Should Newbies Sign up Abroad or After Arrival?

Should I sign up abroad or wait until I get to Taiwan ?

  • Sign up abroad
  • Sign up in Taiwan
  • Don’t come - there aren’t enough jobs to go around

0 voters

Why run the risk of ending up penniless on the streets ?

Hourly pay (but perhaps very few hours), or Salaried (but running the risk of working a 40 hour week at NT$370 an hour) ?

Why sign up abroad when you could get a higher hourly rate by door-stepping on arrival ?

These are the questions most newbies want answered - what suggestions do we have for them ?


It would depend on your qualifications and background, but even without a lick of teaching experience people can prob get better jobs when they apply in person or are referred by others. I’d wait. I waited on three separate occassions, in fact. My first time, second, and the last time.

I arrived cold, speaking absolutely no Chinese and with no teaching experience, on a Sunday night. By 2pm Monday I had three offers. All three jobs were about 30 hours a week at about NT$500 an hour. Not great, but salary hours at better than salary pay.

This was of course a few years ago, and I arrived in early September.

The next interesting question Alleycat is would you have done better here with Chinese ability and teaching experience? With only one of these? With one or both of these applying outside of Taiwan?
Then it depends.

I don’t know. I will never know. But in my experience, first hand and word of mouth, it is better to get hired here. I have heard too many horror stories, even from a good friend who was hired by an established British chain.

I’d much rather check out the school and area and then decide, than end up in shit hole 100km from Taichung, living in a small room (the free accommodation they so often use to attract employees) and with nary another foreigner in sight.

As always, each to his own: I was just offering my experience for anyone contemplating a move here.

My own opinion is that making enquiries before arrival can only be beneficial, but not to commit until after arrival, and to prepare for a month without any money coming in.

I agree with Hexuan. Send copies of your CV to schools before you come here. Arrange interviews with those that respond positively. But don’t commit yourself to anything until you get here. Ideally wait a couple of weeks and consider a couple of offers once you are here. Talk to as many people you can about the ins and outs of working here after you arrive.

Also remember this–no job is perfect, but some are better than others.

I would say prepare for two months. If you look for two weeks before you actually start working, remember that many places pay only once a month. So if you started working on the 1st of the month, you might not get paid until the 5th of the following month. Taking into consideration that your first few paycheques might not be all that great because of a schedule that is only slowly filling up, and I would say two months is not that conservative an estimate.

Also, once you put down your rent and bond for your place, you won’t have much to play with. When I came here, I was living with my wife’s parents, and wasn’t even paying rent :sunglasses: . Still, I think that it wasn’t until after 3 months that I started to save money. In the mean time, I’s spent my life savings :? and was wondering whether or not it was worth it. A lot, I suppose depends on how fast you find work, and also like Maoman said, what part of the month. Either way, I’ve heard too many stories of people signing from abroad, and being grossly underpaid. I’d still sign from here.

I’d agree that, in general, the best advice is for one to wait until after arrival to get a job. However, if the only thing holding someone back is the fact that they haven’t traveled much and the idea of arriving in a foreign country with only a list of hostels is too much, they might want to go ahead with a school. They just ought to read other posts on this topic and be willing to pay a fee to break the contract if things aren’t working out.

If you are either an experienced teacher or traveler, and assuming you have enough money to handle a longer wait, you should sign up after you get here.
On a slightly different line (I didn’t want to start a new thread) I’m wondering about a common problem with a clash of dates over airplane tickets and contracts.
You fly over to Taiwan on a one-year return ticket, and a fortnight or so later sign a contract (this might even be delayed until your ARC comes through) for a year. There may be some financial penalty if you leave early. Unfortunately your ticket will expire shortly before your work year ends. And of course it’s impossible to extend a one-year ticket except for exceptional situation such as too sick (i.e. in hospital) to travel.

I think someone would only buy a one year return ticket when a contract was signed over seas. Otherwise you’d probably be here on a 2 month visa where you’d need an exit ticket within the 2 months and would have to buy another ticket anyways (or extend that one if possible).

I believe some contracts have a bonus that would include airfare home when completing the contract. Hope that helps.

Seeing as you’re just a kid I’ll forgive your slip up. You can fly in on a one-year ticket but - to keep the immigration chappies happy - you have a flight booked out in keeping with the period of your visa whether that is one or two months. Changing departure dates once you are here is no problem at all.
And I repeat my earlier question; anyone have problems, or know of someone who did, with the time lag between fulfilling a one-year work contract and the validity of a one-year ticket?

Most one year tickets I ever bought were at prices approaching full fare and were refundable after the outbound portion was used.

That’s a good question that I haven’t an answer to. I had my working visa processed before entering Taiwan. I flew in on a one-way ticket and had no problem (more than 5 years ago). You don’t usually save much money buying a one-way vs. a round-trip ticket (LA-Taipei maybe US$100). If you might travel back home during the year, the round-trip would get used that way. However, if you’re definitely staying more than a year, you’d better check directly with the airlines on their policies.

I flew one way to Hong Kong, and bought an open return from there to here. Seems perfectly acceptable to the people issuing the visas etc.

I did a visa run a while back and bought a new return ticket from/to CKS, keeping the unused portion of my old ticket as my ‘proof’ that I was planning to leave. I’m planning to do the same thing again this week.

If you’re planning to fulfil a one-year contract and collect any kind of bonus at the end of it then it’s daft to come on a one-year return ticket. You run the risk of losing your bonus because you only worked 364 days. Stay more than a year and you paid a return fare for a one-way flight.

Here’s another approach, which may or may not work here: A few years ago I flew into New Zealand with a one-way ticket, but was supposed to have a ticket out as well. On the advice of the immigration officials I bought a standard full-price ticket at the airport, got my passport stamped, and took the ticket to the Qantas office downtown for a FULL refund. This left me legally in-country without a ticket.

As for the original question at this forum: You might find better once you get here, but if you do you’ll probably find better again at a later date. Be prepared to jump jobs, and if you are then why commit yourself before you come? Bring enough money to live two months, do a visa run, and get yourself home again if it all goes horribly wrong.

If you sign on abroad, you’ll likely be doing so through an agent who is paid by the school to which you will be sent. Tells you upon which side the bread is buttered, doesn’t it?

Our agent lied to us when we came here, and told us anything we wanted to hear. She made us pay for a night’s stay in a crappy (but expensive) hotel and even made us pay for our own dinner, which she had previously told us would be complimentary. (We were to stay at her place). Then she wasn’t there when we signed our documents, having beat a hasty retreat so that the school could have us to themselves. Upon our having signed the documents, she “instantly” appeared and congratulated us upon our “good choice”. Our employers took us to our new home which the agent had told us was “in the mountains” (though, to her credit, you can SOMETIMES see the mountains on clean days after typhoons/ torrential rains, despite the extreme flatness surrounding us for at least two hours of driving on each side) and we began teaching the day after our arrival. Of course, had I known then what I do now, that would never have happened, but most people are jetlagged, tired, disoriented and inexperienced upon their first arrival in Taiwan.

Thankfully, in our case everything worked out well and our bosses were, for the most part, honest, but I’m sure that many others have stories of extreme disappointment. Remember, the agent is not working for you, even if you are paying him/her. S/he is working for the schools, who have laws, experience and blacklists on their sides.

Get in touch with people through Segue or one of the many other “taiwan foreigner” sites mentioned on this board and you should get an acceptable teaching job upon your arrival. Just remember to get reimbursement for your flight upon signing on and to bring enough cash to get you through that “awkward period” when you’re getting settled in.

Good luck, newbies!

I think I am an exception to the rule, but I got my job while overseas kind of. I applied for a whole bunch of places six months before coming because I knew the problems a black person could have in finding a job in Taiwan thanks to reading this site and (gasp!) that other one. Most schools drooled over my resume and the fact that despite that I had (or was going to) recently graduate with a degree in linguistics and already had ESL teaching experience under my belt as well as certification and then asked for my photo, saw my ethnicity and vanished off the face of the earth. In July 2001, shortly before the date I had set to come to Taiwan come hell or high water, I saw an ad on this site (when it was still for a school asking for people with degrees in education, and I applied despite not having one since I figured the worst thing that could happen was to be turned down again. Well, this school did the same thing with my resume telling me it was just what they were looking for and upon receiving my photo, the principal called me and assured me that they had no problems with my ethnicity and arranged an over-the-phone interview (with them calling me in the US). This is my second year with that school. It’s a great job with nice pay, lots of paid vacation time (via salary pay), and an incredibly nice and generous boss at a good, reputable school that’s been around for years.
My advice is not to take a job from overseas per se (I told them I wouldn’t sign up to anything until I had a chance to see the school), but rather to arrange your initial interviews from overseas so you aren’t doing as much scrambling around when you get here and are going through jet lag, disorientation, exhaustion, etc. Make use of the ads put on and check out any ad that sounds interesting to you. You never know where it may lead you.