Monthly Budget

For any of you singles out there, can you tell me approximately how much you spend each month? I am budgeting NT 51,000/month to cover all my expenses. This includes renting a room in an apartment, food, medicine, cable tv and phone, utilities, clothing, haircut, toiletries, transportation, and tuition at the Mandarin Training Center, and miscellaneous. Is NT 51,000 too low, too high, or about right to have a comfortable, but not expensive, lifestyle there.


Unless you have diabetes, are a born-again X, or are just a plain old teetotler, you forgot to budget your alcohol and going out expenditures, which for some people I know eats up a large portion of their salaries each month!

Oh, and don’t forget the expenses incurred by having a Taiwanese girlfriend.
A bit of shrimp fishing…
Internet cafes, or hooking up at home…
Pseudo-designer accessories…
Trips abroad…
Eating western food once in a while…

etc, etc, etc…

I’d say that’s a bit of a low estimate if you want a ‘comfortable life’.

Hmmm…I only drink socially, so I didn’t budget that. I have no idea if I’m going to have a girlfriend while I’m over there, so it’d be a little premature budgeting that in. I did include a miscellaneous item in my budget to handle some extras. I do agree, though, that the budget is a bit low. I’d like to make it higher, but don’t know how. If I want to study Chinese, I have to alot some time for that, that otherwise I would use to teach and make money. So, the only money coming in will be from a school that I teach at. I probably couldn’t handle much more than 32 hours a week of teaching and also going to school at MTC and studying, so I’m not sure how to make more money. Any suggestions?

How much do you spend a month, and what’s your situation? I mean, are you studying Chinese, teaching, and/or have a girlfriend?

NT$51,000 is more than I’ve ever taken home in one month here. My first job as a camera assistant here paid 15,000, but of course back then my rent was only 3,500 and the cost of living was cheaper. Practically no western food then either. Since I started getting to know and hang out with more foreigners I’ve been spending a lot more money, which I can’t really afford.

In short, I think you can get by just fine on that amount of money. But you’re not going to get a Taiwanese girlfriend? But…but…that’s just downright abnormal! I think you’re even required to have one after a certain time of night, you know, for police checks and that sort of thing.

No, I don’t have a girlfriend, I have a generous boyfriend, quite a different ball of wax, but he doesn’t foot my bills.

And no, I don’t study Chinese, I’m doing a Masters via UK university, which is a lot more expensive than studying Mandarin.
I live alone, and recently moved to the outskirts of Taipei, and pay double what you were probably figuring in rent, bills, and utilities because I need my privacy.

I’m not socially-drinking very much anymore, but when I do budget that in, I figure on $2000/night out. including taxi fares. Some of my friends probably spend in the double thousand digits on going out each week, which includes movies, restaurants, etc, as well as the boozing sessions, which subsequently PISSes your money away and leaves you feeling the worse for it.

I eat at home now (stock up on veggies, etc. at Costco once a week) and take a shuttle to my office, spending approximately $600/wk on transportation. This, since I’ve moved OUT of town, has gone down quite a bit for me since I used to flag taxis in order to save time in the summer when it’s too hot to ride my bicycle and walk everywhere. Unless the MRT is very convenient to where I’m going, I usually abhor city buses, and tend to avoid certain lines like the plague. There are some, like the Xinyi lines, which are quite convenient, however.

My biggest expenses are evidentally my phone/ADSL, cell phone, sports club, and impulse buys. These all add up.

It’s a good idea to try and save at least $20k per month, although I don’t always take my own advice.

Btw, you sound like you’re figuring on low pay with 32 hours week. Get privates instead, and reduce the hours at buxiban. Many schools require only a minimum number of hours from their contracted employees. I’d go that route since it’s much more profitable than relying on all your work/pay coming from just one source. I think that’s a big mistake some teachers make in Taiwan when private students are bloody everywhere, if you really want them. Try placing an ad on Tealit when you get here and pick and choose privates who will cost you less time on travel so you can slot them in nicely with your work and study schedule. That’s another thing that eats up your money here: having to wait around in coffee shops, etc, while you’re ‘in-between’ jobs/studies that aren’t near your abode.
This is my experience even though I’m not really teaching anymore, I did for a long, long, time, and spent a lot more money when I did, than I do now…
(what the hell did I just say?)

Well, time will tell whether I get a girlfriend there. At least, I’m not going to Taiwan to get one. If I find someone there I like, then I’ll let nature and time take its course. Anyway, from both of your replies, it sounds like I should be able to get by on NT 51,000/month, but I definitely won’t have the lifestyle I have here in the U.S. I don’t plan on renting an entire apartment, just a room. And, I probably won’t have a computer for a couple of years. I’ll have to make do with the ones at the Mandarin Training Center. I plan on taking the bus for the first few years, and then maybe get a scooter. I had a scooter before, and know the pros and cons of having one. The bus is no fun, but at least it’s cheap and will get me to where I want to go most of the time. Otherwise, I’ll try to make friends who can take me places. I’ve thought about teaching privately. That’s what I did last time I was in Taiwan. I want to try to advoid it to some degree this time because it’s such a pain having to go to all these different places to teach everyone. In one day, I would cross Taipei a thousand times, going from one “suburb” to another. I’d rather teach at one place and make it simple. I know, though, that I will be missing out on opportunities to earn more money. But, I do want to put time into studying Mandarin, and taking the bus or a scooter all over the place will take a lot of time.


I spend less than that a month, but then again I have no social life, so that cuts down on expenses. :smiley: At least is free…

Don’t forget taxes, too. At the beginning (and this year you won’t get it back) they’ll dock you 20%. Next year they will probably continue to withhold 20% until you make you 183 days, but then it could be lower, and at least you will get back the difference when you file. Taxes aren’t a lot, but if you’re counting every 1000 NT bill that comes in, it can make a difference.

I used to earn NT$53,000 teaching at a technical school and saved about $1,000 US a month, but then again the school was in Sanzhi and there wasn’t a whole lot to spend money on. Plus I was studying all the time. (Gosh, I didn’t realize I was that boring, but I guess it’s economical.) The exchange rate was also better for saving money at that time.

Your living area will also determine your expenditures. In the “country” you can live quite well on $51000. My large 3-bedroom apartment costs only $10000 ($5000 because I share), and food/phone/water/power/scooter stuff eats up another 15000 or so. Other expenses are on top of that, things like shopping trips to the “city”, encounters with alcohol and travel expenses, etc. From what my friends in Taipei tell me, it’s at least twice that to live a decent existance.

What on Earth are you talking about when you mention “Police checks”? I’ve never heard of such a thing. I’m I just terribly lucky in my ignorance or is this a joke?


It’s sarcasm, a literary device I employ occasionally to embue a few select posts with a measure of jocularity and mischievous spirit.

Hahaha…I thought so but wanted to be sure. I’ve been away for 2 years and haven’t heard of such activities. Thanks for the laugh! :shock: :laughing:

Hey Paogao… is the “ChungKing Mansions” you live in of the same calibre of the one in Hong Kong? If so, its no wonder you can survive on 35k a month in Taipei… :stuck_out_tongue:

I figure I live off of about 40-45k a month in Taipei (rent of around 15k), and that includes social drinking a few times a month and a little play money (not enough of course).

I figure I spend about 40k/month in central Taipei and that includes two trips to Kaohsiung (and, just as formidable, my girlfriend’s 2 trips here); a loan payment of 8.5k; going out about once a week, and going…in… on other nights; and buying books and, sometimes, CDs. I could live on less if I cut down on some vices but it won’t happen.

Anyway that is after establishing myself with below-average rent, minimal transportation expense because I can walk to work, and only using the internet about once a week (unacceptable, so I’m going to get a laptop & adsl shortly). I’ll probably start Chinese classes for another 5k/month, but I could take “classes” at CLI for more like 3k/month. I hear with the right teacher they’re not that laughable.

It’s expensive getting started but after that you can go pretty low or very high. It all depends on your tastes and priorities. (Many Taiwanese people make around 30k/month, so you know it can be done.) Personally I get a kick out of living cheaply, if you call 40k cheaply. Anyone have tips for economizing? My own is, if you can use your own apartment as hanging-out space, with your friends living conveniently near, you can save quite a lot on KTV/pub/restaurant expenses. Also the more you work the less opportunity you have to spend money, ironically. Cheers.

It does recall the original Chungking Mansions in that it is a large, old, dingy place full of small individual apartments and metal grate doors lining broad yet dingy hallways. There is no elevator, no security guard, and the first two floors are stores that nobody visits anymore. Most are closed. The meat market in the basement is largely abandoned as well. Most of the residents are older people or poorer families crammed into one little, Hong Kong-esque apartment, essentially a largish room, hallway, bathroom and kitchen. It’s like a relic of past Taipei that developers can’t get rid of because there are too many individual owners.

However, I find that one of these little apartments, about 12 pings large, is just right for a single person. It’s private, quiet, I’ve got my own kitchen and bathroom, A/C, adsl, and cable available, and the place is within sight (but not sound) of the Ta-an MRT station. Very convenient. It’s not La Dolce whatever, but you’re not going to have an easy time finding a similar arrangement for only 8k a month with no deposit needed. My present income, not counting overtime, is about 45k a month.

[quote=“littleiron”]Hey Paogao… is the “ChungKing Mansions” you live in of the same calibre of the one in Hong Kong? If so, its no wonder you can survive on 35k a month in Taipei… :stuck_out_tongue:

I figure I live off of about 40-45k a month in Taipei (rent of around 15k), and that includes social drinking a few times a month and a little play money (not enough of course).[/quote]

Aaah… The ChungKing Mansions of Hong Kong… there’s an experience I’ll never forget… :slight_smile:

The one in Taipei sounds like a decent place to keep your privacy (really cheap, too!), but it sounds like it might be lacking the unique wildlife, bums in the stairway, buzzing elevator, three-story trash piles and police raids of it’s counterpart in HK…

I spend 50,000 on rent each month. I eat out a lot, so that’s about 3,000 to 5,000 a pop, unless I order a couple of bottles of wine. The Indonesian maid is only about 15,000 a month and I get a lot of good mileage out of her:)
Going out for drinks would be about 5,000 on a slumming evening to about 50,000 if you were shouting out drinks and staying in the right places.
“Sensual hot oil massages” as they are referred to here in the papers set me back about 50,000 a month but sometimes I need to give a regular a bit of a tip to keep them sharp.
There are a bunch of niggling expenses that I never pay attention to as well.
I make a little over NT$500,000 a month (I get paid in US dollars for the most part), and have several investments that I don’t touch – they are for later when I quit working.
So I guess that you’d need a minimum of something in the neighborhood of NT$150,000 just to survive here in a civilized manner.
The English teachers, editors and their ilk are just like summer traveling students to Europe – a dollar goes a long way and slumming it is “cool.” It is fun for a while, I imagine, but if you aren’t doing something that pulls down six figures (US dollars, of course) a year, then you are just a hobo.

NT$51,000 is more than I’ve ever taken home in one
month here.

Didn’t you make more than this at your last job at O & M? How about at the Taiwan News? I remember in another post that you mentioned that copy editors start at NT$ 55,000 at the News. Perhaps taxes might affect the amount of take-home pay.

Not trying to cause trouble, just asking.

Nope, I got 50k a month at Ogilvy, even after two years with no raises, and while I was making 55k at the News, after taxes, national health insurance, etc., my take-home amount was just under 51k.