A couple says moving 15 times between Taiwan and Canada was challenging on their finances but made their relationship stronger.

A Gen X couple moved 15 times in 25 years, bouncing across Canada and Taiwan. They said Taiwan was much more affordable than Canada, but that they missed their families. The costs of moving took a toll on their finances, but they said it helped them grow as a couple.

Becky Martin and her husband, Craig Schmidt, recently set a record as a couple: They’ve lived in the same place for nearly five years.

In the roughly 25 years they’ve been together, they’ve moved 15 different times across Canada and Taiwan, Martin, 45, told Business Insider via email. It’s had a mixed impact on their finances and well-being.

Early on, moving was great for the couple from a financial perspective. In the early 2000s, when they were based in Burlington, Ontario, Martin said they were “drowning” in student loan debt, working intense hours, and struggling to save any money. But then they were presented with an idea.

An old college roommate of Martin’s had moved to Taiwan and recommended she do the same to take advantage of the country’s lower cost-of-living. They took the leap and paid off roughly $30,000 ($40,000 in Canadian dollars) in combined debt in just one year, Martin said.

However, the couple decided to return to Canada after two years. Several moves and over two decades later, Martin said relocating so often took a significant toll on their finances.

“The financial impact is continually burning through the money you’ve saved to start again,” she said. “It’s a vicious cycle. The loss you sustain selling all your possessions for a fraction of the cost, the cost of flights, moving fees, VISAs, first and last month’s rent, buying a new vehicle, and furnishings. The result is you never really get ahead.”

In recent years, the flexibility of remote work and high housing costs have motivated many Americans to move to areas with lower costs of living. But Business Insider has spoken with several individuals who, for a variety of reasons, came to regret their moves.

Many others have looked at the financial and emotional costs of moving and decided they’re not worth it. In 2022, 8.7% of Americans lived in a different residence than they did a year ago, only up slightly from the record low rate of 8.4% in 2021. There are many explanations for this trend, but in recent years, some people have been hesitant to give up their low mortgage rates, childcare support, and current employment. The cost of moving can be a deterrent as well.

Martin and Schmidt shared why they moved so often, how they balanced finances with other priorities, and whether they regretted relocating as much as they did. Business Insider viewed several documents to verify their moves.

Moving to Taiwan was great for their finances — but came with downsides

Moving to Taiwan helped the couple pay off debt, but being far from Canada came with some challenges.

Martin is a child and youth worker, while Schmidt is a graphic designer. When they lived in Taiwan, they both worked as English teachers. In 2004, after two years in Taiwan, during which they moved three times, the couple decided to return to Canada, in part so they could return to their careers and families.

The couple bounced around to several different residences over the next few years but set out to live a “traditional married life” in which they excelled at their jobs, found a home, had kids, and lived “happily ever after,” Martin said.

But they found this dream difficult to accomplish, in part because their finances began to strain again, and debt started piling up.

So in 2009, the couple decided to move back to Taiwan. Martin said they paid off about $33,000 in debt ($45,000 in Canadian dollars) in a year-and-a-half and lived in an apartment with a beautiful view for less than $1,000 a month.

“We knew the job, the culture, the weather, expectations, and how much money we could make and save,” she said.

This time, they stayed in Taiwan for over seven years, moving twice during this span. But they eventually found themselves missing family and friends.

“Being over 12,000 kilometers away from people meant that you couldn’t share your life with those important to you,” Martin said. “With aging parents and some deaths in the family, we decided to move back to Canada for good.”

She said the “hidden costs of moving,” which included having to say goodbye to meaningful relationships, had become apparent to them.

“Every time we left, our foundation would crumble,” she said. “We had to start making a solid foundation if we wanted a solid life.”

The best places to live in Asia from a financial perspective

Martin said it took them some time to transition back to Canada and figure out where they wanted to settle down.

They initially moved back to Stratford, Ontario before moving to Kitchener, where they’ve resided for about the last five years. Martin said Kitchener is close enough to Toronto to enjoy the city but far enough away to avoid the high costs and congestion.

From a financial perspective, Martin said she doesn’t think there’s a “good place” to live in Canada — you just have to find a way to make it work.

“Canada is expensive and the only cheaper places are far north,” she said. “The further north you go, the cheaper it gets, but it’s far away from most people, job opportunities, and nicer weather.”

Based on Martin’s personal research and experience, she said Taiwan is one of the few places in Asia that checks two boxes: low cost of living and relatively high pay.

“Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and big cities in China are all very expensive places to live — you make more but pay more,” she said. “If you decide on places like the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and India, are all exciting and beautiful places, but pay little. The cost of living is low, but so is your salary.”

Martin said the language barrier was one of the main downsides of living in Taiwan. She said Mandarin, a common language in Taiwan, is a very difficult language to learn.

Despite the stress and financial challenges that came with moving so often, Martin said she has “no regrets.”

“I’ve learned so much about myself by starting over again and again,” she said. “My relationship with Craig has only gotten stronger and we have a million stories and experiences to talk about and revisit.”

Schmidt agreed.

“It strengthened our marriage and gave us opportunities to reinvent ourselves,” he said. “Each time we moved, it was for a good reason.”

Have you recently moved and are willing to share your story? Reach out to this reporter at jzinkula@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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