Although the cost of living is much lower in rural and southern Taiwan, most new arrivals to the country settle in Taipei. A comparatively expensive city, the 2022 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Taipei at 28th out of 227 other popular expat cities, although this is still far below other regional hubs such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing or Singapore.

In general, if earning an expat salary, one can enjoy a higher standard of living than back home, even if the actual wage, before adjusting for purchasing power, is lower. 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' rather than a 'local' wage, 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 that they were living in their home countries. Western clothing and foodstuffs are generally much more expensive 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, it's prohibitively expensive to buy property in Taipei, as real estate costs are similar to those in more expensive countries.

Cost of food 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.

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

Drinking Western alcohol can cost more in Taipei than in the West, but going out in Taipei is still affordable. Even Taipei’s fanciest bars are affordable, and most local and expat-friendly places have wallet-friendly prices as well.

Cost of transport in Taipei

Getting around in Taipei is both 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, 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 education in Taipei

Expats may be surprised by the lack of English language schools in Taipei, owing to the city's large English-speaking community. Expat parents who would like their children to learn in English will have to budget for the exorbitant 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 goods in Taipei

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 tends to be cheaper than in other countries.

Although 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 living in Taiwan chart 

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

Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NT 20,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NT 13,000

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

NT 45,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

NT 31,000


Eggs (dozen)

NT 100

Milk (1 litre)

NT 96

Rice (1kg)

NT 93

Loaf of white bread

NT 60

Chicken breasts (1kg)

NT 270

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

NT 130

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

NT 150

Coca-Cola (330ml)

NT 32


NT 97

Local beer (500ml)

NT 65

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

NT 1,200


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

NT 5.07

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable average per month)

NT 800

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

NT 2,700


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

NT 25

Bus/train fare in the city centre

NT 25

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

NT 31.14