So, you’ve thought about teaching English abroad.
But, like everyone who has ever had this idea pop into their heads, you are faced with the same pivotal question… where the hell do I move to?
Our world is big. And, it’s overflowing with opportunities to teach abroad. If you’ve begun even the smallest amount of research, I’m sure like me, you’ve been overwhelmed by the information Google has to offer you.
My first experience teaching abroad took me to Korea. I spent an entire year eating spicy kimchi, hiking through some of the most picturesque mountains my eyes ever did see, and, being constantly brainwashed by catchy K-pop music. I loved my life in Korea and I miss it a lot. A lot more than I thought I would. But, at the end of my contract, I decided it was time to begin a new adventure teaching abroad. You can read why here.
For my second adventure teaching abroad I moved to Taiwan. This is now my third month living here, and, I’ve fallen for this little island pretty hard and pretty fast. I love my life here in a completely different way than I loved my life in Korea. And, I’m here to tell you why you might love teaching here too.
1. A diverse and well-established expat community.
Taiwan attracts an incredibly diverse group of expats. Between teachers, university exchange students, and business professionals, there is an infinitely wide range of people to make friends with (or to scare off with your weirdness).
The genuine friendliness and hospitality of the locals must have something to do with this. Compared to other countries in Asia, Taiwanese people are welcoming and almost unaware of the presence of foreigners. In Korea, I almost convinced myself I was an A-list celebrity with how many people I “caught” blatantly taking pictures of me. Being discrete is definitely not a strong suit of Koreans.
Of course, you will still get the odd, “can I take a picture of you and put it in my foreigner shrine” interaction (I mean, who knows what these pictures are used for). This is Asia for you. But, they are far and few between. Oh well, I guess I’ve become a Z-list celebrity now.
But, wherever you end up in Taiwan, you will surely not be short of friends, even if you have deemed yourself the craziest cat lady on the planet (which, there is nothing wrong with). I am definitely up there, and my crew here is pretty amazing.
2. Summer weather all year-round.
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Well, forget that. This year I spent Christmas in a tank top and shorts, admiring palm trees from my window. Taiwan is warm all-year round, with spring-like winters and sticky summers. Okay, the sticky summers aren’t magical per se, but they sure make up for the comfortable t-shirt weather the other nine months of the year. Which means, weekend road trips on scooters to waterfalls and beaches are always on the agenda.
3. Travel While Saving Money.
Yes, it’s a cushy life here on this little island.
The cost of living in Taiwan is low and the salaries are more than fair. Working just a twenty-hour work week is enough to live comfortably (unless, you’re in Taipei). Willing to work more than twenty hours a week? Most teachers end up working jobs that offer thirty hours a week. And, picking up side gigs like tutoring and substituting is extremely common and will help that savings account grow fast.
Here’s a bit of quick math (based on my experience living in Taiwan’s second largest city, Kaohsiung):
- Average hourly wage: $600 NT (about $25 CAD)
- Average monthly salary (if you are working 30 hours a week): $600 NT x 30 hours/week = $72,000 NT (before taxes)
- Average monthly apartment rental: $11,000 – $15,000 NT (about $470 – $640 CAD)
- Average monthly living expenses: $10,000 – $15,000 NT (about $430 – $640 CAD)
- Potential monthly savings: $42,000 NT ($1,800 CAD), before taxes + if you decide to supplement your income!
Now, of course there are always unforeseen expenses and the initial start-up costs to get your life started here. But, once you’re settled, those dollars begin to add up fast!
4. Awesome Food – Drool.
Does the idea of eating fermented cabbage every day put you off? Not stinky, mystery fish’s number one fan? Do crispy bugs arranged on skewers make your stomach turn? Yup, Asian food can be weird. But, in Taiwan you’re in luck.
Taiwan is undoubtedly one of Asia’s top melting pot contenders, among Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. And, Taiwanese street food rocks. Its cheap, flavourful, and, caters to even the pickiest of eaters’ palettes. Whatever your taste, you can find everything your stomach rumbles for and more between its many foreign restaurants and along the many aisles of your local supermarket. Taiwan has seriously impressed me with its cuisine options and I’m still uncovering more each day.
(And, even if you do like fiery kimchi, pungent fish, and charred bugs, don’t worry – you can find all that here too).
5. Easy Peasy Transportation.
Ever looked at Taiwan on a map? Yes, it’s incredibly small. You can get from one end of the country to the other in a blink-of-an-eye, hour on the train. This means that during your one year stint abroad (or more!), you can say you’ve traveled an entire country. In my 23 years of living in Canada, I have yet to say that I’ve traveled even a fraction of it.
What’s even better? This country’s infrastructure is designed for scooters. To think that only three months ago, I shuddered at the thought of me driving a scooter in Asia… well, driving at all for that matter.
Do these photos give you anxiety? They won’t once you’ve spent one week on a scooter!
But, when in Taiwan, one must purchase a scooter (unless you’re living in Taipei, with a metro system incredibly easy to navigate). So, I did. And, I had never experienced true freedom until I made that purchase.
Scootering not your thing? Don’t worry! The trains and busses will get you almost anywhere you need to go. And, won’t put a dent in your wallet!