Digital Nomads in Taiwan
Taiwan has recently been ranked as one of the top places in the world for expats to live. This is mainly because Taiwan is an incredibly safe country with friendly locals, fast internet, access to great health care, modern subways systems, mountains and beaches. It’s also one of the most “convenient” countries in the world. There are literally 7-11s everywhere and at these 7-11s 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 career. In fact, a lot of people probably can’t even find Taiwan on a map. I’ve lived here for the past 6 years and I still have friends and family back home who think I’m in Thailand instead of 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 $20USD/hour and living expenses are about $800-$1,500/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.
Being a Digital Nomad in Taiwan
Taiwan has been my home for the past 6 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 location independent entrepreneur.
I’ve been running an e-commerce business for the last 3 years and have been “location independent” for the past 2 years. Even though I love traveling to other countries I still prefer having a base and Taipei and Kaohsiung are both great options. They both have an international airport and a high speed rail stations where you can travel between Taipei and Kaohsiung in under 2 hours!
One of the biggest reasons that Taiwan is a great place for digital nomads is that you get a 90 Day Landing Visa right off the bat, no need to extend after 30 days or pay a fee. 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 was my home for 5 years and 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.
Digital Nomad Cost of Living in Taiwan
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 $900 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 months to make it the most cost effective.
Taipei Cost of Living:
Average cost of living in Taipei is about $1,500/month (USD)
$300 Room in a Shared Apartment
$500 Studio (3 month – 1 year lease)
Food, Fun, Misc:
Total – $1000 – $1,500
Taipei 101 at Night
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.
View from Kaohsiung Harbor
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.
Kaohsiung Cost of Living:
Average cost of living in Kaohsiung is about $1,000/month (USD)
$150 Room in a Shared Apartment
$300 Studio (3 month – 1 year lease)
Food, Fun, Misc:
Total – $800 – $1,100
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.
Typical Lunch in Taiwan for $3.00
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.
My 150cc Scooter for $750
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.
Taipei has a larger digital nomad scene than Kaohsiung and has coffee shops everywhere. There are also some coworking places and if you stay at Eight Elephants Hostel, they have a coworking space that you can use for free next door. Not many people were using it but it definitely has some potential.
Kaohsiung has a small but growing digital nomad scene. There is also a weekly Coworking Day Meetup at that can be found at meetup.com
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. I consider Taiwan a good halfway point in between Southeast Asia and countries like Japan and Korea. It has the cleanliness, safely and civility of Japan and Korea with a cheaper price tag that is more similar to Southeast Asian countries.