Does my budget make sense?

This is my first post to Forumosa so hello to all!

I am looking to move to Taiwan this August, and will be teaching English to support myself. I have created a little budget based on what I have read online and was hoping you might be willing to take a look for accuracy. In general, I’m a little disheartened because at $20 per hour and 20 hours per week, it looks like I will likely be in the red for the first year…

My hope is to live in a cool, smaller city on the west cost (Hualian, Taitung, Yilan etc.), for reference.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. Also, do you think that I will actually be able to find a job in one of those places?

I have sent our feelers to some of the schools with expired job postings online (i.e. So far I have not received any replies. I speak decent Mandarin, so the plan is to hit the ground with the resume…

Curious what everyone’s thoughts are…


Most round-trip tickets are sub-U$1500. Why the U$3000 return flights home? You plan on going home twice in 1 year before you actually return home? That would be a waste of time and money. Your 1 year will go quickly anyway. Stay in Taiwan the whole year and travel around the island. Forget about leaving the island your 1st year.

Another place to save money is forget the gym at U$50 per month. Get out running outside or buy a cheap bike and ride everywhere. Beautiful trails and rides throughout the country. So many websites can show you how to travel in Taiwan by bike, and cheaply. What is the other U$1500 for travel budget. If you want to save money, just travel inside Taiwan your 1st year. You’ll spend under NT$45,000 doing that inside Taiwan, if you know how to travel cheaply. No need to travel to other Asian countries the 1st year.

If you stay in Taiwan your 1st year (forget about going home or going to other Asian countries), then your budget is doable.

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None of those places are cool in temperature. They are all HOT to the point that you can barely go outside in afternoons. And rainy by the way.

Unless you’re looking for “cool” as in trendy… near to Taitung is Dulan which is a very very very small "cool’ area.

I think most English teacher types like to live on 80K or more per month. Some can earn it, some can not.

Thanks for the reply.

Yeah, the 3000 is for two return trips and I see your point. I’d really rather not fly home twice, but I’m afraid of a last minute sibling/friend marriage popping up and also want to come back once to see my folks.

I see your logic on other Asia travel though. I think I will just scrap that and focus on island travel for the year :sunglasses:

The gym membership is unavoidable unfortunately. I’m addicted to rock climbing and have to have my fix (looks like there are decent bouldering gyms in Yilan and hualian). Also, it’s always been a good way for me to meet people/make friends, so I want to join for that reason as well.

In case anyone cares, or wants info, these are the gyms I was referencing:

“Cool” was meant in the super subjective, non-climate-related way. I guess its a super vague adjective, huh…

Anyway, I’m mainly looking for a place near surfable waves with a more laid-back/relaxed vibe. I also want to set up a pretty rigorous Chinese self-study routine, so I was thinking there might be some merit to being in a less developed area… From googling, it seems that the East Coast might fit the bill, so I was thinking of checking it out. I also actually really enjoy teaching kids, so a buxiban seems like a good fit.

Of course all of this is COMPLETELY hearsay from random internet sources, so Id love to hear your advice about where might be a good place for a first time, nature loving English teacher to live… I have a good friend in GaoXiong, so as far as major cities go, that might be where I’d go. I am a smidge resistant to city life though, as I used to live in Beijing and felt worn out by all the hustle and bustle.

TL/DR: Basically I’m unsure of where I want to be and am really open to any advice you might have.

Your budget seems coherent enough.

If your 2 passions are rock climbing and surfing, try to teach in Keelung. It’s close to Taipei, cheaper, not that bad, and your can scooter to all the surfing beaches of Jinshan, Fulong… and climb in Longdong which is 1000 times better than any gym.

Entertainment will be more than 3000 a month. Your utilities are a bit high, could be lower like 1500. Rent in a small place can be lower, like 7000 but 9000 would get you a nice place. Internet might be included in your rent, but 1000nt is a good number for a good line. Food/beer/house goods is accurate. Transport depends on what you do, if you buy a scooter you’ll spend like 100 a week on gas maybe. Small towns don’t have a mrt so you gana walk/bicycle a lot. Gym lower about 1000-1300. MISC? What is that like toothpaste or a haircut? Clothing good god man what you buying? You can easily just bring the clothes you have from home and probably spend like 5000 in TW on clothes. Maybe a pair of shoes for 3000.

scooter can be cheaper, 30k is quite a lot but you’ll get a good one for 30k. Cell phone is accurate/ Surf board I think will be more for a new one I am not sure what you want though, long board or short board?

I would lump your gifts and fun purchases into your entertainment makes more sense.

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Return flights home don’t make sense within a year.
If you do that you’ll be in the red I would say.
Just do Taiwan for a year it will go pretty fast anyway.


I agree. Make use of Skype/FB Messenger/whatever for your first year’s “trips back home.” Besides, if you’re teaching in a buxiban you most likely won’t get enough time off for a trip back home except during Chinese New Year, and I suggest experiencing CNY here at least during the first year. After that…escape!

That’s the East coast!

I live in Yilan and can’t speak for Hualien/Taidong. Weather here sucks for the vast majority of the year. Once you move a bit to the South (Hualien, Taidong etc) things get much better, there’s a massive difference in precipitations. You basically trade convenience (Yilan is very close to Taipei) for better weather.

There’s quite a few schools in Yilan, Jiaoxi, Luodong, but I don’t know their salary and/or if they’re hiring. I know the one with a purple banner (can’t remember the name, maybe someone will mention the name) hires very often. No idea about working conditions.

On the East coast it doesn’t take much money to make a living and have some spare cash at the end of the month. Find a small apartment (possibly not right in the city as prices are inflated), get used to buy groceries in traditional markets and you’re good to go.

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I love Yilan. If only they had a costco

I’m not sure where you would be flying home to, but I assume from your diction that you’re American. I never pay more than about $800 for a round trip to the West Coast, and that’s during high season (if you buy several months in advance) So you could knock a lot off your budget by limiting yourself to one trip home and buying a cheap ticket in advance. You can also spend less on food, beer, household goods and clothes if you shop wisely, and you can get a decent used scooter for around NT$20,000.

Here many people hope that the new highway connecting all the East coast will bring more businesses like Costco, Ikea etc to this side of the island.

If they only chose their locations based on population size, then I’m afraid it will still be a no-go.

I always buy my ticket back to California several months in advance (when the CNY dates are announced) and for the past eight years I’ve never been able to get anything for less than US$1,100. What am I doing wrong? Are you traveling outside of CNY dates?

Yeah, I go back in the summer. You couldn’t pay me to travel during CNY. You’re probably getting the cheapest ticket you can, considering.

Not trying to be demotivating you or trying to make you feel like an ass, but for ~50k/month, it really isn’t worth coming here.

Your budget looks fine but trust me, it is gonna change a lot once you reach here. A lot of expenses are unplanned for, this could include ARC cost, your rent advance (nearly 2 months ) and taxes.

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Also it may take sometime to find a job when here especially in you wanted to live in an East coast city. You may or may not come out in the black after a year, best to bring some extra cash and be prepared.
It took me a few years to get in the black after coming here especially as I had some debts to pay back.

obviously if you like nature and need to surf thats going to narrow things down. (isn’t the south the place for surfing?) the citys are busy sure, but there are quieter areas. neihu in taipei for example is way different to where i’m living. don’t write off the citys as total hustle and bustle, and likewise don’t get your hopes up that the towns are going to be peaceful and idylic. taiwan is pretty much the same everywhere. scooters all over the place, people living ontop of each other, rows of ugly apartments without much space. out of the citys you are also gonna have less nice things such as… pavements.

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Awesome, I’m gonna look into it (and probably visit during my initial couple weeks). Thanks for the idea.

Haha, I guess some people mess up east and west like right and left…:grimacing:

Good to hear that a frugal life on the EAST coast might make saving money a possibility. Also good to know about the climate… It’s starting to sound extremely rainy in the north… and I definitely enjoy my sunshine.

Totally unrelated, but my friend’s wife (they are both Taiwanese living in Chicago) thinks I should live in Taizhong. She told me it might by a nice “gateway to Taiwan” (perhaps easier for an expat to find work, but also less international than Taipei). Any thoughts on it in general? I plan to explore for a while before signing a contract but want to have a short list of possible locations that might be suitable.