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Above: The highest elevation post office in Taiwan. The Alishan Post Office sits near the base of the tallest mountain in Taiwan - Alishan Mountain. Post Offices are similar to banks in that you can place your money in a savings account at the post office.

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Money Matters

How much can I earn?

I get asked this question alot, and the answer is that your income potential is limited only by the number of hours you wish to work. Here are some figures to help you put things into perspective:

  • Average salary of engineer at Hsinchu Science Park: $45-50,000 NT/month (add +5,000NT/month if graduate degree received in the US or abroad)
  • Average hourly salary of someone at McDonald's: $80 NT
  • Average hourly salary of gas station attendant: $100 NT
  • Average hourly salary of English teacher: $400-$2000 NT
  • A salary of $50,000 NT in Taiawn is considered "good"
  • A typical office assistant in a company makes around $30,000 NT a month
  • Do I need to pay US taxes?

    The US has an foreign earned income exclusion that makes your first $80,000 US dollars tax free. I never even made $80,000 a year while in Taiwan, but you still must file your taxes in the US. Thanks to online services, filing taxes while overseas has never been easier.

    Do I need to pay Taiwan taxes?

    Yes you do, you will be taxed, but compared to the US, the tax rate is not that high and you can also get a tax refund.

    Do I need to open a bank account?

    Most employers will help you open a bank account and you will be issued a passbook (basically a book that you put into the ATM machine and it will print out all your transactions – really cool, they need this in the US) and you will also have an ATM card.

    Technically you don’t need a bank account. However, I would highly recommend getting one. I had friends from Canada and South Africa (roommates) who had their apartment broken into. The apartment had a big steel door in the front, and another door, but somehow people still broke in. It’s crazy. Right, so they had their cash stolen.

    Where should I exchange money?

    Never exchange money at the airport. Avoid going to banks to exchange money. Supposdely, the best bet is to take your US dollars to a jewelry store because you get higher exchange rates. This is frowned upon by so ask around first.

    How do I send money home?

    Almost all of the major banks in Taiwan (and there are a lot of banks) offer electronic fund transfer (EFT) services for a fee ($400 NT or about $12-15 USD). The forms are usually printed in English and Chinese and the tellers at the bank have a decent command of English to be able to help you.

    Can I use my US credit card?

    Yes you can. At most of the major US chains, department stores, hotels, and major businesses accept your credit card from the US.

    Are ATMs in English?

    Yes they are.

    Anything else to know?

    Checks are rarely used in everyday transactions. Cash is king and still the preferred payment method.