Monday, April 18, 2005

Money

It's not hard for a waiguoren to get good-paying work in Taiwan. But it's also easy to spend a lot of money if you don't pay close attention. So you end up working more to spend more and in turn working more.

Why should it be this way? Taiwan is actually quite an affordable country if you live like the locals do. For proof, the average person's salary here is maybe half of mine -- not even taking into account the extra money I make from freelancing and teaching part-time -- and folks get by just fine on that amount of money. So how do foreigners manage to blow all their extra cash? Well...
  • Western restaurants and Western-style bars are not cheap. Nor are they very good. But when you're feeling lazy or in need of comfort, they're there.
  • Taxi drivers, who are little better than drug pushers, patrol the streets in highly conspicuous vehicles whose entire purpose is to entice you away from your true moral path. Your true moral path, of course, is public transportation.
  • (Taiwanese) girlfriends can be expensive (for foreign guys). It isn't their fault -- but they earn less money, and you can't ask them to pay an equal share every time you eat out or see a movie.
  • Finally -- and this is just my own problem, I imagine -- 100 NT seems to be worth the same as one US dollar. In fact it's worth three US dollars -- but in my mind, it's still just a buck sometimes.
All that said, I've made great financial progress during my time in Taiwan. But I'd spend less time chasing money if it weren't for the obstacles listed above.

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