Feiren wrote:How immersed you will be in either city really depends on you. You can easily seal yourself off or immerse yourself in Taiwanese society depending on whether you choose to associate with other foreigners or not. This will be the same in Kaohsiung or Taipei.
I'm just back from a weekend in Tainan. I was really struck by how much more prevalent Taiwanese is down south than it is up here in Taipei.
In Kaohsiung, you will be living in a more bilingual society (Taiwanese/Mandarin) than Taipei (Mandarin very dominant).
I have the impression that foreigners in places with smaller foreign communities tend to be more caught up in the foreigner life than those in Taipei.
But I think you should question your whole premise.
You may think that 'immersing' yourself in the language and culture and avoiding the company of foreigners will help you learn the language faster. But in my experience, this is an alienating and counterproductive approach. Of course you should not socialize only with foreigners, but you may find that in some of the more bilingual parts of Taipei (Shi-Da/NTU/East Taipei), people are more used to foreigners speaking Mandarin than down south. And you may be able to learn some things from your fellow foreigners who have already learned the language and can understand and answer your questions about the language and the people.
That said, the weather is so much better in K-town and the whole city has a great, laid back vibe. I'd live there in a second if I could find interesting work.
Many good points, all around. Good advice. As you say, it really is up to you and how you live. And I agree, completely not associating with foreigners is not necessarily productive or necessary. Thanks for the advice - person I'm "quoting" - and everyone! cheers.