Emigrating Taiwan for the sake of my children. To stay or go?


Hello. Your thoughts and input would be appreciated.

I have been working as an uncertified English teacher here now for nine years.

I have two children, aged eight and four.

My daughter is now in year three of the local primary school in Taoyuan. She loves it there. Previously she studied for four years in the English kindy where I worked.

Basically I’m considering leaving Taiwan for the following reasons.

My daughter is not academic. She can do her work but I feel her personality is not a good fit for the public school system. Kind of like Lyra from The Golden Compass. She’s intelligent but she has more interest in learning what she wants to learn (such as how to climb trees, something I believe kids should learn but the teachers at school do not agree).

Every summer my kids go to stay in the UK with my parents for a couple of months.

They love it, and I want them to grow up British. That kind of means we have to go before my daughter gets to high school. Her spoken English is excellent, but her reading and writing are so so. Even some of my Taiwanese students have much better written English than her.

Reason two is, my work. I have been teaching for nine years as I said. I still earn $650 an hour, which is exactly the same as I earned in 2008. I believe that if I stay here another fourteen years, I will still be earning $650 an hour. At fifty years old, teaching English to kids. That is a terrible thought. I believe that as you get older, you should earn more money for less work, basically. That, I believe, is a cornerstone of Western employment. I am certain that, had I never come here, I would be earning more now, back home, than I am earning here. Plus I would have a pension, thirty five days paid leave, statutory sick pay, etc…

So I have two solid reasons to leave.

Reasons to stay:

I love the weather here.
I love the pace of life.
I love the freedom, especially the lack of demerit points for speeding.
My wife has a great job, which sees her earn more than me, and gives us free flights and a lot of free holidays. Once she quits, they will not take her back, such is their policy. It’s a one way door.
What if we move to the UK and she hates it so we have to come back? My wife will end up teaching English for half her current salary or less.

I want my kids to be British. I want to work into middle age gracefully, not clowning for kids in a dead end job.
I want my daughter to be nurtured at school, not made to feel like she will never make the grade.
I want my son to get into cricket, rugby and football. I want him to feel proud to fly the nest at 18, not stay living at home forever.
I also want to live somewhere hot where I can wear a wife beater and flip flops 250 days a year, and surf in boardies not a wetsuit.

Any thoughts, opinions, or comments gladly received.

What would you do?


I would just like to say you certainly are not guaranteed more pay for less work.
For good reason more pay for more work (stress/responsibility) is the usual state of affairs even for governnent workers. I get paid a LOT more than I used to and I WORK a LOT more too.

If you have the heart set on the U.K.try it out.
There’s also an assumption that U.K. Schools will be better, of course that’s not always gong to be the case. It’s my understanding many in the U.K. Pay a lot to send their kids to private schools (but ymmv depending on area).

Also there’s no reason why you should always do the same job even if you stay in Taiwan.

Possibly a good choice for your family is a place like Australia but depends on your qualifications.
If need to upskill think about going to UK for the teachers degree and take it from there.

My kids are just a little younger so I also sometimes struggle wth the choices.
For me I’m a bit concerned about economic and working futures for kids in Taiwan but it’s also a concern worldwide.


Leave. When your daughter reaches middle school the chodofu will hit the fan and she’ll be miserable. You’ll be too old to get a job in the UK and your daughter’s English will be an even bigger impediment.

The Taiwan educational system drains the soul and the intellect and you’ll regret not delivering your children from it.

In the right community though western education will allow them to flourish.

Your wife? She’ll survive, especially if you don’t squander the opportunity to uptrain and move up the career ladder. Once your kids are set you can always return and take up where you left off. You’ll have a proper pension then though which will be a big bonus in Taiwan in your dotage.


I do not know much about British public school system, but isn’t the competition much severe in Britain, at least in the high end, than here, is it? If she is not that an academic type, she might be able to have more confidence with less effort staying here in Taiwan than being in UK. If your daughter is a self-disciplined person, once she manages to direct her attention a little bit toward studying, it will not that difficult to out-do most of cram school Taiwanese students who are not interested in learning, and still enjoy what she really is interested in.

In case of your son, the cricket, rugby and football are much less popular here in Taiwan, which makes him easy to out-do other children, which will give him much more self-confidence than being in UK where many semi-pro young children playing. Also there will be much more room for him when he is adult, to spread the sports and get much social attention which can be an inspiring thing for his life.

You are already earning well here, in general standard, and so for your children’s sake, your pay does not have much relevance I guess? Also you will need to earn like 4-5 times more to keep the same level of living standard you are enjoying here back to UK? Do you think you will have enough time to spend with your children earning that much in UK?

Enjoying vacation in UK and going school there might be a different thing for your children. In addition to what your wrote in OP, you might want to consult with your children as much as possible.

Anyway, if you want your children to be British, you won’t achieve that staying here.


A couple of things I forgot to mention.

We are selling our house, and the profit should be enough to buy, outright, a reasonable house in the UK. In that respect, money shouldn’t be a massive issue even if my wife can’t get a job in the UK.

Also, I have two jobs lined up with people I previously worked with in IT.

It was flippant of me to say more money for less work, What I meant was, less donkey work. I am a very hard working and motivated guy. I do like a challenge though, and I hate standing still. It is the main thing I dislike about teaching. Every day, year after year, same job, same money.

Aussie would be a good option but the two years back home I would need to retrain would push us past d day for my daughter and high school. At least it would be close, but still not a closed door.

Property prices in Sydney especially, and also Melbourne and Perth, are prohibitive. Sydney would be my first choice world wide, having previously lived there for two years.

Thanks for your responses anyway.

I guess if you don’t go, you don’t know. Suck it and see. We can always come back.


seems like you at least, if not your wife are set on it. so you should try it. as another poster said though, i don’t think all of those positive points about the uk are at all guaranteed.

  • i don’t remember the uk schooling system being all that great. it certainly wasn’t nurturing. i had a laugh with my mates and that was about it. in uni i learnt a few important things but for the most part school was depressing and crap for me in the uk.

  • taiwan has sports too i think

  • flying the nest at 18 and not living at home is pretty optimistic these days.

it seems like your career is the main thing though, its not going anywhere here.


Something that I assume you’re aware of, but probably needs to be brought up, are the UK’s currently prohibitive visa rules for foreign spouses. Put simply, it ain’t easy bringing your wife home. The general climate towards foreigners in the UK these days is definitely something that make me reluctant to return home anytime soon.


With their background I don’t think they would have a problem with the wife getting a spousal visa. We’re talking about the mother of two kids with UK citizenship here.


This is just from today’s Guardian, and there are multiple accounts of similar things happening recently. Having British children is no guarantee of visa.


Unfortunately you are incorrect.
That said if you have a certain amount of money or a guaranteed job in the works above certain amount it’s easier.
Then the problem is the 6 months waiting to get your family in.

That was May who brought in those evil rules by the way!!
It introduces a situatjon whereby citizens are ranked by economic privilege and more than a tinge of xenophobia (what be poor and marry a foreigner…then you lose the rights of richer citizens and those of other citizens to live in your country and enjoy your rights to a family …)

Now the minimum rule is being challenged once more.


To be fair, $18000 is not a very high salary. I earnt more than that when I was 21. Plus with the savings it should be OK. I am optimistic in that I believe if we fulfil the requirements, they can’t say no. I have heard stories that they might, but I don’t know if they have basis in fact.

My biggest worry really is, will my wife adjust. If not we’re going to end up in the same situation as we’re in now, but much worse off.

Fingers crossed.


I left Taiwan three years ago and moved back to the UK.

A number of factors were behind the move: career progression, salary, proximity to my family. But the key thing for us was the environment for the children – safe, green spaces; schooling; the attitude to personal development; relatively unpolluted surroundings. None of these things are impossible to find to find in Taiwan, but they come with higher costs (financially, effort-wise) and trade-offs (e.g. you can have the clean air of the east coast, but you will sacrifice educational opportunities for your children).

We live in a leafy part of northwest England and I have to say at this stage of our lives it’s a really good fit. Personally I miss some things about Taipei (particularly my mates there) but my Taiwanese wife has settled really well here, and has a strong group of friends (many of them East Asian) who support each other. In Taipei she’d essentially be on her own with the kids in a pokey flat, whereas here there are playgroups and organised activities every day of the week if she wants to do them, plus we have a back garden for the children to mess around in. We can walk and cycle most places we need to go, and there are lots of things to do with them at weekends, many of them free or low cost. I’d forgotten how good summer could be when it stays light for another five hours after you get home from work. Of course, you pay for that with grey weather and short days in the winter.

Work is good too – after taxes and living costs I have a lot more money left over, am building up a nice pension pot, and I work 37 hours a week – no overtime, no bullshit. I work with smart, (mostly) competent, motivated people. We bought a house, which would be impossible for us in Taipei. 36 days holiday (including 8 bank holidays) and sundry other benefits.

It’s not all sunshine and fluffy bunnies, of course. Most of the criticisms of the visa system are valid. It is expensive, time-consuming, intrusive, and arbitrary. It is not, however, impossible. If you approach it in a careful, planned fashion, then you should be OK. Feel free to ask any specific questions you might have about that side of things.

I have no regrets. For us, it was a very good decision that has led to a better quality of life for everyone in the family.


My wife and I are actually going through the exact same thing. We have two kids and are thinking of moving back to Canada in a few years. My son will be entering Grade 7 by then so I think it’s time.

We were thinking of selling the place we have in Taiwan but now we’re thinking of getting a mortgage on it and then renting the apartment while we’re gone. That will give us some extra money to pay towards a new place in Canada and still let us keep the place in Taiwan.

I’ll have to pick a cheaper place to live in Canada (definitely not Vancouver) but I work online so I won’t have to worry about finding a job. I think I make enough money to survive in Canada but I definitely won’t have as much disposable income as I do here.

It’ll be a lot of money for the first year (a house, a car, furniture, etc.) so we plan on saving up a lot over the next couple of years and see how it goes.


You are the guys I am particularly interested in hearing from.

Is there anyone else in the same boat, or thinking about it?


“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

I’m in a similar situation, married to a Taiwanese, got a kid starting school, only we live in the UK. I would love to move to Taiwan for the reasons you mentioned.

Personally I would happily trade money, career and schools for some warm weather and decent food!


Good luck finding some decent food here. I’ve been looking for nine years and still haven’t managed to find it!

Weather is a big one though. I love it here in summer. I literally ride my scooter to the beach and back, 30 mins each way, and go for a swim, wearing just boardies and flip flops.

It’s a great soul soother.



I wrote a lot and then deleted,

trying again

I am going through the same soul investigation

Trying to summarize in one sentence: Do what you have to do


Taiwan has plenty of decent food. Well okay, the stewed meats may be a bit dodge, but compared to the UK, Taiwan produces a lot of it’s own food. Whereas here in the UK, you’re basically eating apples from New Zealand and veg from Kenya.

Yep the weather really sucks in the UK. For six months you’re stuck indoors, then eventually when it’s officially summer, it rains.


Assuming you’re a buxiban teacher and not doing private lessons, it sounds like your employer is a typical piece of work. You do have annual leave (paid and unpaid, with the paid part increasing every year), paid sick leave, a pension (through marriage, as well as through laobao), and so on, but enforcement is not very enthusiastic, and most people don’t like going to court. :idunno: So your decision to leave makes sense.

I basically agree with Comrade Smith in this thread.

One question though: how safe are UK pensions for those planning to retire abroad?


Depends. When you hear about pension schemes going bust, they are “defined benefit” schemes, which means you get a percentage of your salary in retirement. Few companies are now offering those schemes, mainly because they can get very expensive for the company concerned. I’d be a bit nervous if I had a DB scheme pension from a blue chip. Government employees still get a hybrid scheme that includes a defined benefit portion (which should be safer than company DB pensions).

But defined contribution pensions (i.e. the vast majority of private pensions nowadays) are essentially just a wrapper around a stocks & shares account. Should be safe, wherever you go (though of course if the stock market goes tits up just as you retire then your new life in Taiwan would start with eating lurou fan every day).

The state pension is a different matter. Most analysts think it will be chipped away in the coming decade – it will still exist, but the triple lock will go sooner rather than later, and pension age will continue to rise. It’s already 68 for me, and in my (conservative) retirement planning I am only factoring it in from age 72, with an annual growth of (inflation - 0.5%).

I doubt that there will be any serious roadblocks to claiming your pension overseas. Pensioners are a net drain on the economy, particularly with regard to healthcare, so the UK government is quite happy to see their fogies bugger off to sunnier climes and save the government the bill for looking after them when their bodies and minds fall apart.