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It’s hard to imagine I’ve lived in Taipei for almost a year and 4 months. During this time I spent some time learning Chinese, teaching English, and building several businesses on the Internet. It wasn’t until I met a fellow Canadian that came to visit Taipei that I began to think of myself as a Digital nomad.
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is someone that earns money on the Internet. It is the idea that you can do work where you are free of the constraints of being in your office. In fact you can do it anywhere in the world. I spend most of my time working from home or the many cafe’s throughout Taipei. The type of businesses can vary. There are developers and coders that have clients in other countries like South Africa, but they are able to do their work from a country like Taiwan. Usually it makes sense to live in a country that has lower costs, but where you can earn overseas money to maximize your situation. A digital nomad is not limited to a coder. I myself create video stock footage and sell them through stock agencies on the Internet like Pond5. Some people earn income from youtube, google adsense, and being an affiliate for different products. I also create courses that are in video format that are available and sold on learning platforms like Udemy.com and have also began publishing and selling Travel adventures on Amazon Kindle. I believe the idea of traveling and being able to work anywhere over an Internet connection was popularized by the book “the 4 hour work week” by Tim Ferris. There are different types of Digital nomads of course. I prefer to spend 3 months or longer before traveling to a nearby country. There are some digital nomads that travel more frequently.
What is passive income?
Again this idea I believe was also made popular my Tim Ferris. It is the idea that you can do work upfront that earns you can income while you sleep. While it’s not always while you sleep you can create a digital products like an e-book and then put it up for sale. The courses I create are in video format and once on the internet the sale of the course happens automatically through the platform. You can automate the sales transaction and the delivery of the product to the customer so you could be having dinner when you can get an email from Paypal telling you that you have money. Another advantage of this type of income is that once you have created your product or service it can continue to bring in a regular income so you can move onto the next project. An example is that I built a course on making money with travel videos that sells every month. I am now free to build a new course that there is a cumulative effect.
The experience of being a Digital Nomad in Taiwan
Let’s start with basic needs. Shelter, connectivity, food, transport, and social life. Compared to Vancouver and other North American cities I found just about everything cheaper in Taipei. I traveled to many places around the world from Singapore, Australia, and South Africa. Taiwan is one of the most Internet Wifi friendly cities that I’ve traveled to. The Taiwanese love their wifi and their smartphones. Just look at the number of people looking at their phones with power banks attached to their phones. Rent is cheap compared to apartments in North America. You can get 3 or 6 month contracts ready to move in that are fully furnished and have fast Internet. I’ve observed directly and heard from many local Taiwanese friends that there are more foreigners now in Taipei in the past year or so. Taiwan is often overlooked, but I believe it is a gem in Asia and the word is getting out. Taiwan is a food paradise with local specialties like noodles, soup, and rice available at cheap prices. Food is cheap enough that I can eat out almost every meal giving me more time to work on my business. Transportation is convenient and cheap with numerous options from the MRT, bus, u-bike, or Taxi. There are also plenty of social and business events to meet new friends and fellow entrepreneurs around Taipei. There is a happening nightlife in Taipei if that is your thing. Because of convenient and cheap transportation you can have a good time without worrying about driving.
The bottom line is Taipei is a good choice for being a digital nomad. You can get connected, live and eat at a low cost. I’m not promoting this, but you can purchase a can of Taiwan beer for 35nt and drink it in a 7-11 or out on the street. Taiwan is a clean, safe, and modern city. Taiwan is also a foreign friendly city with low cost healthcare. It is easy and cheap to get around. However, to get the most out of Taiwan it definitely helps to speak Chinese Mandarin. You can get by on English though.
Costs of being a Digital Nomad in Taiwan
I’ve read about costs of being a digital nomad in techinasia.com’s article and the Digital nomad guide’s site. Techinasia has claimed a cost of $2121. I wanted to share with you a breakdown of my actual monthly costs of being a digital nomad in Taipei that is approximately $1071 US. Note that Taipei is the most expensive city in Taiwan. You could travel to Kaoshiung, the second largest city in Taiwan and reduce your accommodation costs by 40%. This is hearsay from a local friend, and I haven’t had a chance to look up the rental costs myself. Ok lets begin
Digital nomad monthly budget in Taipei, Taiwan
Accommodation in the central Taipei – 16,000NT Food (based on a 400nt daily budget) – 12,000nt Transportation – 1500nt Entertainment – 2000nt Cafe – 2000NT Mobile monthly wifi 2gb 320nt Total 34,020 NT US $1071 $1283 CDN 706 GBP There is no tax added on for most expenses for the customer. Most places don’t ask for tips except for nicer or western style restaurants. Of course you are probably wondering the assumptions behind the figures. I live near central Taipei, which is considered more on the high end. If you live in New Taipei City (20 minutes MRT across the river) you can expect to pay about 10,000nt a month. If you share a 2 bedroom apartment with a roomate you could pay 25,000nt in the Da-an area. Included in the the accommodation is High speed Internet, furniture, television, garbage service, and a small kitchen. It is normal to eat out every meal in Taiwan because it is good and cheap. Some apartments don’t have a kitchen area. I normally like to eat a healthy hot oat breakfast with fruit and then I’ll buy a noodle or rice dish for lunch and dinner. A bowl of beef noodles at a local shop goes for $130nt $4.11. You can go more expensive for western foods like a good burger and fries at Bravo Burger for 270nt $8.56Us or get a bbq chicken leg rice dish with vegetables, soup, and drink for 90nt $2.85. You can get around 1 way on the MRT to most locations in Taipei for 25nt one way .79 cents US. If you take the bus it is 15nt or .47 US. If you take the U-bike (free bike rental) to your destination in under 30 minutes it is free. The MRT is modern, fast, and has extensive coverage throughout the city. As I am central I save money on my transport as I don’t have to travel that far. I budgeted about 50nt per day to arrive at the that figure. If you need a taxi for those times on the weekend you can get to most locations from the Xinyi nightlife district for 200nt or under $6.34.
Starbucks cafe’s allow you to get a tall black coffee for 80nt and offer a good environment to work in. Note that not all Starbucks are equal. Some will be offer more space and offer plug outlets. If you buy a Starbucks card you get 2 hours daily free wifi. Local coffee shops like Mr. Brown you can get a coffee and unlimited daily Internet. If you go to the trendy cafe’s you’re looking to pay 130nt $4.11 US for an Americano. There are many choices with varying prices for Wifi. I heard that that 7-11 offers free wifi if you sign up and that’s completely free. If you’re heading for a night our you can expect to pay about $230nt for a pint of Heineken. $150nt for a small glass of wine. I use a mobile sim card on a 2gb plan which I think is super cheap. This isn’t your full-time connection for work, but good for communication with your friends or checking email when you don’t have coverage. Most cafe’s and restaurants will have wifi to converse your data, and when you have depleted you can always refill at different increments. 180nt $5.70Us will give you another 1GB. Do you have similar or different experiences in Taiwan. Please comment. Would you like to share your Digital nomad experience in another city that you live. Please comment.
Where to go for great cheap local food Where to go for good Western food in Taipei Where to go to relax and exercise ( Gyms, Pools, hotsprings) Current prices of food, shelter, food, clothing and more Where to meet new friends Which areas and neighbourhoods to stay and work Which bars and clubs to visit in Taipei’s nightlife How and where to find an apartment (without overpaying) How to meet other Entrepreneurs living in Taiwan How to stay safe in Taipei Where to get the the fastest and cheapest SIM-card plans with mobile data with the exact address Tips on hacking Chinese with technology Cultural differences and how to cope with them