In January 2021, more than 12,000 expat respondents from across the globe took part in the latest Expat Insider survey. Together, they represent a total of 174 nationalities and live in 186 countries or territories around the world. And, for the first time since the Expat Insider survey was launched in 2014, more than 6,000 local residents — many former and future expats among them — also had the opportunity to respond to selected questions; most of these addressed the way the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic might have disrupted relocation plans or a recent stay abroad.
Safe & Sound in Taiwan
Taiwan ranks 1st out of 59 destinations for the third year in a row in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. It also comes first in the Quality of Life and Working Abroad Indices: Most expats are satisfied with their job security (83% vs. 61% globally) and the state of the local economy (85% vs. 62% globally). Additionally, the majority is happy with their job (75% vs. 68% globally) and their life in general (80% vs. 75% globally). Furthermore, 96% of expats rate the quality of medical care positively (vs. 71% globally), and another 94% are satisfied with its affordability (vs. 61% globally). An expat from Chile shares: “The Taiwanese healthcare system truly considers people as human beings instead of mere numbers.” Moreover, not a single expat feels personally unsafe in Taiwan (vs. 8% globally). An expat from Canada shares: “I can live independently. I feel safe wherever I go, and everything is convenient.”
The Taiwanese healthcare system truly considers people as human beings instead of mere numbers.
Although Taiwan places slightly lower in the Ease of Settling In Index (13th), it is the best-ranking country worldwide in the Friendliness subcategory (1st). Most expats find it easy to make friends there (62% vs. 48% globally) and describe the Taiwanese population as friendly towards foreign residents (96% vs. 67% globally).
Where Expat Life Is Great: The Quality of Life Index
In 2021, the Expat Insider survey includes 59 countries and territories with a minimum of 50 respondents each. The Quality of Life Index covers 20 factors from seven different subcategories: Leisure Options, Health & Well-Being, Safety & Security, Personal Happiness, Travel & Transportation, Digital Life, and Quality of the Environment. Respondents rated factors on a scale from one to seven.
Taiwan: Still Going Strong
In the Quality of Life Index, Taiwan places first for the fourth time. In the Expat Insider 2021 survey, it lands again among the top 10 in two subcategories that have always been among its strongest points: Health & Well-Being (1st) and Travel & Transportation (8th). Expats in Taiwan appreciate both the affordability of healthcare (94% positive replies vs. 61% globally) and its quality (96% positive vs. 71% globally). “I love the excellent and affordable healthcare system!” says a French expat in Taipei. Another 90% give the transportation infrastructure a positive rating, compared to 76% worldwide.
I love the excellent and affordable healthcare system!
Taiwan gets above-average results in three more subcategories. However, all these rankings are somewhat negatively affected by one specific factor. For example, Taiwan places 14th in the Digital Life subcategory. Its ratings for high-speed internet access, for instance, are excellent, with 94% of expats judging this factor favorably (vs. 79% globally). However, they are less satisfied with the cashless payment options: 85% rate them positively, about the same as the global average (83%). Though this is still a good result, it is not an amazing one, which leads to Taiwan not ranking quite as highly as it might have. Similar trends emerge in the Safety & Security (14th) and Leisure Options (17th) subcategories.
Last but not least, Taiwan only lands in an average 29th place in the Quality of the Environment subcategory. This is mainly due to the local air quality, which a mere 56% rate positively, compared to 66% worldwide. Nonetheless, expats in Taiwan are pretty happy with their life in general — four out of five (80%) say so (vs. 75% globally).
The Best and Worst Places to Feel at Home Abroad
Taiwan ranks first for Friendliness, closely followed by Mexico and Costa Rica. In fact, 96% of expats in Taiwan rate the general friendliness of the population positively, compared to a global average of 69%. The same share (96%) agrees that people in Taiwan are generally friendly towards foreign residents, and 54% even agree completely (vs. a global average of 67% and 25% respectively). “Taiwanese citizens make me feel at home,” an expat from France points out. “I don’t feel like a foreigner here.” In the bottom 3 of the subcategory, Austria (58th) joins Denmark (57th) and Kuwait (59th). Nearly three in eight expats in Austria (37%) rate the general friendliness of the local population negatively (vs. 16% globally), and the same percentage (37%) find people in Austria to be generally not friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 18% globally). “Austrians take a long time to warm up to you,” says a British expat, and a survey respondent from Turkey agrees that “socializing with the locals is not easy”.