Cost of Living in Taiwan : Budget Guide

If you are wondering what the cost of living is in Taiwan, Taipei specifically, then you are in luck! I am here to educate you on the basic prices of living in Taiwan. I hope you find this guide helpful. Share it with the people that are interested in the Taiwanese lifestyle and cost of living.

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Cost of Living in Taiwan

First, I will start off with food prices around Taipei specifically, so you can get a feel for the cost of living in probably the most expensive place to live in Taiwan. Remember the prices listed are general costs, and they can vary widely from place to place, but at least this is a good basis to consider.

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1 USD (United States Dollar) is about 30 NTD (New Taiwan Dollars)

At the time of writing this article, the exchange rate was about 30 NTD to 1 USD.

Food Taiwan Dollar Price USD Price
Chicken 60-200 NTD $2-6.66
Pork 50-200 NTD $1.66-6.66
Beef 90-600 NTD $3-20
Fish 50-200 NTD $1.66-6.66
Eggs (x10) 40-100 NTD $1.33-3.33
Bread (x12) 30-50 NTD $1-1.66
Cheese 160-200 NTD $5.32-6.66
Rice (3kg) 150-300 NTD $5-10
Pasta assorted 30-120 NTD $1-4
Noodles (packaged) 30-200 NTD $1-6.66
Cereal (small box) 75-200 NTD $2.50-6.66
Fruits assorted 40-300 NTD $1.33-10
Vegetables assorted 20-200 NTD $0.66-6.66
Potato Chips (small bag) 30-60 NTD $1-2
Oreos 30-85 NTD $1-2.85
Peanut Butter 90-150 NTD $3-5
Chocolate 20-150 NTD $0.66-5
Other Candy 20-100 NTD $0.66-3
Potato (800g) 60-100 NTD $2-3
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Panorama of a Family Mart in Taiwan

You have to remember there are varying sizes of these items, so prices will definitely vary. If you want the higher quality or higher quantity items, you must pay more. Next, I will introduce you to the prices of drinks in Taiwan, specifically Taipei.

Taiwan is an eating-out culture because food from shops is so cheap. You do not really save that much money if you buy your food from a store and cook it yourself. Sure, you have some delicious meals that are atypical, but you still have to clean up everything and you are paying about the same if you go out to eat. If you do happen to spend a lot of money on higher class restaurants, cooking things yourself can save money.

A typical meal from a shop can range from 30NTD-200NTD ($1-6.50 USD) at a mid-level restaurant. I know of a place where you can get a good steak plus an all you can eat buffet for the price of the steak 300NTD-500NTD ($10-18 USD). Many street vendors sell small snacks for very reasonable prices 10NTD-100NTD ($0.30-3 USD). The farther you get away from Taipei, the heart of the city, the less food will generally cost. I live in New Taipei City where prices are not as high as Taipei itself.

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At the beach! Sometimes, it’s nice to get away from the city.
Drinks Taiwan Dollar Price USD Price
Milk 75-200 NTD $2.50-6.66
Juice 30-150 NTD $1-5
Beer – Single 30-150 NTD $1-5
Beer – 6 pack 150-250 NTD $5-8.31
Wine 300-2000 NTD $10-66
Water 15-50 NTD $0.50-1.66
Soda 20-100 NTD $0.66-3
Tea – self made 50-300 NTD $1.66-10
Tea – drink 10-50 NTD $0.33-1.66
Coffee –self made 100-300 NTD $3-10

 

The milk sizes vary greatly in Taiwan, but that is the regular big size price. If you buy beer at convenient store or grocery store, you will be saving a lot of money compared to buying it at a bar.  You must remember this is a general guide and not super specific to one individual store. You may find other prices that differ slightly. The next thing I will introduce to you are the other assorted items you may need to survive.

 

Personal Hygiene Taiwan Dollar Price USD Price
Shampoo 100-400 NTD $3.33-$13
Conditioner 100-400 NTD $3.33-$13
Toothbrush 15-150 NTD $0.50-$5
Toothpaste 50-200 NTD $1.66-6.66
Mouth Wash 75-200 NTD $2.50-6.66
Razer(s) 50-350 NTD $1.66-11.66
Shaving Cream 100-150 NTD $3.33-5
Laundry Detergent (2kg) 100-300 NTD $3.33-10
Tissues (Toilet paper) 100-250 NTD $3-8.33
Paper Towels 70-150 NTD $2.33-5
Condoms (6-12) 300-500 NTD $10-16.66
Umbrella 90-200 NTD $3-6.66
Deodorant 50-200 NTD $1.66-6.66

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Everybody gets a little stressed in Taiwan.

Transportation 

The cost of transportation is relatively cheap in Taiwan. I do enjoy not spending that much on getting from place to place in Taiwan.

Taxi

To take a 20-30 minute ride in a Taxi is usually about 300 NTD ($10 USD). Obviously, this is an average estimate though. Each ride will vary. Most taxi drivers are honest people and do not try to rip you off. I have only had one bad experience with a taxi driver taking me to a wrong place because he read my ARC wrong, and he tried to confirm the address with me in Chinese, so I just said, “Yes, sure.” My mistake too.

MRT

To take a ride on the MRT will vary from place to place. On average you will be spending 10-50 NTD ($0.30-1.66 USD) per way if you use the MRT. I love using the MRT to get places because it is clean, safe, and easy. You are not allowed to eat or drink on the MRT, so they can keep it very hygienic.

Bus

To ride the bus one way around the city, should only cost you from 7-30 NTD ($0.25-1 USD). The bus is a little harder to take because there are basically no English signs. If you have some Chinese language skills, now would be the time to use them! Or, you can make some friends that can help you with the bus routes. If you are waiting at a bus stop, you need to raise your hand when your bus comes or else the bus may just pass your stop. I made that mistake once and never again! There are many bus numbers, so you must be constantly aware of which bus is coming.

Ubike

If you take a Ubike, the city’s rent-a-bike system, you can use the bike for around 5-50 NTD ($0.17-1.66 USD) for a limited time. In New Taipei City, if you ride to your next destination in under 10-15 minutes, it’s free! So, ride quickly! In the actual city of Taipei, this rule no longer applies and it will charge you the minimum fee of 5 NTD. You need to register your EasyCard with a phone number before you can use the Ubike system.

 

Sample Budget Guides

Now, I will go through some typical budget scenarios for living in Taiwan. Let’s first start by just taking a very average full-time English teacher’s salary and say we are making 50,000 NTD per month (~$1,600 USD/month). 50,000 NTD is an nice round number, so it will be easier to see the relations for the budgets.

Basically, people will generally fall into one of three categories, maybe even varying each budget plan from month to month. We have the Saver, the Middleman, and the Spender. I am going to discuss monthly budgets with you because people here typically get paid once a month and live month to month.

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Which one are you?

The Saver

The Saver is a person that generally likes to try to spend less and save more. There are many cheap options in Taiwan that allow the Saver to flourish. The Saver does not feel obligated to live in a lavish way and will generally not be focused on material goods. The Saver will try to optimize the savings each money, so they can eventually stack up the cash for a bigger purchase or debt to repay.

Monthly Budget: The Saver (50,000 NTD)
Rent 8,000 NTD 42,000 NTD
Food 3,000 NTD 39,000 NTD
Drinks 1,000 NTD 38,000 NTD
Transportation 500 NTD 37,500 NTD
Going Out 500 NTD 37,000 NTD
Utilities 500 NTD 36,500 NTD
Internet/Cable 200 NTD 36,300 NTD
Total Saved   36,300 NTD ($1,210 USD)

Savers will usually try to pick affordable places to rent. Some places in Taiwan you get can for as little as 3000 NTD ($100 USD) per month. There are many cheap options for food in Taiwan, especially if you eat like the locals. The drink shops are plenty in Taiwan, especially Taipei, but the Saver will not give into the temptation often. If you are wise with the way you travel, or you buy a bike, you can cut your transportation costs heavily. Savers tend to try to minimize the extra options like going out on the town. Utilities are quite cheap in Taiwan, which makes it a great place to save a little cash if you can limit yourself.

NOTE: The Saver’s Budget is highly uncommon. Most people do not have the will or desire to keep this budget, but it is possible with lots of mental strength. I would say only about 2% of the foreign population will be on this budget.

 

The Middleman

The Middleman is a person that tries to save a little and spend a little. The Middleman does like to save money, but also likes to enjoy some of the activities that life has to offer. The Middleman will spend a bit more than the saver to get a more rich experience from life. The Middleman likes to do things, but always wants to have a little bit of emergency money at the end of the money.

Monthly Budget: The Middleman (50,000 NTD)
Rent 12,000 NTD 38,000 NTD
Food 7,000 NTD 31,000 NTD
Drinks 2,000 NTD 29,000 NTD
Transportation 1,000 NTD 28,000 NTD
Going Out 5,000 NTD 23,000 NTD
Utilities 1,000 NTD 22,000 NTD
Internet/Cable 600 NTD 21,400 NTD
Total Saved   21,400 NTD ($710 USD)

Middlemen will often pick places to rent that have at least some comforts and upgrades to them, like a washer or small kitchen. Middlemen might eat out at a little fancier restaurants some times which can cost them anywhere from 300-600 NTD per meal ($10-20 USD). Middlemen might take taxis on occasion when there is no better option. They are willing to pick comfort over price sometimes. Middlemen will enjoy the nightlife and activities around Taiwan more than the Savers. Going out to a bar might easily set them back 600-1000 NTD ($20-30 USD) per night. Having a better place to live might also come with the cost of more utilities for that place. Internet and cable are usually a must for middlemen.

 

The Spender 

The Spender is a person that likes to try to maximize the opportunities to do things and usually has all the latest gear. The Spender does not usually concern them-self with picking the cheapest options, but rather finding the best fitting options despite the cost. The Spender does not worry about saving money, only really making sure they do not run out of money by the end of the month.

Monthly Budget: The Spender (50,000 NTD)
Rent 16,000 NTD 34,000 NTD
Food 11,000 NTD 23,000 NTD
Drinks 3,000 NTD 20,000 NTD
Transportation 3,000 NTD 17,000 NTD
Going Out 10,000 NTD 7,000 NTD
Utilities 1,500 NTD 5,500 NTD
Internet/Cable 1,500 NTD 4,000 NTD
Total Saved   4,000 NTD ($130 USD)

The Spenders live an all out lifestyle. They will normally pick very fancy and modern places to rent. Their apartments will come with many modern features such as washer, kitchen, bigger areas, and big TVs. A Spender might dine out at very fancy restaurants on occasion and middle of the road restaurants normally, setting them back 300-1,500 NTD ($10-45 USD) per meal. Spenders will not buying a delicious drink whenever they feel thirsty. Transportation costs will go up because normally Spenders like to party. Once the bar or clubs close, Taxis are usually the main option for getting home since the MRT and busses will not be in service until around 6am. A night out at the club or a fancy bar could easily set the Spenders back 1000-3000 NTD ($30-100 USD) per night. Internet and cable are a must for the Spenders too.

 

My Budget

People have been asking what my personal budget is, so I will give you a bit of insight into it. I will detail what I spend per month, and then you may see which category I fall into.

Monthly Budget: My Budget (50,000 NTD)
Rent 15,000 NTD 35,000 NTD
Food 9,000 NTD 26,000 NTD
Drinks 3,000 NTD 23,000 NTD
Transportation 1,500 NTD 21,500 NTD
Going Out 6,000 NTD 15,500 NTD
Utilities 1,500 NTD 14,000 NTD
Internet/Cable 1,000 NTD 13,000 NTD
Total Saved   13,000 NTD ($433 USD)

This budget excludes extra purchases. I do occasionally buy a new tech. gadget, so my overall savings per month might drop to a measly 6,000 NTD ($200 USD) per month. But, at least you can get an idea where I am on the spectrum (The Spender, ha). If you have any questions about my budget, feel free to ask.

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What are you waiting for? Get out there and explore Taiwan!

Conclusion

Everyone does not fit into one single category neatly. I have just separated these ideas to give you some perspective. Keep in mind, these budgets does not include buying anything extra like material things such as TVs, cellphones, tech gear, or anything else. This is a very basic way to see an average budget played out. Of course there will be variances in each style and theses budgets do not account for everything that can and will happen to you while living in Taiwan. But, at least you can get the basic idea of the living costs and what you can save while making an average salary here. If you felt this guide was accurate and helpful, please share it with your friends and people that are interested in Taiwan! 🙂

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them! I am open to anything you have to say.

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