Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Expatriot in Taiwan

I've been living in Taiwan for almost twenty years. It has been a wonderful experience. I am very impressed with Taiwan as a whole and I find the people here to be hardworking, frugal, and generally honest and friendly. The crime rate here is low. And I have never felt nervous or fearful of becoming a victim of crime in all the time I've lived here.

Taiwan offers a stable and secure environment with excellent education, health care, and public transportation systems. Everyone who lives in Taiwan, foreigner or not, has access to affordable health care which has been a significant influence on my decision to live here in Taiwan.

Taiwan has huge foreign currency reserves and relatively low income tax rates. Taiwan has been engaged in a massive infrastructure and urban beautification program for many years. Kaohsiung has recently completed the first phase of subway construction that has improved traffic conditions on the streets considerably. Taipei has one of the tallest buildings in the world. And a high speed train now connects the north and the south of Taiwan. The 450 km trip from Kaohsiung to Taipei takes about 40 minutes, much faster than the 4.5 hour trip by car.

I am currently living in a 3 bedroom condo with my wife and adopted daughter which I rent at a very nominal fee, a tiny fraction of my income from teaching. I only work part time and my wife does not work. We live simply and frugally and we have managed to save 50% and often more of our income. I've made some good investments and I will be able to retire in a few years without concern for our future welfare during retirement.

I can get by without owning a car because public transportation is cheap, easy and convenient. And I usually get around on my bicycle. We own a motor scooter that my wife rides when she goes shopping further from home. But if needed we could get by even without the motor scooter.

I live just 5 minutes from work. And there are local shops and an open produce market nearby making shopping easy.

Chinese is not easy for Westerners to learn but with effort anyone can learn enough to get along without too much trouble. Students in Taiwan now begin to study English in early elementary school so generally everyone can greet you with an English "Hello."

If you have never ventured overseas, I would like to suggest you visit my second homeland of Taiwan.

I will continue to write posts about life and opportunities for ex patriots here in Taiwan and other parts of Asia.

My younger brother is now working in Islamabad at the American school there. He earns much more than I do but the potential risks I think outweigh the rewards. He has always been a bigger risk taker than I am.

I hope to get him to make contributions to this blog because he has lots of interesting stories to tell about his own ex patriot experiences living in Japan, Poland, Pakistan, and Taiwan.