When is the right time to leave


I realized public education in the US had problems, but this makes no sense at all.



Scary story for me who’s planning to return to Japan 7~10 years after I lived there.

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I don’t think you should be scared. Housing is getting cheaper, not more expensive, there—though of course other challenges remain.



Have given this some thought recently as I am approaching a decade in Taiwan later this year. I’m in my mid 30s by the way. I’ve attained permanent residency, which was a goal of mine, I like the idea of being able to come back without having to start from scratch.

I considered trying my hand elsewhere teaching internationally, but decided it would be best to stay at my then current job for at least 2 years so it didn’t look terrible on my resume. I got my APRC shortly after starting that job. Jump ahead a couple years later, and COVID-19 hits the world and Taiwan is about the best place to be. I did leave that job after about 2 years and started looking around and got the best job I’ve had in Taiwan so far.

But yeah, a lot of things about Taiwan still grate on me… I suppose I’m probably still in the frustration stage of culture shock, but trying my best to get through to the adjustment stage. I seem to be bouncing back and forth between these two stages. I’ve been reading a lot of books about Taiwan recently to help me through to stage 3, but then mostly work place stuff sets me back to stage 2. Ideally, I think I’d like to work in a decidedly Western setting and live here, but those are quite few, can be difficult to get into, or I don’t have the right skills/qualifications for them. Also, my language skills are abysmal, especially after being here for so long. I can just get out a few survival phrases and can read a few hundred characters. My pronunciation is garbage and I’ve yet to put in any formal study. I guess I’d rather invest the time and money elsewhere, try to earn more and invest more, and eventually gain a reasonable level of independent wealth.

I also really have a hard time relating to people here. The way they think is just so…foreign to me. They also almost always seem to say and think the same things and I generally find them an uninteresting lot.

Yet in the back of my mind, I know that taking care of elderly parents is pretty much an inevitability that will bring me back to the US for an undetermined amount of time. Not really looking forward to that and I only have a few vague ideas of what I could do while I’m there, likely substitute teaching as a stop gap measure and then trying to figure out something from there. But who knows? Perhaps that experience will make me treasure Taiwan and I’ll yearn to come back.


This definitely must factor in, moreso than the vague Chinese takeover on the horizon (which will probably be attempted in some form at some point, and even if unsuccessful will be at least a pain in the ass). For me, I came here in a large part because of COVID.

I’d gone home twice from two different countries, the first time I was in my early 20s and thought I should get a real job after 2 years overseas. I went home and was quickly bored, the real job didn’t materialize, and I found that I had changed a lot and fit in even less than before. So, I left again.

Second time I went home after 8 years overseas, this time for school and a much longer stay. I quickly found that the grass was greener on the other side, but it was too late. Staying longer didn’t yield more opportunities.

When COVID broke in early 2020 I was just in a position to leave Canada again and I set my sights on pretty much anywhere. My interests leaned warmwards, so although Kazakhstan was on the list early it was scrubbed because of the weather (thank goodness, as it turns out). After 5 months of applying to assistant professor posts all round the world and getting nothing, I decided to focus on a few countries and used lists of best places to be an expat to help narrow it down. Taiwan, in addition to ranking high on expat lists, was the only country in the world not looking at lockdowns and recessions. So, I made getting a job here a priority and have been lucky enough to get something right up my alley which is overall a very good situation (there are challenges with the way things are done here, but that would happen anywhere, it even happened back home in Canada).

And then I finally get to my answer to the big question. The right time to leave is when the opportunities have dried up and you are going to something better. As others have said, you should have something lined up before you go or you might find that there isn’t something better. If you’re in a good place where you are, what is the reason for leaving? You mentioned a masters, is it something that you can use to further your career somewhere else, or is it basically useless outside of Taiwan?

I’ll stay in this job until it gets unmanageable and someone else offers me more money and benefits; I’ll stay in Taiwan for the same amount of time.

@ChewDawg makes a reasonable point about the civil service gravy train, if you can get in (pretty competitive these days) and deal with the bureaucracy and mind-numbing work/stupidity that you will encounter as a civil servant, there is some interesting work that you might be able to do (depending on that masters, for example) and in places like Canada they have unionized themselves into a very nice (taxpayer funded) situation.


Good call!


as it turns out, yes!

The China threat isn’t something I really take into consideration much, call me crazy, but I’m just not that worried about it.

I definitely feel you on your experiences living abroad. Seems we have kind of a similar background and temperment perhaps. I lived in Korea for about a year and a half in my early twenties and felt compelled to go back home and “get a real job” or try to start some kind of business. I was there for a couple years and neither really worked out. I really missed the expat life, didn’t feel like I fit in all that well back home either and was also bored as hell. God… after a decade here, and with all the “woke” BS happening nowadays, I would sure as hell feel like a real fish out of water living back home again. I guess my point is I feel like I fit in with other expats and also third culture kids.

To answer your question, there is no reason for leaving…for now. It’s just a thought that came to mind recently, I read this thread and just decided to express my thoughts. Perhaps another 4-5 years will be enough time before giving it some real thought. But it will depend on my financial situation and personal and family circumstances.

I didn’t write anything in this thread about a masters… but yes, I have one, and it can definitely be used just about anywhere… here, back home, other countries, you name it. One of the main reasons why I got it. I have considered other places, but COVID has essentially put the kibosh on those plans for probably the next few years, unless I need to be back home for taking care of parents. If I were to go to another country, perhaps somewhere in the Middle East where a lot of money can be made in just a few years. I even considered China because there are some well paying jobs, but I consider that place completely off the table now.

You made an interesting choice. Seems you picked lifestyle over money. Taiwan is definitely not the best place for making money, but yeah, lifestyle can be great here. If you stick it out a few more years, an APRC can be had and you can come back whenever you want.

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Idk people say that but again is that true? I would imagine the average English teacher makes 75k to 80k NTD. Take out tax and that’s already roughly 80-90% of average Canadian salary (pre-tax 68k CAD, something around 50k post tax, that’s ). Add in cost of living difference and it’s obviously above Canadian average.

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I know how this feels, but I would say my mindset has completely changed from my first time living here for a couple of reasons.

One is the language barrier. In my opinion, I’ve found by investing time to learn the language there are a lot of really well educated worldly people here with varied interests. Any sort of hobby you can find like minded people if you aren’t limiting yourself to just English. Additionally, if you’re just speaking English many of the people you meet just want to practice with you and conversations are naturally limited. The more I learn the more I believe people are pretty much the same everywhere.

The second probably has to do with not being a teacher. If you’re a teacher then I’d bet you’re running into a wider swath of society through students/parents and thus more of the average Joe/less interesting (to you). Hobbies help. Or if you don’t like teaching doing something you love and meeting people in your line of work.


I don’t have much to add, but:

To me, your list sounds like Taiwan should be more of a vacation destination for you rather than a place to live. Maybe it’s really time to try living somewhere else to get rid of the cons and then try to come back for some extended vacation / WFH-period every year.

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I don’t know when the right time to leave is, but now is definitely not the right time to come.

It’s tough. I don’t want to live here forever. I’m very homesick and burnt out on Taiwan. But my wife has a stable job, I have a decent job, my daughter is settled and happy in her school… etc. If it were just me, I’d be out of here yesterday though.

If things get markedly worse with China or one of my elderly parents takes a bad turn, we will probably leave at least for a while.


What that doesn’t take into account is CPP, a public sector pension and RRSP benefits, the first two of which are indexed to inflation. And that many professionals, after 5 to 10 years, make six figure salaries.

Taiwan was awesome in my 20s–writing speeches for the President and getting HTC stock when I worked in the private sector…but by the time I was in my 30s? Ready for America and Europe.

I have made money on investments (lost some too) but am glad I have state and public sector pensions (and a little inheritance hopefully :laughing:) that will provide comfort in old age. Maybe I am wrong here but don’t Taiwan retirement pensions suck big time in terms of being quite low?

The right time to leave is Yesterday

And if you didn’t then you are in for the ride

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And you think the US social security being less than 2000 a month for most is great ?

you are absolutely right, pensions here suck big time.
minimum employer matching, no choice of investment options, no IRA, high fees in insurance.

What is Taiwan’s state pension amount?

sorry, i meant to reply to the thread and quote you. it wasn’t meant as a reply to you, oops!

I do surprisingly well for Kaohsiung cost of living, way more money than I made living in Canada as a grad student cobbling together contracts

You can still pay into CPP from abroad if you want to (I wonder if the boomers won’t suck it dry). As for six figure salaries after 5 years, depends on what one does and what one can get and what one is happy doing…

I just got here last spring, still confident I made the right decision (hello, COVID; hello Kazakstan). That said, my particular situation here is the best I could find globally in terms of job satisfaction, quality of life, and remuneration. If I could have found something better, I wouldn’t have come here.


If you are a resident!! Doing so ties you to residence so tax implications there.

If you run a business here the tax breaks are fantastic, but even now after 5 years here, I’m wondering whether to just stomach the increased tax I’d need to pay and move back to the UK. Either that or fly back here frequently for short periods, but that gets tricky. I definitely don’t want to grow old here.