Moving US (California) -> Taiwan (Taipei) for a year for a corp job. Need expectations

Hi all,

I’m a 25 yo Korean American living in San Diego currently, looking to make the move to Taiwan to work for a year.

My salary is going from about $120k base (+30k a year stock/bonus) to about 2m NTD. I am not receiving housing support. Just based on the conversion rate, it is bit of a paycut. However, I did hear that the cost of living is bit cheaper in Taiwan compared to US, let alone California.

What can I expect in terms of quality of life change? I did some research on the rentals near Taipei, the range seems to be quite large. How much % of gross paycheck do expats usually spend on rents? Do most folks save a lot? What are your disposable incomes like each month?

Appreciate any inputs from you guys.

it a lot depends on how much you are willing to spend, and your current quality of life.

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This is confusing, it will be easier if you just provide your ave monthly salary in NTD.

165k+ TWD/m

Thank you for all the replies. As slawa said, 165k is correct. I am currently spending about 1/3rd of my net income on rent in San Diego. I’m hoping to get a 1-bedroom apartment in Taipei, but those seem to be quite scarce based on what I have seen.

I don’t think so, but 2 bedroom is probably the most common. You can get a very nice 2 bedroom in a good area for 30-40k. Where is your office?

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With a salary of NT$165K a month, you’ll live a life of luxury. Some of the very central one-bedroom apartments can be unbelievably expensive, but if you live slightly further out (in a part of Taipei that would still seem “central” by California standards), you’ll be able to save up loads of money without even having to make an effort.

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That’s comforting to hear. My office in Neihu district, near Gangqian station. If I wanted to keep my commute under 30 minutes maximum each way, would I still be able to get a 1-bed/2-bed for less than 40k?

I think that would be no problem. To really maximize what you get for your money, I would recommend coming and staying somewhere temporary for a month if you can. It will give you time to really do a proper search and figure out the best location for you without the time pressure. Don’t rent anything without seeing it first.

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Easily. Taiwanese people are so used to convenience that they consider half an hour to be a long commute.

Thank you very much for your help guys!

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Yeah, definitely check things out before you commit to a place. Don’t let a broker push you into some overpriced place. This happens with a lot of foreigners. Around Gangqian and within several MRT stops of it there are areas where you can definitely find a place. At least 2 universities with many students who live in those areas so no problem. You might want to ask someone at your company if they can help you out.

Hi and welcome!
I moved to Taipei about a year ago from London, UK. Incidentally, my office is also very close to the Gangqian station :slight_smile:.

Overall, I would think that you will see a significant improvement in your quality of life with a NT$165k monthly income. You should be able to save 1/3 - 1/2 of it easily, even if you eat out every day and go out every weekend. Of course, it depends on where you live and what you like… If you want to have a Michelin* Western meal every day then maybe not.

I agree with the previous recommendations that you should go for a temporary serviced flat for the first month while looking for a more permanent arrangement. I did the same, and it was a good idea, as I ended up seeing about 15 flats before I finally found a suitable one. Anything on the brown (Wenhu) line will be convenient for your work, and there are plenty of options around. If you are single/no kids and expect to go out often, go for something central. I’d recommend anything close to the Zhongxiao Fuxing, Nanjing Fuxing or Zhongshan Junior High School Stations. If you don’t mind something quite small then NT$30-40k will get you a decent place in the area.

Be careful, though. I also came for a year and am now well into the second one with no plans to leave :slight_smile:

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A bit??

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For me, living in Orange County at one time in my life, and now most of the year in Taiwan, it’s hard to make direct comparison. If I was living in nice urban San Diego (Little Italy, UTC Area, Northern Coastal SD County), I guess the standard of living is hard to beat or compare in Taiwan. Yes housing will be cheaper in Taiwan, but standard of housing in general is a lot lower Another big difference is transport. Cars are bug part of life in the West in Taiwan’s big city it can be trouble to drive (mostly no parking for me)and sometimes I feel troubled to drive somewhere in Taiwan (Makes me wish for NZ driving) Other big issue I have is the weather, its hot but very humid and does not cool down like in the San Diego area at night. As far as food, well it can be cheap but I find I eat out a lot and for same standard of places I eat I find Taiwan not so cheap. My salary is the same in TW/US/NZ but if I had big difference like you posted in your salary I would think hard about staying here (I used now living here now, but still a big difference in Salary would make me think it’s worth it)

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Tarvi, thank you for your reply. I will keep those areas in mind in the upcoming weeks.

dkaoshuing, thank you for bringing up those valid points. And yes, life in La Jolla will be hard to beat in terms of weather, the beach, etc. Sadly my relocation is not an option due to my visa issues in the US.

i lived in the UTC area for many a year before moving to taiwan. i made well over 6 digits while in SD and make a bit less than that in taiwan, so my income would count as pretty high here. for someone who made a good income in the states and in taiwan, i can say that my QoL definitely dropped moving here. i’m taiwanese as well so the transition was easy for me relatively speaking (i can speak mandarin reasonably well, which is something you might not have). but there’s just a lot about here that sucks if you come from a decent-income western standard of living.

so first the good - my rent here is cheaper than what i was paying in the UTC area, by a lot, for a somewhat comparable place.

and that’s basically it. no seriously, in most other areas, living in SD was better.

health care? yeah the jianbao isn’t bad, but i had good health care via my employers in the states. so to me this wasn’t an improvement. i actually have both jianbao and bluecross so i tend to see a doctor when i’m back in california.

transportation? yeah the public transportation in taipei is good. but i miss driving my car and driving in taipei is fking awful. i take mrt and even the bus often, and the total time it takes to get anywhere with the added walking is far longer than i spent driving in sd. from utc to downtown was only 15-20 mins, that’s how long it takes me to walk to the mrt station, wait for next mrt, ride mrt, and get off 2 stands away. i certainly don’t save any time.

food? lots of ppl will say food is cheap here, and it is if you buy the bian dang and mian/fan that most ppl here eat. but take that out, and food is not cheaper here and is overall worse than what we had in san diego. ok taiwanese food is obviously a billion times better, esp since SD had only a couple of taiwanese restaurants like on convoy and the tea stations. but american food, mexican food, indian food, even korean food and thai food is much better in sd. aside from taiwanese, chinese, and japanese cusine, food here is generally worse than what SD has. also groceries are expensive here as well aside from certain fruits. so overall my food budget didn’t go down at all (but i spend a lot on food, both in sd and here, so i’m not typical, but just saying that my QOL for food dropped coming here - if i could trade taiwan food and prices for sd food and prices, i would in a heartbeat). i straight up miss eating tacos el gordo, phils bbq, in and out, chick fil a, and the indian buffets on black mountain, because nothing here comes close. if you drink, you will miss the breweries like stone, ballast point, etc, cuz bars in taipei are overpriced and don’t offer anything comparable to SD.

so what about the rest? the air here sucks. i developed a cough living here. the weather is fucking awful compared to san diego. both of these impacted my QoL big time. also it’s nice having a decent beach nearby - taiwan doesn’t have any beaches in the north, and the ones in the south are way worse than shores, blacks, etc. also stuff is just way more expensive here than the states, like electronics and games and other fun things. i paid 2k for a 65 inch LG oled in SD several years ago, and i paid more for a shit 60 inch LCD tv when i moved here. amazon is a billion times better than pchome and all the rest combined.

now there’s a lot to like about taiwan, so it’s not all bad. taiwan is nicely located so i have traveled all over asia with my wife, which is something you can’t easily do from sd. it’s fun to experience “crowded city life” that you might only see in downtown sd, and even then to a pretty low extent. but in terms of QoL, it went down a lot moving here. again though, this is from the perspective of someone who made decent income in both areas, was saving a lot in both areas, and wasn’t holding back on buying or eating whatever, which seems might be your situation. seriously, there’s a lot of good living here, but don’t expect your QoL to go up - just be prepared to take a bit of a hit in a lot of areas.

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I think this post needs to be pinned. The comments on food especially are spot on.

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endy, thank you for your reply! You are right, I speak fluent Korean and English but my Mandarin is non-existent. Hopefully won’t be too big of a problem for just living a year.

Sadly, I don’t think many cities will even come close to San Diego. I will just have to get over that. I will surely miss all of the places you have mentioned–I am an avid fan of Tacos El Gordo, Phil’s, Stone, Ballast, and all the eateries along Convoy. I will be sure to enjoy those for the next two weeks that I have in San Diego :slight_smile:

That said, I did grow up in Seoul, give or take 15 years, so I am expecting to see a lot of overlap in Taipei. But you are absolutely correct on the rest of the assumptions. I am a single guy with not a lot of baggage, both physical and non-physical. I do not hold back on eating out or buying things I like. I’m hoping that I will at least have more purchasing power in TW despite the pay cut in the absolute terms.

The air might be interesting for me. Frankly speaking, as wonderful and polluten-free and pristine as SD air is, I have always found it to be a bit too dry for my sinuses. So much that I felt congested during 8-9 out of 10 nights. I am hoping that I can see an improvement on that once in Taiwan.

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Given that you’ve spent a lot of time in Korea (at least I’m assuming that’s the case) I doubt you would have too much time adjusting to the air in Taipei. Korea’s air pollution is generally worse than Taiwan (especially Taipei)'s by quite a bit.

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