Expenses and the cost of living in Taipei
I have been living in Taiwan and working as a business English teacher for the past 4 years. One of the questions I get asked the most, aside from ‘why did you chose to live in Taiwan’, is whether Taiwan is an affordable place to live. In this post, I’ll break down the expected living costs in Taipei for two groups of people – those who want to save as much money as possible while living in Asia, and those who don’t mind throwing some money around.
Taiwan on a budget
If you’re looking to save some money, or prefer to spend your money traveling, then this is for you. The starting salary in Taiwan is a bit lower than you likely make back home, but with a lower cost of living it is definitely enough to get by on – as long as you use your salary wisely.
10,000 for a small studio, 6,000-10,000 if you rent a room in a shared house. (This is in Taipei, other cities in Taiwan will be even less)
Food and Drinks:
If I’m actively budgeting I spend 200-300NTD per day on food and drinks. It could be much less if I cook more and make coffee at home.
- Large coffee: 80 NTD , or 55 NTD if you are okay with 7-11 coffee
- Breakfast: 40NTD for a pork sandwich
- Lunch: 60- 80 NTD for a packed lunchbox (3 servings of veggies, rice, meat, and a boiled egg)
- Dinner: 100 NTD for a bowl of rice and beef, or some night market snacks.
If you’re on a budget 9,000 NTD a month is doable but doesn’t include many trips to western restaurants. Expect to pay 200-400 a meal if you eat out with friends.
This is going to depend a lot on where you live, and how far you are from your school or workplace. I’ll show my numbers as an example.
Round-trip transportation cost: 45NTD x 30 = 1350
Add in a couple extra trips around town and I’m at around 2000/month
***UBike and OBike are great (and affordable) options if you want to get some exercise in.
Getting a cell phone plan in Taiwan is quite affordable. My phone bill is 700NTD/month with unlimited 4G data. I personally recommend Taiwan Mobile as it has the best coverage in my experience.
My first year, when I tried to save a lot, I spent around 25,000 – 30,000NTD per month. Spending 25,000 was a bit of a struggle but if you eat local food and learn what to buy it shouldn’t be that hard. Frugal living could potentially add $1,000 to your bank each month.
Life on a higher budget
There are a lot of opportunities to increase your salary if you have experience and don’t mind working hard. My second and third year have been pretty busy but let me live a fairly comfortable life.
I currently pay 18,000/month for a 2BR apartment, but decently sized 1BR apartments can be found for around 15,000. Rent is going to vary a lot based on the all important location. I don’t mind a place far from the MRT as long as it is a new building and has an elevator.
Expect to budget 500-600 a day for food if you want to eat out at a western restaurant for dinner.
- 50 – at breakfast shop
- 150 – lunch
- 300 – dinner
- 100 – coffee/tea
600/day = 18,000/month
I find myself taking Taxis more often than I should because they are so cheap. A taxi to work only costs 120 NTD.
I take the taxi a few times a week and spend around 3,200/month on transportation.
I think 600NTD/month is the most you should pay for a phone contract in Taiwan. Unlimited data is the only thing to go for as everyone uses chat apps like LINE to make calls.
The good thing about working a lot is not having much time to go out! I go out to the movies or bar 3-4 times a month. *2017 update should read 1-2 times a month as I’m busy preparing for a wedding now*
A night out to the movies will cost around 800NTD for two people (tickets and 2 cups of soda)
A night out to the bar or nightclub on average costs 2000NTD/night including the taxi ride home. The less you go out the more you can put towards savings or travel.
If I look at my receipts, 6,000NTD/Month is my usual entertainment cost.
I currently spend around 60,000NTD per month and have settled into a comfortable life. I still save $1,000 – $2,000 a month but work 7 days a week to do so. And every couple months I spend my savings on a new travel destination. The cost of living in Taipei is not as high as other major cities around Asia. With some simple budgeting, there is potential to save even more money at the end of the month.