Accepting Housing from the School

Recent post reads:

[quote]This is an excellent opportunity for someone who has just moved to Taipei and doesn’t have a place to live yet. Live and work in a central Taipei location with a fulltime steady income.

Teach a kindergarten class for 5 hours a day and get paid 55000NT a month, with working pemit and health insurance provided.

We need someone for September, so please call quickly.[/quote]

I don’t know what everyone else thinks, but to me this is a BIG RED FLAG…that is, the employer will not only control your working life, but your home life as well. Also, at times it’s used to get the hourly rate down by seeming to offer a great benefit – when the actual value of the housing is minimal. Kind of like the “live free in my spare room and teach me English 3 hours a week” – if you charge $700 an hour for privates, that’s $2100 a week or $8400 a month, certainly more than enough to get a room elsewhere without any strings attached.

It’s so simple to get a place to live in Taipei that I wouldn’t ever risk it. The only situations I’ve ever been in (some years ago now, admittedly) where the employer offered housing were strictly bad news. I realize those just coming over who don’t know the city might feel “safer” this way but I wonder if it is a false security.

AGREED. I was under a boss’ thumb for 6 months. Worried that he could cancel my ARC or might kick me out of my home.

The place the boss got for me was nice enough. 2 bedroom fully furnished. Most bells and whistles including a BATHTUB (oh my god!). But the school was crap-olla. The program was shite, the kids were out of control (partially my fault), and the staff there were noticeably unhappy.

The boss then decided it was time for me to go (away). All of a sudden I had to find a new place while I was gone on vacation! Shmuck (old boss)

Us teachers make enough money to pay rent and save too. So, might as well get a place you can call home. Get a furnished place, thats what we did. If we do decide to move we dont have to move or sell all our furniture.

Also have a better relationship with my boss. Dont talk outside of school. Dont talk about anything but the school and kids. Thats how it should be I guess.

That said, might as well choose a city…find a school…find a plce to stay. Might cost some money at first in hostel or hotel bills but I think that is a better security than living in the boss’ property.

I second the above opinions. If the school provides your housing, then you, pardon the expression, are their bitch. They will use the fact that they put you up as leverage against you, just in case you’re unwilling to comply with the poorly-thought-out demands they’ll probably spring on you.

On one occasion, I was given 2 HOURS NOTICE that the school groundskeeper and his boys were coming into my apartment to check the plumbing. Good thing I didn’t leave any pot lying around! The school was not amused that I changed the lock following this incident, and would not give them a copy of the new key. I never even told them I changed the lock, so they must have tried to enter without telling me at some point after that.

But the real kicker was when the school anounced to me that another person would be moving into my (read: their) apartment. Could I meet this person first? No. Could I refuse? No. Well, I refused anyway. I found my own roommate to make up for the NT$5000 pay cut they subsequently hit me with.

When I was promised housing, I was never warned that it would be for me AND at least one other teacher, not just for me. I was never told that it was school property, and that school workers had the right to come in if and when they felt like it. Nor was I told I would ever be charged for my housing, under any circumstances. Finally, I was not told that I DID NOT have the option of moving out and finding my own place, since my contract was written in such a way as to say “you MUST live in school-provided housing”.

When relations with this school’s management had been poisoned enough and they didn’t invite me back for the next semester, I wrote them a long letter telling them what they had better warn any future Western employees about. I told them what Westerners assume when they are promised “housing”, and our ideas concerning privacy and the mixture of business and pleasure. I urged them to be upfront with anyone after me about their expectations. I urged them to call it “dorm accomodations”, not “apartment housing”, in their literature.

The school would probably be far better off hiring Filipinos or Indians to teach English conversation, who won’t expect any more than dorm-style accomodation, probably speak more grammatically correct English than I do, and will for the most part work hard and never complain, for less than half the wage they offered me.

On the other hand, many ESL teachers these days expect housing provided and flight reimbursed. In Korea for example, this is the norm (free housing anyway). Whilst you or I would much rather find our own accomodation, to someone who has just graduiated with an ESL certificate, and doesn’t know where they wnat to go, it looks attractive. I used to be involved in soem recruiting, and we had people who would say “no accomodation, not interested”. Jobs with free accomodation were always the easiest to fill.


My first teaching job - on the mainland - came with an apartment. My new boss very kindly showed me the place and I had to admit to being very pleasantly surprised. It was pretty splendid!

During the tour of inspection she noticed that one of the seats in the lounge was damaged, and promptly got on the phone. I was very impressed at how good my new employer was, and looked forward to working for someone that was obviously going to look after me so well.

Fifteen minutes later couple of guys in overalls arrived and took away ALL the lounge furniture, which they replaced with something absolutely hideous in black plastic. Get this. They took away a couch and two chairs, one of which was broken. They brought a couch and ONE chair, both of which were awful.

The next day I asked the boss if I could have back my original couch and at least the one good chair. She promised to sort it out - but never did. She did, however, remind me of everything she had done for me whenever I pointed out that the job I was doing was not much like the one I was contracted to do.

A month or so later, after a lot of discontent due to changes in our working conditions, my gf lost her temper one Sunday morning and ripped the phone out of the wall. You can only screw with someone’s time off so much before things get broken and that day they reached the limit.

30 minutes later there was a polite knock at the door and a very helpful young lady informed me - in perfect English - that she was from the apartment complex’ management office and had come to see what was wrong with our phone. It was fixed within twenty minutes, AND I GOT MY SOFA BACK WITH ABSOLUTELY NO FUSS WHATSOEVER.

So why didn’t my boss tell me about the people who were being paid to look after me? I was bugging her about something that she didn’t consider important, but she didn’t just direct me to the people who could help me.

The only reason I could see was that by keeping me dependent on her she maintained control. An independent teacher can not be manipulated or pressured into whatever the boss wants. A boss who maintains control can push you into just about anything, and many of them will try.

Since then my life in Asia has been all about not letting any of these bastards have control. Have some money in the bank, at least two jobs, and your own place to live. If you maintain control over your own life you maintain freedom to enjoy living here.

Keep control - and do your job properly - and you can expect fair and decent treatment. Give up control, and they own you. Then you have to put up with a nasty black plastic sofa and people calling you on a Sunday morning to ask why you aren’t teaching the class they have demanded you take, despite what it says in your contract.

The free accomodation looks very nice to someone who has not arrived in Taiwan and reads other websites that talk about property taxes and working taxes out with the landlord and other confusing things that most of us renters have never had to deal with. At one point, while looking for a new apartment, I thought about moving upstairs from my school, but the thought of living that close was just too scary. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not only live that close, but for your boss to have keys to the place as well. :shock:

There is a well known chain of schools in Kaohsiung that provide housing (I think the teachers have to pay some rent). All the guards keep track of when the teachers come and go and also who comes to visit and for how long. All this gets reported back to the owners of the schools.

When I was first hired from Canada my future employer arrranged housing for me. I was really pleased as she had sent pictures and other information about the apartment. It looked great! Housing, airfare reimbursement, 650 per hour, full time and just where I wanted to be in Taiwan! Pretty good stuff!

When I arrived, the housing didn’t happen, for whatever reasons. At the time I was disappointed but did have a short term alternative (not arranged by my employer). Now, I am really relieved that she didn’t come through with the apartment. Why?

a) She never reimbursed my air fare.
b) She only paid 450 per hour with a promised to have my rate of pay to the “agreed upon” wages in three months.
c) In July she gave us a “holiday time”. With her family, at our own expense in a place I was not interested in going to at all. Nor could I afford to go.
d) I couldn’t go anyway as I also had tutoring hours set up and needed to work to save money to get a place to live. Guess what! Suddenly, upon their return from the holiday I had no hours come September! I never received the wages promised or my air fare. In fact, I am still paying the damned air fare and will be doing so for quite a while.

Needless to say, I went on to find work elsewhere with no problem other than HER (still a problem). Had I actually lived in housing provided by the school I’d have had no place to live either! Being tied to a school in so many aspects can be extremely dangerous- not only in terms of stability but physically and emotionally as well.

My .02 worth? Never allow yourself to be put into a situation where you are dependant upon the whims of an employer. Better to have a safe haven where at the end of a day you can relax in the relative privacy of your own space, away from the crazy one.

My (now ex) gf moved on to Japan, where she got accomodation with her job. She came home early from a trip one day to find her boss rummaging through her personal effects.

If you’re competent to do your job properly you should be capable of organising your own accomodation pretty quickly. Sure, it can be a hassle when you’re finding your feet in a new country, but as a responsible adult you are able to deal with it. And a decent employer should be prepared to give some assistance to a newbie, without it needing to turn into a dependent relationship.

Free housing is okay - nobody is forcing you to stay there, and you can leave anytime you want.

When I first moved to Taiwan I lived at the school where I was teaching and it worked out really well. I had the school (several large buildings) all to myself. My bosses (husband and wife) treated me very well and we are still good friends today. I had a rooftop gym with a punch bag and weights, a large fridge, and tonnes of space. My boss paid for the utilities. Living at the school never caused any problems with regards to my drinking schedule. I was treated like family.

Later, when I was not working at the school, the bosses let me stay there free of charge in a spare room. It was during this period that I wrote “Formosan Odyssey” (I took the cover picture from the roof of the school). It was also great to have a place to store things when I went traveling overseas for extended periods.

But not all bosses are so giving. Some have some rather ugly motivations for “free housing” or their idea of housing (sleeping on a tatami mat in the boss’ mother’s spare bedroom with two other new teachers in one person’s case) is not really the kind of place you’d want to call home. I think it gives too much control by the boss’ and it’s a good trap to set for a newbie who is shopping around for the best deal without realizing how business can and is done in Taiwan. AJ, you got lucky, but 99 times out of 100, when a school offers free housing to new arrivals, it’s never out purely out of the generosity of their hearts. A safer bet is getting help with housing with the school doing hotel or hostel arrangements for you.