Cost of living scenario

I’m having a hard time finding real numbers for monthly living costs, ie. rent, electricity, gas, phone, DSL, cable, transportation, groceries, etc. Let me give y’all a scenario, and see if you can help me coming up with some workable figures.
My wife and I (and two early teen daughters) have been thinking of moving to Taiwan, probably not to Taipei. I lived in Taiwan twice in the mid-and late-1980s and my spoken Mandarin is pretty good. I’m a certified/experienced teacher in the USA in ESL. I expect to be able to secure a full-time position at a private or public school at NT$60,000+/month. Location is flexible, ie. rural, urban, city, town, etc. 3 bedrooms is probably essential.
Thanks in advance.
ps. If you’re single and never had kids, your advice on child rearing is not essential. No offense.

The big question (and expense) is education for your teen daughters.
Outside of Taipei you can get a 3-bedroom apartment for 10,000 (15,000 at most).
Utilities are pretty cheap: think 1,500 for electricity, 200 for gas, 600 for cable TV, 800 for internet, 18,000 for groceries (provided you don’t eat too much western food).
You’ll probably want a couple of scooters; about 15,000 for reasonable second-hand ones. If not, public transport is cheap.

almas john, that’s exactly the kind of information I’m looking for. Where do you live?
I know school is important. Private=expensive. Public=difficult & perhaps lower quality. Homeschooling is a possibility for us as well. Here at home in the USA we have several friends who homeschool, and we’ve explored that possibility. But I would definitely want my kids to learn Chinese. Kind of a waste living there and not taking full advantage of learning the culture. Any others have useful insights?

I live with 2 Taiwanese in a huge apartment (actually 2 apartments with a connecting hallway added - 6 bedrooms in total) in Changhua city, which is 15 mins south of Taichung. We pay NT$14000 (all 3 of us, not each) a month which covers everything - rent, water, elec, TV, internet, security guards/garbage service. My share of that comes to NT$5000, which gets me a big bedroom, and another big room as an office. Plus all the common spaces.

More common for families in Hsinchu lately.

Some figures for Hsinchu:

Rent for 4 floor house: 18.5K
Parking: 3k
Electricity: 2.5 - 5k
Phone/internet: 2k
Mobile phone (2): 3k +
Groceries: 9k +++
Gas: minimal
Water: minimal
Maid: 8k
Nanny: 30k

Cooking at home can be far more expensive than eating out but is necessary for a decent diet.

Here is another thread regarding cost of housing that may provide further useful info: [url= you rent/own, where and how much?![/url]

I know this isn’t exactly what you asked for:

In my opinion, moving your entire family down here without any work established may not be the wisest of moves. Also, many here will disagree with me because of egos, but your degree does not matter here as much (if at all) as it does in your home country. I work for a high school and my degree is in physics. Some teachers I work with (both Taiwanese and foreigner) do not even have a degree past a high school diploma. I say this because the competition for jobs has increased dramatically in the last five years and the “teachers” here come from a wider range of stock. The only thing that is similar to the 80’s around here is the hair-dos.

Also, have you considered the dangers and changes for your family? The traffic dynamics that cannot be explained with words alone would deter me from moving my family here.

As to answer your question, I live in Taichung and you can get a 3 bedroom apt for NT10k easily if you shop around and bend your living expectations a bit. Being a glowy foreigner, you might be charged more. Be wise to have a Taiwanese friend help you hunt around or look online for a place.

I spend around NT4-6k every month in utilities (summers the killer for AC). I have phone, cable, DSL, blah blah. Also have a dog and cat that adds to that.

Out of curiosity, how do you plan on handling long-term Visa issues with the kids? I assume you and the wife are both going to teach english full time to get ARC’s, correct? Or is there some kind of dependency status allowance I don’t know about?

With a proper teaching qualification you’ll be able to get a legal teaching job in a high school, with ARC and healthcare and no need to work with/for/through any kind of agent. NT$60,000 per month would be a low-end figure in that case. 70 is fair, 80 or even 90 are perfectly feasible.

High school here is pure hell for kids, and if you want yours to grow up with their health, sanity, and personalities intact then you won’t want to put them through it.

I do not have “proper teaching qualification” by many forumosians definition and I am working 100% legal as far as not breaking any of the countries laws. The point I was making is that you will have people like me as competitors for high paying “legal” jobs here. Hence, putting heavy weight on your qualifications might come to a disappointing conclusion.

I do agree with The Raven on one point though. High School here would not be a good thing for your teenagers.

I know a couple families here who brought their children with them and I believe they are adjusting fine to high school.

But, I certainly wouldn’t dream of coming here on a household salary of 60k a month. American teens can’t live on stinky tofu alone and that Fridays crap hole costs a fortune. The figures you read here and elsewhere should be grossly padded. The families I know here with children in their teens are making a minimum of 160k a month and they watch every penny.

I’d agree with that. 60k would be the absolute bare minimum, but only if your wife is also making that much. Even then, with four of you sharing 120k per month you’d really be living from hand to mouth, and that’s before you even begin to think about school fees and suchlike.
60k when you’re young and single is very do-able. With a young family, it’s penury.

here are the 2 american schools’ websites:

and here is the cost of tuition for one of them (please take a deep breath before opening this link):

for me: in the Xi-tun district, I pay 10,000 for a 3-bedroom (48pings, 1ping=6’x6’) apartment which includes my parking space. I make much more than your planned minimum and “barely survive” as a single person :slight_smile: well, not exactly, but I think you will need to have a dual income thing going if you have 2 kids. But I’m single and you don’t want my advice about kids, so I will just give you the advice for your and your wife: 60,000nt/month is not a livable wage for 2 adults. But don’t give up, just come and see what happens.

don’t put your children through the torture of living here. the pollution alone will add ten years per year to their lungs, the traffic will quite possibly kill them, there is no opportunity for the normal kind of play that makes an average western upbringing, let alone finding a decent beach or similar, and the senior schooling system sucks a very large one.

and did i mention that the public senior school system here sucks?

teaches nothing of value, no advancement of critical thinking or independent learning strategies, just “regurgitate, baby”.
unless you go private, and on 60K a month, there is no way you can afford that.

OK, some of the advice here so far is sound. Thanks. I’ll definitely be looking for $70k+. Remember, I’m not green to Taiwan. I still have a few old friends I can look up, I speak Mandarin, I know what the traffic and pollution are like (why I don’t want to live in Taipei), & homeschooling is sounding more attractive.
One comment I don’t understand: Worryman wrote that some of the foreign teachers he works with only have high school diplomas. Isn’t that illegal under current Taiwan law?
I may end up delaying a move for a bit if I get accepted into an accellerated MA-Ed. this summer. An MA would definitely boost the earning potential both here and Taiwan.

I have friends with three kids. One pre-teen, one young teen and one older teen. They’re some kind of homeschooling thing that involves computer linkups and actual real-time teachers in the states or Canada or someplace. My friends (and their kids) seem very happy with it. If you’re interested I can find out a bit more about it for you.

Yup. A degree is the minimum legal qualification. Not that some shady schools don’t employ illegally, which appears to be the case with worryman’s place of employment. That might be the root of his apparent bitterness and cynicism. If you’re working in an establishment that’s on the up and up, you won’t find yourself working with illegal teachers.

Not so sure about that, either. I’d check carefully if I were you. From what I’ve heard and read on here, you need to be looking at PhD level if you want to get up the ladder a bit, and even there, the competition for positions is bloody fierce, by all accounts. With an MA, you’d still be competing against fresh off the boat run-of-the-mill BA holders for the same pay.

I am finishing my college through the University of Phoenix online. I thought of finishing college here but the well regarded schools (as in ones that will have any kind of international reconizition) is hard to get into because of standardized tests. I’d have to learn to write Chinese (not easy) AND learn the academic culture (even harder), all that work for a college that no one else in the world cares about. So I figure my best option is UOP. They are accredited so someone will reconize it. For high school I think your kids are better off finishing high school by correspondence rather than attending one here. If your kid has any sense of individuality high school will eradicate them. Taiwan’s culture frowns on any sort of individuality because this culture is highly collective. Just look at the personality/interest of 99 percent of anyone at a given age.

If you want your kid to be of any use in the USA you will avoid any schooling in Taiwan, unless they are an American school.

And just to be clear, don’t forget that the Taiwan government doesn’t recognize online qualifications, at least as far as trying to obtain a work permit for teaching English.

I have friends with three kids. One pre-teen, one young teen and one older teen. They’re some kind of homeschooling thing that involves computer linkups and actual real-time teachers in the states or Canada or someplace. My friends (and their kids) seem very happy with it. If you’re interested I can find out a bit more about it for you.[/quote]
That would be great if you can find out for me. Thanks!
I’ve also been reading that rural areas often pay more. Does anyonyone have experience with that? Obviously, cost of living would be lower in many ways than in the big cities.