One of the most common questions that I have been asked while living in Taiwan, by both foreigners and locals is, “Why did you choose Taiwan?” I know it sounds a bit cliché, but I really believe that it was more of Taiwan choosing me, than me choosing Taiwan. For me, moving to Taiwan was definitely following the path of least resistance.
Like many of my fellow Americans, I accrued a fair amount of student loan debt. Once I had decided I wanted to try out living abroad, and that I didn’t want to go broke while doing so, my search narrowed quickly. At that time I was left with only a few choices, of which only three made my shortlist: Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
There weren’t any giant red flags with Japan or South Korea, but they were more complicated choices. There are very few ways to secure employment in Japan before you leave the safety of your own country, and once there, it’s very difficult to find a school or company willing to sponsor you for a work visa. The thing that worried me about South Korea was how easily an employer could manipulate, or just plain neglect, your salary. This isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot of great things about living and working in either of those countries, but as a beginner to living overseas, they weren’t for me.
In regards to moving to, and working in Taiwan, I was able to secure employment with a large chain school before leaving America. It is also fairly difficult for an employer here to pull any shenanigans with your salary. And one really seductive perk was that if someone finds living and working in Taiwan enjoyable, it’s possible to gain permanent residency after five years.
And now we come back to the original question. Why did I choose Taiwan? Taiwan offered me a reasonable amount of safety in securing employment before I left my home. I knew I could make enough money to live comfortably and manage my debt. I liked the option of being able to extend the lifestyle change indefinitely if I found the initial experimental year satisfying.
So, in retrospect, for me Taiwan wasn’t one option of many. If I wanted to change my life and challenge myself by moving overseas, Taiwan was the only legitimate option. I didn’t choose Taiwan. Taiwan chose me. You can also read Nick’s story about why he decided to come to Taiwan.