Retirement at 50? Maybe in Taiwan

Yes, I believe so.
Do a search elsewhere on the forum for others in your position who have asked about coming back to Taiwan with old passports, or having been born in Taiwan, or whatnot. Lots of chatter and information.
If you have not renounced your R.O.C. citizenship, then you should be good to go. Just need to “re-up” your documents. Others elsewhere (when you do a forum search) have the answers.

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15 000 USD per year is fine now but as you said you’ll have to consider inflation, it certainly won’t be enough for the next 20 years. I already feel a significant difference with 2015 when I first came to Taiwan.

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Can you share more about the cities I should focus on given my objective? My wants are rural areas with little traffic or build in infrastructure for cyclists. I read Taipei has great infrastructure along the river paths including tennis and basketball courts, but obviously my budget wouldn’t go very far there. I would like the ability to take public transit to major cities/night food markets. To be frank that’s the major reason for my consideration is that I miss the food/culture and being around my people. Yes, in the US they are Chinatowns but it’s just not the same. Temperate climate or as close as possible(moderate but not much rainfall, milder summer/monsoon seasons). I understand most part of the island is considered humid, so probably comparable to US states like Florida. With a budget of USD 200k would I be able to purchase a stand alone house in the rural cities? From my search properties in Taiwan are classified as Row houses/apartments/Condos. But row houses in Taiwan are not usually stand alone as most still have neighbors overhead or common walls attached.

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I’ll just stick to answer that question about Taitung. Others may chime in for elsewhere.

  1. Either on the coast, or
  2. In the Rift Valley

I would choose on the coast. Do not go to Dulan. Just search the forum on that place. Take 東河 and go northward. Pick any town that has a road that goes over the mountain and into the Rift Valley. Those towns will be more populated. You could choose Taitung City if you so desire. Nothing wrong with it.
For the Rift Valley, just do the reverse. Choose some small town that easily links up to the east coast.

All of Taitung (except Taitung City, perhaps) has little traffic.
Because of less cars (unless on Routes 9 or 11), you won’t have a need for bicycle paths. Just the country roads are fine.
Only public transportation is in the Rift Valley to get on a train to go north or south. On the coast, it’s only buses, that might be few and far between.
Get yourself a scooter. Or splurge and get a second-hand car if need to be.

For U$200,000, yes, you can buy a standalone house (or kind of like a 2-3 story townhouse) somewhere outside of Taitung City. There are websites (in Chinese) that can give you an idea.

You can PM if you need more specifics on things, etc in Taitung, or anyone else on this board for that matter. Taitung welcomes one and all, whether as tourists or as residents. :grinning:


Thanks so much for all the helpful advice. Will work on my list and keep in touch.

this post may give you some idea how to do, though it includes some Chinese.

More English in this post

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After some consideration, I think a better approach is to go to Taiwan, rent a room in Taipei for a few months to feel everything out before making such a life-changing decision. I can only imagine many things have changed since I left, on top of that I’ll need to relearn reading/writing Mandarin to a level of proficiency where I can be self-sufficient. Also need to have a backup plan instead of living solely off my savings in case unexpected expenses arise. I’ve looked at a few teaching jobs in Taiwan, most require passport holders of English speaking countries, bachelor degree, TOEFL certification, and one-year commitment. I have most recently been working in the oil fields until I was laid off in May due to covid. Is there any type of construction jobs in Taiwan where I can put my experience to use?

About my original desire to settle in Taitung, looking at the geography I see it’s quite far away from Taipei (6 hours and 200 miles) not sure if other cities have night markets and a good infrastructure for cycling. Can you think of another city that offers both amenities with a lower cost of living than Taipei?

Another option is forging purchasing property and rent exclusively. Less headache and expenses that come with being a homeowner. I see some rentals on craigslist advertising for 22000 twd in Taipei, is that a viable option long term? What is the typical living arrangement and terms of rental requirements?

Regarding free health insurance which is calculated into taxes paid by the working citizen, what happens to unemployed people or those who are in between jobs, especially during this pandemic?

Thanks in advance

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somebody will post on these points. Meanwhile you may check some related threads with tags #housing-tips or #living-cost etc.

it is not free. Everyone pays monthly premium depending on wage if you are employed or flat fee if unemployed. Who don’t have jobs pay ~750NTD/month/person. This is just for residents.


@engsohere: If you reactivate/establish your HHR, you will be enrolled into the National Pension scheme (國民年金) automatically if you will not have a job, i.e. be covered by other insurance/pension plans, such as Labor Insurance (勞保). The premium for the National Pension plan is ~ 1000 NTD/month.

Computer says No I’m afraid. :sunglasses:

If they say north Taiwan is temperate it’s a bit like saying that your raging inferno of a forest fire doesn’t get quite as hot as your average blast furnace. :laughing:

And Taitung… Taitung in the Summer is…Well…

The good news is you can get used to it mostly.

Taoyuan is quite cheap

Not usually. Even in the countryside could be a challenge. Property and land is way overpriced in Taiwan especially standalone property. But you could get some what are called ‘toutian’ which are what you refer to as row houses in many places for your budget.

You know rural Taiwan is quite insular right like most rural places (not especially insular just local people who may not speak Mandarin well or they could even be aboriginal ). Also their population is aging and hollowing out. Depending on your background you may struggle badly with finding people to hang out with. You may not find they are 'your people ’ The cities and big towns can be quite decent though.

Overall it’s the complete opposite of rural.

Hualien would be a good choice

Kaohsiung is relaxing plus it has warm climate with awesome sunsets daily and very affordable standard of living.

I think it depends on the quality of life you want. People will paint whatever their current lifestyle is on to your amount of money, for me especially to live somewhere nice and be able to do some thing other than eat and sleep and ride a bicycle, that amount of money is nowhere near enough in Taiwan, even for me personally, let alone as a family.

But I think that until you’ve lived in a place, you have no idea what it’s like, and so you are questioning whether Taiwan is the same as it was eight years ago, have you considered that Penang is probably not the same as it never was, since you’ve never been there?

You can’t really paint the whole country into one part of it that you’ve never been to and assume you know what life is like there. You may have a sense of the general flavor of it but compare where you’re from to Toronto or Charlottetown or Iqaluit, Very different styles of life.

Even that extra $800ish Per month from working another five years, I think you are the only one who knows your own lifestyle situation (requirements and standards) and how much comfort you have with living paycheck to paycheck.

I’ve been to all three places you mentioned, even Penang specifically, which to me is much different from KL for example, and if I had to spend the rest of my life between only those three places I could probably get the highest standard of living in Taiwan for the amount of money you’re talking about, because even if things are more expensive and maybe you don’t have a nice apartment or can’t really eat out often (except for hole in the wall places, or ones with tiny chairs, street buffets, etc.), the overall societal quality-of-life is better by a pretty huge margin then the other two places.

I want to caveat by saying I’ve only read your first post, but I can’t really say what I would do in your situation, because I disagree with your analysis that this is your only option. At the very least, you are sitting on a good chunk of money that you can look at investing to pay you well in excess, if you do it right, of what your pension would earn you. If I was you, except that I refused to be entrepreneurial or believe that there are other career options where I could make more money, I would use that pension as a safety net (although not for the sake of being irresponsible) and look into how I could invest that saved money to maybe get some better options on my plate.

Set a goal for what the successful investment of that money would look like at the end of five years (based on research), then work back three years and one year and make a plan that brings you there. Then at five years with a lot more investing experience and understanding of how money works under your belt, you can say OK, my money is likely to do this type of thing in the next 5 to 10 years, and so I can retire now and live with this pension and that can bring me through until when I start getting much better yields, or I can choose to keep working another five years and get that much more of a safety net, as well as that much more I can invest into this thing that’s hopefully working by then.

Then, what is presently your Lifeline, which I am proposing you can initially start thinking of as a safety net, then becomes play money, with a much higher standard of living, and probably in a place where you don’t have to be thinking about the sacrifices that you’re going to make in one area of your life (like your child’s schooling) to another.

You really should read the entire thread - a lot has happened since March 2018. We have now been to Penang, and it wasn’t for us. But we have also been back to Taiwan, and we still love it.

I have a fair amount (10 years or so now) of investing experience, and the money that is “savings” in the TFSA is not at all savings, it is all invested in (primarily) equities. Our thinking is much akin to yours with the “safety net” idea (becoming much more than that) and we really have no intentions of retirement in the traditional sense. My TFSA will likely (fingers crossed) be quite a bit above my initial projections, and will definitely allow us a fair amount of cushion room. We also have a small online business that we currently run that should be (relatively) easy to transfer to Taiwan with the Gold Card Visa. That, combined with my pension, and some part time work, will likely bring us to the 100K NT / month range, which we are happy with. In truth, after investments are taken out, we live on just over $30000 Can per year in Canada. So doing so in Taiwan for us would be much, much easier.

The real issue for us is that we love Taiwan , have friends there, and well, it still feels like home after nearly a decade away. And, at least for 4 more years, we are stuck in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada until I am able to retire. We just need to be patient- but hey, 2 years have passed since this thread began, so time flies!!


Then enjoyably do whatever you want to do in Canada or North America before moving to Taiwan in a few years.

Just curious what didn’t you like about Penang? I haven’t been there yet.

You were not asking me but I’ll throw in my 2 cents since my family is deciding between moving to Penang or Taipei next year. (If you’ve read my other posts you know we are 99% set on Taipei and I’m basically acting like it’s a foregone conclusion, but these two cities were our final two choices after years or vetting and technically the pendulum could swing in the next year)

The primary drawback of Penang for me is that it is several orders of magnitude smaller and therefore a bit more provincial, far less vibrant, and has much worse transportation infrastructure/walkability/bikeability. Just to put things into perspective, Taipei metro area has a population of 7 to 8 Million, and that number could be much higher if you include some farther out cities and towns that are certainly still within its sphere. The population of Penang Island, which would be the area most folks would stick to if they live there, is around 750k, so just 1/10th the size. The entire state of Penang gets you close to 2 Million. Yes there is a large share of expats, but they are mostly retired and drawn to the beach so not as active in the city life.

That’s actually pretty much it. Penang’s COL is lower, I love the local cuisine the most of anywhere (well tied with Singapore) and then for me personally I have more friends and family there than Taipei. There’s also the issue that ethnic Chinese (like my family) are a bit disadvantaged in Malaysia and would perhaps be treated better and have more opportunities in Taiwan, however Penang Island being majority Chinese makes it one of the places where that discrimination is somewhat shielded.