Your problem: You’ve fallen in love with a beautiful Filipina and you have or will soon get married, but it’s going to take a very long time to get her to your country. You could easily live in the Philippines, but could you really live in the Philippines? How would you make a living? Would you be happy there? What’s your other choice if you want to be with your beloved? Take a look at Taiwan as an alternative. It’s actually much easier for a foreigner to bring a spouse to Taiwan than to bring her to most Western countries.
Let’s look at a quick comparison of the two nations.
Living in Taiwan:
- Much lower crime rate than the Philippines
- World-class health care service
- More convenient access to shopping, but fewer Western goods
- The possibility to work
- Excellent transportation system
Living in the Philippines:
- Much, much higher percentage of the population speaks English
- People are more aware of and accepting of Western culture
- Shopping is slightly less convenient, but there it’s easier to find Western food
- Somewhat better accommodations (small apartments in Taiwan often aren’t great for cooking in)
In both nations, the people are extremely friendly and the accommodations are nice at the higher end. It’s also easy to get a visa to both nations, though it’s easier to live in the Philippines if you don’t plan to work.
Taiwan is very close to the Philippines and there are regular flights back and forth. Even if you’re not yet married, you could pop over on a long weekend, and if you bring your wife over she can easily fly home to visit her family. Taiwan also has a small but vibrant Filipino community. One area, nicknamed “Little Manila”, has a couple of Filipino grocery stores and several restaurants. On Sundays, the area is busting with overseas Filipino workers on their day off. There are several small shops, kiosks, and street sellers selling goods imported from the Philippines. There are also many white-collar Filipino workers and a growing number of Taiwanese men are marrying Filipinas. Having a vibrant community will help your wife feel more at home, and you can enjoy all the excellent Filipino food.
In Taipei, most countries have a representative office which performs the same functions an embassy would. I know that at the US office, I can apply for a visa for my wife, but check to be sure that’s also the case for your country’s office as well.
Almost anyone with at least a bachelors or equivalent and a passport from the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand can work in Taiwan. The most common job going is teaching English in private schools, but if you have demonstrable writing experience you can work for a publishing company or newspaper. If that isn’t possible or appealing to you, it’s also possible to get a job in certain other industries if you are highly qualified. I’ve known many Europeans who work here as engineers or as managers in corporations. If you are teaching, you only need to work a minimum of 12 hours a week to get residency status. If you don’t have many expenses and some savings, you could about scrape by on that, but most teachers try for 20-30 hours to have a decent standard of living.
Teaching is by far the easiest job to get because there are so many openings and a high turnover. You can show up in the country, no visa required, and in a month have a job, a place to live, and legal residence. Once you’ve got all that, you’re ready to apply to bring over your wife. Of course, for your Filipina wife to apply for a visa to Taiwan there are more steps, and I’ll write about that soon.
If you’re not yet married, it’s possible your wife could come to Taiwan as a student, but that’s a long shot. There are strict requirements to get a student visa, and she may still not be accepted even if she meets them. There are many illegal workers in Taiwan, and the government makes it hard on visitors from the Philippines. On the other hand, the government does give out scholarships for studying in Taiwan, so it might be worth a try. That’s only a temporary solution in any case. Students are limited in the number of times they can extend their visas without applying to a university, and that is expensive.
I’ve lived in Taiwan for about 11 years, and in many ways I prefer it to the US. It’s always best if you can live your own country or your wife’s, but if you want to be together while you are applying for your wife’s visa, Taiwan may be the best choice for both of you.
For jobs, apartments, and general info:
There are also numerous Facebook groups where teaching jobs and apartment vacancies are posted.