network. It’s a large and diverse area with a mix of urban and suburban living options.
Taoyuan is well-connected to Taipei through both the high-speed rail (HSR) and the Taipei Metro system. It’s an attractive option for those who work in either of these cities.
Located in Taoyuan, Zhongli benefits from its proximity to both Taipei and Taoyuan. It’s a rapidly developing area with good transportation connections.
Known as the “Silicon Valley of Taiwan,” Hsinchu has a concentration of technology companies. It has a good public transportation system and is relatively compact, making commuting easier.
Central Taiwan’s major city, Taichung, is now the 2nd largest city of Taiwan known for its pleasant climate and livable environment. Its BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system helps ease commuting within the city.
Tainan offers a more relaxed pace of life compared to the northern cities. It has a modern transportation system and a growing job market.
The 3rd largest city in Taiwan, Kaohsiung has an extensive metro system and various transportation options. It’s known for its diverse industries, cultures of old/modern, great food, leisure and job opportunities.
When considering the best city or region for your commute in Taiwan, factors to consider include the location of your workplace, your housing preferences, the availability of public transportation, and your overall lifestyle preferences. It’s a good idea to research each area’s transportation options, commute times, and cost of living to make an informed decision.
Accessibility to Main Business Hubs
- Public Transportation: Taipei boasts an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including the Taipei Metro (MRT), buses, and even a cable car system. The MRT covers most parts of the city and offers convenient connections to various districts.
- High-Speed Rail (HSR): Taipei is connected to other major cities, such as Kaohsiung and Taichung, through the high-speed rail network. This allows for fast and comfortable travel between different regions of Taiwan.
- Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport: Taipei’s main international airport is well-connected to major cities worldwide. It serves as a major hub for both domestic and international flights.
- Public Transportation: Kaohsiung features an efficient metro system that connects key areas of the city. Buses and other forms of public transportation also provide connectivity.
- High-Speed Rail (HSR): While Kaohsiung doesn’t have its own HSR station, it is easily accessible from Taipei and other cities via the HSR.
Public Transportation: Taichung has an evolving public transportation system, including the BRT system and buses. The city is working on improving its transportation infrastructure to enhance connectivity.
Public Transportation: Hsinchu benefits from a relatively compact layout and has a well-connected public transportation system, including buses and the planned Hsinchu Metro.
Public Transportation: Tainan has an efficient bus network that connects various parts of the city. The city’s compact size makes commuting more manageable.
Public Transportation: Taoyuan has a growing public transportation system, including the planned Taoyuan Metro and buses. It also has direct access to the HSR station.
Taiwan’s business hubs are well-connected through a combination of metro systems, buses, high-speed rail, and road networks. This connectivity allows for relatively convenient and efficient commuting within and between cities. The availability of various transportation options makes it easier for professionals to travel to work and access different parts of the country.
SECTION 7: SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND NETWORKING
Taiwan is considered a very welcoming nation to foreigners and has a reputation for being a friendly and inclusive society. However, experiences can vary based on individual circumstances, cultural differences, and personal preferences. Here’s an overview for reference:
Hospitality and Open-Mindedness – Taiwanese people are often known for their warmth and hospitality. Many foreigners report positive interactions with locals and find Taiwanese individuals to be friendly and helpful.
Multicultural Environment – Taiwan’s cities, especially Taipei, are quite diverse due to international businesses, universities, and expatriate communities. This multicultural environment can help create a more inclusive atmosphere.
Inclusion – Taiwan has been increasingly embracing diversity and fostering an environment of tolerance. Many Taiwanese people are curious about other cultures and open to learning from and interacting with foreigners.
Ease of Integration English Proficiency – English is widely taught in schools, and many young Taiwanese have a basic understanding of the language. In larger cities and in the service industry, you can often find people who speak English. For elderly people who may not speak as much English, they are always willing to help using simple body language.
Convenience – Taiwan is known for its convenience and efficiency. The public transportation system is well-developed, and it’s relatively easy to navigate around cities. Services like healthcare, banking, and shopping are typically user-friendly.
While Taiwan is generally welcoming, there might still be some challenges in terms of language barriers, cultural adjustments, and bureaucratic processes. However, many expatriates find that with an open-minded and patient approach, they can integrate successfully and enjoy a fulfilling experience in Taiwan.
What makes it hard for expats to integrate into Taiwanese society?
Integrating into any new society can be challenging, and Taiwan is no exception. Some factors that can make it difficult for ex-pats to integrate into Taiwanese society include:
Language: Taiwanese is the official language of Taiwan, and while many people in urban areas speak English, it can still be challenging to communicate with locals who don’t speak English.
Culture: Taiwanese culture can be very different from what many Westerners are used to, with different social norms, customs, and expectations. For example, Taiwanese culture places a strong emphasis on respect for elders and authority figures.
Work culture: The work culture in Taiwan can also be very different from what expats may be used to in their home countries. For example, there may be a different approach to punctuality, hierarchy, and communication in the workplace.
Visa restrictions: Expats in Taiwan are often limited by visa restrictions, which can make it difficult to fully integrate into Taiwanese society. For example, some visas may require the expat to leave the country periodically, which can disrupt their ability to build long-term relationships and establish roots in the community.
Xenophobia: While not widespread, some expats have reported experiencing xenophobia in Taiwan. This can make it more challenging to integrate into the local community and feel a sense of belonging.
It’s important to note that not all expats will experience these challenges, and many people are able to integrate into Taiwanese society and form meaningful relationships with locals. However, being aware of these potential challenges can help expats prepare and adapt to their new environment.
Communities or Groups for Expats
There are well-established expatriate communities and groups for foreigners living in Taiwan, particularly in major cities like Taipei. These communities offer opportunities for socializing, networking, and sharing information and experiences. Here are some types of expat communities and resources you might find in Taiwan:
Online Forums and Groups – There are various online platforms and forums where expats in Taiwan share information, ask questions, and connect with each other. Websites like Forumosa and Facebook groups for expats are popular spaces for discussions.
Social Media – Social media platforms like Facebook and Meetup are often used to organize events and gatherings for expats. These events could range from cultural exchange meetups to hiking trips.
Chambers of Commerce – Many countries have established chambers of commerce in Taiwan to promote trade and cultural exchange. These chambers often host events that can provide networking opportunities for expatriates.
Language Exchange Groups – Language exchange groups are a great way to meet both locals and fellow expats while improving your language skills.
Sports and Hobby Groups – There are clubs and groups focused on various sports, hobbies, and interests. Joining one of these groups can be a great way to meet like-minded people.
Cultural and Arts Organizations – If you’re interested in the arts, cultural centers, galleries, and organizations often hold events that attract expats and locals alike.
Professional Networking – Many expats in Taiwan are also professionals working in various industries. Professional networking events and organizations offer a chance to connect with others in your field.
International Schools – If you have children, international schools often have a community of expat families that can provide support and connection.
Embassies and Cultural Centers – Embassies and cultural centers often host events to promote cultural exchange, which can be an opportunity to meet people from your home country as well as other expatriates.
Language Schools and Universities – Language schools and universities that offer Chinese language programs might have social activities that allow you to connect with other international students.
Larger cities like Taipei tend to have a more developed expatriate community with a wide range of resources and events. Joining these communities and groups can provide valuable support, information, and social opportunities as you settle into life in Taiwan.
Socializing and Networking
Taiwan offers a variety of opportunities for socializing and networking, catering to different interests, backgrounds, and purposes. Whether you’re an expat looking to connect with other foreigners, a professional seeking industry contacts, or simply looking to make new friends, here are some ways to socialize and network in Taiwan:
Expat Meetups and Groups
Expatriate communities often organize regular meetups, social events, and activities through platforms like Meetup, Facebook groups, and online forums. These gatherings can include cultural exchanges, language practice sessions, outdoor adventures, and more.
Language Exchange Events
Language exchange events are popular in Taiwan, offering a platform for locals and foreigners to practice language skills. You can find language exchange meetups on websites, social media, or through language schools.
Industry-specific networking events, seminars, workshops, and conferences are excellent opportunities to connect with professionals in your field. Chambers of commerce, trade organizations, and business associations often host such events.
Business Chambers and Associations
Various national and international business chambers and associations operate in Taiwan, facilitating networking among professionals and businesses. Examples include the American Chamber of Commerce, European Chamber of Commerce, and local industry groups.
Cultural Centers and Embassies
Cultural centers, such as the American Cultural Center or British Council, often organize cultural events, lectures, exhibitions, and discussions that provide a chance to engage with fellow attendees.
Local Clubs and Groups
Clubs and groups dedicated to hobbies, sports, arts, and interests are prevalent. These can range from hiking clubs and photography groups to book clubs and art workshops.
If you’re a student or live near a university, you can often attend events, seminars, and talks organized by academic institutions.
If you have children attending international schools, school events can be a great opportunity to connect with other expat families.
Social media platforms, local forums, and event listing websites can help you discover upcoming events and opportunities for socializing.
Coffee Shops, Bars, and Cafes
Popular expat hangouts, cafes, bars, and restaurants can provide a relaxed setting for meeting new people.
Participating in community service and volunteer activities can introduce you to both locals and other expats who share your interests.
Keep an eye out for local festivals, art exhibitions, food markets, and other community events that can be great opportunities to engage with the local culture.
Remember that building a strong network takes time, and the key is to actively participate in events and activities that align with your interests and goals. Networking and socializing in Taiwan can be an enriching experience that helps you form lasting connections and learn more about the local culture.
Local activities and community events
Getting involved in Local Activities or Community Events
- Keep an eye out for event posters and announcements in your neighborhood, community centers, and online platforms.
- Join local social media groups, expat forums, and community websites to learn about upcoming events.
- Visit local cafes, libraries, and cultural centers where you might find event flyers and information.
- Participate in language exchange meetups, hobby clubs, sports groups, and volunteer opportunities.
SECTION 8: DEALING WITH EMERGENCIES
Taiwan is known for its efficient disaster preparedness and response systems. The country has experience in dealing with typhoons, earthquakes, and other emergencies. The government and local authorities conduct regular drills and provide information to the public about emergency procedures.
How to call an ambulance
- In the event of a medical emergency, you can dial 119 for an ambulance.
- Most major hospitals in Taiwan have emergency departments that provide 24/7 care.
- Taiwan’s healthcare system is generally well-regarded, and medical staff often have good English-language skills.
Taiwan is prone to typhoons and earthquakes due to its geographical location. These potential disaster scenarios do not play a significant role in the day-to-day lives of Taiwanese or expats. People generally acknowledge the threats but continue with their lives. However, it is wise to accept the fact that you may experience some sort of emergency situation during your time in Taiwan.
While most incidents are minor, it is best to take precautions. Preparing in advance for a possible disaster situation is not only prudent but can also provide peace of mind.
Disaster Supplies Kit – Prepare a disaster supplies kit for home, car, and office. These kits should include some or all of:
- First aid kit and essential medications – consider prescription and over-the-counter medication requirements in the event of a quarantine
- Canned or shelf-stable food and a can opener – enough to last at least 72 hours
- At least 3 gallons of water per person and/or water purification tablets
- Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding/sleeping bags
- Battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries. Models that do not require batteries are worth considering.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members
- Copies of important documents, including passports, Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs), credit cards, financial accounts, photos of family members and pets, and lists of important telephone numbers
- Food, leash, and kennel for pets
- Masks and gloves in the event of a quarantine
Support in Emergency Situations
- Embassies of various countries in Taiwan have emergency hotlines to provide assistance and guidance to their citizens during emergencies, including natural disasters or civil emergencies.
- Local authorities in Taiwan are also well-prepared to handle emergencies and provide information to residents and foreigners. Everyone will receive earthquake, typhoon, and rainstorm alerts on their mobile phones when they occur.
Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group
Reloc8 consists of key partners located in 12 countries across the Asia Pacific region. Together, we offer employee mobility services to clients seeking assistance in 23 locations throughout Asia, including: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. In addition to these, we extend our services to the following destinations: Fiji, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, The Solomons, The Maldives, and Guam. Our members represent the premier destination and immigration service providers in the Asia Pacific region. Each partner maintains their unique style and cultural identity, contributing to the Alliance’s diverse and multicultural atmosphere. However, they all share a collective commitment to upholding the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and service excellence.