how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

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Re: how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby Icon » 10 May 2012, 18:12

GuyInTaiwan wrote:That's office workers in Taiwan. It didn't say where. They're saying 30,000NTD for a single person or 50,000NTD for a family? I call bullshit on that. I lived on less than 30,000NTD/month before I was married and that included a decent lifestyle. Maybe if they cooked at home or made their own lunches they'd save some more money. My wife, our two dogs, and I currently spend 5,000NTD/month on food and I'm hardly wasting away. Accommodation is dirt cheap outside of Taipei and outside of Taipei, most people probably live less than 20 minutes from work by scooter, which means they'd be spending hardly anything for transportation.

Also, if Taipei is that tight, why not get a job somewhere else? Surely, if that meant earning 5,000NTD/month less for some shitty job, but spending 10,000NTD/month less living in a cheaper city (and a lot of jobs probably don't pay that differently), that would be the way to go. I don't get the point of being poor in Taipei when you could be better off elsewhere.


:eek: Man, I spend 5K on pet food alone -but then there are six of them. I lived on 30K, too, 10 years ago. Now, I can't imagine that.
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Re: how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby Shaktipalooza » 10 May 2012, 18:57

My wife and I have two small children. There's no way I could accurately quantify the cost of living here vs the US (West Coast) since different expenditures are less/more expensive on either side of the Pacific. I will our savings account seems to be growing at a significantly higher rate, even on a similar income level as the US.

Part of this is due to not needing to own a car in Taiwan where in the US two vehicles were essential. We probably spend less than $300USD a month on transportation in Taipei, that includes liberal use of taxis. In the US our insurance premiums alone were close to that. Cost of vehicle ownership (x2) in the US was probably around $1200 per month. Take that savings and put it directly in the bank.

Rent here for a similar quality and sized apartment and area will cost at least as much as the US. I live in the Dazhi neighborhood where a modern three bedroom apartment will start at around 60k NT and easily hits 100k for more bells and whistles. You can find an older place for nearly half that price.

If you eat local food it's way cheaper than the US. Groceries are about the same with some exceptions (add $$ for milk or beer).

If you have small children, a high quality preschool is about 65% of the cost as one in the US. If you need to put your kids in the American School, don't consider Taiwan unless your company will pay. We just checked out our sons future elementary school and were very impressed with the quality of the facility.

As a small family we justified a move to Taipei because of career opportunities. We wouldn't have considered coming here if we'd thought our savings account would suffer, just not at that stage in our lives.

One massive perk to the location has been our ability to take vacations in places like Thailand, Borneo, India, Philippines, Burma, Cambodia, etc. Before moving to Taiwan I'd written off international travel for at least a few years. Airline tickets from the US add up fast for a family of four.
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Re: how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby Taiwan Luthiers » 10 May 2012, 20:13

I will add that the studio apartment I used to have in Shipai was a very nice studio apartment. All facilities are modern and clean. If you're are willing to put up with living in an older or less decorated place (concrete box like gongyu) then you can get a place in the same area for roughly half the price.

For me being in a modern looking place is overrated anyways because I don't really like the European style "modern" decorations... feels too sterile for me. I just prefer good old American style home, carpeted floors, textured walls or wallpapers, a few pictures here and there. That you probably won't find in Taiwan but the rent you'd save in an older concrete box apartment will allow you to put up carpets on the floor without feeling guilty, plus you got a lot more leeway in damages/messing things up when you're living in an older place.

The average Taiwanese don't seem all too concerned about that so they can probably do fine as a single person on 25K in Taipei. I mean seriously if everyone's truly poor and have no discretionary money then we shouldn't be seeing so many iPhones and Macbook Pros.

Tried the same thing in Berlin, living cheap, and found that I really couldn't do it for less than 400 euros a month, and that's with ZERO discretionary money! Rent alone for a studio STARTS at 250 euros, another 100 for food and 50 for transportation. Might be able to do for less if I like lived on the S Bahn (the ring bahn goes round and round without stopping, even past midnight sometimes, so you could get some good sleep on it without anyone noticing) but since you gotta pay for toilets everywhere (and the cost of a public shower is so high you might as well get a bed at a cheap hostel), its still hard to live for cheap. I seriously have no idea how those guys live on Harz IV (which gets you around 400 euros a month).

400 euros is around 18,000 to 20,000NT by the way.
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how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby headhonchoII » 10 May 2012, 20:33

The problem, as stated in the survey, is that pay is low so it is very difficult to save money. Need to buy a scooter or laptop or new suit and shoes , give a Hong Bao and get your teeth fixed, pay for your student loan, = little to no savings.
Even if you could save 7k a mth (hard if you are making 20-30k/mth after all deductions) it's only 84k NTD for the year.
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how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby headhonchoII » 10 May 2012, 20:56

Confuzius wrote:
headhonchoII wrote:
Accomodation is not 'dirt cheap' outside Taipei , it's still 10-20 NTD/mth rent for a small apartment, then most people . Cheap compared to most places of course.


My 3bdr, furnished, 3 airconditioner, washing machine, 2 balcony, small kitchen apt is 11k NT/month...and I am pretty sure I am being a bit overcharged. I can imagine what a studio would be...especially if I wasn't being overcharged.

I have a friend who lives on the other side of town and pays 9k nt/month for a studio. However, he lives in a building filled with foreigners (I do not) and his landlord pretty much only rents to foreigners...so the prices are HELLA jacked up.

I am pretty sure you can get a studio for around 6-8k nt a month if you do it right. This IS Taichung however, not Taipei. So I still think Taichung is hella cheaper than Taipei for rent, unless you rent from someone who only rents to foreigners.


You are not being overcharged, that is fairly cheap for Taichung especially as you have 3 aircons. The landlord is making almost no profit on you. Are you including guan li fei in that?

Areas of Taichung that have good schools and pavements and parks like Nantun are up to around 20k/mth for 3bedroom. Its all about the local amenities and convenience of transportation.


In Taiwan your kids can go to schools based on their Hukou. To get a Hukou you basically should own property in a given area, that is why rents and property costs vary enormously according to the school districts.
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Re: how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 11 May 2012, 08:59

Confuzius wrote:
headhonchoII wrote:
Accomodation is not 'dirt cheap' outside Taipei , it's still 10-20 NTD/mth rent for a small apartment, then most people . Cheap compared to most places of course.


My 3bdr, furnished, 3 airconditioner, washing machine, 2 balcony, small kitchen apt is 11k NT/month...and I am pretty sure I am being a bit overcharged. I can imagine what a studio would be...especially if I wasn't being overcharged.

I have a friend who lives on the other side of town and pays 9k nt/month for a studio. However, he lives in a building filled with foreigners (I do not) and his landlord pretty much only rents to foreigners...so the prices are HELLA jacked up.

I am pretty sure you can get a studio for around 6-8k nt a month if you do it right. This IS Taichung however, not Taipei. So I still think Taichung is hella cheaper than Taipei for rent, unless you rent from someone who only rents to foreigners.


Yeah, I don't know what he's talking about either. My place in Taoyuan had two bedrooms (one was previously two, but they'd knocked out a wall to make it a huge room), two bathrooms, a pretty large combined lounge/dining room, a kitchen, a laundry and a balcony. It was 10,200NTD/month, including the security/garbage fee. I won't even mention what I pay in Taidong because people will cite it as irrelevant.

HH: I know people feel a need to participate in social activities here, but there are social activities and there are social activities. I see my relatives or hear about my wife's university friends dropping massive amounts of money on a standard meal out, let alone bigger occasions, and think everyone is bloody crazy. Last weekend, nine people came to stay for the weekend. My wife cooked up a feast at home. There was enough food for the whole weekend, plus lots left over. Total price: 2,000NTD. People would go out and drop that on a single meal for eleven people quite easily. That's just silly. It's all a form of keeping up with the Joneses, or Chens. Once people get out of that mindset (whether it's big meals or fashionable clothes or the latest gadgets) it's much easier to save money. If necessary, cultivate different friendships and tell your relatives that you'll eat at home.
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Re: how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 11 May 2012, 09:18

Icon: I don't know about that. My wife and I eat good enough food. It's not exotic or luxurious, but it's not junk. I'm really not wasting away (I could do to lose a little round the middle). For the dogs (one a standard sized tugou, the other a slightly smaller mutt), she buys a whole lot of meat (beef, I believe) once or twice a month. She freezes it and then cooks it for them, and she gets bones from somewhere else too. They get other things here and there. They're not wasting away either, and the vet always says they're in good condition.

I really don't think my wife and I live a Spartan lifestyle. All of our needs (including things such as insurance, investing and an emergency fund) are covered. We put little bits aside for various things in terms of entertainment. We generally have quite modest desires though. If we go out, we'll go for a bike ride or a hike, or we'll drive to the beach. Things like that that don't cost a lot of money. This weekend, for my wife's birthday, we're going away to Green Island for a night. I got one of my colleagues to help me find a decently priced place. Actually, precisely because we don't do a ton of expensive stuff all of the time, when we do splash out a little, it's all the more exciting. On the rare occasions when we do eat out (because I honestly think that my wife and I make much better food than most restaurants, especially considering the cost), it's a special occasion.

I grew up primarily in the 1980s. Back then, people didn't have tons of "stuff" like they do now. Sure, there were kids at my school who did have tons of stuff, and their families used to take expensive vacations, but so what? My parents put all of their money into paying off their house and educating their kids. Between the ages of five and eighteen, I didn't go out of Australia. In fact, I remember two vacations (plus one sporting competition) that didn't consist of going to visit my uncle in Canberra at Easter or Christmas. My parents used to buy fish and chips about once every two weeks. We used to go to a Chinese or Italian restaurant maybe once or twice per year. Yet I don't feel like I led a deprived childhood. I was always doing stuff with my father, whether it was building stuff or driving somewhere to look at a garage sale or some books he'd seen advertised. I had everything I needed, and I got birthday and Christmas presents, and they were memorable precisely because I didn't get something every single week. People have got themselves caught in a trap now regarding money and expectations.
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Re: how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby Teddoman » 14 May 2012, 11:39

It's a really hard comparison to do between two countries or even two international cities because of differences in taxes, transportation, health care, etc etc as many have already mentioned. Given the need to "keep up with the Jones" that many people feel, what's also hard to measure is the typical standard of living that is considered socially acceptable to one's likely peer group. In order to fit in to certain groups, some people feel the need to spend money in what I would consider a wasteful way. If you live this way, you will probably spend away a lot of surplus earnings that could have been socked away somewhere. Working in certain higher income professions also ironically increases the pressure in your peer group to be a bit profligate with your money.

This is obvious, but to some it needs mention that savings = income - expenses. That means maximizing your income and minimizing your expenses. Absent a career change or working more shifts, you income is probably somewhat fixed. That means expenses are the only thing under your control.

If you live in a high expense locale like I do, the best thing you can do is to get good at saving money in nonobvious ways
- don't live right in the expensive neighborhoods, find a quality middle class neighborhood that you feel comfortable in but can commute to the city center within 30 minutes if you can cut your rent/mortgage significantly without sacrificing on schools for your kids, etc.
- join your friends after dinner for drinks, and then just have one drink
- don't go to movies in the theater
- encourage your friends to do more house parties or dinners, which saves money for everyone
- don't have kids (LOL)
- live somewhere where you don't have to own a car
- set aside mandatory savings each month, so you don't blow that money

I feel like the expectation to spend crazy money wasn't very big when I lived in Taiwan. I don't know if that was because everyone I knew was young and poor. But certainly one can enjoy much of Taiwan without spending a lot. I prided myself on paying $3,500/mo for a tiny room in an apartment near Tai-Da at one point.

It seems like high income jobs in the west are more available than they are in Taiwan. For someone like me who actively strategizes on how to lower my costs and is willing to "lower" their standard of living in certain ways, it felt like to me that there were more opportunities to save money in the US.

So overall, it felt to me like there's more juice that can be squeezed out of the American situation than the Taiwanese situation for a younger person, since it felt to me like a lower cost of living was already built into Taiwan expectations and therefore Taiwan salaries reflect that. American salaries are higher to reflect a higher cost of living, but in fact, there are ways to live cheaper than most people do.
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Re: how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby Abacus » 14 May 2012, 13:04

I think people need to realize if you are making 100,000 US/yr that you are blowing a lot of money on stuff you don't need. The question asked is what is comparable and not how to save money.

Personally I find Taiwan cheaper than the US but I live a considerably different lifestyle than someone making 100,000/yr. My primary expense is rent (significantly cheaper than the US) followed by groceries (not significantly different). Somebody owning a house and buying a lot of imported items (cars and electronics) won't live a considerably cheaper lifestyle in Taiwan. Taxes will be significantly cheaper however.
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Re: how much would you have to make in taiwan to be comparable to

Postby bigal » 14 May 2012, 13:09

Coming from the Uk and living in Tainan, I have to include lifestyle into the cost of living... My family here get to choose from a large selection of fruit, veg and seafood, we get to choose to go to some great mountains or go to a tropical beach. We can go out nearly every weekend and not worry about the weather or how to get there. They go to a great school with great facilities without the fear of being stabbed, shot or robbed, in fact they are safe. How does this come in to the cost of living? Bloody priceless. Because unless I was earning a fortune and already owned my own house then I would still be in a hole living in the UK.
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