Taipei 101 and the Xinyi neighborhood from Elephant Mountain

Taipei 101 and the Xinyi neighborhood from Elephant Mountain

Early in February we left the Western Hemisphere behind and flew East.  After a 2 year absence, it was time to visit friends and family in Taiwan

Although a large part of the month was spent getting settled into a new place and catching up with people over lunches and dinners, we did manage to have some mini-adventures; mostly hiking and biking around Taipei, and an overnight trip to Taroko Gorge in eastern Taiwan.

We also made some commitments that begin in March.  Winnie will expand her artistic medium options by taking an oil painting class, and I will be force fed the Chinese language for 4 hours a day each weekday.  This should keep us busy

Due to moving costs and wardrobe refreshes, overall spending was above average this month.

All of the details of our expenses are shared below in various formats and depth. Questions? Please use the comments section to add to the conversation

February 2014 expenses updated2

  • Housing – Our last few days in Mexico City were in a friend’s home.  Once in Taipei, we moved into a place we found on Airbnb.com, which we used as a base to find longer term accommodations.  We found our new $1000/month home fairly quickly, and moved into a great place that I’ll share photos of in an upcoming post.  (As an aside, Airbnb.com is our least favorite house finding tool.  Universally properties seem to be overpriced for the market, and they have excessive extra fees and pretty crappy cancellation and change policies.)
  • Healthcare – We both did a health check this month for a total cost of $167.  My Doctor visit and blood work cost a whopping total of $48.  Cash.  No insurance.
  • Transportation – Our 1-way flight from Mexico City to Taipei was booked with miles we had accumulated during our working days.  Unfortunately we had let some of them expire (oops) and paid $150 to get them reinstated.  This brought the total price for two to fly half-way around the world to $244.  In Taipei we paid ~$100 on buses, subway rides, and taxis, and another $53 for round-trip train tickets to Hualian in Eastern Taiwan
  • Groceries – We had a kitchen the second half of the month and spent $122 on food for home
  • Dining Out – Food is cheaper in Taiwan than anywhere we have been to date.  A typical lunch has the same price in local currency in Taipei as in Mexico, but with an exchange rate of 30:1 vs 13:1.  In other words, instead of dropping $20 on lunch we spend $9.  I like it already.  (Although for some reason coffee is more expensive than in the US.)  Total dining expenses this month still hit $719
  • Alcohol – We spent $0 on alcohol this month.  How could this be?!  It turns out if you don’t drink any alcohol, then you don’t spend any money on alcohol.  Who would have thought
  • Entertainment – We stayed one night in an all-inclusive hotel in Taroko National Park in Eastern Taiwan.  This included dinner, breakfast, a tour, and a night’s stay in the only hotel inside the national park. Due to laziness I included the whole price of $284 in Entertainment.  More on this adventure in an upcoming post
  • Miscellaneous – We refreshed a significant part of our wardrobe, purchased some dishes for the kitchen, stocked up on lotions and soaps for the coming decade, and got cell phone plans.  Winnie got a haircut, I got a couple books for studying Mandarin, etc…
  • Other – We paid the domain registration fees for the blog for the coming year, and purchased new cell phones.  But we didn’t get the basic phones that we needed, or the phone that was free with a contract, or buy phones used on eBay or Craigslist… we got 2 new iPhone 5Ss in gleaming gold and silver.  Total price with protective cases: $1511 (The first cell phones we’ve ever purchased.  I suppose we could say they are a business expense, although it is (mostly) irrelevant when you pay no tax)
DetailsFebruary 2014Notes
LocationMexico, TaiwanMexico City, Taipei
Housing$1127Free housing in Mexico
1 week in Airbnb property in Taipei: $410
Partial month in our new apartment: $707
Healthcare$167Annual health checks
Transportation$409Mileage reinstatement fee: $150
1-way Airfare to Taipei: $94 + miles
RT Train to Hualian: $52.50
Typical bus ride: $0.50
Typical subway ride: $0.80
Typical taxi ride: $4
Groceries$122All in Taiwan
Mostly fruits and vegetables from the organic market
Dining Out$719Mexico City: $95 ($19/day)
(mostly street food)
Taiwan: $624 ($27/day)
(includes several extravagant meals with friends)
Alcohol$0I'm as shocked as you are
Entertainment$334Taroko Park Hotel: $284
Organized 8k trail run: $7
Karaoke: $33
Misc$621Duty free lotion (with real magic inside): $126
Jeremy clothes: $155
Winnie boots: $83
Cell phone plans: $33

Total$3,499$125/day
Other Expenses Atypical and Nonrecurring expenses
Domain Name Registration$26
2xiPhone 5S with protective cases$1,5111st ever cell phone purchase, before or after financial independence
Total Other Expenses$1,537
Total February Spending$5,036
The iPhone We Really Wanted

The iPhone We Really Wanted (source)

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