Retirement at 50? Maybe in Taiwan ...


On another thread, somebody usefully divided foreign grade schools into three tiers:

Tier 1: TAS, TES, whatever the Japanese school is called. (Tuition for one child at TAS would cost your entire pension.)

Tier 2: Places like Morrison. (Legitimate but with some rough edges, and run by fundamentalists.)

Tier 3: Multiple “international” private schools which are run more or less like buxibans. I know people who teach at these and have heard bad, bad things.

As I recall, home schooling is not allowed. The other option is normal public school, if your kid can handle the Chinese immersion and, once in high school, the focus on test-taking. There may also be “alternative” schools out there (not sure if public or private) which would be worth looking into. I’m not a fan of Waldorf or Montessori, but for some kids they may be the best option.


Home schooling is indeed allowed. Know a couple that does it. You just have to register with the school (or city education department) and your child will attend physical education classes at that local public school. You can google it and see some information on it.


“Planning of the Taichung MRT started in 1990 with a study conducted by the Taiwanese Bureau of Housing and Urban Development.”

Had to look it up because I was pretty sure I heard they were building one.

OP can confirm, but per his original post, his wife is not Taiwanese. That’s why he needs to figure out the visa situation. He can’t just get a JFRV.


I would second this. Small city of about 100,000 so there are teaching opportunities. And for your son, the teachers there are more understanding of having academics as a second priority. There are many in Hualien that do sports, for example, and school is secondary for them. Good music opportunities, too, for a high schooler. The music program at one of the public schools there is hard to get into- testing and all that. I believe they all have to be able to play some piano and then an orchestral instrument. Again with respect to your son, if you’re going to come to Taiwan, I recommend deciding soon and getting him going with some Mandarin learning.

Good luck and we all envy you for having the freedom to retire at 50!

Edit: Maybe you could teach music at that school? PM me if interested and I’ll ask which high school that is.


Good catch, YGZ, on Taichung’s Green Line.
Found a map of it. Short, but from Taichung HSR, with one stop away near the Taiwan Beer brewery at 烏日 and passing city hall.
Any Taichungers know how close it gets to main train station?


Is it this school with a music course?



1 Like

Yes, I just asked my wife. That’s it! A piano teacher in Hualien we know (who also owns that awesome Old Germany restaurant) told us about the school. Her son who is half German is great at tennis and other sports.


Immersion - What is the average annual costs of International school in Malaysia? Do you know? Malaysia is nice, but we always doubt the public school system or the costs of international education. Hoping to get more info. Any forum like this?


The schools I have looked at range between 10-12k US per year, so less than half what the American School in Taipei costs. Most of them post tuition on their websites.


An artist ARC in Taiwan? Very interesting … I am not sure how easy it would be to qualify for the APRC in relation to required income levels though. Anyone have links for this type of visa?


There is actually a decent homeschooling community in Taiwan that has a lot of activities that the kids can get involved in ( especially of the social variety). They also have a very helpful Facebook page as well that outlines the requirements.


No, wife is definitely not Taiwanese. Though this is not the first time that mistake has been made with her, but only with those who haven’t met her …


This is a very good idea - thanks for thinking of it. Hualien is a nice place, for sure, we went there 3 or 4 times, but mostly just passing through to go to Taroko, etc…The natural beauty and access to beaches and mountains has got me thinking … Now throwing this good school with a music and not strictly academic focus into the mix … You guys have me downright confused!

Two things to confess here: we really like Taipei and the metropolitan vibe it has, especially the arts and music community. My old guitar teacher is there ( who is amazing - Meng Feng Su), there is a really good symphony, a good classical and jazz scene, and quite a few old friends in the scene. And overall, both myself and the wife, just well, like Taipei. Would we like Hualien, probably, and maybe even more than Taipei now that we wouldn’t be working as much, and even more so that our son’s needs have to be considered.

The second confession is that my wife is very much leaning and in favor of Penang and Malaysia. We both love Taiwan, but I think in that English is more widely spoken ( my Chinese is good, hers is not), the food and culture is more diverse, and it being so damn cheap there, all weigh very heavily in Penang’s favor in her eyes. Taiwan for me still feels like home, even after almost 8 years back in Canada, and it is like it is in my blood and it just won’t get out! I don’t have any answers for sure, and we have a few years yet to figure it all out though. You guys and gals have all been a big help in getting me thinking, thanks.

1 Like

From what I’ve been reading here on this forum about Malaysia, I really can’t blame you. It sounds great. For me, I’m determined to raise bilingual kids (fully bilingual), and so the choice would be an easy one for my wife and I to make. Our daughter started helping with simultaneous translation at our bilingual church just recently. She’s only 14 and I’m happy about the prospect of her having a good and even potentially lucrative skill even before finishing HS. If my wife wasn’t Taiwanese, though, I think I would also lean more toward somewhere outside of Taiwan.


It is Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals.

Article 10
A foreign professional who works as an artist may, without applying through an employer, apply direct to the Ministry of Labor for a permit to engage in artistic work in the State, without being subject to the restriction prescribed in Article 43 of the Employment Services Act. Such work permit shall have a maximum duration of three years, and when necessary, said person may apply for an extension of up to three years at a time.
Regulations on work qualifications, screening criteria, application for and cancellation of the permit, employment management, and other relevant matters shall be set by the Ministry of Labor in consultation with the Ministry of Culture.

Requirement in Chinese. It seems not for every artist.

  1. 具備所申請之藝術領域工作經驗十年以上,並有創見及特殊表現。
  2. 取得國內外碩士學位及具備所申請之藝術領域工作經驗五年以上,或取得國內外博士學位及具備所申請之藝術領域工作經驗三年以上。
  3. 在藝術領域具創見及特殊表現,並領有其所屬國官方機構出具之推薦或證明文件。

Those are pretty stringent qualifications. How would I prove 10 years " experience " in music where I haven’t been performing much lately … I definitely don’t have a master’s or PhD in music either, it looks like it would be easier to just teach a few hours a week for my work based ARC and play around some until I would get my APRC at the five year mark. Then I could perform to my heart’s content. Thanks for the info though.


Great thread, I’m looking into retiring to Taiwan also around 50 y.o, but with 2 kids schooling is the big issue. Also, what the heck can I do there? I speak a little Mandarin… and would prefer to open up a business of some sort. Anyone have any bright ideas? I don’t want to be bored to death there… or anywhere after retirement.


There are 5 major issues to consider:

  1. Money
  2. Visa
  3. Schooling
  4. Where to live that supports 1-3
  5. Language

The first issue is something that is very personal, and ultimately about how much money you have, access to money via pension, savings, etc… Also, it is about cost of living. Do you eat out a lot? Cook at home? Enjoy new cuisines? Are your hobbies expensive? Cost of living differs for everyone. After talking a fair bit with many people, and after recently traveling to Taiwan after being away for 10 years or so ( I lived there previously for about 8 years), for my family we need about $80000 -100000NT (approx. $2600 - $3250 US) a month to live comfortably in the Taipei area. This does not include schooling costs. However, we eat out a fair bit, but at local places that are cheap, and only eat at Western style places once every week or two.

The Visa is the biggest issue really, in that Taiwan does not have a retirement Visa. It is largely an issue of what you want to do and how much you want to work. If you are flexible, Taiwan has a lot of options. You can teach English minimally (15-20hrs/week), and get a Visa, and do what you want for the rest of the time (as long as money is not an issue). You could open a business, be it a representative office or a full-on business in Taiwan, but neither of them are relaxed part time gigs, and would require a lot of time and money invested. Finally, if you have $200000 US available, you can get an investment Visa, that requires no work whatsoever - it just needs to be put into a Taiwan based investment of some sort. All of these visa is will give you a residence visa called an ARC (Alien Residence Certificate)

It is important to note that Taiwan does not allow part time private work while on any type of regular resident Visa. After five years of residence through a work, etc. (residence) Visa, you can then apply for an permanent residence visa (APRC) that allows part time gigs.

As for schooling, it is a huge issue. International schools in Taiwan are ludicrously expensive (think $20000+ US /child), so for us they are out of the question. Do your kids speak Mandarin? If not, how old are they? If they are younger (under 8 or so) they could have a chance at learning Mandarin and integrating into local schools. If not, your only option is homeschooling, which has its own set of pros and cons.

As for location, this can be debated forever really. For me, it can be summarized as follows: Taipei is convenient (especially with the MRT), culturally vibrant place which has a lot more of the things Expats might need (foreign groceries, expat community, etc.), but it is more expensive than other places. However, the further south you go, the weather gets better, but the pollution gets worse. The east coast has beautiful nature (and low pollution) but with it comes more typhoons and earthquakes and less access to Western conveniences with the small sizes of the cities there. But the East as a whole is a fair bit cheaper for rent than the West coast, and a lot cheaper than Taipei. I am not sure if the east coast had any International schools though (there are some in the cities in the West coast outside of Taipei, for a slight bit less than the Taipei schools’ ridiculous prices).

The final point, language, is really one of personal tastes. You speak some Mandarin, but how about the rest of your family? Do they want to learn? If not, it will be hard long term, if not impossible. But some people do manage to get by without learning Mandarin at all and live in Taiwan for decades. So like I said, it is about personal comfort levels with language (or not knowing one).

It is important to note that I don’t consider “retirement” for me to be dropping off the Earth and herding alpacas or anything, I just see it as the ability to do what I want instead of my current incredibly high stress, life consuming (60-70 hr weeks), albeit high paying, job. And Taiwan is the perfect place to keep doing the things I love, in an interesting, beautiful, and low-crime place. It also allows me to put down roots and get an APRC that will allow my family to live here with me as well, and doing what we want to do. Not many countries allow permanent resident visas for retirees, and neither does Taiwan really - but with working the system a bit, it is possible to “retire” in Taiwan.

Sorry for the long response, but it sums up my research over the last couple of years in one post, for any who are interested.

If you get really old someday, where would you retire?
Retiring in Taiwan

Great post, with many interesting points. Thanks for sharing.



Nice summary !