Retirement at 50? Maybe in Taiwan

It does seem to be on the up-and-up, but it was for far too long near the bottom of the barrel.

Plus it might have the worst weather in northern Taiwan, which says a lot. : D


Kind of late to be asking, if you already bought a place there :slight_smile: Congrats on the retirement and the new place. Hope you get a lot of happy mileage out of both!

The following book includes many options…

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Hello friends, a few questions for those who are native Taiwanese. I’m 47 y/o looking to retire somewhere like Taitung. Rather, I prefer rural areas away from the big cities but still be close enough for the occasional nightlife food markets. How much would I need to have in savings to last for 20 yrs not working at all until I collect United States social security at age 67? From my research, a single-family home around Taitung cost about USD 200k. If I have housing covered could USD 300k last for 20 yrs for just myself living frugulay? I still have my old Taiwan passport, from what I’ve been told the 9 digit number in the passport that starts with A is my national ID. If I renewed my passport and return to Taiwan what is the process of re-establishing my identity? Also, I understand that only natives are allowed to own property. Do I need to apply for household registration or are they able to find that information by looking up my national ID#?

Welcome, @engsohere, and glad to see you spelled the English version of this nice southeastern part of Taiwan the way you did.

  1. What part of Taitung you want to live?
  2. Locals and foreigners can own property.
  3. Locals (not foreigners I believe, unless corrected) can buy land in Taitung
  4. Let’s do simple math (without inflation). Your U$300,000 for 20 years would be U$15,000/year or roughly NT$400-450,000 per year or NT$37,500 per month. Given that you are in Taitung and everything much cheaper (food, fruit, etc.), then yes, that is enough per month. I could certainly live on that (IF, a big IF, I had to). Others on this forum would say no, but their budgets are bigger.
  5. You can use the outdoors as your exercise world, so no need for gym memberships
  6. Even owning/riding a scooter would not put a dent in that budget.
  7. You are Taiwanese, so I presume you can speak/converse in Mandarin (or Taiwanese)?

Anyways, sounds like you will be fine with that budget. When you get here, you can always pick up some random work IF you indeed need small spending cash.

Good luck and ask away with any more questions.

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I misspelled frugally. Just a side note that’s about 35000 twd a month paying for food, utilities, health insurance, taxes, home maintenance, basic necessities.

Yes. Living in Taiwan, I realize all those costs you mention above.
You wondered if you could get by frugally, and yes, you could get by easily (I could and do, at below that level per month). It’s not that hard.

Hello, I appreciate the quick response. I’m not certain what part, so far my research have been limited to bloggers and online videos. About my national ID# on my old passport, does that mean I have household registration established with the ability to purchase property anywhere in Taiwan? I immigrated to the US in 1985(age 12) have dual citizenship. I can speak Mandarin but only read about 20%

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.