Why is it so hard to leave Taiwan?

Every year I plan to leave Taiwan, and every year it doesn’t happen. It almost seems like comfort is ruining my life. I have looked at airplane tickets every day for the past month now and watched them slowly increase in price, always too scared to pull the trigger and book the dammed thing.

It’s always the same story — just another year; just one more contract; now is not the right time. I’ve been singing this tune for almost eight years now FFS!

My life here is so comfortable and I have (what I consider to be) an amazing lifestyle). I own my own home with a manageable mortgage, I travel regularly, I have finished paying off my car, I enjoy good food, life is cheap;easy; and convenient. The weather is amazing. My family back home in the UK are always envious when they come to visit me. Why would I want to give all this up?

But career-wise I’m going nowhere. I go through short-term stages of feast and famine with different schools that start classes for me when they have recruited enough students. There is no progression or development in any of my jobs and I want so much more out of life.

Comfort is ruining my life!! I am so scared of giving all this up to head into the unknown. What if I can’t find a job? What if I have to live in a shitty one-bed flat and pay through the nose for the privilege? What if my wife and kid can’t adapt? What about all the violence and safety issues in the UK? No, no, no, no, no! Surely it’s much better just to stay here where everything is just okay (not perfect, not terrible, just okay.) and get on with life. Work isn’t everything, is it?

Does anyone else feel like this? How did the posters on here who have actually managed to pluck up the courage to leave do it? Why do I feel like I can’t leave?


I’m with you on the mental torture. I went back for a short time to try it and loved it. It was a nightmare for my wife. Quality of life versus environment was the deal breaker for both of us.

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If you are going to stay here as an English teacher then you need to start upgrading yourself. Just working from buxiban to buxiban won’t turn out well.

As for leaving, I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t want to return to the UK now simply because of the high rents there.

i think before you leave everything behind in taiwan and heading into the unknown, you should have at least those few questions cleared. at least, get a job contract and a place for the first few months. i’m sure it’ll be easier to leave then.

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I think that says more about the UK than it says about Taiwan tbh.

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so what does england win on for you? sounds like career only from your post. if thats the case why don;t you try to do something else here?

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I left Taiwan to return to the UK after four years away for similar reasons to yours, except I was working in IT and felt like my career and salary would progress beyond a certain point if I stayed out there. Immediately after returning to the UK, I planned and schemed ways to return to Taiwan, but over time I became more complacent and now I’ve just signed a contract to start a new job in London. My situation is almost like the reverse of yours. Because I have a reasonably good salary here (something I once thought would be impossible for me to achieve in a city as notoriously expensive as this), London is to me comfortable and familiar, while returning to Taiwan would represent “the great unknown”, where I would struggle to re-adjust to the low salary and horrible work culture. But I’m still telling myself I’ll return after “just one more year” of saving money. I miss Taiwan so much, far more than I ever missed the UK while I was away…

If the only reason you want to leave is because you’re concerned that your career will stagnate, have you considered ways of improving yourself as a teacher in Taiwan? For starters, you could get out of the buxiban world. I found that there are quite a few university teaching positions going in Taiwan, but what many English teachers don’t realise is that you have to go to the university page directly to see the vacancies (which are often advertised in Chinese, even if Chinese isn’t required for the role). You could also consider going back to the UK to get a PGCE, then go back to Taiwan and teach at an international school and make crazy money. That’s what my brother is doing. I envy him a lot. And if it comes to it, I may just get a PGCE and go to Taiwan to teach IT or computing.


I’ve got my own school in NTC. If you have 8 years experience teaching I could certainly use your help running the school. It can be tough to find a good work/life balance in the teaching field here but I imagine going back to the UK would present it’s own hurdles. It’s my understanding that TESOL isn’t a terribly marketable skill in England.

What kind of career would you take If you go back to the UK, and are you sure you can’t get it in Taiwan?

Comfort? Hah! Wait until you’re married with a child in daycare, with a wife who also has a tenured teaching position, and stuck living in an apartment that has a long term mortgage to pay off. Then you’ll know what it means to be “hard to leave.”

How much crazy money we talking about here?

I left once. Stayed away 2.5 years. Got so bored I had to come back. Going home was a real hero to zero experience.


Perhaps it’s not taiwan that is the issue, but you ? Stop working in cram schools and look for a better position. Or perhaps do some online courses and acquire some more skills. Or perhaps try to find some freelance work on the side? For example write seo content.

When you try new stuff some will work, some won’t. When you find something that works run with it

All places have opportunities, including Taiwan, if you look for them


Big fish in a little pond becomes plankton in an ocean.


Except home is New Zealand, so the scale is wrong. Plankton in a lake? Wait, do lakes have plankton? Salt water lake?


Ah beautiful NZ… been there twice, both islands. I prefer the South Island to the North Island, but I’m sure living there is quite different from visiting.

I think to raise a family in it’d be OK. Also if you were working in adventure tourism it’d be a blast. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all sorts of awesome. But after dark it’s dead.

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“I enjoy good food, life is cheap;easy; and convenient. The weather is amazing.”

I have to ask. Where do you life?
Only cheap thing I can find here is quality … and weather??

I love Wanaka and Queenstown in the South, but I guess if you lived there the bungee and other xtreme sports would get old really fast.

Incidentally I visited Christchurch twice. Once before the quake and once after. Was very sad to see the aftermath of that, but they were doing some interesting stuff with the reconstruction.