I remember when I first moved to university, my older friends told me that the first thing you should do is make your room feel like your home. Put up your pictures, add your style to it and make it feel cosy. Leaving home for the first time doesn’t feel quite so daunting when you have a comfortable place to come back to. That same piece of advice works for moving to a different country – finding yourself a home and making it your own means that whatever your day consists of, whatever level of confusing situation you manage to get yourself into, there’s always somewhere comfortable for you to go back to at the end of the day.
Finding a home in Taiwan is all in all a relatively smooth process. The houses are probably a little different from what you’re used to in your home country and as with anything, it takes a couple of rounds of exploration before you finally settle into one that you like. Shane English School does a good job of making sure you find one that you feel comfortable in within a few weeks of arriving. My boss took me to several within a few days of landing, none of which I agreed to because I didn’t know anything about living here and I didn’t want to rush into any decision. I take my hat off to them for being patient with my indecisiveness. In the end, I actually stayed with somebody for a few weeks and continued to search – If you have to live somewhere for at least a year then you might as well take the time to make sure it’s the right one.
Taiwan’s rental properties are pretty cheap compared to the rest of the world, and navigating that at first can be a little tricky. I also spent some time living in Hong Kong so in comparison houses here are seemingly almost free, which is not an attitude that suits house hunting at all. Of course, prices depend on where in Taiwan you find yourself living. If you’re in Taipei then you’re obviously going to pay more than what you would in Taichung. The best way to navigate this is to ask people in your school, your teaching assistants or join some kind of facebook group. In the end, I asked the girl that was leaving how much she was paying and what to expect from Taiwanese properties. Most people are more than happy to help you and as a result, I found a house that was cheap but comfortable and really close to my school. Before that, I had looked at some amazing ones and some that resembled dungeons, with tiny windows and every wall and floor tiled with what you might decorate a public bathroom. It can take time to find the right house.
You’ll quickly find that most Taiwanese people either live with their families until they’re married, and sometimes still after that, or they live in studios with no kitchen. The prospect of not having to cook was at first exciting for me because I truly hate cooking, but I quickly changed my mind and decided to get a small kitchen area where I could at least do some of my own meal preparation. I would highly recommend doing the same to anybody that is newly arriving, even just to the point of having a small space where you can put an electric stove, because there will be some weeks where you simply don’t want to eat another plate of Taiwanese cuisine – sometimes a plate of noodles just won’t cut it.
About the Author
Ella is an English teacher in Taiwan and has been living and teaching in Asia for the last two years. She has loved seeing kids enjoy learning English. In her spare time, Ella has been learning Chinese, climbing mountains and finding hidden waterfalls in Taiwan’s beautiful countryside. You can check out her adventures on her Instagram or read about them on her blog www.byebyeblighty.wordpress.com.