Will I need to drive my own vehicle to conduct my everyday life (work/school/shopping) at my destination?
This depends on where you live in relation to the school or your workplace. It also depends on where you choose to shop.
Travel is generally only required if you need to shop specifically for imported products. There will be a local fruit/vegetable/meat/fish/poultry market within a 20-minute walk of just about anywhere. There will also be smaller, individual fruit and vegetable stores in between. There are also large grocery store chains scattered all over the city.
For work, most people are required to commute, especially if they have children and choose to live closer to the schools. Some will choose to live within walking distance and in most areas of the downtown this is a viable option. Some will live near public transport if their work is near a bus or MRT line, and most others will drive or take taxis.
In addition, international schools will normally provide bus service.
How can I legally drive a vehicle in this city?
Apply for an international driving license in your home country before coming to Taiwan. If you have the international license, you will be allowed to legally drive for about three months. After this time, if you are stopped and do not have a local license or the appropriate endorsements on your international one, you may have to pay a fine for driving without a valid license.
If possible, make sure your home license will be valid for the duration of your assignment. Whether or not you'll need to write and/or take the test for a driver's license depends on the country from which the home license was issued, and is subject to change. Check with Crown Taipei upon your arrival in Taiwan to learn more about the regulations that are currently in place.
What side of the road do people drive on?
On the right-hand side.
Describe typical public transportation an expat might use to get around the city.
There is the Mass Rapid Transit system, or the MRT for short. This is an extensive, inexpensive and convenient method to get around the city and certain areas outside of it. The maximum waiting time for a train is seven minutes.
While the buses are not always in the newest condition, they are a cheap way to get around. The maximum wait for most buses is 20 minutes. Routes that extend to areas in Taipei county or further afield may run every 45 minutes or on a fixed schedule. The running times are indicated on the bus stop signs.
Taxis in Taipei are extremely convenient. They are also inexpensive and quick outside of rush hours.
Could an expat also use public transportation to get out of the city—to surrounding towns, recreation areas or suburbs? If so, list options.
The larger cities are serviced by long-distance buses, which leave from various points in the city. Most routes originate around the main train station and environs (on all tourist maps), near the domestic airport (on all tourist maps) and the corner of Min Sheng and Chien Kuo Rds (near the entrance to the highway). Trains are also an option for long-distance travel and are usually on schedule.
Both forms of transportation are very comfortable, though if you take an overnight bus you might check to see if they will be showing a movie. There are no volume controls!
In regards to transportation, are there any safety issues I should be aware of?
The "might makes right" rule applies in traffic. The bigger you are, the more people will make way for you. Note that new drivers will at first be frustrated by scooters (two-wheeled motorized vehicles) and motorcycles. Many of them do not drive responsibly, and tend to materialize out of nowhere at high speeds.
On public transportation, stay aware of your belongings, though nine times out of ten even unattended baggage will remain untouched.
Also keep in mind that in any motor accident, there is a difference between who is at fault and who should pay money. If you are driving a car and have an accident with a scooter, you will most likely have to pay damages. You may find it worthwhile to carry a disposable camera in your glove compartment, and don't let anyone convince you to move your vehicle until the police arrive to take their own photos.
Where do I buy tickets/tokens/etc. for the major public transportation?
All convenience stores sell stored-value tickets for the bus and MRT. Cash is also accepted, though the bus will not make change. All other tickets should be purchased at the station or terminal stop. For interim stops on a long-distance bus, you can pay the driver, though he or she may also not have change.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.