Avoidability of setup costs?

I’d like to come and teach in Taiwan, but I’m a little hesitant due to the setup costs.

My financial reality is that I NEED to send home at least USD$700 a month and though I could get away with missing 1 month, that’d likely be the very month that I’d be looking for a school rather than the 1st month I’m earning and truly settling in (setup costs and all).

So my question is this, how hard would it be for me to find a position where there were little or no setup costs, and I’d be earning enough to send money home from the 1st pay day onwards (assuming of course that I get paid)?

I have TEFL, I have a BA, I have 2 years English teaching experience.

Everything I’ve read on forums seems to indicate that just turning up and finding work on spec is still the way to go, but I’m wondering with there evidentally being many bad schools is it really such a risk to arrange a job on-line ahead of departue so you can litterally get down to visa biz right away and be earning ASAP?


Even if you have a job lined up before arrival, you’ll still have set-up costs.

First, you’ll probably need to pay for accomodation for your first days/weeks (hotel or hostel). Even if you find a place quickly, you will generally need to pay a deposit (usually 1-2 months’ rent).

Second, many schools start by giving you minimum hours and then adding more over time as new classes start up - and you can’t always trust the “guaranteed 25 teaching hr” promises. The legal minimum is 14 (I think that’s still the case anyway).

Also, you may not get your first paycheck soon enough. I remember it being almost a month before getting my first paycheck (which only covered the first two weeks of pay), and my job was lined up before arriving.

Remember, too, that arriving this time of year (more than 1/2 through the year) means your taxes will be higher (20%) so you need to figure that into your projected income.

Finally, in order to really save money, it helps to pad your regular job with outside work, privates, whatever, and it takes some time to line those up as well.

If you’ve read through the threads, you’ll see that the common recommendation is to come with enough money to cover 2 months of expenses.

But maybe some folks out there have been able to pull off saving money their first month. Let’s hear it!

USD700 is NT$24,000. I can’t see you saving that til you’ve been here a few months, at best.

I agree with Hexuan. The startup costs can be veeeery high. Come with money if you can. Don’t expect to save that kind of coin till the fourth month or so. You might find yourself signing with one school, leaving, signing with an other (this can happen a few times!). Good luck!!!

You can avoid alot of hassle, but it’s not what i would recommend, by hiring on with a kindy that supplies accomodations or a buxiban that has a soft landing package from overseas…you usually can stay in your school’s housing after your grace period, albeit at very high rates…

The downside is you are stuck with these schools once they photocopy your passport and initiate the ARC and work permit process. Well, u can always quit, but then you have visa runs and other hassles to consider…Hexuan is right in that you won’t be saving that much right away…but you will soon enough…

If you have the cash, just fly over and look around…if you are short and need to just get working, sacrifice a year to a soft landing or kindy gig.

Good luck!

Why not think about living in A ROOM instead of AN APARTMENT? Heck, I was in Taiwan for five years before I moved into a real apartment instead of living in first a small room, then a slightly bigger one, then…well, you get the picture. You can furnish a single room with everything you really need to live pretty cheaply – just one of those bed roll thingies, maybe a fan, a pillow and blanket (bring a sheet with you, towels, etc.)

A room in Taipei, even if the landlord/sublettor charges you 2 months deposit, could be had for NT$6000-8000 per month, for $24000 setup max, which is a lot less than thinking about apartment deposits (in the $40,000-$60,000 range sometimes).

I came to Taiwan in 1993 with US$300, and got “red-bombed” for a wedding a week later…but fortunately you can live very cheaply if you’re in a room in a shared apartment, eat on the street and don’t go out weekends. If sending money back is very important, then tighten your belt for a couple of months and do what’s necessary. If you go out weekends, live big, etc. etc. it will cost considerably more.

I never rented anything besides a room during my 5+ years. They still asked for a deposit and it still took a few months to see any savings when I moved over (twice). I had several different flatmates through the years, most of them just fine to live with, and some became good friends. If you’re new to Taipei, roommates can help you find your way around, too.