Teaching in Taiwan: A Sweet Deal
By Billie Tyler
Taiwan, the home of iPhone factories, McDonald’s happy meal toys and iced bubble tea, right? Or is it secretly the home of free universities, $100-200 tax-free daily wages, westernized apartments, visa-free hassle and a massive expat community? Well, since I’ve been living here, I have found it to be the latter. I will now explain the things I know about life in Taiwan as a foreigner.
I’m not a teacher, I never trained to be a teacher, I’ve never actually thought about being one but if you speak English fluently in Taiwan your classified as a teacher!
All you need is a bachelor’s degree in any subject and a TEFL certificate (I’ve never been asked to show mine but some schools do ask).
Native English speakers will get jobs handed to them by any school they approach, non-native speakers still manage to bag a job but have to try a little harder.
Overall, this is a country that’s crying out for English teachers and think very carefully before turning someone away.
Expats don’t usually teach in schools, we teach in Buxibans or otherwise known as Cram Schools. These are classes all students attend after school making their schooling day over 12 hours long! The perks of teaching in these Cram Schools are the evening hours and amazing salary.
The minimum hourly wage is 600 NTD ($18 USD) I earn 700 NTD an hour which is roughly $22 USD, the wage solely depends on the school but you’ll never earn less than $18.
Over time parents normally approach you asking if you’re available to privately tutor their child and that’s where the real money is at. Private tutors can charge anywhere from 800 – 1200 NTD ($25 – 37) per hour. To put it all in perspective, I work exactly 100 hours a month and pull in $1800 USD–big money for very little work!
Taiwan has by far the easiest visa requirements in Asia. American and UK citizens are given 90 days upon arrival, and that visa can be extended another 90 days inside the country completely free of charge. That gives you up to 180 days to find a job and sign a one-year contract. Once you’ve found a job your school contacts the government and organizes for your visa to be changed to an ARC (Alien Residence Card).
This is a visa that enables you to work in Taiwan legally, apply to open your own business (you’ll need an ARC if approved), open a bank account, apply for health insurance and become a full-time resident!
No more visa runs, no more immigration problems, home sweet home. Your ARC will be renewed every year, the only requirement is to prove you are still in employment.
Yes, it’s really that simple!
Accommodations easily found thanks to the internet! Just like in the west there are hundreds of websites advertising apartments for rent and houses for sale, I found my apartment online. Try this one.
I live in a modern apartment right in the heart of Tainan City. Tainan is famous for being the cheapest city to live in Taiwan and I can see why! My place is fully equipped with a balcony, kitchen, power shower, walk-in wardrobe, spotlights, WiFi, plasma TV, double bed, sitting area and air conditioning all for a small fee of $250 USD a month.
Crazy right? As for family homes, I have friends that are paying $550 a month for a four-bedroom three-story house. These are Tainan prices may I remind you, Taipei and Kaohsiung’s living cost will be slightly higher due to their ever-growing popularity and tourism.
There are tens of thousands of expats in Taiwan. The majority being Americans, followed by Canadians then followed by Brits, Europeans, South Africans, and South Americans.
We have international University students arriving every day, teenagers saving up for their next big adventure, young couples wanting to settle down in an easier environment, middle-age couples working to pay off debts at home, older men wanting an affordable retirement, you name it, it’s here!
Taiwan has something for everyone, big salaries, small outgoings, beaches, nightlife, social events, and great food.
Everyone in Taiwan owns a scooter, that’s a no brainer! You can pick up legal bikes for $100 or paperless bikes for $70. Petrol is cheap, cities are very easy to get around so busses and taxis are really a last resort.
The famous bullet train is the comfiest train I’ve ever been on, with reclining chairs, plenty of legroom and clean modern bathrooms. To get from Taipei (North) to Kaohsiung (South) would take under three hours and costs only $15.
Teaching in Taiwan allows you to live a life that you could never afford at home. You have everything right here at your fingertips, the hardest part is booking the flight.
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Billie Tyler is a 22-year-old traveler from Somerset, UK. She has been traveling for the last four years, managing to explore 38 countries. During her time abroad she started blogging her experiences and personal encounters. She is currently based in Taiwan working as an English teacher until her next big adventure.