ABC Considering Moving to Taiwan - opinions?

Hi forumosans,
My question here is, is it logical and reasonable for an ABC to move to Taiwan? (Even just for a shorter term such as 2 years)
Posted two years ago. I’m an American born Chinese / Taiwanese girl (20 y/o currently), Mandarin speaker (can read some Chinese), with a Taiwanese citizenship, family & some friends in taiwan, and familiar with the culture. I’m going to be a 3rd year studying communication, music, and technology management, and hopefully seeking a career in marketing or anything intercultural communication related. Now that I’m closer to graduating from college, I’m thinking about my future, in possibly, taiwan. Coming to taiwan many times growing up and spending 2 months each time, I’ve grown to love the country and can see myself living there. I’m looking to go to taiwan for maybe 5 months plus, after I graduate early to get a taste of life there and maybe intern. I would then be 21 or 22 at that time. I’m also not looking to teach English in taiwan if possible…

Another crazy idea I had was to get my graduate master’s degree in taiwan — let me know if this is a stupid idea!

The things that I am considering and that are holding me back are:

  1. Relationships… not sure if Taiwanese guys are open to dating an ABC girl (disclaimer: I am not a rich ABC who flaunts their English and loves to party). Though I have friends there, still worried if I would be able to make more friends / fit into the work culture there.
  2. USA citizenship… what would happen with that, if anything?
  3. Salary & living costs. I know the salary is low, living costs are low, but housing is expensive, and I worry if my salary would still support my living expenses
  4. Career. If I were to move back to America, would this be a bad move for my career path?

I’d be open to just going there for 3-5 years right after graduation but I’m worried as to how it would affect my career path.
I would appreciate input from anyone! Also would be great to hear from people who were in my shoes before :slight_smile: Thanks for reading everything, sorry if I bored you.

Tl;dr : I’m an ABC thinking about moving back to taiwan and want your input on whether it’s reasonable or not

  1. Maybe put aside stereotypes and focus on getting to know each person for their own uniqueness? If they don’t like you for you, then move on.

  2. You mentioned you have Taiwanese citizenship. Do you already have a Taiwan ID card and passport?
    Nothing will happen to your US Citizenship.

  3. Depends on where you want to live. If you insist on living in Taipei city, then your salary might not cover your expenses. But if you are ok with New Taipei City, then you can find cheaper places that may fit your needs and leave you with more to spend on other things.

  4. Probably not. Have you already mapped out a career plan?

other than the terrible work culture here everything sounds good. you speak chinese, thats the biggest hurdle. i dont know what you are unsure about, sounds like it would be a good experience.

I’m an ABC who went back too, well really recently, in a technical leadership role. I didn’t sacrifice a lot salary wise (getting paid in USD but quite a bit less than my previous job, so an absurd amount in Taiwan terms but a mediocre amount for what someone of my level can get back in CA) but this will probably torpedo my career trajectory anyway so I’m taking a sizable hit even though my situation is pretty ideal. I would think hard about if the fun of living in Taiwan outweighs the career and financial hit you will take. You can probably survive off a typical starting Taiwan salary (35, 40ish if you get lucky) but you won’t save much if any at all - fortunately rents are pretty cheap if you don’t mind a lower standard of housing, and food is cheap too. Nothing will happen to your USA citizenship. Guys in Taiwan will date you assuming you are cute, etc, not that different from the states. You might need to be a bit more aggressive in asking guys out here though haha.

The big hit will be your career (although that is completely dependent on what career path you actually want). The work culture for junior employees generally sucks. From what I’ve noticed, companies put very little stock in training up their junior employees, leaving them to do trivial work without really developing their skills. Many companies don’t even have anyone qualified to train you up at all, as managers are often times selected off seniority or some arbitrary certification rather than actually being qualified. If you have ever worked in the states, you might be shocked at how things are generally run here.

That said, if you can find something that matches what you want to do in terms of career, then you will be okay, but that might be hard to do. Also you might find the uncommon company that is very different from what I described in which case it will probably be very worth it. Ultimately, if you really just want to experience living here for a bit and the fun and adventure that entails, then that on its own might be worth it. However just be prepared for the career hit as well as the fact that you will have saved almost nothing in your early to mid 20s - if/when you return to the states, you will basically be starting from scratch.

I’m not a girl but I can share some of my experiences moving back as a ROC citizen. Well first. Luckily for you, you won’t have to worry about conscription like your male counterparts.

  1. I think you will find that making friends becomes harder after school ends. At least meaningful ones anyways. And it can certainly be more of a challenge in a place where you aren’t a local. But it also allows you to go out of your comfort zones and meet many different types of people you might never have had the chance to meet. Dating can also be a challenge. Most local guys won’t hold it against you if you’re not local but how comfortable are you holding a relationship in Chinese only. I know I wouldn’t really want to. But plenty of other English speakers as well and you’ll quickly find that you won’t be the only “abc” living here. There are many but most of them do come from affluent backgrounds so if going out and partying and shopping isn’t your cup of tea, it can be a challenge. But not to worry. There’s lots of other young people here that are also looking to make friends and connect so should be no issues.

  2. Nothing happens to your US citizenship. And you don’t need To worry about conscription.

  3. Places can be cheap even in the city if you’re willing to have roommates. Renting is actually not bad in taipei. It’s buying That’s unreachable for most people unless they have family money in the city.

  4. Careers can be started here depending on what you want to do. As you’ll quickly find out. Degrees mean almost nothing in most fields as you compete with other people that also have a degree. It’s work experience that’s most sought after. And you get a chance To say you worked abroad using a different language going back to the US. That shows that’s you’re adaptable, capable of working in cross cultural environments and also have experience. Could be a major difference maker if you know how to write up your resume and interview.

I don’t believe in the stereotype I know there are many different kinds of ABCs out in Taiwan but many forumosans and many Taiwanese have personally told me that that stereotype is still nonetheless present in Taiwan so thought I’d just put that out there as a disclaimer/concern of mine haha

And no I haven’t mapped out any concrete career plan since I’m not 100% sure which direction in the field I plan on going.

Thanks for the input

Thanks for all the insight!
Was worried about the career hit I would take as a would-be recent grad at that time. However like you said, it’s mostly for the experience, in my mind.
If I were to make this move, would you suggest going after I’ve worked a job or two to save up? Or should I go right after graduating? (Would it make a difference). I also was interested in going to work for a more internationalized company, not really a local one.
Interested in hearing why you decided to go to Taiwan despite the drawbacks you mentioned :slight_smile:

About asking guys out in taiwan, is that becoming more accepted/normal in taiwan haha cause I know the process is different there than in the US dating culture - wouldn’t want to scare anyone off haha

You bring up many good points. I do agree that making friends would be harder while working a job, etc. I was also planning on maybe going to taiwan after an early college graduation (3 years and 3 months) so that would leave me with the rest of the 9 months of what would’ve been my senior year of college, in taiwan, studying abroad at NTNU. I’m sure you have personal experience with this seeing as you also moved back. Did you move back as a recent grad?

And regarding working in Taiwan and how it would benefit me back in the US: I hadn’t really thought of how it would be beneficial but now that you bring that up, I see how it is a pro to going to Taiwan. However I wouldn’t want to possibly give an impression to employers that I’d be ready to possibly up and leave their company for some kind of other adventure in another country; or that I’m just looking to travel and not work; not saying that employers will necessarily have that view, but just a thought I had haha.

I made the move cuz I wanted the experience/adventure and for personal reasons. I always liked Taiwan and would go back every other year or so to visit family. And while I did sacrifice, earning US level salary for engineering while living in Taiwan is very hard to find, so when this opportunity presented itself I took it.

Mrm there’s some advantages of working for a few years in the states - it will be easier to find a job in Taiwan, you will have a good source of funds that you can rely on, etc. However if this is something you really want to do, then delaying that will kind of suck. You also might not want to do this after 2-3 years if you get used to a certain job, comfie with life, find a bf, etc (which may not be a bad thing at all). If you have enough money to last you for a while, like say around 10k, I would just make the jump. This type of thing is easier to justify while you are young but that’s just my opinion.

As for finding a job, well a lot of it is who you know. That’s how I got this job. However I had a lot of really good xp at very well known large tech companies and a phd so it would have been easy for me to get a job anywhere that required my specialty. You will have a much harder time, especially at international companies that a lot of people want to get into. This will honestly be very hard to find something in the work you want to do for a company you want to work for, and you should be prepared for the possibility that you might not find something for a while (hence the 10k while you look). If you decide to work in the US for a while, you will have a much easier time in the future since your US based XP will likely be pretty valuable. But punting this adventure to your 30s like I did has its own costs as well, and I probably would have wished I did this in my 20s.

I don’t think dating culture is that different from ABC dating culture. I don’t think asking guys out is necessarily looked down upon in either place. The reason I say that is because well as an ABC girl, some more passive Taiwanese guy might just make the assumption you wouldn’t be interested (not an unreasonable assumption, since your standards for salary and other things might be much higher than what a Taiwan guy can meet). If he’s interested in you, you showing interest will always be a big plus. If he’s not, well it’s not like not asking him out would have changed that. I really don’t think you would scare off any guy that was or would be interested in you. You might scare off guys that aren’t but then you had no chance with them in the first place. BTW it doesn’t have to be a straight up ‘ask them out’ but at the least show that you are interested.

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It isn’t working a job that makes it hard to make friends haha. You’ll see. It’s just a lot harder to make meaningful friends, and most of your friends now, even the ones you think are your besties, you might never see again. It takes significantly more effort to keep relationships after school.

I moved back before I was able to graduate in my final year. I had to take a medical leave, and with no family near me, I moved here so it would be easier and NHI is a plus. I planed on going back and just never got around to it. But I stayed and came back because I wanted to get back to my roots, I grew up here as a kid and it’s some place i always considered home.

As for work culture, in general it can be bad. Not it really depends on the company and what you do. You can certainly find a good place to work. I think you’ll have an easier time with a degree. I had to find ways and really get connected to work and i’ve done pretty good without one. The pay isn’t amazing, but considering I’m lucky enough with no debts like student loans or have to pay rent. I live pretty good here.