Before returning to Taiwan, I remember telling a few friends that I still wasn’t feeling “excited” to return to Taipei. I was still having fun nomading, and though I was more tired than I realized, I didn’t want it to end.
After landing in Taipei, it didn’t take long to realize that I was actually more than a little relieved to be back. Frantically sightseeing many weekends in a row had taken its toll, and my battery was in desperate need of a recharge even though the light on the dash still read “fine and excited for more.”
I did feel a sense of being “home”, but mostly I think it felt good to have certainty around the coming weeks and months, and to be able to take things easier. I spent a lot of weekends at home after coming back, reveling in the ability to waste time at home without feeling guilty for missing some important travel opportunity.
I’ve been appreciative of Taipei as I slowly recover from travel burnout. More than anything else, I find myself marveling at how insanely convenient this city is. I can say what I will about NYC and hustle—NYC’s got nothing on Taipei when it comes to convenience.
With Taipei’s fantastic public transit system, I can get pretty much anywhere around the city in ~20 minutes. By contrast, we paid top dollar in NYC (with some help from my parents staying with us for a stretch) to have a luxurious apartment on the waterfront in Williamsburg that still took 10 minutes just to get to the subway, and easily took 30-50 minutes to get anywhere we were trying to go.
I also couldn’t have predicted how comforting it would be to have a 7-11 waiting around every other corner again. If I want a snack or anything in a pinch, there’s pretty much always something open.
This city is so much cleaner than NYC, the people are much nicer on average (though the language barrier makes it harder to connect deeply), and it generally just feels like everything in Taipei works the way it should.
And of course, the price tag in Taipei is unbeatable. Taipei is easily the cheapest world-class city I’ve ever visited. It costs me a third or a quarter of what it would to live in NYC long-term at the same standard of living.
Combine all of these points with my musings on hustle and ego, and I think it’s fair to say that I have a decent sense of home-ness and belonging here. I’m certainly grateful to live here, and I am glad to be back.
That all said, I still feel that Taipei is a home, and not the home. I have a hard time imagining living the rest of my life here, and traveling again was a reminder that I want to experience the world at large, not just Taiwan. I’m still not sure what that means in practice, but lately I’ve been thinking about listing my apartment for longer-term stays on AirBnB. If a guest books a long enough stay, maybe I could use that as an excuse to go somewhere for a few months. Of course, I still need to figure out how to balance traveling with everything else—this recent trip has shown I’ve lost the knack for that.
Regardless, I expect I’ll continue to be in Taipei for the currently foreseeable future. At a minimum, I’d like to get my permanent residency, which I should qualify for next year. Who knows after that.