How to Be a Digital Nomad in Taipei (Christian Edition)
This year, I’ve had the incredible privilege of living in and working from Taipei for nearly five months.
I’ve always wanted to live in Taipei for an extended period. Growing up, my family would spend about a month here every summer as both sides of my extended family are largely in Taipei. My siblings and I loved it! The energy, the street food, the incredible number of 7-Elevens! (Half kidding about the 7-Elevens but Taipei-ers do love their convenience stores.) As adults, we still love our family trips to Taipei and really missed it when we couldn’t come for a few years because of the pandemic.
The pandemic really changed my priorities in life… in a way I really didn’t expect it to. When it started, honestly even for the first year, I saw the silver lining in having extra time at home to rest and create. But by year three, especially as I was living in Hong Kong and we were going into a fifth lockdown while the rest of the world was opening up, enough was enough. I wanted to be closer to my family and felt God was giving me the green light to make a move I’d been praying about for a while.
So in mid 2022 I moved back to Canada for a Master’s in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology! Being a full-time student again for the first time in a decade was exhilarating and I wanted to soak up the experience, but I also had an eye on the future. In early 2023, I decided to spend August to December in Taipei.
I’ve spoken before about how 2022 and 2023 have been years of walking by faith. I’m so excited when God tells me to do something specifically and clearly because I know there is no better path than doing things God’s way. But sometimes even after much prayer it’s still a hunch and an impression rather than a “Thou shall…” statement. Much more to come on unpacking this but in terms of Taipei, I decided to come because I just felt like it was the right next step and I needed to move in faith.
There were also practical reasons that made it possible. For the first time in 12 years, I actually had the flexibility to spend multiple months working in Taipei and with a purpose as well — building the foundation of my business, post business school. I also hadn’t seen my extended family here since before COVID and my family would all be here at some point over my five months. And perhaps most significantly, I had my family’s full support to stay in our apartment here and pursue my God dream. I am thankful beyond words for my parents’ spiritual, emotional, and financial support.
My circumstances are a bit unique so I wanted to tailor this guide for Christians. There are many other resources online talking about the logistics of becoming a digital nomad in Taipei but I wanted to talk about settling in and thriving once you’ve prayed through things and believe God has given the green light to move. Because in addition to working hard, God also calls us to enjoy life — with him, fellow believers, good food, and more. So here are some of the things I think Christian digital nomads should know about Taipei.
Finding a Home Church
Making time to explore churches, and then choosing one and getting plugged in, is essential. Amen? If you’re looking for international churches, I’ve had good experiences with Bread of Life International, Taipei International Church, Roots Church, and Connect (the English ministry of Taipei 101 Church). My home church here is Connect where I’ve been so blessed to be mentored and nurtured by a group of passionate God lovers who have made me feel so encouraged to pursue what God is calling me to do — and I’m constantly inspired by how they are loving and pursuing God’s call on their lives. Iron sharpens iron!
Enjoying Life on a Budget
I’ve heard people describe Taiwan as a mix of Hong Kong (city buzz) and Tokyo (traditional elegance). I think this is the most accurate description, and thankfully Taipei is perhaps 30% more affordable than both. Rent can be high but there are plenty of ways to enjoy life’s joys for an affordable price whether that’s essentials like groceries and toiletries or little treats like meals out, bubble teas, lattes, massages, mani/pedis, museum visits, etc.
Also, pray. I believe I got to enjoy so much of Taipei based on God’s grace in enabling others to provide for me. When I was low key wondering how I could make my face cream last until the end of the year, I was given a bag of full-sized beauty products. When I wanted to try a restaurant in a distinct historic building, one day out of nowhere I received an invitation to be treated to a meal there. God is not a genie (I definitely prayed for other wants that weren’t answered haha) but he is generous! He knows our needs, wants, and everything on this earth is his. Ask him and who knows how he might provide.
Exercising for Free
Taiwanese people must love to work out because there are gyms (chain and boutiques) everywhere! I live in an area with lots of expats and schools, and it feels like there’s a gym on every block. These. Are. Expensive. And often require a year-long commitment. Thankfully Taipei’s parks are well maintained and there are lots of runners around. Do this at your own risk, but there were many times I started a 5km run at 10pm and felt completely safe. My running route along a public river park was still fairly busy with other runners, couples out on a stroll, etc. (and has security cameras).
Working With Free WiFi
When I first moved, I went into a FET store and got a 60GB monthly phone plan for NT $999 / CAD $45 because getting home wifi required a year-long commitment. With work though, I was having a lot of video calls with North America and also needed to download various files daily. So I spent a lot of time at my neighbourhood library and neighbourhood Louisa (and occasionally Dreamers) using their free wifi. My neighbourhood library had maybe 40 proper desks in its silent study areas — and getting a spot was competitive! If I wasn’t there by 11am, there often weren’t any desks left. I loved working here and the vibe of working alongside other focused people.
Somedays though you want a little more buzz and my neighbourhood Louisa also had two long communal work desks. This spot felt like a co-working space with other digital nomads, expat working moms, local creative professionals etc. around. There are lots of amazing cafes in Taipei but they can be expensive and many don’t have wifi! Louisa’s $70 latte plus this vibe (and the fact that they don’t chase you out) was the best deal for me.
Hot tip: Eventually I stopped going to both the library and Louisa when I realized FET had an unlimited 4G plan that was something like NT $1588 / CAD $70 for 2 months (note: they didn’t offer this when I was looking but offered it to my Dad when he asked specifically… so ask for the ‘all you can eat’ plan if you’re interested in this). As an ambivert, knowing I had the option to work from home everyday was a huge blessing and allowed me to save my social energy on growing relationships with my community.
Embracing Your God-Given Journey (Taiwanese Pressures)
In some ways, Taiwanese society can be very traditional. Not everyone understands a digital nomad lifestyle, entrepreneurship, creative jobs, etc. If you ever feel misunderstood, don’t let this bother you… or better yet, give any weird feelings to God. Let him remind you of the beauty of your journey, and how proud he is that you’re pursuing his plan and being who he made you to be.
For anyone reading this guide that is praying over (or has prayed over and is pursuing!) becoming a digital nomad, chances are you’re a brave, curious, persistent, diligent, openminded, gritty self-starter. Let God’s light shine through you as you pursue the dreams he’s placed in you.
I will always look back on this period of being a digital nomad in Taipei as one of the sweetest seasons of my life. Prior to experiencing this myself, I looked at other digital nomads and thought life must be really fun and flexible… and it is. It can be. But when we’re doing it with God, there’s also so much behind-the-scenes refining happening. When our schedules are flexible, are we still putting God first? When we have a God-given mission, are we working on it or focused on worldly pleasures? However long our digital nomad season (or any season of our life, really!) lasts, may we always keep God at the centre so we leave it having stewarded it the best we can. To more adventures with the Lord ahead. :)