Helping expats feel at home in Taichung: 2016 'Taichung International Residents Survey' offers new insights
By Angela Williams
Translated by Anna Yang
Photo provided by Angela Williams
Expats in Taichung City should be feeling pretty lucky--according to recently published articles, Taiwan came out on top in a wide-scale expat survey for quality of life, personal finance and work-life balance , and Taichung, specifically, "is the most livable city in Taiwan!" 
Yet despite Taichung's touted great livability, the reality of making this foreign city feel like home isn't easy. Practical difficulties of navigating daily needs are often compounded by feelings of internal strain due to layers of misunderstandings and misaligned expectations.
It helps to know that Taichung City's government is aware of its international residents' plight and wants to help smooth the path. Upon request from Mayor Lin, the Education Bureau convened a panel discussion on April 27, 2016 with "the aim to better understand the advantages and disadvantages for foreigners living or staying in Taichung City."
To contribute to the feedback given at this panel discussion, the International Women's Association of Taichung (IWAT) sponsored a survey in collaboration with social work students at Appalachian State University, USA, which was administered using Google Forms via social media networks. Many thanks to the 123 Taichung expat respondents (44% female and 56% male) who shared their thoughts and comments.
Key Responses from the 2016 "Taichung International Residents Survey" :
55.5% had never heard of the 24-hour Information For Foreigner service hotline (0800-024-111)
59.1% didn't know they could call the Foreign Affairs Police (0922-958110) for English assistance when involved in a traffic accident
36.9% have difficulty navigating the Taichung city bus system
42.2% feel like there is a lack of accessible information to be able to attend community events and festivals
63.6% often, 28.1% sometimes, and 8.3% rarely "generally feel accepted by the local people in Taichung"
Taichung city government officials expressed gratitude for the insights provided in this survey as it gave direction for needed communication, support and changes. Please visit Taichung's City Government's website http://eng.taichung.gov.tw where you will find many new features and updates.
IWAT also will use this survey's information to guide the creation of the "Taichung Unlocked" website, which is a revamp of IWAT's 2005 city guidebook of the same name. Please visit www.iwat.org for more information or to lend support to the project.
Annual expat surveys as well as many useful articles can also be found at Taichung Expat blog, http://taichungexpat.com/.
[About the author: Angela Williams arrived in Taichung in 2013 to navigate expat life with her husband and three young sons. She worked as a "Taichung Daily Living" trainer, served as president of IWAT in 2014-2015 and was project manager for the "Taichung Unlocked" project.]
 Survey research, compilation and statistical analysis was facilitated by Dr. Peter Fawson and his research students at Appalachian State University, North Carolina, USA.