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A Digital Nomad in Taipei: Michael North

This series features digital nomads in Taipei. Who are they? What brought them here?

Meet Michael North, an American software developer, CTO of Levanto Financial, and instructor on Front End Masters.

How long have you been here for, how long do you intend to stay?

My first long trip here was last November, and I've spent over half of my time in Taiwan since then. I have an apartment with an annual lease, and although I travel a lot, I don't intend to stop coming back to Taipei anytime soon!

What do you love and hate about Taipei?

Love - The food, the work ethic, the friendly and honest people. I love how the city is still alive and busy late at night, and how comfortable it is to live here. Probably most of all, I hadn't been to Asia at all until two years ago, and being in such a new and interesting environment inspires creativity.

Hate - Not sure I would use the word "hate", but I'm too tall for Taiwanese movie theaters. I feel sorry for whoever has to sit behind me and stare at my head for two hours. I also miss cheese when I'm here. For some reason, not many people eat it here.

Do you think Taipei is a good city for digital nomads - why or why not?

One of the best cities I've found, and I've been all over the world this year. It's fun, safe, relatively cheap, there's a quickly-growing tech community, the internet is fast, there are tons of cafes that are glad to have people work there for hours and hours, and there are a lot of places nearby to take side trips to (i.e., HK, Osaka, Seoul, etc...)

How does it compare to your last destination?

This is my 12th trip to Taipei this year, so I'm not sure what "last destination" means in my case. I most recently came from Kyoto, and in Taipei it's much easier for me to get work done here. It feels familiar to me now -- almost like "coming home". All of the coffee shops I usually go to seem to be very glad to have me back :)

How is the tech/nomad/startup culture here?

This is a hard one to answer for me from a "startup/tech" culture standpoint, because I can't be too involved with it due to the language barrier and my travel schedule. I also am still very connected to the Silicon Valley tech culture, which is impossible to compare to. I think that it's almost like a secret how awesome it is to live here. Every time I've brought someone to Taiwan, they ask "why didn't I know about this place sooner?". I think that sometimes Japan and Hong Kong get a lot of attention, but to be honest I'd much rather work from here.

P.s. Michael has a new side project called Flight Gold. It's aimed at digital nomads specifically, and aims to make booking air travel much easier and cheaper. More details will soon be announced, but you can email to try and get into their first round of beta testing.

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