Family of 4 wanting to move to Taiwan. Need input

Hello,

My wife and are considering a move to Taiwan within the next 2 years. I currently reside in California and make roughly $60K a year as a budget analyst. With the cost of living and housing market skyrocketing in California, I think it would be a great opportunity to move to Taiwan, where the living expenses are relatively cheaper. My wife and I have 2 boys, ages 2 and 5 months. The 2 year old is the main reason why we would like to move no later than 2 years, to give him the time to pick up Mandarin before entering into school.

After some initial research, my wife and I are in agreement that Kaohsiung would be an ideal location to start. I have a 4-year degree and am open to the idea of teaching English until I can pick up the language and apply for a higher paying job. From what I have found, an English teacher’s salary may not be enough to support my family until I can land a better job. The main questions I have are:

  1. What is the average cost of living for a family of 4 in Kaohsiung renting a 2-bedroom apartment?

  2. If I were to teach English full-time, would I be able to supplement my salary with additional work? I would much prefer my wife to stay home until both kids have entered into school.

  3. What would the initial start-up cost be for the move (not including airfare, Visas). My plan is to get into a teaching contract before the move. I am trying to gauge the cost of what we would need to secure an apartment and survive on during the initial month of work, including potential basic furnishing.

  4. My wife is a Philippine national with a green card. She should have an American passport by the time we decide to move. Will she be able to teach English? If not, what type of job market can she expect in Taiwan?

  5. I am considering obtaining TEFL certification with 120 hours, prior to the move. How much of a factor will it play in negotiating a salary and/or teaching positions? Basically, is it worth the time and effort to obtain prior to the move?

I apologize if the questions are too broad. I am just trying to get a rough estimate of what it would cost. Thank you for your time.

Have either of you been to Taiwan or have some experience or connection here? From your post, it seems like neither of you have ever been here and you’re ready to pack up and move the whole family, with you to teach English and earn ~1/3 of what you make now.

Why?

You won’t “pick up the language and get a better job” in a matter of months… it can take years, and it’s not at all easy.

I’m not trying to discourage you, just trying to get a better sense of what you’re really asking.

I was making a similar reply.

Your kids also need to learn Chinese. They won’t pick up a language so much, if they don’t go to nursery but stay home with their mother.

I think you can search on those info in this forum.

One of latest is this.

you can work at more than 1 Buxiban with a work permit for each work place. Additional work without a work permit is illegal.

What does the school mean? There are no distinguish between kindergarten and preschool here, and youngest they accept are 2 yo.

English is an official language of Philippine. So, if she has a univ. degree accredited by taiwan gov. or more than 18 or 20 months of higher education and TEFL, she can teach English.
The job should be a professional one for that employer can get a work permit of your wife. You can check in this site what kind of jobs are allowed for foreigners.
Foreign Professionals to Work in Taiwan
https://ezworktaiwan.wda.gov.tw/ezworken/home.jsp?pageno=201508070001

to teach at Buxiban, I think it is not a so big factor. If you can get a teacher license in 2 years before you move, it may be more useful in Taiwan.

Why don’t you try to find a job of your profession before you move? It might be easier than to look for it as an English teacher in Taiwan.

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  1. I don’t know for sure. Probably around 10kNTD.

  2. You are only allowed to work at the company that sponsors you full time, and up to two other locations part time. However, these are all likely to be schools until the point where you obtain open work rights (search for APRC) and/or very high level Chinese. You probably know better than I do how specific a skill budget analysis is, but I would guess that many Taiwanese people can do it.

  3. If you secure a teaching job before you move here then you should only need enough money for 2 months rental deposit and a month living expenses. You may need additional money for furnishings.

  4. She will be able to teach English. Her rate of pay is likely to be lower than a white counterpart.

  5. I would do it if I were you.

Think very carefully before making this move as you are putting your current career at considerable risk. You may still be teaching English and studying Chinese in 5 years time.

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A couple of thoughts:

What level of degree do you have? If you are now working as a ‘budget analyst’ you might be in a position to teach economics at high school or university, and that could pay better than ESL teaching.

I would estimate costs at about 10,000 US to move a family including everything and allowing for hiccups if you are going straight into a job.

I wouldn’t want to be supporting a family of four on less than 80,000NT in New Taipei. (Guess its slightly less in Kaoshiung)

You kids are preschool age and preschool might not be cheap or free depending on location. Probably going to be 10,000NT each per month in a cheaper preschool. And, your kids are not very likely to pick up Chinese before school unless they go to preschool.

To get Chinese from zero to a professional working level whilst also working full time in the English medium, and looking after two kids is a tall order. Most people would probably not be able to do that.

Teaching English pays better than many semi professional jobs in Kaohsiung. There are few well paid Jobs in Taiwan and even fewer in Kaohsiung .

It takes years to become proficient in Chinese , even then it doesn’t really mean you’ll get a high paying job but you would have a lot more options .

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A big part of cost of living could be cost of education for kids, depending on type of schools they go to. Public schools are close to free. Private schools with more English programs are more expensive. If they go to buxiban or anchinban, the cost is added.

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Up until elementary school my advice would be to send them to Chinese only day-care (which is significantly cheaper) and immerse them in English at home.

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This is true. OP’s kids are preschool age if I read it right. Free public preschool, they might get in, or they might not depending on location. I suggested 10,000 NT as a bargain basement figure for a private preschool, like the cheapest possible out all the available schools.

Thank you for your response. My wife and I have not officially been to Taiwan, apart from a short layover in Taipei. My wife and I have lived in the Philippines for a bit, and am assuming the quality of life is a bit better in Taiwan when compared to the Philippines (better healthcare and improved standard of living).

As for the why, I am not one for obtaining material wealth. My only goal is providing the basic necessities (food, shelter, and education) for my two boys. I am looking for a better work/life balance and want to be able to spend more time with my family. I do not expect to pick up the language or find a better job within months and understand that my initial time in Taiwan would initially contradict the work/life balance I am looking for. Realistically, I am looking at a 2-4 year time-frame to pick up enough of the language to seek a better job.

I appreciate your input. I’m not expecting sugar-coated comments. I am trying to get a realistic understanding of the challenges I can expect to face with this decision, and best prepare.

Thank you.

My advice - Forget about Taiwan… move to Hainan!!!

Hi Tando,

Thank you for your response. I will do a bit more research for the responses that you have provided. I was unaware that Taiwan does not distinguish between pre-school and kindergarten. I was under the impression that Taiwan followed a more western approach. I would rather have my 2 year old entering school earlier to begin learning the language. If I recall correctly, I do believe some Buxibans or private schools would offer free schooling for my kids if I teach at their school.

I have started looking into obtaining a teacher license before moving to Taiwan. The only issue I am facing at the moment is the required in-class hours that I would need to complete. I work for a government agency, and may run into difficulty working around them to get the required teaching hours.

My wife has a 4 year degree in IT from the Philippines. Our only hesitation with her working is that we want to ensure our kids can verbally let us know if something is wrong, and minimize the parenting concerns that come with letting other people watch our kids. I know its a bit overprotecting, but this is a big deal to my wife and I, and the main reason she has not worked here in the states.

Are companies in Taiwan willing to hire someone who does not speak or understand Mandarin or Taiwanese?

Again, thank you for your input.

This advice aplies to not just to one city but to the whole country. My kids, who are mixed endured and still endure bullying. Though, they fair pretty well, you will have to be alert and know when to step in. Don’t think it will be easy in preschool. They are the meanest sometimes.

Hi Biggus,

For your response to #2, does the working part-time apply only to Buxibans? Could I do something similar if I were to get into teaching for a public school? I have a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies, so getting into budgets was not initially on the radar. The only benefit of my degree at this point is the science and math background make it easier for me to transition into fields that utilize numbers and analysis.

My wife is open to teaching English part-time. Our main issue will be our kids If we move in 2 years, this wouldn’t be a big issue, but I also want to ensure my 2 year old is immersed in the language sooner than later, to make it an easier transition for him.

In regards to my career, I’m not too concerned. I work for a government agency, and have been with them for close to 7 years now. There are options for me to return, should things not work out. With that said, I am hoping that they do work out so that I don’t have to return.

Care to elaborate more? China, Taiwan, and South Korea were the countries on my radar when I first thought about teaching English. From what I researched thus far, Taiwan was the median between the 3 countries. From what I have gathered, the living conditions in China were the least favorable, when compared to Taiwan and South Korea; specifically air quality and cleanliness. I do believe China has better pay and has a more relaxed working culture.

In Taiwan, as an English teacher, expect to make US$35,000 or much less.

You can live cheap, and cheaper in Kaohsiung, but it’s living cheap. Not a lot of frills.

Probably using public transportation.

Applying for a higher paying job outside of teaching English isn’t a big opportunity in Taiwan.

Work permits are unique to the job. Not open to doing other things.

Apartments commonly want first month plus two months deposit.

Philippine can teach English if they can get hired. Especially if they look the part. Other passports could be beneficial.

Better check if she can just show up and live with only a Philippine passport. Not probable, unless accompany you approved.

Philippine are mostly in Taiwan as OFW (overseas foreign workers) doing mostly manual labor or factory work for a couple years in Taiwan. She might find a good job, but mmm…

Hi Seeker,

I’ve put consideration into that as well. Racism and bullying are not new topics for me. I am also mixed and experienced some bullying while living on Guam. Although a hindrance, I have the opinion that working hard and being a genuine person can overcome a lot of these issues. I’m also not naive, and know how race can play a factor in how one is treated and the job opportunities that may be available. I’m not too worried about my older son, because he is tall for his age and he has the personality where he could either work well with others, or have fun by himself. I do believe that he may turn into a bully if he doesn’t get his way. My wife and I will of course be there to help when need be, and is also a factor into why I would rather have my wife stay at home for as long as possible, to help the kids with the transition into a new culture.

Hi Tango,

I understand that teaching is not an ideal career, salary wise, but it is an opportunity to gain some flexibility when it comes to family time. The only frills my family and I would like are a vacation every few years back to the Philippines, Guam, and the states to visit family and friends. It would also be nice to be able to do a few monthly activities with the kids (parks, exploring, theme park, etc).

Thanks for the input on the apartment. I was not too clear on that topic. The earliest my family and I could move is roughly 2 years. My wife will have her permanent green card by then, and she should be able to have an American passport. She speaks English and has an accent, but I don’t think that will be too much of an issue once she tries to apply as an English teacher. I try to live by the books, so I would secure whatever Visas are required for her to teach without issues. We would be considered guests in Taiwan, and I want to leave the best impression possible.

Appreciate your help. Thank you.

Actually, a lot of people make it an ideal career for themselves.

From what I’ve read so far, that is true only because many do not have dependents to support or a maximizing their profit potential. I’m just trying to ensure that finances as a teacher will suffice for my family and I ( of course taking into account my wife will eventually have to work).

I’ll put in whatever effort is necessary to make it work. Our only hurdle will be initial year or two while the kids are still young. I’m looking into the nanny that a previous poster mentioned. I just don’t think my wife would be too keen on that.