Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

Hello everyone. I am not yet in Taiwan. I am planning to move to Taiwan next year,around June or July. I am considering about my kids’ education in Taiwan. They are 7 and 9 and will be 8 and 10 by next year. I have been searching for information about education for foreign kids in few forum sand I found this forum very helpful. Now I know that it’s more practical for me to send my kids to local schools because it is too pricey in American/Int’l schools. I found many examples of foreign kids educational choice but unfortunately my case is quite different from most of people here. Most of the family stories in here have at least one parent who can speak Chinese so they can help their children a lot at home. I can barely speak everyday Chinese but I can’t read or write. My wife is zero at Chinese. So we can’t help my kids with their homework in Chinese. Additionally, many advised that kids from 8 to 10 should not be relocated to Taiwan because there will be many writings from Grade 4. Hence, kids at that age may not be able to catch up school work etc. I found all the advice negative to my decision of moving to Taiwan. Shall we start taking Chinese class from now? I noticed that my kids picked up another Asian language very fast 2 year ago. So I assume they may pick up Chinese much faster than I can imagine and would have no problem with Chinese classes at Taiwan local schools. I may be very wrong.

I will move to Kaohsiung where there are less international schools than Taipei and where living cost is considered relatively lower. Please share with me your thought, your advice on the kids’ possible Taiwan education. Please feel free to ask me any question if you want to know more our situation so as to give better advice. Thank you very much.

If I had two kids at that age that spoke no Chinese, and I couldn’t afford to send them to one of the international schools here in Taiwan, that would be my reason to not move to Taiwan. I just can’t see the kids pick up Chinese fast enough to follow classes here.

How long are you staying for?

Maybe there is a way of arranging homeschooling.

[quote=“LAguy”] …So I assume they may pick up Chinese much faster than I can imagine and would have no problem with Chinese classes at Taiwan local schools. I may be very wrong.

On average it takes a child 5-7 years to catch up to his peers in a case like this.

They might sound good in a year but academically they will be light years behind. They won’t be able to read or write nor know their science or math or language terms in Chinese. I can see how you are doing anything but setting them up for failure.

I’d say homeschooling is your only serious option.

Welcome aboard, LAGuy.

Aside from a very serious language barrier, the very different philosophy and practices behind local schooling… yikes. Long hours, rote learning, constant testing: it’s one thing if you come up through the system and know the language. If you know neither the language, nor the system, it’d be hell. Sure, it’d be the kind of hell that may later turn into a fabulous best-selling memoir about the shit you had to overcome and bring an hour on Oprah’s sofa, but aside from the short term fame and royalties, I’m pretty sure it’d suck hard and long.

As you’ve been combing through the site, I’m sure you’ve come across any number of parents opining that the best option is put their kids in local schools until they hit high school, then send them back home to escape the local variety. You’re kids aren’t yet that old, but you’d be doing the opposite. I’ve had ONE student whose parents brought her back to Taiwan from the US, right into junior high. Her spoken Mandarin was pretty decent, but she was LOST in local schools. HATED it here. DANCED IN THE STREET when that major quake struck because she figured it would mean moving ‘back home’. Eventually graduated by correspondence, barely.

I can’t imagine any circumstances under which I’d go that route.

Hi LAguy

We’re in a similar position to you. We’ll be coming out next year with a just-turned 8 year old who will have no Chinese at all, and is completely blue-eyed, blonde-haired white. When we come for a scouting visit in four weeks’ time we’ll be dropping by the various school options.

While I don’t have experience of Taiwan, I do have the experience of taking a 5 and 2 year old to live in Laos. At that age adaption and acquisition of language is automatic, and the benefits of being a falang outweighed the disadvantages. Now in both our cases out children will be quite a bit older, and adaption slows as they age, though the speed at which they do it still far exceeds an adult.

How do I know this? Well, I taught English for Speakers of Other Languages in the UK for many years, and the children of the people I taught were leagues ahead of their parents in no time, so that you got the inevitable parents relying on their children for interpreting. This applied to even quite old children. In fact, at my older sons’ school a Polish girl arrived at aged 14 speaking no English and went on to ace her A’ Levels four years later.

That said, that was Polish and Eastern Europeans have an excellent attitude to education that puts British schoolchildren to shame. I’ve no doubt that the greater difference between English and Mandarin as opposed to a European language will slow the process. And acquiring written Chinese would be an uphill struggle starting so far behind their peers.

I’m in no position to advise you but wanted to let you know that I think it wouldn’t be impossible, just pretty difficult, and you’re risking your children’s emotional well being to put them through, though with clear benefits to them in the end.

From our perspective, I would rather that our son went to a local school at least until high school, both because I know total immersion will be the quickest way for him learn Mandarin (our main reason for moving to Taiwan) and because I’d rather not that he became insulated in the expat bubble world. However, I know that that would entail a big risk to him and the last thing I want is for him to hate his life. :frowning: We’re lucky in that we can afford to send him to TES, though it would be a significant proportion of our income, but that could well defeat our purpose. (I was reading someone’s blog who’d been here 2/3 years and her children couldn’t speak anything other than English - how is that possible? :s ) So in our trip we’re hoping to have a look at one or two bilingual schools that may be a happy medium (and cheaper!) Not sure if such schools exist in Kaohsiung but that might be something worth checking out. That way the difference in cultural aspects of schooling wouldn’t be so great either. I agree with other posters that this is potentially a source of greater harm than the language difference.

One thing you could do is start teaching them written Chinese at home, now, and also as much spoken Chinese as you can. There are a huge amount of free or fairly cheap resources out there and it could become an enjoyable parent/child bonding time too. I’m not sure what exists in children’s Mandarin TV programming, but our son watches a lot of Japanese cartoons and can now pronounce a lot of Japanese, knowing roughly what he’s saying from the subs. I think the thing is to maybe go for a trip and do your research. Be prepared to return if things don’t work out. At that age a year’s disrupted schooling isn’t going to be life-changing. With a lot of preparation and care it may not be disastrous, and the struggle it will no doubt be worth it in the long run if you succeed.

I know I’m overstepping myself with this and bow to experienced forumers’ superior knowledge, but also know that kids are very adaptable and resilient. Even in the case of an generally unhappy time, the experience of living for a year in a very different culture will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

My company (HTC) wanted to move me and my family to Taiwan and I said thanks but no thanks. My kids are 10 and 2 (will be 11 in January and 3 in April). My little boy would learn and adapt just fine; he can’t read English yet either, so I’m sure he could learn to read and write English and Chinese at the same time if we got him a good teacher.

My daughter, on the other hand, is in the gifted program at home (home being Bellevue, Washington), reading and writing two years ahead of her peers… but she has an incredible grasp of English and a tiny bit of spoken French – no Chinese at all. She has a chance to continue to excel in her classes in English; why would I take that away from her and throw her back to the start of schooling in Chinese?

My husband and I both speak zero Chinese… it’s not like we could help the kids.

Instead, my company brought me here for a month this time and I will come for two months two or three times next year. During my long visits, they are going to fly my family here for 7-10 days… so the kids can dip their toes in this water, so to speak… I’m hoping to get my daughter into Chinese classes at home, too, and if she studies that with any real effort, she will be a better Chinese speaker when she comes to visit than I will be, being that I am living and working mostly in the standard ex-pat English-speaking bubble.

I am trying to decide if I want to get serious and start taking private Chinese lessons. I am working really long hours and I’m pretty stressed out by being away from my toddler, starting at a new job, having a big workload, being alone in a place where I don’t know anyone, living alone. (Most parents of a toddler would rejoice about a month on their own, but I am an extrovert through and through and it’s very draining to always be alone except when in the office. I’m trying to make some new friends here, but that takes time). i can’t decide if making real efforts to learn Chinese would stress me even further, or if it would make things easier. I think I am going to let it be during this trip, learning whatever I can in passing, and then I will try to hook up with a good bilingual teacher when I first come on a 2-month stint.

In short, I wouldn’t throw my kids right into local schools and I doubt it would be a good idea for your kids either, unless you managed to sell them on it being a great adventure AND you started Chinese reading, writing, and speaking lessons at home immediately. Kids can accomplish amazing feats of learning in a year, and I bet after a solid year’s instruction, they would succeed at a bilingual school and would also be able to make more local social contacts that way.

Good luck, and keep posting your thoughts and experiences. These are not easy decisions to make! One further thought for you… what do your KIDS think? Have you asked them? Do they go “oh, cool!” or “hmmmm”. Their attitude towards the whole situation will make it or break it… you can’t make them like it if they don’t. :aiyo:

You need to remember that public school’s here are not set up to accommodate foreign language speakers. Back home there are ESL programs in every school, and community services for immigrants. There’s none of that here. I would bet your children’s teacher would just ignore them and let them fail. The teacher would see his or her job as just delivering the lesson, and if the children are not ready to absorb it, then that’s not the teacher’s problem.

I have a “white” friend that grew up here, and his spoken Mandarin is flawless. He says in school his teachers ignored him because his marks were bad, but they were afraid to discipline a foreign kid. He never really learned to write Chinese or English at an adult level, and it’s become a real issue for him in his life.

I plan to send my child to grade 1 here in a couple of years, but I really think it’s a mistake if the child is not a Mandarin speaker already.

Based on my own experience, a kid coming in to grade 1 here with zero Chinese could probably pull it off. A kid coming into grade 2 who could speak Chinese already but couldn’t read or write would have a very, very difficult year but could probably get caught up if they worked very hard. It might even be possible (but extremely difficult) for a very bright kid to come into grade 3 here from the U.S. if (1) they already spoke Chinese when they arrived, and (2) had also been cramming Chinese reading & writing for at least a year in anticipation. After that I just can’t imagine how it would be possible. The education system moves too fast here. Even normal kids struggle at times.

I know the American Schools here are expensive, but I think there are other international schools that are a bit more reasonably-priced and still offer a good quality of education. I don’t really know that much about them (especially the schools in Kaohsiung) but maybe some other Forumosans have a better idea…

When I was 10-12 years old I lived in a small African country where there was no good English language education beyond grade 6. So, my parents and some other parents set up a small distance learning group. 7 kids, two teachers. One the math/science supervisor, the other was the English / lib arts person. We worked through our correspondence courses with supervision and help from those two. I chewed my way through American grade 6 in 4 months, using only 4 hours per day,and had social contact with peers or near-peers.

Maybe you could try something similar. There’s no shortage of talented ex-pat teachers in Taiwan who would like to make a bit of extra money, and with the INternet these days there are so many additional resources to choose from. You just need to choose the right distance program.

Just an idea!

Hi. I am so much appreciated for all your comments and advice to my situation.

To elburro and Muchaman: Thank you for the comment. the offer is quite good for me and my family need a change, I guess, so we think of moving to Taiwan once we get the offer. If I decide to take the offer, I’ll stay in Taiwan for few years. I’ve been looking for an alternative like some other parents suggested. So far I haven’t found any international school in Kaohsiung that has more reasonable tuition and fees. There is one IB school recommended by a local acquaintance that has tuition and fee alone of approx. NT$150,000 per semester for grade 1 throu 6. Do you think this price range is much more reasonable than TAS/TBS ? I’ve never thought of homeschooling, honestly. I read some posts by a mother (i think she’s Asiamom!?) in women only forum that she’s homeschooling the kids herself. That’s incredible to me. I want to ask that mom more about homeschooling but I can’t sign in that forum. I’ll try to check it out.

To Jaboney: Thank you for your comment and that’s exactly what I was worrying and that’s reason I started planning and gathering info as much as I can so that I won’t be making mistake on my kids’ future. For the time being, I just think it might be a competitive advantage for my kids’ future when they are also fluent in Chinese. But I must think hard for the pressure I may create upon my kids which is against my intention when I seek education for them in Taiwan.

To Petrichor: Thank you for your comment. I would be worrying if my kids were younger than primary school age. There’s chance that I can stay in Taiwan until my kids reach the high school age. I don’t have many good opportunities back home. I’ve been living in foreign countries since university. Pls do me a favor by letting me know what you find out about local schools or bilingual schools after your scouting trip to Taiwan. Would it be possible for you to ask if they have a branch in Kaohsiung area? I’d much grateful.

To JuliaZ: Thank you for your comment and your wish. In fact, I started looking for a Chinese tutor few days ago and I hope that our kids and my wife can start learning soon. I think you totally right about bilingual school as other posters have the same comment. Perhaps, it’s really indeed a good choice for the first year. If you happen to find any bilingual school for your girl, pls do let me know by posting in here. I am very thankful. I did also discuss briefly with my kids. They are excited as they had some memory of a month’s long in a Taiwanese camping trip a year ago. Of course they didn’t think of any challenge they may face yet when they are not just visiting as last time. I let them chew in the idea first. I’ll talk to them again after we start the Chinese class few days later. I’ll come back here and post our evolutionary decision making process.

To Redmenace, nohobobo, and BigJohn: Thank you for your comment. I totally agree with you.

Here are my summary of all your comments:
1> It will be extremely difficult for the kids of 8 and 10 to start at local school in Taiwan => consider not to relocate to Taiwan. Is there any successful example out there? Did anyone bring your kids at age of around 8 to 10 who did not speak Chinese before they came to Taiwan but survived and studied well?
2> Bilingual school is a good option. Can anyone suggest any school so I can check with them in details? (Contact number, email address or website etc are highly appreciated)
3> Homeschooling is also an option. I guess I will try to do it as an extra activity, once or twice a week. That will hopefully help my kids a bit more. Hence, I may need to start pick up written Chinese as well. Anyone has specific suggestion regarding this issue?

I am very sorry for the long post and hope I can hear from experienced parents who have lived in Taiwan. Thank you very much.

There is a Morrison campus in Kaohsiung:

It’s an American-style school, all in English, though they would, of course, have Chinese language and Chinese culture classes as part of the required curriculum. Their fees would likely be cheaper than other international schools in the area. It is a Christian school, though, and Bible classes will be part of the curriculum. Just FYI.

I have several friends who have put their western, no-Chinese-ability children into local schools starting around age 2-3. By age 6 or so, most do fairly well and can keep up with their peers. All of them, however, matriculated their children into international schools by around 4th grade, in part because the educational philosophy of the local schools wasn’t in line with their own, and in part because they want their children to be fully prepared for university in the West.

I have other friends who put their western, no-Chinese-ability children into local schools starting around age 5-6. Their children did not do as well, and one made no discernible progress in spoken Mandarin after 2 YEARS in local school. The school just did not have the resources to deal with a child who had no Mandarin ability, and whose parents also had no Mandarin ability.

We have 2 children, ages 2 and 6. The 6-year-old is in international school here in Taipei, while the 2-year-old is in local preschool. Our older son has learned quite a bit of Mandarin from his Chinese classes at school and from interaction with Taiwanese friends, and we’re pleased with his progress, but we doubt he will become truly fluent in his current setting. We attempted to place him in local schools when we arrived here (he was 4), but were discouraged by the three schools in our neighborhood–they told us up front that they wouldn’t have the time or resources to help him learn Mandarin and keep up with his classmates.

Since he started at local school so young, however, the 2-year-old has adapted quite well and has already picked up quite a bit of Mandarin. We are hoping that his spoken Mandarin will progress very well, although we plan to put him in international school by 2nd or 3rd grade.

Based on my personal experience and what I have observed from my friends, I wouldn’t put a child over age 6 or so into local school. The school won’t have the experience or resources to help them, and it would be very difficult for them to succeed. I would work out the budget to do international school, or I would homeschool. There are lots of homeschoolers in Taiwan, and there is a lot of information out there about how to get started. You can visit the Parent Pages Forum at and do a search on “homeschool” to find some info from parents homeschooling in Taiwan. It is a really big commitment, however, so don’t go into it without REALLY thinking it through. A move overseas, a new culture, a new job, a new home, and a transition to homeschool? That’s too much for most people to absorb all at once.

I work as a teacher within the government system (mostly junior high, but also some elementary). I would highly recommend against putting your kids into the system here as it will come as a massive shock to them and they will almost certainly never adapt (and frankly, it might well be worse if they did). When I have observed the Taiwanese teachers at my school, I’ve literally sat in a classroom for almost an hour where the kids (all of the kids in total) spoke no more than about thirty words in an English class. Instead, the teacher held court over the entire room (aside from those kids screwing around or asleep up the back) of kids sitting in neat rows copying what the teacher wrote on the board. I have observed several teachers at several schools teach this way, and not just in English classes. It’s soul destroying watching it, and it goes a long way to explaining why by the end of junior high school, most of the kids are zombies. Unless your kids are destined for greatness in a “that which does not kill me makes me stronger” kind of way, it would be a horrible experience I should imagine.

I totally sympathize with your situation and it’s definitely not an easy decision to make. Just to share with you our experience. My husband and I decided to move to Taiwan from New York 2 years ago, with our then soon-to-be 3 and 5-year-olds. We were super worried about their ability to adjust since they spoke and understood zero Chinese (despite the fact that I am Taiwanese-American, a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese and can read and write fluently, I never spoke to them or taught them Chinese at home). My husband is Caucasian and is only fluent in English. We decided, at the time, to put then in a local bilingual pre-school. Bilingual in the sense that they’d get 2.5 hours of English each day from a native speaking teacher and the rest of the day would be conducted in Chinese. 6 months later, they spoke fluent Chinese with no accent. Now my son is in his second year at our local elementary school, doing very well in all subjects. We continue to keep up his reading and writing of English at home. He can read just about all the children’s English books we’ve bought him and he can do a lot of the exercises at his level that kids his age are doing at the Taipei American School. We’ve actually transferred our daughter to an all-day English preschool since her English actually got worse! So, this is all great, positive and encouraging. BUT, my kids were a lot younger and they adapted extremely well and at a much faster speed than if they were a lot older. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if they were your kids’ ages when we decided to move to Taiwan, not knowing any Chinese, we would have to certainly figure out a way to pay for them to attend an international school and learn Chinese on the side. Chinese is just so much harder to learn. I was born here and immigrated with my family to the U.S. when I was 14. I was able to graduate 3rd in my high school, went on to receive scholarship to attend an Ivy League college and work in finance for the next 15 years. It would be that much harder, not impossible, for it to happen the other way around.

As many people already pointed out in this forum, the local schools here aren’t equipped to assist foreign students and their parents if neither parents speak any Chinese. A friend of mine is struggling with that very thing where her two boys are enrolled in the local school, grades 1 & 2. While the kids actually speak fluent Chinese, my friend cannot communicate with or understand the teachers nor can she assist them with their homework. She ended up putting them in an after-school program (a separate program that she has to pay for) where the teachers do speak English and can assist the kids with their homework. But it’s frustrating when you can’t actually deal directly with matters involving your kids’ school.

I’m not advocating not moving if it’s a great offer that you’re considering accepting, particularly if there’s nothing better at home waiting for you. I know what you mean because we’ve been there ourselves. Perhaps you can try negotiating the package with your prospective employer to see if they will either cover the tuition costs for your two kids at an international school or provide some kind of assistance towards paying for them? Because of the cost of living in Kaohsiung is so much lower than Taipei, it might be something they’d be willing to consider. Most of the expats I know that come here with their families, seem to all have some kind of package where their kids’ tuition at an international school is included in the package.

Just think carefully of the culture shock they have to put up with and the language barrier would create a tremendous amount of stress. That is not going to help them learn. While it is good to want them to be bilingual, I think you’ll want to think about some other alternative, like a bilingual school at the very least, if you can’t afford an international school. All the schools I’m familiar with are in Taipei. There are lots of local private schools in Taipei that have very rich English programs that a lot of expats actually prefer over international schools. There’s even a very good local bilingual private school (k-12) in Taipei that has a very good reputation. I’m not familiar with what’s in Kaohsiung but upon doing a google search, I came across the following:

I didn’t see anything else other than Kaohsiung American School, Morrison Academy and the Dominican International School. There might be others out there.

You have to seriously think through this, if your employer can’t include the tuition as part of your relocation package or if your salary cannot cover it and still pay for other living expenses, then you need to really think about whether this is worth your while.

Good luck!

Aleegulotty, could you please post the contact details of the K-12 school? We’re hoping to visit some bilingual schools on our scouting trip in a few weeks’ time and hadn’t heard of this one.
If you know of any others or where to ask about bilingual schools in Taipei that would be so helpful! :pray:

The private bilingual school I was referring to is called Lih Jen International Private Elementary and Middle School. The website is:

Other private schools to consider (usually only private schools offer bilingual or very rich English programs):

  1. Taipei Fuhsing Private School (k-12) - - they offer a bilingual program. click on English Version on the home page.
  2. Guangren Catholic Elementary School and Kindergarten (k-6) - has English version. my husband teaches there and says the school has a very strong English and music program.
  3. Huaxing Private Elementary School (also has middle school, not sure if it goes to 9th or 12th grade) - I went inside the website and found the link for English learning as they don’t really have a link for English version on the home page so not sure you’d find it since it’s all in Chinese. They claim they’re a bilingual school (but why don’t they have an English site, I’m not sure…) and I’ve heard good things from other parents who either send their kids there or are thinking about it. I’m including contact info here (I translated it from Chinese as there doesn’t seem to be the English equivalent on the website): Address: Taipei City, Shilin District, Young-De Boulevard/Road, Sec. 1, No. 101. Tel: (02) 2831-6834.
    4.Taipei Wego Private School (k-12) - - excellent reputation, so I’ve heard. Either bilingual or has very strong English program.
  4. Taipei Kuei Shan School (k-12) - - again, great reputation, either bilingual or strong English program. Knew of an expat who sent his daughter there rather than TES so she can also learn Chinese.
  5. Taipei Private Tsai Hsing School (k-12) - - school with a long history, excellent reputation. either bilingual or with a strong English program. Unfortunately the English version is not much to look at. Contact the school to arrange for a tour or find out more info: (02)2937-1119. They are located in the Wenshan district in Taipei City.
  6. Chingshing Elementary and Middle School (k-12) - - for some reason, after clicking English, I couldn’t actually Enter the English website. It could just be my browser (I have a Mac and I use Safari). You may have to call to find out if they’re actually bilingual or just has a very strong English department.

There is also one public elementary school (may have preschool as well) in the Daan district that I was told is a bilingual school. It’s located near the Daan Forest Park. It might be Xinsheng Elementary, I’m not quite sure. The person who mentioned this was an expat who was considering sending his child there because it’s bilingual. Here’s the school’s website:

Good luck!

Wow, that’s brilliant! That’s so, so kind of you.
Thank you so much. :slight_smile:

Please let me know if there’s anything difficult to get hold of out there that I can bring for you.

hi petrichor:

you’re welcome. i got the listing off of the MOE website but unfortunately, if you can’t read Chinese, you won’t find it. the English site does not have the corresponding information either. all accredited institutions, public or private (I think with the exception of international schools like TAS, TES and the likes of them), are under the supervision of the MOE and are all listed on their website, by region and by type (elementary, middle school, etc.) i should probably ask them if they’d like me to translate all this pertinent info for them, for a fee, of course. :wink:

umm, now that you’ve mentioned it, what i really like is an oven and a dishwasher for my kitchen…just kidding. thanks for the offer, my sister is actually visiting in a month and i’ve already given her a list of things to bring. :laughing: believe it or not, you can pretty much find everything here. there was a run on mac & cheese at costco for a while and you couldn’t get it anywhere, even international grocery stores that charge 3x as much per box. but costco just came out with the kirkland brand of mac & cheese (not as good as the kraft brand but we’ll deal) so we’re all good. :slight_smile: our kids LOVE that stuff. it’s still kind of you to offer though!

i’m curious about what you guys decide in terms of a school, so, keep me posted! :slight_smile: will you guys be staying in the Tienmu area? i can’t remember what you said in a previous post. anyway, good luck with everything. let me know if you have trouble getting hold of a school or need further help contacting one. i’m assuming there should be no language barrier at these schools since they’re either bilingual or have very strong English programs, but you never know…

I don’t have kids, so realize that first off.

But the one common thread I see with all of the above is the assumption that the kids MUST graduate in the same timeframe as they would normally have, going to an English language school.

Depending on how many years you plan to be in TW, it might be an idea to treat this as a sort of gap year or period for them, focusing on their acquiring spoken Chinese, but not worrying about anything else. Yes, they will be “behind” when they get back, in one sense, but they should be ahead in another sense.

Of course if you are staying longer than 1-2 years that would be impossible, in practical terms. But if it’s shorter it might be valuable in terms of experience and language, without getting all caught up in the whole grades thing.

That’s sound advice Ironlady. I think we’ll play it by ear and not plan too far ahead. If it works out, well and good; if not, a year in another country is an education in itself. No need to pressure the kid to maintain the same learning pace when he’s adjusting to a whole new language and culture.

Aleegulotty, I’m tempted to bring an oven and dishwasher just to see the check-in staff’s faces. :laughing: Your post confirmed my impression that nearly everything can be had, though sometimes for a high price. I’ve still started to compile a very strange list of items to bring for ourselves, though, including sweet basil seeds, maple syrup and Green and Black’s organic cocoa powder. (Please no one post to say that they’re on sale in every 7-11. I have to retain some sense of embarking on a journey into the wild unknown.)

I’ll definitely post our impressions of the schools we manage to see and our final choice. I doubt we’ll be in the Tianmu area, though. My husband’s self-employed and I work in public education so we won’t be on an expat package. From what I understand Tianmu will be out of our price range unless we want to live in a shoebox. I should think we’ll end up further out and the final choice of area will depend on the commute to whichever school we choose in the end. Plus I’m hoping to optimise exposure to Mandarin for all of us which I guess rules out Tianmu too.


you’d be surprised to find that many places in tienmu have bigger space and are less expensive than apartments in taipei city (such as da’an and xinyi district). beitou district is another great place to find larger apartments that are less expensive than those in the downtown area. a couple of the schools i listed for you are located in the beitou district (wego and kuei shan but kuei shan is physically situated closer to where tienmu is). wenshan district may be your best bet if you’re on a tight budget but don’t want to sacrifice space. there’s an mrt line that runs through wenshan district (schools #6 & 7 are located in this district), it’s considered the “literary district” as it has some of the best and most number of schools in the city.

tienmu is a neighborhood in the shilin district (there are 12 districts in taipei city) and it is not the most expensive area to live, believe it or not. you won’t have to live in a shoe box, trust me! :wink: however, if you can’t find one on your own and need to rely on an agent, there is a high likelihood that you can be shown only expensive apartments (may or may not be furnished, may or may not be nice). if you say you are a teacher, they will quickly assume you work at TAS and makes NT$3MM with a housing stipend (a dentist assumed that about my husband and wouldn’t have it any other way!) i don’t want to get off tangent here so we’ll leave the commentary to a minimum.

as for finding suitable housing, i mean, where do i begin without highjacking this post and turning it into a totally different post about housing in taiwan. if you want to know more, i can assist but we should probably do it offline via pm unless everyone else is interested in reading all the details. having a budget is a good place to start and also what you must have vs nice to have’s. in the meantime, check out, the most widely used online real estate listings website (sales, rentals, residential, commercial) in taiwan. there’s a catch, it’s all in Chinese. i don’t know if you can find someone to help you navigate the website but if you can’t, just play around and get a sense of the types of apartments available here, even if you don’t know where you’re actually looking. :wink: listings can be from licensed agents, owners, someone working for the owner but not an agent, fee or no fee apartments. fees are generally 1/2 months of the negotiated rent for a one-year lease and one month’s rent for a 2-year lease. if someone tries to charge you more than that, it is almost certain they’re over charging you. the law says the maximum an agent can charge you is no more than 1.5 times the monthly rent and that is usually split between you and the landlord (ex. if the rent is NT$30,000 and you sign a 1-year lease, you pay NT$15,000 and the landlord pays NT$15,000 to the agent for his/her “services”). In rare cases, the agent will either waive the fee from the tenant and only collects from the landlord the 1/2 month’s fee or the landlord has agreed to pay the agent all of the fee in order to get the apartment rented and you end up not having to pay any fees to the agent. almost every foreigner or even taiwanese who can’t speak Chinese says to make sure you bring someone who can speak fluent Chinese (and hopefully know something about the real estate market in general and can haggle!) with you to look at apartments so they can help you negotiate.

as for maximum mandarin exposure, according to my husband, who is Western and speaks only English, the experience is pretty much the same throughout Taipei. there are bilingual signs pretty much everywhere and you will run into people who can speak a lot of English or none. sometimes he tries to practice a few phrases that he does know (like “i’d like this” or “thank you” or “how much” or just asking for something in a restaurant), the other person will still respond in English or insist on speaking English with him. i think it’s because like him, they want to practice their English. :laughing: i don’t think you get more or less exposure to the local culture or language by staying in one neighborhood or another in Taipei. i don’t think tienmu has the highest concentration of expats anymore. Neihu, i’ve been told, is the new tienmu. areas around Shida, Taida campuses, the Xinyi financial district and daan district are all popular with foreigners. i think it really depends on what your looking for, tienmu and neihu are more suburban compared to the other areas. it would be nice to have a car but it’s not absolutely essential.

sorry for the long post. there’s a lot more to be said about the real estate market here but that’s for another time. good luck and if you need help finding a place, i can offer whatever help i can provide.