The cost of living in Taiwan varies depending on the area expats choose to live, as well as their lifestyle. Most foreign nationals relocate to Taipei, although rural living and the south of Taiwan are much less expensive. The 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Taipei at 28 out of 209 cities, making it more expensive than Paris and Milan, but cheaper than London and Dubai.

While Taipei may inspire the highest cost of living in Taiwan, it is still significantly cheaper than regional competitors like Beijing, Seoul, Singapore, and Hong Kong. That said, life in Taiwan is quite consumer oriented and expats living in Taipei, in particular, will have to battle the constant onslaught of trends, merchandise and entertainment if they wish to save their money.


Cost of accommodation in Taiwan

Housing in Taipei is expensive and most accommodation is small and has basic amenities. Affordable one-man apartments will most likely be lacking a kitchen. That said, clean, spacious apartments with three or four bedrooms are easy to find. 

Buildings tend to suffer under the humid climate and cheaper accommodation is therefore often plagued by mould and mildew that thrives in high humidity environments. 

Utilities are affordable, although electricity bills increase a lot during the hot summer months when it is all but impossible to live without air conditioning. Stoves and geysers are usually gas-powered, which helps to minimise costs. Initially, the most exorbitant household cost will seem to be the trash bags, which are sold at a premium to encourage recycling.


Transport costs in Taiwan

Taipei has fantastic public transport that is affordable and reliable. The vast majority of both locals and expats in Taiwan make use of public transport as it's possible to get anywhere at any time without a car.

Owning a car is a great expense as the monthly costs include not only the car repayments but also fuel tax, insurance, maintenance and extremely expensive parking fees.

Many locals (and some brave foreigners) have small motorcycles which are a cheap and convenient, if somewhat dangerous, way to get around. Those without motorcycles usually have bicycles, which are easy to ride on Taipei’s flat streets.


Cost of schooling in Taiwan

There are world class English education schools in Taipei, but expats should be prepared to pay high fees. International school fees are typically high and additional expenses such as textbooks, uniforms and bus service are not always included.


Cost of health insurance in Taiwan

The healthcare system in Taiwan is extremely advanced and the costs are low.

In Taiwan, employers are legally required to subsidise the health insurance of their employees. Foreign employees will be placed on the National Health Insurance and receive the same benefits as Taiwanese locals. For a small stipend, expats in Taiwan can have access to Western doctors, Chinese doctors, hospitalisation, dentistry, prescription medicine and more.


Cost of food and clothing in Taiwan

The cost of food and clothing in Taiwan varies hugely and it's up to the individual how much they want to spend, but it's fair to say that the quality of clothing is determined by price. As such, quality clothing tends to be limited to designer brands and is therefore expensive. Many expats resort to buying clothes when they visit their home countries or shopping online.

Night markets have cheap food and clothes but the clothes are often made from poor quality, synthetic fabrics. Day markets sell large amounts of affordable fresh vegetables, and fruit is also readily available and relatively inexpensive.

There are many restaurants tucked away in side alleys that sell local food, which is often a fairly healthy and cheap option.

Taiwan does not have much of a drinking culture and so alcohol is expensive. Spirits are the most affordable, followed by beer and wine.


Cost of living in Taiwan chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Taipei in June 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NT 12,000 - 30,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NT 8,000 - 20,000

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NT 30,000 - 80,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NT 21,000 - 50,000

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

NT 73.60

Milk (1 litre)

NT 93.40

Rice (1kg)

NT 88.20

Loaf of white bread

NT 53.90

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NT 310

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NT 120

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

NT 149

Coca-Cola (330ml)

NT 28.20

Cappuccino

NT 89.20

Bottle of local beer (500ml)

NT 60

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

NT 800

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

NT 5

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable average per month)

NT 700

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

NT 2,460

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

NT 25

Bus/train fare in the city centre

NT 20

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

NT 27.50