Hi, this is D! I’m back again~
It has since been approximately 2 weeks since I settled down in Taipei and I’m ready to tell you more about living in Taipei (so far).
When we think of Taiwan, somehow, we associate it to being ‘cheaper’ than some Asian countries like Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong. But fact is, their property price is actually crazy high! Our rent in Taipei is actually the same as Japan’s, except we are getting half the size we enjoyed in Japan, from 40sqm to 20sqm. And the main problem with their rental property isn’t really the size but rather the cleanliness. If you want a generally clean apartment, it basically means a generally new apartment. And that comes at a cost. Comparing the rental situation in Japan (Tokyo/Kanagawa) to Taipei, I’d say Taipei is definitely more expensive if you are comparing similar standards. But, I think Singapore is hands down the worst because with the same amount, you’re just renting a room in a condominium in SG and you still got to share the apartment with others, which is a huge turn off for me. This is largely also because SG does not have many single-person aka shoebox apartments for rental.
Just a side note though, as a citizen in Taipei, this property price issue is even worse. With their generally low wage (their fresh grads actually get an average basic pay of <S$2000/mth), I can see why the young people in Taiwan are increasing frustrated and feeling bleak about their future in this country.
Next, you’d think that things in Taipei is generally cheaper than Japan and Singapore, right? For example, household products, movies, food etc. Well, Taipei has surprised me a lot so far because things here are actually on par if not pricier than Japan and Singapore. A movie ticket is 290TWD (~S$14), which is much cheaper than Japan’s but actually pricier than SG’s. Stuff in supermarket has shocked me a lot! My bottle of fabric softener, normal size that is not huge, easily hold-able with one hand, costs ~S$6 while I can get a normal Comfort brand softener in SG (NTUC) for S$3. A pack of spaghetti costs at least TWD600+ (~S$3) while I get one at S$2 in SG (NTUC). Basically, nothing is cheaper here. The cheapest instant noodles are the Taiwan brands, and they are at least S$4 per pack of 5 as well.
Now you’d think… “it’s okay! At least Taiwan’s street food and restaurants are cheaper! ” ….right? RUBBISH.
When it comes to food, GJH had always thought that it’s super cheap in Taiwan but well, fact is, bento lunch and non-restaurant food is actually on par if not pricier than Singapore’s hawker food. Just because a lu rou fan or mee suah is 30TWD (~S$1.50), it doesn’t mean eating in Taipei is cheap because those are actually snacks, not a proper meal you take for lunch or dinner. If you add in another side dish and drinks to make it a complete meal, that’ll easily set you back by another 30TWD+40TWD (~S$3.50), essentially making the cheapest meal around S$5, which is also the price of the cheapest meal in a hawker centre in Singapore. Just to give you a good gauge, a proper takeaway bento with rice, meat and vege, or a bowl of beef noodles, costs on average 90-120TWD (~S$4.50-S$6). That’s like our basic Cai Png price, not cheaper at all.
So is it cheap to live in Taipei?
(Unless you survive on BBT alone cos their BBT is the cheapest compared to SG and JP)
Apart from the costs of things in general, I am actually enjoying my time here because now, I have the ability to approach anyone I want to ask anything I want to ask about, including mobile phone line, taking the bus, etc. In Japan, I was basically handicapped because of the language barrier but here, that is not an issue at all. It’s actually quite liberating, haha. I also enjoy the myriad of books here because I love reading chinese books.
The worst part so far is probably the danger I face every time I have to cross the traffic light. In taipei, there are lots of scooters around and these scooters will basically weave through any tiny space they can get, including between human traffic when it’s green-man. So many times, I’ve had to stop dead in my tracks because a scooter is aggressively coming near to me or I feel like I could have died because I can almost feel the scooter behind me zooming past while I’m crossing the road. This applies to cars too, actually. As I get used to it, I’m learning to walk slowly and never stopping anymore, because these vehicles are actually very seasoned motorists who will drive/ride past you if you give them the opportunity to but they will stop in time if they know that you are crossing. Oh well.
But I did witness a small accident between a cyclist and motorcyclist. Neither gave way and they ended up colliding mildly. Oh well.
I guess so far, this is all I have. I think next time, I’ll write about finding an apartment in Taipei because that was an absolute nightmare! I actually wanted to write about that this time but talking about cost of living veered me off track, haha.