Although the cost of living is much lower in rural and southern Taiwan, most new arrivals settle in Taipei. A comparatively expensive city, the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Taipei at 57th out of 227 other popular expat cities. This is still far below other regional hubs such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing or Singapore though.

In general, if earning an expat salary, one can enjoy a higher standard of living than back home, even if the actual wage is lower before adjusting for purchasing power. That said, many foreigners soon discover that they can generally afford more with less money. Even as a local hire, new arrivals will probably be paid a 'foreigner salary' rather than a local one, especially if bilingual, and certainly if speaking English or another foreign language is considered a necessary skill for the position.

That said, Taipei has as much of a consumer culture as many large Western or Asian cities, and expat families will need to decide how much of their monthly income they are prepared to spend to maintain the lifestyle they were living in their home countries. Western clothing and foodstuffs are generally pricier than local options.

Cost of accommodation in Taipei

Although higher than elsewhere in Taiwan, housing in Taipei is generally affordable, as renting and living centrally is not as expensive as it might be in Western cities.

On the other hand, buying property in Taipei is prohibitively expensive, as real estate costs are similar to those in more expensive countries.

Cost of transport in Taipei

Getting around in Taipei is easy and affordable, thanks to the city's extensive and reliable public transport network. Most expats find owning a car an unnecessary expense and choose to travel on the MRT or the city's buses.

Thrifty expats can purchase a smart card to access both the MRT and buses, and this will also provide discounts. Taxis are also available; although they are comparatively pricier than public transport, they are still affordable by global standards.

Cost of groceries and goods in Taipei

One downside of cooking at home is that it can cost as much as eating out, especially if cooking Western food. This can be frustrating for those who prefer cooking their food or like to have total control of ingredients and the cooking process.

Goods tend to be cheaper in Taiwan than they are in the US or UK. With all the street stalls selling accessories and the affordability of decor and furniture, items tend to be cheaper than in other countries.

While many goods in Taipei are cheap, they are often poorly made. This is especially true when it comes to textiles and some electronics brands. Sheets, pillows, blankets, towels and curtains tend to be of inferior quality, and many are made of synthetic, even plastic-like fabrics. Despite the abundance of inexpensive goods, imported luxury brands are costly due to high import duties.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Taipei

Expats will be astonished by the depth and breadth of the options for eating out in Taipei. These range from food stalls making cheap, tasty and quick meals or snacks to restaurants offering sit-down dinners of several courses.

Western alcohol can cost more in Taipei than in Western European or North American countries, but going out in Taipei is still affordable. Even Taipei's fanciest bars are reasonable, and most local and expat-friendly places also have wallet-friendly prices.

Cost of education in Taipei

Expats may be surprised by the lack of English language schools in Taipei, since the city is home to a sizeable English-speaking community. Expat parents who want their children to learn in English will have to budget for the high fees associated with international schools or send their children to one of Taipei's highly religious English schools. Those with young children have the option of enrolling their children in Taipei's highly regarded schools at a fraction of the cost of international schools.

Cost of healthcare in Taipei

Taipei offers a solid healthcare system that is both affordable and efficient. The city's healthcare operates under Taiwan's National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, providing residents access to various medical services. Expats living in Taipei for more than six months must enrol in the NHI programme, with premiums according to their income. Services such as general consultations, prescribed medications, and hospitalisation are covered under this insurance, though some co-payments may be required at the point of use.

Expats may choose to use private healthcare facilities for more comfort and quicker service, higher-end facilities, less waiting time and the advantage of English-speaking staff. However, private healthcare can be costlier, and not all services may be covered under the NHI, requiring either out-of-pocket payments or a private health insurance plan.

Cost of living in Taiwan chart 

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Taipei in July 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NTD 47,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

NTD 35,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NTD 19,100

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

NTD 13,500

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

NTD 125

Milk (1 litre)

NTD 95

Rice (1kg)

NTD 100

Loaf of white bread

NTD 64

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NTD 131

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NTD 128

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

NTD 1,200

Big Mac meal

NTD 149

Coca-Cola (330ml)

NTD 33


NTD 102

Bottle of beer (local)

NTD 49


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

NTD 5.13

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

NTD 770

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

NTD 2,300


Taxi rate/km

NTD 25

City-centre public transport fare

NTD 25

Gasoline (per litre)

NTD 31

Expat Health Insurance

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