To live/work in a small town versus big city?

Is it better to live in a small township or a place like Taipei? I’ll tell you experiences with both and then you guys and gals can weigh in with your experiences and opinions. First of all, I’ve been here a little more than 5 years and prior to this year, I’ve lived in two decent-size cities where I worked (Hsinchu and Jhongli). All the schools I ever worked at in the big cities had staffs of between 8 to 20 other foreign teachers. Social-wise, there was never any shortage of pubs or nightlife and of course there’s a lot more to do in, say Taipei than, say, Hukou township. Then early this year a Chinese friend hooked me up with a chance to make better money than most teaching gigs pay, for a super-cool principal, who was her friend. Well, I’m not one to bounce around job-to-job. I like stability. But out of politeness and curiousity, I went to an interview at this small country school which had never hired foreign teachers but was willing to upgrade for the sake of image to compete with some neighboring country schools that recently hired their own first foreign teachers. I’m talking very very country school. Not the gigs you see in tealit website. To make a long story short I ended up working for them and re-locating from Hsinchu City to a small township in the same county. Despite the better wage, I felt like I was taking a serious quality-of-life downgrade to move to a rural township. I’m a city-boy back in my country and was a city-boy in Taiwan like most foreigners. So fast-foward to the present: Guess what? It’s the best move I ever made on several levels. I’ll give a few examples. Here, I can be a big fish in a small pond. I’m literally the ONLY foreigner living in this township of 1,239 people. I’m like a celebrity. People stare and women giggle and say “hello” as I walk by. Unfortunately “hello” is all they know and my Mandarin sux. But the attention is nice. It wouldn’t happen in Taipei. At work, it’s great to be the only foreign teacher in a small country school. They are actually respectful to me and treat me nicely. They think it’s a big deal that they have a real live native English speaker working for them. Having never hired a foreign teacher previously, they aren’t jaded by having hired previous foreigners who turned out to be shit-bags and I do my best to keep them thinking highly of foreigners, not because I’m so wonderful but because I have the good sense to know a good gig when I see one. I can teach what I want the way I want to and they leave me alone and consider me the expert, whether I am or not. Are there better teachers than me out there? Of course, lots. But they (country school bosses) have no one to compare me to, so I’m the best they’ve ever seen. The kids aren’t as bad, overall, as the big city kids. They still respect teachers here. And my apartment is better than the one I had in the big city and 1000 nt cheaper to boot. Yeah, I’m a big fish in a small pond in this little township nestled in the foothills of the mountains. I never see another foreigner unless I go into Hsinchu city. Fortunately I have a car, so I can drive to the big cities to go to pubs and dance and meet women. Otherwise, there’s definitely nothing to do in this little place. I admit it’s been tough to encounter women here in my little township but otherwise it wasn’t the downgrade in life quality that I thought it would be, originally. OK, it’s someone’s else’s turn to comment.

If you are happy, have a good quality of life and are growing and moving forward, then you’re in the best place. Glad you’re enjoying yourself!