(Featured Image by Felix Bucella)
After months of research, I chose to teach English in Taiwan for three main reasons: the people, healthcare, and cleanliness. Since I decided to leave the US and become expat in Taiwan, I haven’t once regretted my decision.
After four months, I’ve discovered only more reasons to love teaching in Taiwan.
If you’ve been considering teaching English abroad, I’m excited to share with you…
8 Reasons to Teach English in Taiwan!
1. Cost of Living to Teach English in Taiwan
The cost of living in Taiwan is moderate — it’s not high and nor is it very low.
It falls somewhere between Korea and Vietnam.
Here I provide the two biggest (and basic) expenses you can expect: housing and food.
(Expect a more in-depth post later on).
My first apartment in Taipei cost 7,800 NTD ($260 USD) a month. I shared a bedroom with four girls (and 12 roommates total) but it was incredible to live in Central Taipei on a budget.
Considering you’d probably like your own room, if you stay in Taipei you can expect to pay $11,000–13,000 NTD ($360-$430) in a shared apartment.
Outside of Taipei, you can get your own studio for cheap.
A woman I know who lives in Central Taiwan has a studio for 6,000 NTD ($200) a month. On Kinmen Island, where I live, my studio apartment is 7,000 NTD ($230) a month.
Food expenses aren’t enormously high but it can add up if you don’t keep track.
Because many Taiwanese apartments don’t have kitchens, you can expect to eat out often.
On my 300 NTD ($10) a day budget I can buy three meals, a coffee, and usually tea. I usually spend 50–120 ($2-$4) NTD per meal.
My basic survival kit in Taiwan costs 16,000 NT, or $530 US Dollars.
2. Income When You Teach English in Taiwan
The income you make teaching English in Taiwan varies depending on the type of school, the hours you work, and whether you’re on salary.
You probably won’t save $1,000 USD a month, but you’ll be able to cover living expenses and still save/pay-off debts.
I can’t provide a great example as I’m a new expat in Taiwan, but I’m expecting to take home about 38,000 NTD ($1,251) after 18% taxes (working just 18-hours a week).
If I’m right, I’ll be able to pocket $700 a month.
After six months my tax rate will drop to 5%-10%, meaning a better take home!
(I’ll update this section later.)
To find work check out sites such as tealit.com and join facebook job groups to see more of what’s available. With these methods, you can get an idea of what’s out there and potential income. My income, while not meager, is quite small compared to what’s out there.
3. It’s Clean
If you come from somewhere clean, good for you.
I’m used to seeing litter in the streets and empty McDonalds bags left on the subway.
I love that I made the choice to teach English in Taiwan because it’s simply clean. It’s not a part of the culture to throw trash in streets and they enforce an effective trash and recycling system.
One time on the metro in Taipei a sauce packet had exploded on the train floor. At the next stop a cleaner came onto the train, mopped it up, and disembarked the train the next stop.
It was awesome to witness.
4. It’s Convenient
If you teach English in Taiwan, you’ll discover an unusual amount of conveniences.
The metro in Taipei is super cheap, clean, and runs frequently. I never waited more than 3 minutes for a train unless it was late at night.
Taipei also has a public bike system. Once you have an EasyCard, you can register it with UBike and ride through the streets.
If you’re thinking of living outside Taipei, look into public transportation options and public bike-share services — I’m sure they exist and are convenient! It’s just something to expect from the culture.
You can get almost anything done at 7/11.
You can pay bills, print documents, refill your EasyCard, and even buy train and domestic plane tickets.
It was crazy to me when I ordered a train ticket online and found out I could pay for it and print it at 7/11.
Another crazy convenience is that you can also buy full meals at 7/11, FamilyMart, and HiLife (all convenience stores). They cost around 50–90 NT ($2-$3) and they’ll heat your meal for you there.
Convenience stores are everywhere!
5. People Are Kind
Reading about the kindness of Taiwanese people was a huge factor in why I chose to teach English in Taiwan.
I’ve concluded it’s completely true.
As an expat in Taiwan (and on Kinmen Island) I feel welcome despite the fact I communicate via gestures 95% of the time.
Sometimes I feel like an annoyance when I just gesture or shrug my shoulders, but not once have I been given a rude attitude.
I genuinely appreciate the locals patience with me because it’s easy to feel like an idiot foreigner.
I also love when random people say “Hi” or something nice in Chinese that I don’t understand — it just makes me feel welcome.
In Taipei, with so many people it’s a bit different, but I’ve had a few people offer to help me nonetheless. The effort people bring truly something to shout out.
6. The Environment
If you teach English in Taiwan more than likely you’ll be close to nature at all times — even in the city.
While the West Coast is urbanized, the grey zones on maps slowly overcome with green as you head East, meaning you’ll probably always have access to hiking at the edge of the city.
The weather varies depending on how North or South you live, but one thing for certain is there is no severe winter weather here.
Sure, it can get cold, but it’s nothing compared to the Northern U.S.
If you do come to Taiwan, let it be known apartments don’t have heat. Getting a mini-heater (and thick curtains) can help out.
I have yet to experience summer here but know it gets hot and humid, so it’s best to be prepared and read up if you’re sensitive to heat.
I can’t get enough of how safe Taiwan is. It’s ridiculous.
In Philly it sucked knowing people were getting shot and killed daily around me, it sucked wondering who was going to harass me that day, and it sucked wondering if I would ever fall victim in a serious crime.
At first, I felt like I was on a prank show in Taiwan — you mean I can leave my house and I don’t have to watch my back? Suspect.
Sure, you gotta watch for scooters that drive in merciless directions, but the level of safety here is ridiculous.
8. Work Culture
Talking with teachers who used to live in Korea and Japan, I’ve learned that more northern countries have more intense work cultures.
Of course, Taiwan has its own bad apples and you can read about them on TW Forumosa (a great resource for anything Taiwan!).
Overall though, my personality and work style fit well in Taiwan. I probably would have been fine in Vietnam too, but Korea or Japan? I don’t know.
Taiwan is also more relaxed in regards to tattoos and piercings (I have small gauges and 3 tattoos). It depends on your school but my first job didn’t care about tattoos on display. At my current job, I hide my tattoos but don’t have to be concerned for my gauges.
Should You Teach English in Taiwan?
If you were feeling most of what I said above, the answer for you might be, “yes!”
Do your research. Learn about the culture, the people, the lifestyle, and opportunities available.
That’s why I’m sharing this post — because I want to add to the plethora of information for all teachers considering Taiwan.
Maybe it will be the right decision for you too.
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