Mar 19, 2013

how much do you need..

I've written about the cost of living in Malaysia, specifically living in KL about two years ago (here).. and with the local Taiwan media here highlighting how low the wages in Taiwan (and Taipei particularly) are and how the working class (especially, fresh graduates) could barely survived with their meager salary, I would like to add my 2 cents to the discussion..

First let me break down my own monthly expenses.
Rental - NT$26,000 per semester => NT$4,333 per month
Utilities - NT$ 650 per month
Sub-total for Housing - NT $5,000 per month

Since I live next to the school, I don't need to pay for transportation. Although I no longer need to travel to my weekly English playdate with my senior's sons, I will still include this expenses for future reference purposes.
Bus - NT$ 60 weekly
Train - NT $ 40 weekly
Sub-total for Transportation - NT$ 400 per month

Breakfast - NT$ 40 per day
Lunch - NT$ 100 (with drinks) per day
Dinner - NT$ 80 per day
Sub-total for Food - NT$ 6,600 per month

As my room comes with internet connection and I am using a pre-paid card, my continuing insistence of not getting a smartphone has my cost for this category very low.
Pre-paid SIM card - NT$ 1,000 a year
Sub-total for Telecommunication - NT$ 100 per month

Household (detergents, toilet papers, etc) - NT$ 250
Personal (shampoos, personal hygiene, shower foam, etc) - NT$ 250
School (admin fees for red-tapes, text books, stationary, etc) - NT$ 1,000
R&R (groceries, restaurant dining, wardrobe, etc) - NT$ 2,300
Sub-total for Misc - NT$ 3,800 per month

Grand total: around NT$ 16,000 per month (on average)

However, since I come over to Taiwan with nothing but 2 big suitcases, I had to spend to buy all the daily necessities, like bed, pillows and blanket, book rack, shelves, heater, reading lamps and etc, which came to about NT$ 15,000. If I were to distribute that amount to 12 months, it will be NT $1,250. So my first year's monthly expenses came to a total of around NT$ 17,250.

So if you compare with the numbers I derived for living in MY (MYR$ 2,353), it is much cheaper (for me) to live in TW than MY. But I have yet to include my school fees, which is NT$ 50,000 per semester. So for my first year, the actual expenditure is NT$ 17,250 + NT$ 8,350 => NT$ 25,600 which is slightly more expensive.

This amount is expected to drop subsequently as I do not need to pay full tuition fee from my 3rd year onwards. Then, I would need to just pay for whatever subjects I am taking that semester, so the NT$ 50K per semester will drop to less than NT$ 6,000 per semester. However, I am thinking of moving into a bigger room next academic year so that I will have a place to cook. The increase in rental might be offset by the saving I will get from cooking at home. Thus I'm sure I can live comfortably with around NT$ 20,000 per month.. in fact I spent less than NT$ 10K in Nov 2011 and Apr 2012!

Now in my 2nd semester of my 2nd Year, I'm more or less accustomed to the lifestyle (and its requirements) here. I am good at preserving things and my stuff don't get damaged or worn out as easily. I don't need branded goods nor expensive accessories. I don't change my wardrobe as often as the season changes. I can wear the same shirt/pants/shoes for years if it is still wearable. I don't need a smartphone when I am online almost my entire waking hours with my laptop. I read and I fully utilize my University's library and other free online eBooks sites, thus it's one of the cheapest hobbies one can have.

I always believe that we should and can live within our means. I am living simply and frugally. I do not try to keep up with the Jones. I do not feel like I am missing out on anything nor do I feel like I am being deprived. I am being mindful about what I really need and what are my wants.

Though I am not well-to-do, I have the control of my own time and how I choose to use them. That to me is good enough.

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