An often discussed topic about moving to Taiwan is when is the best time to move here. There are a couple of different viewpoints, but I will try to break it down logically.
A lot of this comes from speculation and leveraging the system here to your advantage, so while statistically this may be your biggest chance at setting up shop in Taiwan successfully on the first go, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it.
When are there the most English teaching jobs available?
Making the assumption that you are planning to teach English in Taiwan, and that you don’t yet have a job lined up, it makes the most sense to plan for the time which would give you the most opportunity for quickly finding work, and thus quickly finding a residence visa.
If you are not a certified teacher, you will most likely end up working a buxiban. If you are a certified teacher, you have the option to work in the public school system. Both routes follow very similar hiring patterns. The buxiban system closely follows the public school system, and it does so because they are essentially linked.
Both of them start new classes in the fall, usually starting in late August or early September. This is what you are looking for. Buxibans will know how many teachers they need by late June and early July, and that is when you will see a plethora of job postings.
In the past you would often see a huge surge of openings right after Chinese New Year as well. I can not state for certain why this has changed, and I have no statistical evidence to support my claim, but by sheer observation (and I watched closely as I was not too thrilled with my last job) the job opportunities for this time period are not as ample as they once were.
I have even seen hiring come to a complete standstill right before Chinese New Year, and I assume it’s because teachers already employed want their bonuses, and schools looking for teachers don’t want to deal with the hiring and training process around the biggest holiday of the year.
When is the best time to arrive to get the best tax rate?
You will often hear suggestions about when to move to Taiwan based on a tax angle. Basically, if you are living and working in Taiwan for less than 183 days of a given year, you get hit pretty hard by the taxman (a whopping 18%). If you are in the other category, and have 183+ days logged, you get taxed like a local, which is much lower, and starts at 6%. (The tax situation can get a little confusing, but if you want to dive into is in a little more detail, check out the National Tax Bureau of Taipei).
So, many people suggest that if you want to work in Taiwan, that you make sure to get here well before the 183 day cut-off. The only problem with this strategy is that there may not be many jobs available at that time. Arriving in April will get you here before the 183 day cut-off, but it may also lead you to leaving the country on a visa run because you could not find a job. Finding a job quickly and paying higher taxes for a few months is much better than not finding a job and not paying any taxes because you have no income.
If you are concerned about losing money to a higher tax rate by arriving in the second half of the year, you can always increase your chances of finding employment by applying to some of the larger chain school like Hess. While the bulk of their hiring takes place in late summer, early fall, they do have hiring periods throughout the entire calendar year. You may limit other options by doing this, such as where you will live, but if maximizing your earning potential is your priority, then it’s not a bad way to go.
So, after all of that, what is the best time of year to come teach English in Taiwan? There is no easy answer to that.
The first time I came to Taiwan was in August, and while the initial tax rate was annoying, having a job and visa lined up was worth the loss. If you have some connections or job leads through friends or family before you arrive, then getting here in the first half of the year will save you a lot of money. If you don’t have that luxury, come when there are jobs.
If you are reading this and already in Taiwan, at what time of year did you first arrive?