Taiwan has been my home base for the past 10 years. I originally came here to teach English then I ended up getting my IMBA(for free), working for a local company here and eventually starting my own business and becoming a Digital Nomad or Location Independent Entrepreneur.
Taiwan is an incredibly safe country with friendly locals, fast internet, access to great health care, modern subways systems, mountains and beaches. It has also recently been ranked as one of the top places in the world for expats to live.
One of the first things that you’ll notice here are the amount of convenient stores. There are literally 7-11s and Family Marts everywhere. At these convenient stores you can find single cans of beer, fresh food, pay your bills and even have your packages delivered.
Despite this Taiwan is often overlooked when people are considering where to start off their digital nomad journey.
In fact, a lot of people probably can’t even find Taiwan on a map. I’ve lived here for the past 10 years and I still have friends and family back home who think I’m in Thailand instead of Taiwan.
Visas in Taiwan
Taiwan offers most passport holders a visa on arrival which is valid for 30-90 days depending on your country, click here for the complete list.
If you want to stay in Taiwan longer than 90 days, then in most cases you will need an ARC (Alien Resident Certificate). This lets you stay in the country for at least a year and can be renewed every year and can even be turned into a Permanent Resident Certificate.
To get your ARC you will need to either work, study, get married to a local, open a representatives office or meet the Taiwan Gold Card qualifications.
Studying in Taiwan
Taiwan has many internationally ranked universities and most international students study Chinese or Business here. Taiwan offers many scholarships where you can study for free and in some cases even receive a monthly stipend to help you pay for rent and living expenses.
Working in Taiwan
Most westerners come here to teach English and that’s how I first got here before I started my online businesses.
The average wage for English teaching in Taiwan is about $20-25USD/hour and living expenses are about $1,200-$2,000/month (depending on how frugal or baller you wanna live).
This makes Taiwan a great place to baseline your business and you can even supplement your income by teaching English until you get your business off the ground.
Working for a Taiwanese Company
Working for a company in Taiwan is another option but in most cases your hourly rate will be less than if you just taught English.
For example, a “good” paying job at a Taiwanese company might offer a salary of $75,000 NTD ($2,400 USD) but will require you to work 40-50 hours a week which only comes out to about $11.00/hour.
Opening a Representative’s Office in Taiwan
A Representative’s Office can be opened in Taiwan by a foreign company and the employee of this Representative’s Office can receive a work permit, ARC and health insurance.
This can either be accomplished by finding a company in your home country that is interested in opening an office in Taiwan, or it can even be your own business in your home country.
For example, you can start an LLC in the US and then use this company to open an office in Taiwan and work for this company.
Being a Digital Nomad in Taiwan
I’ve been running an e-commerce business for the last 8 years and have been “location independent” for the past 6 years and even though I love traveling to other countries I still prefer having a home-base. Taipei and Kaohsiung are both great options as a base and they both have an international airport and a high speed rail stations where you can travel between Taipei and Kaohsiung in only 1.5 hours!
Where to Work as a Digital Nomad in Taiwan
There are coffee shops all over Taiwan with fast internet and you can get a cup of coffee or cappuccino for about $2-$3.00. Here’s a great list of other recommended Coffee Shops in Taiwan.
Kaohsiung has a small but growing digital nomad scene and has plenty of nice coffee shops to work from.
Taipei vs Kaohsiung for Digital Nomads
The two largest cities are Taipei and Kaohsiung and both of them have their own charm. You could compare them to Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Taipei is the capital and has an expansive MRT system, world class restaurants/night life and is surrounded by mountains that can be reached easily by MRT, bus or scooter.
Kaohsiung is cheaper and has better weather than Taipei. It’s a lot more laid back and a good place if you want to chill out on a budget but the night life and entrepreneur scene is a bit lacking.
Taiwan Cost of Living
Taipei Cost of Living:
Taipei is the Capital of Taiwan and when most people come to Taiwan they usually fly directly into Taipei (Taoyuan International Airport).
One drawback of Taipei (and Taiwan in general) is the lack of affordable short term housing. Renting an Airbnb for 1 month will cost about $1,000 while you could rent the same place for about $400 with a 1 year lease.
Short term leases are available but take a bit more searching, I recommend staying for at least 3-6 months to make your stay more cost effective.
Rent in Taipei:
$300-500 Room in a Shared Apartment
$600-900 Studio (3 month – 1 year lease)
Food, Fun, Misc:
$1,000 – $1,500
Average cost of living in Taipei is about $1,650/month (USD)
Kaohsiung Cost of Living
Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan and can be reached by it’s own international airport or via the high speed rail from Taipei. The cost of living in Kaohsiung is about $800-$1000/month.
Rent in Kaohsiung can be as cheap as $150 for a room in an apartment or as much as $600 if you want to live in an MTV Cribs Style Apartment. I spent about $300 (10,000 TWD) for a studio apartment.
$150 Room in a Shared Apartment
$300 Studio (3 month – 1 year lease)
Food, Fun, Misc:
Average cost of living in Kahsiung is about $1,200/month (USD)
Food in Taiwan
One of my favorite things about Taiwan is the food. Not only is Taiwanese food delicious but you can also find reasonably priced Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Western restaurants creating an incredible variety of food choices. You can easily find local meals for about $3 while western food will cost about $5 or more for a meal at a restaurant.
Transportation in Taiwan
Taipei has an extensive MRT system that connects the entire city. As long as you live near an MRT station you can pretty much get anywhere in the city.
Kaohsiung has a smaller MRT system with 2 main lines. There are also scooters everywhere and this is how most people get around. You can buy a scooter for as little as $300 but expect to spend $600 for a decent scooter.
Final Thoughts on Digital Nomads in Taiwan
Taiwan has a lot of offer for digital nomads and the 90 day free landing visa makes it an attractive choice for those who are tired of monthly visa runs.
Taiwan is also a good halfway point in between Southeast Asia like Thailand and Vietnam and more developed countries like Japan and Korea. It has the cleanliness and safety of Japan and Korea with a cheaper price tag and warmer climate that is more similar to Southeast Asian countries.
High Speed Internet and Coffee Shops are everywhere making it a great place to get some work done as a Digital Nomad. But it is not as easy to get affordable accomidation for a month or two like in Thailand and is more geared towards longer or slower travel for 3 or more months.