If you’re looking to settle down in the capital of Taiwan, one of your main concerns would be the cost of living in Taipei. Is Taipei expensive? What is the cost of rent in Taipei? What about food, transport, and a mobile plan? And of course, what’s the average salary in Taipei?
The cost of living in Taipei can be very affordable, depending on your lifestyle and the location of your rental apartment. This article will break down the major components that make up the cost of living in Taipei. You’ll also find a few tips on how to lower the budget of your monthly expenses.
The prices used below are in New Taiwan dollar (NT) and United States Dollar (USD).
Average monthly rent in Taipei
The cost of rent in Taipei greatly varies depending on the type of accommodation that you want, as well as the area of the city. As you’d expect, the closer you are to the city centre, the more expensive the rent will be. Rent would make up the bulk of your cost of living in Taipei.
A small studio apartment with one bedroom, one bath, and possibly a small kitchen can cost NT10,000 ($324) per month. But be warned – at this price, you’ll probably be staying in an old building, and it’ll be a squeeze. For a budget of between NT14,000–16,000 ($453-518) per month, you’ll have slightly more space and newer facilities.
If you’d like a spacious and large apartment, with two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a study, a living room and a kitchen, set aside a budget of around NT20,000-30,000 ($648-972) per month.
Typically, a rent deposit of two to three months will be needed upon signing the lease, but it’s also possible to negotiate with the landlord to spread out the deposit payment over a few months.
Cost of utilities in Taipei
Water is pretty consistent in pricing. The majority of apartments receive water from the Taipei Water Department. The water bill usually ranges between NT200-400 ($6.50-13) per month. Take note that it’s generally recommended to avoid drinking water from the tap.
In Taipei, natural gas or propane is used for cooking and heating water. Billed by the Great Taipei Gas Corporation, the price of gas ranges between NT300-450 ($10-15) per month.
Unlike the price of water and gas, the cost of electricity in Taipei can vary dramatically depending on the season. During winter, you usually don’t spend so much on electricity as the weather doesn’t get extremely cold. The occasional space heater will come in handy, though. It is the hot Taiwan summers, where air-conditioning and fans are used extensively, that cause households to run a high bill. In winter, expect the electricity to cost NT350-450 ($11-15) per month. In summer, this goes up to NT1,000 ($30) or higher per month.
Utilities are billed bi-monthly, and you can pay for it at a local convenience store, eg. 7-Eleven, Family Mart and OK.
Cost of internet in Taipei
The majority of Taipei apartments come hardwired with broadband. Landlords might also include internet costs as part of the rent.
If you need to set up the internet, several internet providers offer great deals on their websites. Popular telcom companies include ChungHwa Telecom, So-Net and Seednet.
Signing up for a one-year contract will help to lower the rates. You will need your passport, the Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), and also a Taiwanese guarantor to sign up. The average ADSL uncapped or cable plans cost around NT820 ($27) per month.
Bills for these services can be paid online.
Cost of Taiwan mobile SIM cards and plans
Getting a mobile phone plan is easy in Taiwan! You’ll need two forms of ID when signing up for the plan. Your Alien Resident Certificate counts as a form of ID.
If you do not have your ARC when you arrive, you can still easily get a prepaid SIM card at a local telco store or even a convenience store. You’ll still need two forms of ID, but you can use your passport and a government-issued ID like a driver’s license.
Popular providers include Myfone, Taiwan Mobile, and ChungHwa Telecom.
Unlimited data plans with minutes can range anywhere from NT600-1,300 ($19-42). The longer your plan, the cheaper your package. For instance, with Myfone, a one-year unlimited data plan costs NT999 ($32) per month, while a two-year unlimited data plan costs NT599 ($19) per month.
Look out for promotions – they are frequent and help save costs!
Cost of transport in Taipei
Living without a car in Taipei is easy with the highly accessible MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and the city’s extensive bus system. You should buy an EasyCard for public transportation; the initial balance will be NT500 ($16) – $100 for the card deposit and $400 for the rides. The ride costs are based on the distance you travel, and you can re-load cash onto the EasyCard via station kiosks.
Another affordable, healthy option for getting around Taipei is to use theYouBike or OBike bike sharing systems. Your EasyCard can be used for the bike rentals, with rates as cheap as NT10 ($0.30) per 30 minutes within the first four hours! Taipei has plenty of bike lanes, but navigating the busy traffic might be challenging for those not used to biking in a city.
Taxis are pricier, of course. The first 1.25 kilometres cost NT70 ($2) and then every additional 200 metres costs NT5 ($0.16). Night cabs charge NT20 ($0.65) more per ride. Ride-sharing apps like Uber are not popular in Taiwan.
Cost of food in Taipei
You can find a delicious bite in Taipei anywhere, anytime. With plenty of options in Taipei, from the hole-in-the-wall eateries to the overflowing night markets, locals often find that they spend just as much on groceries as they would eating out often.
With low food prices at night markets, you can have a delicious small meal for a mere NT30-100 ($1-3). A food budget of NT9,000 ($290) per month is very doable if you don’t dine at the pricier Western restaurants often. A larger budget of NT20,500 ($664) per month provides room for regular meals, plenty of dinners out, and snacks in between.
Cost of personal upkeep in Taipei
Let’s not forget the little things that will add to the cost of living in Taipei, such as gym membership and haircuts!
For those who enjoy working out, there’s an abundance of public parks with exercise facilities like pull-up bars and stretching equipment. There are also many aerobic/dance exercise groups in the morning, which are mostly joined by the elderly. Feel free to jump in and get to know the locals! If you’re looking to do some serious workouts, there are modern gym facilities; gym memberships that include class options run around NT1,000-1,500 ($32-48) per month.
Hair salons are on almost every street in Taipei. Generally, haircuts include a wash and head massage. For both men and women, a haircut in Taipei costs about NT308 ($10).
Cost of shopping and entertainment in Taipei
Looking for a fun weekend activity or a night out? There are plenty of options in Taipei that would fit your interests.
Watching a movie at the cinema isn’t considered cheap in Taiwan. Movie tickets cost around NT281 ($9). You might be interested in catching a free viewing of an independent film at the Taipei Film House instead.
Taipei has a vibrant party and club scene. Cocktail drinks cost around NT500-700 ($16-23), and most party-loving people would set aside a budget of NT2,000 ($65) for a night out to bars and nightclubs, including the taxi ride home.
For shopping, Taipei has multi-story, futuristic malls like Eslite Spectrum Mall or Far Eastern Sogo where you can shop for branded goods and unique handicrafts. If you want to work on your haggling skills and snag bargain deals, Huaxi Street Night Market or Raohe Street Night Market are popular destinations. Therefore, you can spend as much – or as little – as you want for shopping in Taipei.
Cost of incidentals in Taipei
When you’re plugged into the local culture of Taipei, you are likely to attend cultural events and celebrate holidays. However, these may come at a price that you should factor in!
For example, when you attend the wedding of a co-worker or a local friend, it is customary to gift a hong bao (red envelope) to congratulate the couple.
How much you should give depends on how close you are to the couple, as well as the class/venue of the reception. For instance, if it’s a wedding of a couple you’re familiar with, and the wedding is held at a five-star hotel, it is customary to gift a hong bao of NT2,800-3,200 ($91-104). Even if you cannot attend the wedding, it’s the social norm to still give ahong bao, albeit a smaller one. In the case above, NT1,800 ($58) would be sufficient.
The average salary in Taipei
According to Taiwan’s Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics, 70% of young people under 35 years old make less than NT40,000 ($1,297) per month in 2018. And as of 2019, Taiwan’s minimum wage is NT150 (US$5) per hour.
Taiwan has been seeking to attract more foreign talent into its job market. While knowing Mandarin Chinese will widen your job pool, there are still plenty of opportunities for those that are not Mandarin-savvy; popular jobs among expats include language teachers, IT engineers, or even models. Salaries depend on the skills that you have, though it tends to be lower compared to most Western countries. For example, foreigners teaching English full-time earn around NT60,000 ($1,945) per month.
With the moderate cost of living in Taipei, it’s definitely possible to put part of your salary into your savings.
Tax in Taiwan for foreigners
Taxes will vary depending on what year you arrive in Taiwan and how long you stay. You must file for taxes by May 31 if you stay in Taiwan for over 183 days. Taxes can be completed either via the online filing system or by submitting physical forms. For more information about your tax rate, you can review the information set by the Ministry of Finance.
Taiwan healthcare and insurance for foreigners
Taiwan is famous for its excellent healthcare system.
National Health Insurance covers both local Taiwanese and foreigners that have an Alien Residence Certificate. Insurance usually costs NT$1,000-1,500 ($38-42) per month, and it will be deducted from your salary if not already paid for by your employer.
With insurance, you’ll have to fork out just 10-15% of the cost of your medical visit.
Pension for foreigners in Taiwan
Only foreigners with permanent residency are included in Taiwan’s pension system. In this situation, employers are obliged to contribute funds of at least 6% of the monthly wage to their employees’ individual labour pension account.