Tranquil Taiwan becomes Asia's expat oasis

Once considered too far off the radar, expatriates are moving to Taiwan thanks to its calm and friendly atmosphere. Residents also say the cost of living is much more reasonable than Hong Kong, Singapore or Tokyo.

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - One of the best kept secrets in Asia, leafy, tranquil Taiwan is now considered a haven of the good life.

Several global surveys showing people migrating to Asia are giving this island very high marks. So high, in fact, that one survey rates it as the best place for expats to live in the world.

"The cleaner air here is one major attraction for expatriates especially compared to other major Asia cities . But it's also the simplicity of life. And that's part of the changing profile of what expats are looking for," said Reuters correspondent Tara Joseph.

Expatriates on big corporate salaries once flocked to racier Asian cities like Hong Kong - with its work hard, play-hard culture, but now they are getting priced out as multinational companies cut back on perks like expensive rents and school bills.

Expat sites say rents are as much as 500 per cent higher in Hong Kong than in Taiwan .

Independent business owners are moving to Taiwan to live a more modest but comfortable life.

Ms Celine du Boudoir opened a beauty salon in one of Taipei's quieter neighbourhoods just over a year ago - coming from France with her three sons and a big suitcase.

"Life in Taiwan - it's very convenient , very convenient, it's very safe - in this area in Tianmu it's very quiet, so it's just perfect for family life, and it's good for business too because the Taiwanese people are very friendly with foreigners."

Taiwan has long been a hot spot for foreign students learning Mandarin, but the number of Western residents is still relatively small - with the government estimating there are about 9,000 Americans and 1,500 French.

That allows expats to integrate into local culture - or form their own tight communities, in this comforting but still exotic land.