Living in Taiwan, has afforded my wife with great opportunities to save money. Living in Taipei can be quite more expensive than living in a smaller town. We do save a bit more money on transportation living in Taipei, but housing and food costs are a bit higher for our one bedroom apartment. The cool thing is that we save close to 70% of our income every month by living in Taiwan. Here is our budget living in Taiwan.
Living in Taiwan is Cheap
Every place has similar costs. Using geoarbitrage (moving to a high cost of living to a low cost of living area) we have much lower costs of living by living in a cheaper place like Taiwan.
We are not in need of a car mainly because we use bikes to get around or the wonderful public transportation system.
Our healthcare is a government healthcare system, which costs us close to $27 a month for having universal healthcare. We are able to get most things at clinics and appointments free while using our health card.
The food we eat is quite cheap as well. My wife has a keen sense to seek out the best deals at our local market. We rarely shop for veggies and fruit at a grocery store.
The local market has some great deals, and we prefer fresh fruits and vegetables.
Transportation is another way we like to save money. Public transportation is quite convenient and cheap as well. A bus ride to school will cost us about $1 USD. Around town, we have the options of a bus, the MRT (Metro), and Ubikes.
We prefer to use our own bikes, which brings more convenience, and it is also cheaper in the long run.
These are things that help us keep costs down. Let’s break down this budget.
Our Taiwan Budget:
The chart above shows our budget of what we spent. As I said before we save 70% of our take-home income. The chart above is about 30% of our take-home pay.
In the month of September, we spent around $1270 USD. Our normal pay is around $4700 USD, which includes a housing allowance from work.
That housing allowance is about $350 USD depending on the exchange rates. If you do the math, we spent roughly 30% of our take home pay.
Living in Taiwan can be quite cheap, and you can save a good bit of money.
Here is breakdown of what we spent money on.
Rent in Taipei: $630 USD (18,000 NT)
Taipei rent is much higher than rent in other places in Taiwan. It is the capital of the country. The business center of Taiwan is located in Taipei, and people want to be here for jobs and many other opportunities.
In smaller parts of Taiwan, you are able to get bigger places for cheaper rent.
A friend of mine moved to Taichung, Taiwan. He has a three bedroom, renovated apartment that he pays about $730 USD, and my apartment is one bedroom for $100 cheaper.
We have a friend that lives near the beach. Her and a few friends rent a 4 story 5 bedroom house for $560 USD.
Mrs. FE and myself could move to another city in Taiwan to save more money, but we like where we live and it is very convenient to work, friends, and entertainment.
Food in Taiwan: $280 USD (7,990 NT)
Mrs. FE and myself try to keep our food budget low. It is great if we can keep prices of food down to 50 NT per meal per day per person. 50 NT is roughly $2. So we rarely eat out, and shop for deals at our local market.
Obviously, restaurants and cafes will have higher priced food and sometimes we splurge (especially on Sunday afternoons). Otherwise, we try to eat cheaply.
With our job, we do receive 3-9 meals a week that are free. If there are any leftovers, we make sure to collect that food, and take it home for an extra free meal. When you are frugal, free food helps save money for you.
Utilities: $52 USD (1505 NT)
The utilities consist of water, electricity, and gas. We do our best to be frugal.
Mrs. FE is more cautious than I am on utilities. At night time, the Wifi is turned off. All lights are turned off if we are not using them. The outside balcony is used more often due to natural light. Making sure items are unplugged in order to not use electricity.
We also do our best to not use Air Conditioning. It can be hard if the weather is 33 degrees Celsius outside, but we have a few fans to survive.
We are basically pretty frugal on utilities. It is also a plus that we have energy-efficient A/C units as well.
Since we pay our wifi bill every three months, it is not included in this utility bill. We have high-speed internet that costs us around $15 USD every month. It is cheap and really good.
Travel Budget Item: $33 (960 NT)
Mrs. FE and I love to travel. Since Covid has hit we have traveled less. We are trying to hit up friends in other parts of Taiwan via bus trips, and we are taking our bikes on the way to save on transportation in those cities as well.
Travel would be a bigger budget item, but for now traveling outside of Taiwan is not really much of an option due to quarantines when you come back into the country. In other years, our budget would be much higher for traveling.
Miscellaneous: $111 (3,185 NT)
Spending money happens in life. We have given gifts to people for a wedding. I often like to go to the local sports center to lift weights, and we also need to buy credit for our phones every other month depending on how much data we use.
This category takes care of the tiny little expenses that we may have spent throughout the month on various things. Netflix is something we enjoy, and we also spend about $1 a month on Spotify because we are in a family plan here in Taiwan.
Our Expenses here in Taiwan:
In all honesty, Mrs. FE and I could live off of $1000 USD per month here in Taiwan. Right now, we are spending a bit more on some occasional gifts for people, weddings, travel, and even the occasional dinner out for a date or with some friends.
Life in Taiwan is great, and being able to live at a lower cost of living affords us the opportunity to save more money and invest more for our future.
Obviously, we could spend more money, but we choose not too. We have other plans in life, and one of them is to reach financial independence in order to not have to always rely on working to live life together.
One last thing:
We actually do not save 70% of our income. As a Christian, Mrs. FE and I tithe about 10% of our income. So without that additional tithe, our savings rate would be close to 70%. We feel blessed, and therefore we try to go out and bless others as well.
Take a look at your budget. What are some things you can do to lower costs and still enjoy the life you live. Start with creating a simple budget like the 50/30/20 budget.
We enjoy living in Taiwan, saving money, and enjoying life together.
As a bonus, I was able to be interviewed by Chrissy from EatSleepBreatheFI about our budget. Here is the interview.
” Spend less than you make, stay out of debt, and invest the rest”
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.