Don’t let the nay sayers scare you off. However, life here is nothing like what you’d expect it to be.
I have jumped twice in my life, the first time to the UK, having been there once before and I really didn’t expect a lot of things and I didn’t think it was going to end up anything like it did.
Taiwan was a little bit different, as I’d been here three times before I decided to move and I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect and I spent a lot of time reading this forum as well.
Life here didn’t end up as I expected, but things have progressively been getting better, although I don’t even speak local, so if you know a bit of the lingo you’re off to a decent head start.
As some of the other posters have said, don’t plan too far ahead of yourself, you never know what’ll happen in life. Even if things would go awry with your current missus, there’s a big chance that there’ll be another 10, 20, 50, 100 or more girls here ready to take over her place
Just stay away from the foreigner groupies, they’re freaky…
With regards to your visa - taiwanembassy.org/UK/mp.asp?mp=132 that’s the place to look at.
You should be ok to get a 60 day visitors visa, which can in turn be made into an ARC if you’d find a job within the first 60 days you’re here.
Otherwise you’d have to leave the country and head to HK, Japan or Korea or one of the other nice countries near Taiwan to get a new one before you can get an ARC.
Yes, you might be able to find a designer job here, but I think you’re way off if you think this is design capital asia, as it’s not.
It all depends in what line of design you’re into, but start looking now and try to get some interest from some local companies, or as you said, even better a foreign company here, although I think that’ll be hard. You need to make a minimum of NT$45,000 a month to get an ARC and a work permit and I have no idea what a designer makes here, but I’d guess it’s less than that judging by the people I’ve worked with, but then again, they weren’t exactly great designers.
As you’re saying, you’re still young, so give it a go, just be prepared for the massive change, as Taiwan is nothing like the UK. First of all, I hope you’re not a fussy eater, as the food is very different and you can forget about beans on toast, fry-up, fish and chips, pie and the lot, unless you’ve got loads of cash, which it doesn’t sound like you’ve got. Much of the local food is good, but some of it is outright nasty as well, imho…
There’s seafood aplenty and the staple here seems to be tofu and chicken, then pork and in a much lesser extent beef and lamb. Rice and noodles (not pot noodles) are also part of the staple, as well as veggies, some which I don’t even know what they’re called and others I’d rather not eat, but most of which are very nicely prepared.
Finding somewhere to live here isn’t hard as long as you’re not too picky, then again, compared to some of the places I’ve seen in London, even the fairly bad places here aren’t too bad. For a place big enough for the two of you, even if she only comes around at the weekends, expect to pay around NT10-14k a month if you live slightly off the beaten track, but still near an MRT station (underground), less if you live further away, but you’ll find it hell to get around in Taipei at least if you don’t live near one, that is at least if you’re not willing to drive a scooter here and risk your life in traffic every day…
Living standards are quite good here, better than the UK imho, but then again, maybe I’m biased. Health and dental care is part of the tax deducted from your wages and you might want to know that for the first six months you pay 20% tax, but you can claim back the difference after you’ve been working here for a year. Then I think the tax is 6% up to 30 something k and 13% after that, but the health insurance and something else is deducted on top of that. There’s good health and dental care here, although you might want to pick your local clinic with care, as some are much better than other.
That’s all I can think of right now that might be of any kind of help. Oh, one thing, if you don’t want to get an open ticket when you come here and you’ve already go a job lined up, then a one way ticket should be ok, but you have to check with the local Taiwan representative office first. This might be a good place to find a cheap ticket as well - ourstravel.com/index2e.htm