Alright, friends. Here’s the annual nitty gritty of how much my trip cost for my family of 2 adults and 4 children. Now, obviously, YMMV and your costs will certainly be different, but this is just to give you an idea.
I will have notes below my handy dandy chart so without further ado, here’s how I spent my money this summer in Taiwan.
If you have a good memory, you’ll notice that it’s at least $3,000 less than I spent last year. And honestly, if you took out the money I spent on gifts to family (new babies and weddings all require red envelopes!), discounted my face lasering (a post for another day), the total would be $10,432.54.
Oh, and for those of you who asked, this broke down to about $372/day.
However, I just realized that since we used points instead of paying actual money for flights, it’s a wash (and actually, more expensive than my current costs).
Anyhow, why was the cost so much less this year? Mainly because we used points for plane tickets, Gamara (5.75) switched to a local camp, and we stayed for a shorter time.
Whatever the reasons, it was STILL a lot of money. Hapa Papa actually winced when I told him the total.
Alright, on to the breakdown.
Books & DVDs – $458.64
This year, I had my cousin buy a set of books for me before we even arrived. Then, the only other books and DVDs I bought were from Costco and the used book store, YA Books. I purposefully did not go to Eslite, or any other bookstores.
Because my trip to YA Books solidified in my mind that I really hate buying books. I panic. I see a wall of Chinese and freak out. And since my level is about the level of simple chapter books or picture books, those are the only books I am attracted to and buy.
I DON’T NEED ANY MORE OF THESE BOOKS!
The books I need are beyond my level and quite frankly, I am not qualified nor inclined to buy these books. I am not going to magically browse and find them in a used book store. So, I stopped going.
How will I then buy books? Like I have said on many an occasion, everyone needs a Guavarama. She will tell me what to buy. I will throw money at her. It all works out.
Camp – $2,215.48
Author’s Note: Please do not ask me (or my friends) what camps my children attended. Internet security is important to me. I will ignore all requests.
The camps this year were the following:
1) Glow Worm (~4) – 4 weeks at an International School from 8am-4pm, including meals, field trips, and arts and crafts.
This camp alone was $34,000NT/$1030.30USD and I even got the early registration discount. Otherwise, the camp would have been $37,000NT/$1,121USD.
2) Gamera and Cookie Monster (7.5) – 4 different week long camps at a local camp from 8:30am-5pm, including meals, games, and materials (like the Chinese yoyo, ripsticks, and protective gear).
Their COMBINED camp fees was $31,316NT/$949USD. As you can see, much less expensive than Glow Worm’s International school. We also got an early registration discount of 20%.
Incidentally, I had to buy 3 of everything – not because all three were in the same camps – but because I did not want to hear Glow Worm complain and cry about not having a matching Chinese yoyo or ripstick.
Cosmetic – $404.55
Folks, I GOT MY FACE LASERED. Because I succumb easily to peer pressure and FOMO. I removed sun spots and some moles. Again, I promise I will have a more in depth post about this later – but obviously, this is a purely OPTIONAL cost.
Entertainment – $453.65
I did fewer play spaces and crafts this year. Mostly because I was lazy. Also, I took advantage of discounts and sold some of my extra tickets to friends. That’s really the only reason the cost is so low. But ultimately, we didn’t go out nearly as much this year as we did last year. I think my kids were really bummed about it.
Food – $1,028.45
Fun fact: I spent $100USD on shaved ice. That’s about 10% of my food expenditures and in line with what I call a fantastic summer. After all, it was my goal to eat at least 1-2 shaved ice a day.
AND I DID. AND IT WAS GOOD.
I also found a local place that I purchased 70% of our dinners and bentos for the boys (they have food allergies so I pack all their lunches instead of eating at the schools). This place was much cheaper than eating at nicer restaurants that I bought takeout from last year.
Groceries – $152.06
This year, I took my advice from last year and went to Costco right away to buy the books and foods my kids would want right away. I shopped more at the Wellcome Mart instead of the fancy City Super (a market geared to ex-pats) and generally accepted the fact that I would NOT attempt ANY cooking whatsoever.
My kids were also more accepting of different foods than last year so I didn’t have to buy as many $10 cereal boxes. That definitely cut down the cost!!
Lodging – $3,603
Our costs for AirBnB were less than last year because we cut short our trip by about ten days. And also, I did not end up going to Kaohsiung to visit my family due to a typhoon that weekend so that was also a money saver.
Keep in mind, your costs will depend on the location and neighborhood and size of your apartment.
We had a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, kitchenette, washing machine, and approximately 800 sqft apartment. The entire place was newly remodeled and clean. Plus, there was housekeeping twice a week where they would do dishes, change sheets and towels, and take out the garbage.
The best part of this place was that I did not have to chase down the garbage truck every night and there was a garbage place in the actual building. We had to do some sorting (the BANE of my existence), but this is better than buying the specific Taipei garbage bags you need to use.
Also, we were literally above the MRT station and next to lots of convenient department stores and food places. It was super convenient and next to a lot of easy bus stops, grocery stores, and most importantly: shaved ice.
We ended up staying 33 days and 32 nights and including the $200 AirBnB fee, it ended up being $113/night for two adults and four children. That’s a pretty good rate for the area we lived.
Misc. – $403.03
Not sure exactly what this was, hence the miscellany. But it still added up.
Phone – $66.67
This probably could have been cheaper if I just rented a hotspot or did not Facebook Live away all my data so that I had to buy more. Ah well. Live and learn.
If you don’t have family in the area or don’t do gifts in general, you wouldn’t likely have this expense. However, if you were also buying gifts for people back at home, this may or may not be in line with what you would spend.
I have a lot of family in Taiwan and they experienced expensive life events so normally, I would not have shelled out as much in gifts. But you know, it all evens out because they also gave us gifts (both this year and in years past).
Transportation – $2,051.56
Regarding plane tickets, we bought Hapa Papa’s ticket out right. (He was a last minute addition to the trip.) And we used points for 1 adult, 1 lap child, and 3 children. We paid a bit to buy additional points and pay for taxes and fees, but overall, $1,772 to transport 6 humans across the ocean and back is a pretty good deal.
We predominantly used the MRT and buses this trip and since I only had to pay for Cookie Monster and me, the costs were low. Next year, Gamera will be six so we’ll also have to pay for her.
Ohohohoh, and I finally figured out the bus routes so I saved a lot on cabs this year. I knew I could take the bus last year but for some reason, it seemed much more intimidating and I was hugely pregnant so my brain was like FUCK ALL NEW INFORMATION WE WILL CAB IT.
Regards to taxis, $96 of the cab fares were the trips to and from the airport.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?
That means I spent only $54 on cabs for my entire trip. With an 8-9 month old and three children 7 and under.
YOU WILL BOW DOWN BEFORE ME AND MY AWESOMENESS.
And on that note, I think I will end this post because really. How can I top that? I CANNOT.
Have a great weekend, folks!
Wow, that’s pretty good for staying in Taiwan for 33 days with 4 kids! We spent more than that in 15 days and just 2 adults and 2 kids. You did well!!! But, I know it still adds up. But, I am sure it was worth it!