Salary and Cost of Living in Taiwan

Maybe expats on expat packages but most expats are English teachers. My guess is that the salary range for most English teachers is 50-75,000. Some earn more and some earn less. It is going to be really hard to save 45,000/mo at that salary (unless you are on the absolute upper end). In addition to that many teachers don’t save a lot of money when here for the short term due to inexperience (lower wages), moving expenses and many other things.

but you continue to miss two points. I am not saying that it is easy to save for retirement in the US and it’s hard in Taiwan. It is hard anywhere.

But if you are in the US then you have a lot better chance of building a career which includes pay raises and could include a 401K plan. Neither of those happen for the majority of expats that are English teachers. In addition to that if you work in the US you are contributing to Social Security (whether you like it or not) and will get a higher payout than someone that has worked overseas for their adult life. You might only save $200/mo in a personal account but you are accruing other retirement benefits. But regardless of all of that this thread is about Taiwan and the OP and Sharpie specifically mention earning 70+/mo.

RockOn: For the record, in my first two office jobs in Taiwan I was making a local salary (think numbers that start with 3s and 4s); in my last, I was making more than locals, but still well under 70k. Expat packages are extremely extremely rare these days.

I was 29 when I decided to leave Taiwan, btw.

I am not going as an English teacher, just for the record. And I am only paying for myself.

Like I said I am going for the experience and as a stepping stone for my career. I tried for years to find a good job in California, but it was only ever lateral moves with barely enough to afford the cost of living. It’s tough everywhere, honestly.

Anyway, thanks again for the responses. I don’t think I’ll be able to save as much as I once thought, but it’s still more than I was ever able to save in the US (that’s a different topic though)

[quote=“sharpie”]Don’t know if I should make my own thread for this but I’m in a similar position as OP – as in, pursuing a job that would land me in the 70k NT a month salary range (plus a bonus of half a month’s rent every quarter), and I’m trying to get a sense of what I would actually be spending on food. I keep reading that cooking your own won’t be any cheaper than eating out, but I want to be able to cook at least a little for health reasons.

I was estimating 12,000 NT a month for food but is that way too much? Too little? What about transportation? I read that there are no monthly passes for the MRT but I sort of find that hard to believe…

What about utilities? Does running the AC cost a lot? Do a lot places charge extra for trash disposal? What about internet? And how is that set up?

Okay, sorry for the barrage of questions. Again, if I’ve missed this in a sticky somewhere let me know (tried looking for it but didn’t see anything definitive)[/quote]

Dear Sharpie,

I am an old hand here. I came on a 500 USD scholarship and those were tight times but I managed. I started working on a 30K salary. Doubled that in my next position and so on. Take it from me, you can spend as much as you want living the way you want. I spent every dime on 15000 NTD (15K) and 30K and more, and saved yet. Icon does not limit herself at her age and lives high on the hog because life is short and I want to enjoy my stay here in Taiwan. Plus I have learned where to save and where not to be stingy. In summary, I do not starve myself nor steal paper towels to use as toilet paper, I live pleasantly and have done so on a variety of salaries, The beauty of Taiwan is that yes, with a bit of searching, you can find something that suits your budget and lifestyle.

  1. There is something better than a monthly pass. We have this thing called EasyCard, which we can load up to 10K. It can be used in buses, trains, convenience stores and of course, MRT. I live down the line and commute every day, and go out on weekends. I do not spend more than 2K on transportation, but I put about 2K in the card every month to buy snacks and drinks and coffee anywhere I want to where it can be used.

Cards come in a variety of shapes and sizes, even stickers for your cellphone, again, for convenience. Some become valuable collectors items.

  1. I subscribe to what everyone calls “expensive” meal service. I do not think so. I get 3 meals a day delivered to my desk, prepared Western style -or Asian, depending on your preference. It is way less than 12K. This could be a good start while you get your bearings about cooking. It is a lot of food.

If traditional markets are not your thing, and you find the produce at supermarkets lacking, you can have organic groceries delivered to your doorstep. Organic stores carry a variety of produce and meats, Costco is also available, so once you get settled and get a fridge, you can be cooking up a storm. It is not easy, though, if just one person, to save on cooking. Buying outside stuff will always be cheaper due to mass quantities. There are very good, reasonably priced restaurants but we have been having issues with food safety so a combination of cooking in and eating out is highly advisable.

  1. Utilities and such depend on where you live, mostly, as well as usage. AC and dehumidifiers are required in summer, dehumidifiers in winter. If you run the AC 20 hours a day and live in a fancy area like Daan you’ll pay 10K, for example. A reasonable use at 22 or 23 degrees 8 hours or more anywhere else would go for 2K or 5k tops if a big place. Just make sure your AC is working properly. Like a faulty fridge, an old AC will elevate your bills.

My recommendation for starters is to rent a small studio, which run from 8k to 15k, depending on size and location. They include utilities, Internet, etc. and come fully furnished. Due to competitiveness -as said, there are many empty units everywhere- there is a large selection of new rooms -I mean brand new buildings. So do not settle for the first one you see, unless it is an excellent location. In terms of housing, there are no “once in a lifetime” opportunities. There is a super abundance of rooms available.

Icon, thank you very much for your detailed reply. You’ve eliminated a few more of my fears, thank you. When it comes to food though, I do plan on buying produce from local vendors, so I want to learn some basic Mandarin very soon after I arrive. I feel like there’s no point to moving to a foreign country if you don’t at least try to learn the local language. That is a top priority for me.

I have to say, where are you finding these studios for $8k-$15k? Everything I’m seeing for a new building, fully furnished, etc., is well over $20k unless it’s in a more remote region. I’ll need to be as close to the MRT as possible so I realize I will have to pay more. I check 591.com.tw every day and still don’t find a lot of options… I wonder if I’m simply using the site wrong! Hmm I dunno. I may PM you for more details!

You need to move outside taipei city core area, they you can find cheaper studios, although below 10k would be pushing it for a decent place and maybe 10-15k/mth on MRT is more realistic in new taipei city.

[quote=“sharpie”]Icon, thank you very much for your detailed reply. You’ve eliminated a few more of my fears, thank you. When it comes to food though, I do plan on buying produce from local vendors, so I want to learn some basic Mandarin very soon after I arrive. I feel like there’s no point to moving to a foreign country if you don’t at least try to learn the local language. That is a top priority for me.

I have to say, where are you finding these studios for $8k-$15k? Everything I’m seeing for a new building, fully furnished, etc., is well over $20k unless it’s in a more remote region. I’ll need to be as close to the MRT as possible so I realize I will have to pay more. I check 591.com.tw every day and still don’t find a lot of options… I wonder if I’m simply using the site wrong! Hmm I dunno. I may PM you for more details![/quote]

If you look in areas like Xinyi or Daan, yes, 20K, but even that is pushing it as highway robbery, IMHO. Yes, you want to be close to the MRT, but you do not need to be on top of the MRT. Yes, you want to be close to bars and restaurants, but you do not need to be living in the Shida nightmarket, for example.

Yep, 591 is scary. My recommendation is always the same: pick an area to look into, one that is convenient for you for your work, or you like, or you know someone there. Then do close search there, like on the ground. Some people have been lucky with real estate agents -even though they have to pay extra. Some people just walk around, see a sign for rent and Bob’s your uncle. But you have to know what you want.

8K or 10K will not give you a very large place. You must realize this from the start: space is at premium. But location rules, which is why a not so spacious cuchitril will always be more expensive if closer to MRT or in certain areas. That doesn’t mean you have to migrate to Sanxia or Linkou and commute everyday -though when they open the MRT line there it will be pretty nifty.

Finding a place to live combines clever searching skills with lots of luck.

[quote=“Icon”] Just make sure your AC is working properly. Like a faulty fridge, an old AC will elevate your bills.

[/quote]

This is so true. Clean your filters everyone! We’ve lived in our place 3 years and only thought to do it this year. The filters were thick with dust and no doubt elevating our bills.

[quote=“Petrichor”][quote=“Icon”] Just make sure your AC is working properly. Like a faulty fridge, an old AC will elevate your bills.

[/quote]

This is so true. Clean your filters everyone! We’ve lived in our place 3 years and only thought to do it this year. The filters were thick with dust and no doubt elevating our bills.[/quote]

Exactly. And seriously, invest in a newer unit. The old ones are energy vampires, while the new ones are not only prettier, more silent, but also save a bundle long term in energy usage.

“But I do not know how long I will stay…” then you can sell the unit for a better price if you leave, instead of having to pay someone to remove that eyesore in your humble abode, and eyesore that goes straight to the recycling station.

the new ones are good, but too much for somebody to pay for and install in a studio. Look for a studio with split type air con ALREADY Installed , saves money on buying, installing and dismantling, that all costs $$$.

Well, new ones, from Panasonic Hitachi or Sampo start at 9k, go to 11k, 15 k tops. It is suggested as an option for people who rent whole apartments, not studios. Studios as you say include the whole Internet, AC and furniture deal in a single package, one fee bundle, so no worries about expenditure -though that does not give you freedom to set it at 17 in the middle of summer and then need a down comforter, as my ex housemate.

If there’s one thing landlords skimp on, it’s AC, in my experience. Many places I’ve viewed have those ancient square ones, or none at all. Unfortunately for us new ACs mean 3 units, so we’ll have to stick with our oldish ones. But since cleaning them they’re much quieter.

Yep. Or buy by credit card, or ask for divided monthly payments -like 1000 nts for 12 months kind of thing. Zero interest rate.

The credit card option would not work for a lot of ppl on the boards. My landlord had the unit serviced before I moved in. We only have one, it’s air to water, so works like central cooling or heating.

They still have the monthly installments available without credit card. Zhuenguo Dientzu, so understanding.

And yes, maybe it can be suggested to request to have the unit serviced before you move in a new apartment. That way it is safer too, I can imagine dirty filters or faulty cables catching fire. Those details can be checked by the same technician who comes to clean the machine and reload the gas if so required. Hence, the machine works better, saves power, and saves money when you do not have to but all your stuff again…

BTW, that concept of central units has not quite taken root here. People -even business people, like a hotel I recently saw on the news- think populating each room with an AC saves energy as “you turn it off when you are not there”. And hence they end up with buildings with 80 ACs on the side…

We have controls in each room, so bedroom is cooled overnight, living room, dining room and library during the day. Works well. It heats too.

Cooling is OK, but tell me again about your heating system. If memory serves me right, it was pretty nice. And that is quite a drain in my budget in winter, more than summer.

Ah, heated floors…

HVAC machine on balcony making cold water in summer, hot water in winter. That goes to heat exchangers, one in each room. Works well.

My poor Toto has a water bed and I get the AC/fan going for my pets. They are way cooler at home than I would ever be in the office. But a system like yours at home for them in winter would be awesome.

I do not know how expensive it is to run, actually not more than the kerosene I used to use…