A Formosa Love Letter – Live & Work in Taipei

I have been to the capital of Taiwan twice already. This time, I’m not really on holiday, I’m working remotely on weekdays. Does living in Taipei compares to exploring it for the first time? Let’s find out.

The digital nomad life is real

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Morning view in Daan, Taipei. A whole day to explore before starting to work.

After a special agreement with my employer, I’ve been granted 6 days of remote work on a 2 weeks timespan. This is the moment I’ve been hoping for this past year. I wanted to know what digital nomadism really was if it ever happens on a full-time basis. This one time trial is just what I needed. I also wanted to answer some concerns about this lifestyle:

  • Is it easy to match a timezone when you’re 7 hours ahead?
  • How about wifi reliability on the go?
  • Can my gear replicate the comfort of an office desk?

To all of the above: YES! Let’s have a tech talk.

The great thing about matching the time zone is that you don’t really split the day in three parts, but in two, as you remove commuting from the equation and start working in the afternoon. I basically have a full day to explore before I start my shift and it starts getting dark. The drawback is that you can’t really do things in the evening. If I want to be in a more social environment, I’ll just go to a café in the evening, Taipei is full of them.

Since I’m not off the grid, I have no issues whatsoever with my internet connection. I’ve purchased a local “data only” sim card, which I put on a pocket wifi, hooked up to a power bank. Whenever I’m at the apartment, I get a solid connection & otherwise I can use cafés’s wifi. I actually started last Monday’s shift in the park in front of the Taipei 101. I eventually moved to a Starbucks.

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My nomad setup : wireless keyboard & mouse + iPad as an external screen.

Speaking of the gear, I have an ergonomic setup (see above) which includes many additions. I use a laptop stand to have my computer at eyesight level, with bluetooth mouse & keyboard.
I also use my tablet as a second screen, to quickly switch between my emails, team chat & my main screen. It’s especially convenient when making reports. For my personal use as well (music production & video editing). Of course, when I hit the café, I don’t bring all of the above, just my 15″ Macbook Pro and its awesome 10 hours battery life.

My Taiwanese routine

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Anju Street, Taipei: My office throughout November 2017

The great thing about working in another location, is that you are actually excited about some daily habits. New commute route (or no commute at all if you stay home), new lunch food (especially this), new office (a coffee place, the park, your living room). Everything is new and exciting.
I usually wake up at a decent time and get breakfast off the street. Then, I do whatever activity was planned during the day and will be back home mid afternoon. Since I brought my Brompton folding bike with me (a.k.a my friend on wheels), I can go further in the neighborhood to quickly eat something, or switch location within a lunch or coffee break timespan.

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My Brompton: a companion at the coffee place, in the subway, by the river :

Working in the social media engagement field isn’t exactly stressful, most of the tasks can be done as long as I have a laptop & a connection. But when I need to get something important done or need a quiet environment for a conference call, I’ll stay home to be able to use the ergonomic setup mentioned earlier. In other situations, my Bose QC35 noise cancelling headphones come in handy.

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Dinner routine: get on your bike, grab of of these, seat by the river, move to the next café.

When it’s lunch time, or in my case dinner time, the options are way more interesting than the usual sandwich they serve us at work or the microwaved leftovers. You can have oyster noodles on the go, a boiled pot of vegetables & diverse meats, dine in at a Vietnamese restaurant and have a 2 euros bowl of pho.
When the day is finally over, I head over to the night market for a quick desert or enjoy an ice cold Taiwan beer on our beloved terrace.

What’s next?

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A the bottom of Maokong, Taipei Zoo MRT Station

When I look back at how quickly November went through, I realized I love working remotely and I could do it many more times. The tasks and schedule remained the same, but I didn’t feel like I was working 9 to 5 waiting for a monthly paycheck in exchange of my time. I was happy to be there, excited to get work done and proud to make an income from the other side of the planet. It is not the last time, I promise.

Are you a digital nomad or wanna-be? Tell me your story, your dream location & more!

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