Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Taiwan Citizens Downshift from Bright Lights of Taipei

By Asia Pop Culture

Taiwan has endured much mis-information, mis-conception in the past six decades due to its size and diplomatic isolation.  So here are three formal statistics to help instill the proper image of Taiwan:
  1. Taiwan ranks #19 in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), ahead of Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, and even the oil-rich Saudi and UAE, based on IMF's report published in Oct. 2012.
  2. Taiwan ranks #14 in the world in gold reserves ahead of countries like United Kingdom, Belgium, and again Saudi Arabia (as of July 2013, World Gold Council).  
  3. Taipei 101 (台北101) was the world's tallest building from 2004 until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010.

Taipei is Taiwan's capital, the biggest city and major job market. For most of the past century migrating to Taipei has been the ticket to better jobs, career choices, and higher pay.  This naturally has jacked up the real estate in Taipei. Average housing prices in Taipei are 13.1 times annual household incomes, whereas median home in the U.S. cost 2.6 times the median annual income.  Of course, housing and rent in other parts of Taiwan is sometimes less than half of that in Taipei.    

Other than housing, the actual day-to-day living costs in Taipei such as food, clothing, transportation are cheaper than that in the U.S. For example, last December, it cost me around $10 for a bus day tour (complete with tour guide, free bottle water, and lots food samples) from Taipei to Taichung (240 miles round trip).  Not to mention eating out is super affordable and delicious.  It is of little wonder that Night Markets in Taiwan (three in Taipei) has earned its own Wikipedia page.  

Nevertheless, even though Taipei night markets are still packed every night, the latest urban movement is that a lot of people have had enough of the high housing price, and not-so-neighborly metropolitan Taipei.  From MinnPost
"Taiwanese are now trading Taipei’s higher pay and secure day jobs for less stressful, more personally rewarding careers in music, coffee brewing, guesthouse management, or ecologically friendly farming." 
According to the article, although "downshifters who leave knowledge-based work in Taipei usually must change careers for lack of employers in smaller towns. Income usually drops at first", most of them are able to transition into a new business venture or second career thus helping some of Taiwan's rural business development.

So the century-long big Taipei migration has now reversed just a little with more people changing lifestyle choice and often business decision.  Actually, I think in a way, this new trend also partly reflects the affluence of many Taiwan citizens, as well as the island's affordable consumer price level (except housing & rent).  Of course, the breath-taking beauty and mystique of the island is probably another reason that residents there are willing to give up the bright lights of the big Taipei.

From discoverformosa:
"The island of Taiwan is often overlooked and is seldom appreciated as a place of beauty and mystique. After exploring it on a 2000 km journey....and 10 days of post-production; we present: "The Beauty of Taiwan". Within this 4k time-lapse video are just a few moments from this breathtaking island. Please feel free to share, blog, post or embed to show the world.."