Budget for a small family in Taipei

We are a family with 2 kids (3yo and 1yo), currently living in Scandinavia.

I want that my kids to learn Chinese to improve their chances in the future and I have come to the conclusion that the only way in by immersing them in the culture.

I have passed the interview process for a big American internet company and soon I will be negotiating a salary for their Taipei office.

I have been looking at prices for schools, apartment, etc and they do not match the salary ranges I have seen online.

What would be the kind of money that we will need per month to have a decent apartment in Taipei, bring the kids to a good private school, pay a tutor to help them with their Chinese, food, general expenses…?

Are you in general satisfied with your life in Taiwan and kids?

A lot. 100 KNT$/month

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It would depend on where in Taipei you want to live. In places in the more central areas of the city and within a ten minute walk to the MRT, you’re looking at NT40,000/mo min for a two bedroom apartment. Add private kindy to that (15,000+/month x2) and childcare (assume a nanny is going to be NT500/hr). I wouldn’t pay more than NT600/hr for a Chinese tutor just cuz most Taiwanese are unwilling to pay that much for a native speaking English tutor, but know that if your kids are in a local school, they might be left in the corner if they speak no Chinese. (I know of a number of expat families that moved to Taiwan and assumed their preschool aged kids would just “pick up” Chinese, but the teachers made no effort at all to include their child in the classes. TBH, if you’re paying for a decent private kindy, you shouldn’t worry about Chinese tutoring on the side, just make sure you find a school that knows how to include children who don’t speak Chinese. They’re not old enough for homework and still in the illusive “critical period” for language acquisition, so they shouldn’t struggle as long as they’re included in class activities.

The problem is the International Schools’ price. They are insanely expensive relative to wages in Taiwan. Most are over $20,000 US per year. If you are getting a “Western” wage you may be ok, but anywhere under 100,000 NT, and it is not possible with International tuitions involved - and maybe even not then.

Although this will not be an issue with your kids at this point due to their ages, if you don’t want them in local schools, it is a considerable expense.

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Not even going to touch it! At least double that after tax.

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I don’t think it would be worth it for OP to send the kids to an international school if the intent is to get them speaking Chinese. A lot of international schools are run pretty strictly in English / languages other than Chinese. But private kindy is crazy expensive. I know a lot of parents who stopped working for a few years because their job didn’t even pay enough to cover kindy costs.

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If TES or TAS are going to be considered then the OP should try to negotiate school fees with their prospective employer. It’s standard in expat packages.

I agree, though. Chinese isn’t going to happen in either of those places especially if it isn’t being spoken at home. Chinese only kindy would work, just avoid bilingual kindies.

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If the children are that young, don’t worry about bilingual schools. Send them straight to the closest school to you and they’ll pick up Mandarin like a fish to water within months, if not weeks.

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education and rent will be your highest expenses.
private kindergarten in Taipei can be close to 30K a month per kid. most kindergartens will not take a child under 3 years of age.
from my kids’ experience, going to an all Chinese kindy was not a big problem, they picked up the language quite fast.
rent - 30K-50K, depending on where you want to live and if this is a new building / includes parking / etc.

food for a family of 4 is around 25K a month

This. Throw them in a local school. Little blond kids speaking Chinese are the cutest.

FWIW, I can give you my perspective living in Taichung. (Taipei will be more expensive)

I am American of Scandinavian descent married to a Japanese wife living in Taiwan with two kids, 3.5 and 10 months. (so we are not native Chinese speakers). Also working for a corporation here…

We moved when my son was 1…and he’s been in a local Montessori daycare for 2.5 years. Loves it and speaks fluent Mandarin now. My daughter also goes and I’m sure will be speaking fluently as the months go by. Like others mentioned, sending them to an international school will most likely not gain them the language skills. A good, Montessori based school with Chinese as the first language will help immerse them.

Currently I pay 9500 NTD per month for the 3.5 yr old…and 14,500 NTD per month for the 10 month old. Bi-annual fees of 18,000 NTD for each child.

Rent in Taichung is most likely cheaper. Our first apartment was 40,000 NTD and our current place is 75,000 NTD per month. Higher than the average for sure, but I’m sure a nice place in Taipei will be 100,000 NTD or higher per month.

Altogether, life here is good. But please do as much research as you can before deciding and negotiate to your advantage. Good luck!

Do y’all have toilets made out of gold?

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Wow, I just don’t get paying that kind of money for rent in Taiwan (anything above 50K NT). I never have, and I lived in Taipei and surrounding areas for almost 10 years. But if you want a super modern place in the center of the city, I guess anything is possible.

Exactly.

Is Taipei so Expensive that even 50k is reasonable? In Kaohsiung I can easily find nice big places for <20k, and the place I’m in now (2bedroom with an actual kitchen) is only 8500.

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I have two small kids.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of how we spend our money in a typical month:

Note that we’re extremely frugal. We could easily spend twice this amount if we weren’t careful!

Now, we’ve been in Taiwan for two years… so things have calmed down quite a bit as far as our budget goes. The first few months, our expenses were through the roof:

Now, your lifestyle is different from ours. You might not be as frugal… or you might be even more saving. I wrote a detailed post trying to compare our lifestyles in the States vs. here in Taiwan to try to help others get an estimate of whether their expenses in Taiwan will go up or down:


In the above link, I break everything down… cost of electricity, phone service, rent for different districts, and taxes. I even went to several grocery stores and compared prices on common food items.

Because we’re very frugal, we learned how to adapt our lifestyle so that our expenses in Taiwan equal our expenses in the States. But if you expect to maintain your USA lifestyle (for example, eating a lot of meat and dairy products), expect your expenses in Taiwan to be much higher.

We spend $50k/month… but I don’t know any other family who manages to be this frugal (take a look at my breakdowns above and determine whether you’re willing to penny-pinch like we do and perhaps double this amount).

My budget does not include private tuition… so add another $100k-$200k for private school and the tutor.

Our biggest expense is rent. We spend $20k/month… which many people would consider insanely cheap for a family of four. We live in Xindian, which some consider to be in the middle of nowhere… and we’re a 10 minute walk from the nearest bus stop. Taiwanese people are very lazy walkers… so if you want cheap rent, don’t live anywhere close to an MRT station and make sure your apartment is a short hike from the nearest bus stop.

But if you’re not as obsessed with saving money like I am, expect your expenses to be much higher than my budget. “Normal” people (non-penny-pinchers) in your situation probably should look to spend around NT$200k - NT$300k total per month if you’re not super frugal. BUT if you’re looking to save money, it is possible to get your expenses down. (It’s not easy! But it’s possible.)

Hope this helps!

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2 private schools tuition + private tutoring 100k is barely survivable

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9500 NTD/month for Montessori?? That seems very…affordable. One of the Montessori camps I saw in Taipei was 32,000 for the month.

I will agree that Montessori or Waldorf (or probably anything that isn’t traditional, kill the children’s spirit education) is going to be better for second language acquisition. More focus on the child’s interest and development, less focus on passing tests (yes, in kindergarten). But make sure you’re sending them to a real Montessori (or Waldorf) school. There’s no licensing for those names, and schools across the globe will slap the name on with zero understanding of what that kind of education entails.

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Yeah definitely…we were paying 50,000 NTD in LA (and that was considered cheap) for one that was not as buttoned up…

Very satisfied with the teaching methods and progress at the Taichung school…

Ya’ll being taken for a ride, Sweden. Some middle-man is making his entire income skimming your rent.