I get letters from people who want me to promote Taiwan or, more specifically, their Web sites, to prospective English teachers. I don't really know how to respond other than to say Taiwan really doesn't look like a good proposition. Here are the facts as I know them:
1. Taiwan has one of the lowest birthrates in the world. There aren't enough kids to go around.
2. The market is over-saturated. There's a struggling English cram school on every block.
3. Taiwan has some pretty tough visa policies. An English teacher will be asked to undergo a physical annually in order to obtain a work visa. This work visa is quite restrictive. You'll become more or less an indentured servant to whatever school signs for you. They will hold the work visa over your head, constantly threatening to revoke it if you do not agree to work split shifts (early mornings and evenings, plus Saturdays). To add injury to insult, you'll probably be asked to pay for the work visa and even the physical, which includes a blood test and X-ray, out of your own pocket. If you ever want to break free, and embark on the process of getting permanent residence, you'll undoubtedly find the process maddening. You'll be subjected to all kinds of strange behavior and, basically, the whims of the bureaucrat processing it. You should also keep in mind that the total of Westerners that have ever obtained citizenship is less than a hundred.
4. Taiwan has a new tax law for "foreigners", namely, they must surrender 20 percent of their income (a very high tax bracket for Taiwan) for the first six months of every year. Considering they will only earn somewhere around US$30,000, this would probably be pretty tough to bear. They should keep these points in mind: Locals in the same financial situation will only be asked to fork over six to 13 percent. Also, this seems to be a violation of Taiwan's constitution, which states in Chapter I, General Provisions, Article 5: "There shall be equality among the various racial groups in the Republic of China (Taiwan)."
Today, I received a letter from a recruiter asking me to put my blog (they must be desperate) behind his efforts. In all sincerity, I am the last guy he should ask. First, I haven't worked in the cram school racket for some time, so any positive comments by me on the matter would be disingenuous. Second, I have my visa through my Taiwanese wife, which is sort of like a Taiwan green card. Therefore, I'm more or less exempt from the visa BS anyone else coming from overseas would surely encounter.
Please note that the mandate of this blog is personal amusement, meaning a bit of history, day-to-day anecdotes and whatever else pops into my mind. Recruiters stay away. I am not interested in "sharing the belief that living and working abroad is a unique and amazing opportunity to travel and see the rest of the world." I am not interested in being part of a "recruitment process [that] provides candidates with as much information about living abroad as we can". I am in Taiwan for the long haul. I love being here and I couldn't leave if I felt otherwise. I am not interested in people looking to get their rocks off on stints overseas while they find themselves. In fact, this kind of voyeurism disturbs me.