Taipei vs. Washington, D.C. (Part I)

Taipei vs. Washington, D.C. (Part I)

It may seem like a war between two capital cities, but it’s actually a keen comparison between Taipei (the capital of Taiwan where I grew up) and D.C. (the capital of U.S. where I am now interning). It’s really hard to say which one is better to live in, because they are different in many ways. With this series of illustrations, I hope to bring my readers insight about the two cities, and the differences between them.



In the illustration above, I chose Taipei 101 and the Chiangkaishek Memorial Hall as the landmarks for Taipei. As for D.C., the Washington Monument, museums and the Capitol with cherry blossoms are the impression I chose to represent. One thing worth mentioning is that D.C. has a building restriction (no taller than 130 ft. in downtown area), so the skyline is much clearer and less crowded than Taipei, where skyscrapers cover the whole city.


1. Population and Area


Taipei is much more crowded than D.C. and has a higher population number. I can say that the pace in Taipei is faster, for sure. To be honest, D.C. is truly a more comfortable city to live in terms of crowds and lifestyle. However, being crowded is not necessarily a shortcoming! We have numerous night markets filled with crowds in Taipei. Whenever you feel cold and alone at night during winter, you might LOVE Taipei more because you can be surrounded by warm crowds and have access to hot food everywhere!


2. Metro System


The route map of Taipei’s metro system is quite similar to D.C.’s… BUT BUT BUT, the price is quite different! The public transportation in Taiwan is so cheap that I don’t even bother to record the expense or plan the cheapest route. How cheap? Each bus ride is $0.50 (can even be as long as a 2-hr bus ride) and the average metro fee one-way is around $0.70 (compared to the cheapest ticket for rush hour price of $2.15 in D.C.). I take the red line from Noma to Bethesda every day to commute to my internship site, costing me around $4 just one way. If you think cost is the worst part of the Metro in D.C., then you’re unfortunately wrong. The instability and frequency of breakdowns and incidents can be a headache to all passengers. I always leave home 30 minutes earlier, in case delays occur. As for the trains, Taipei’s metro is recognized as the cleanest in the world (light, clean and always on time); however, I personally love the design of the platforms in D.C!


3. Minimum Wage


Compared to D.C.’s $10.50 per hour wage, $4 in Taiwan is ridiculously low. It does make sense in some ways after you read the following comparison. How could people in Taiwan survive with such low wages? We should always take expenses into account when looking at income. Further details will be presented later! I’ve interned with a startup company and tutored for a long time in Taipei, making me qualified to talk about wage. If we choose to tutor, then the wage per hour for college students can be raised up to $14-30 depending on your major and your university. Therefore, there’s still a shortcut for young people in Taipei to earn a good living! (Taiwan is so small so every city shares the same minimum wage and regulations)


4. Top University


The best university in Taiwan is National Taiwan University (NTU), which is my home university and is situated right in the busiest area in Taipei, making commuting to school or shopping around easy for students. Our campus is too big to walk around by foot, so nearly every freshman will get a bike. The college tuition in Taiwan (Taipei), private or public, undergraduate or graduate, is very cheap compared to most of the cities in the world, not to mention D.C. I did some homework and found the best university here in D.C. is the one I just visited, Georgetown University, located in the beautiful Georgetown neighborhood. The tuition per semester is above $20,000, nearly 25 times tuition at NTU ($800). Now you realize why we seldom have student loans and can survive with low hourly wages! The incredibly cheap tuition seems perfect for students and parents, but actually it sometimes makes students easily waste the resource and not cherish the chance to study.


To be continued in my next post!

Read Jill's previous blog posts here

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