Moving to Taipei to do Patent Work

I am an American living in Hong Kong and work at a patent firm there that I started with my partner. We are starting an office in Taipei and have hired a few people already, we are impressed with the quality of people with good technical backgrounds (PhDs and Masters) and the reasonable salaries (compared to HK or US). Our long-term goal is bringing in work from the US to file in mainland China (we are in the process of getting our mainland patent filing license).

I was training a new PhD hire (biotech) last week, a very pleasant and intelligent young man, I was impressed.

So my question is for people who have been put in a supervisory role in Taiwan and supervising locals, in English (I am intermediate Japanese so can “read” some Chinese for meaning, but need to study Mandarin ASAP). Any experience you can share would be greatly appreciated.

I am a single woman, 55, lived in HK and Tokyo over 10 years total so likely not too much culture shock except that it would be a new country supervising people- supervised people in HK but the level of English is much higher I believe.

Through our Taiwan subsidiary we can somehow sponsor a visa for me, we’re working with an immigration agent to sort this out.

I have a nice life in HK and am worried I won’t transition well- I live on a tiny island off HK island where there are no cars and it is very peaceful- but work in a downtown area of HK.

It seems Taiwan people are happy to work for foreigners as maybe we are nicer than Taiwan bosses?

Last question is about importing two cats- seems HK is not considered as a rabies-free country for quarantine purposes? So I need 21-day quarantine? Also, how hard to find pet-friendly apartments? Apartment rent is so much cheaper than HK that I don’t think the price will be an issue. I pay about US 1600 per month for 450 square feet in a walk-up so don’t think Taipei is worse than that price.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give…

Hi! I can share my experience so far working in Taiwan. I am in the R&D design field and moved here 2 years ago. For 10 years prior, I worked for an American branch of a Taiwan corporation. Our main design office was always located in Taichung, so I would travel here 5-6 times per year and work with our team. I was eventually asked by upper management to move here and lead our global design team.

In our department, we have 6 industrial designers (shaping, function, etc) and 6 graphic designers. All have great English and we communicate extremely fluently. I have noticed that since I arrived, they even send emails to each other in English. I try to always keep a fun yet firm atmosphere and I feel our design work over the last 2 years has definitely elevated. Of course, there are always some awkward moments of silence in meetings, and at times some designers are shy to speak up. But, I have constantly pushed them to voice their opinions and be heard during critiques. I have witnessed an increase in confidence in this regard, and has brought new respect to our department.

To answer your question if Taiwan people are happy to work for foreigners - it really depends on the situation. In my case, we are a truly global company and I promote our designers to reach out to our other markets - solicit feedback, showcase designs, communicate features, etc. In that regard, I feel they are appreciative to have a foreigner open up the doors of communication to the outside for them. Also, I myself am more likely to argue on behalf of our group during meetings with other departments. I feel this gives our designers a bit more confidence that I will push for what is right.

I also sit with our designers weekly as we talk through development, timelines and also room for improvement. They are very open to giving feedback on the way things are going. I do not know if they would be so open if it was a non-foreigner running things. I always try to keep things fun which may not be the norm for many Taiwanese managers.

As for rent - I’m not qualified to answer for Taipei. I only have experience renting in Taichung City which would be a bit cheaper. I’m sure there are others on the forum with a better idea of Taipei rent.

Good luck!

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Thanks for your detailed reply! In Japan I had trouble getting patent engineers to speak up but my training of our new hire last week (here in HK) went well, he wasn’t afraid to ask questions, which is good. Yes, I am hoping to give them more international exposure as our main filings now are in the US for HK clients. HK people are not as afraid to speak up so no issues here.

I’m in a different field all up, but can comment on Rent, you’ll have no problems finding a nice apartment on that budget in Central Taipei.

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450sq ft, thats a odd size for a village house. You wouldn’t by any change be living on Peng Chau?

The quarantine time is 7 days(they changed it). I myself brought 2 dogs over from HK about a year ago.

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Yes, Peng Chau, no, not a village house, small block of flats, Sea Crest Villas, near the bridge to the sewage treatment plant.

Ah, 7 days, that is very doable. Still, it’s annoying they don’t recognize HK as a “rabies-free” country as I had to jump through hoops bringing them in from the US. I guess sharing a border with China, well…and if HK hassles TW pets, TW will hassle HK pets back, that’s a common thing.

Other than the pets, any other insights you have about the differences between HK and TW? Any super surprises? Thanks in advance.

Thats what I figured, small island with no cars must have been either Lamma or Peng Chau. But, Lamma doesn’t have any places the size of 450sq ft so I figured it must be Peng Chau.

Taiwan recognises very few places as rabbies free, not really sure why that is. Either way, the pet hospital where they stay is fine and they take good care of them. Its located quite central, so it is easy for you to go visit them(you can do it once a day)

The staff at the pet hospital and also at airport at pet immigration speak English, so thats not a big issue.

Other than above, if you been to tw you know the major differences already(more space, more places to visit, less knowledge of English)

One thing though that I found a bit annoying is that there are very few expats in taiwan. I enjoyed in hk going for dinner and/or afterwork to places in lkf and soho (beer bay on weekdays, I lived on one of the islands as well, but there is basically 0 of that going on here). It seems to me that the vast majority “expats” here are doing some teaching gigs or simliar jobs, hence the lack of expat scene.


That was my experience in Japan- not a lot of expats (albeit likely more than TW) and mostly young English teachers. And later on I chose to live in a town outside Tokyo with NO expats but I was OK with that, not doing much “going out” these days.

I have one semi-feral cat, will be a real trial for her, but figuring she will survive.

But if for the first year or so I go back and forth between TW and HK, will likely leave them in HK and get someone to look after them when I am not there or hire a helper…

If you got ARC(local equivalent of HKID) and HKID you can do central Taipei - Peng Chau door-to-door in 5 hours if you dont have check-in luggage, so its not that bad. You could perhaps do it even slightly faster if you took the ferry from db instead of the ferry from central :thinking:

I used to fly HK/TP round trip 3/4 times a month so its definitely doable, CXs got early flights out from TP around 6am as well so you will be at your office in hk around 830.

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