The Planning Stage

Otherwise known as the boring part…

No matter how adventurous I want to be.  No matter how much caution I want to throw to the wind. I want to feel safe and a big part of that is my being prepared. So here I want to share with you this tedious, time consuming and stress inducing moment. Because to me, it’s very important.

First up: Money, money, money…unfortunately this is what a major part of life comes down to and in traveling it is even more so. At least that is how I was raised. So as the daughter of an accountant and the most money conscious man I have ever known it wasn’t far down that I had to dig to hone my budgeting skills.

So for all of you traveling fanatics out there from novice to pro and while I’m sure you pros know, for the novices out there I have found that it is so convenient to download a flight app. This is gonna change your life. Now there are a bunch out there I’m sure, but I have come to love ‘Hopper’. That cute little bunny keeps be updated on all flight prices, when it is the cheapest and when it is the most expensive, incorporating days, season, number of connections and airlines.

Now, just because I want to travel forever doesn’t mean that I can, at least not yet. I have to be back for the Holidays this year. So there’s that. So personally I bought my flight out as well as my return flight.

Now that the flights are out of the way…If you are like me and you are going with no firm job set up, make sure that you understand the conversion rate and keep that understanding throughout your budgeting of your entire stay.

Also, the best way to live abroad is to not have any debts at home. Pretty sound advice if I’ve ever heard any. Some things people do are cancelling gym memberships or video streaming accounts. Paying off their car or changing cell providers and other things of the like to staunch the monetary hemorrhage. Yea…all of those things, I did that. The loss of my gym membership cut me deep though. Like I could feel it deep in my heart, a few tears pricking at the backs of my eyeballs. But that’s beside the point. Now I’m living debt free. Check.

 

Next to the plate: Why?

Why are you going? Work? School? Pure, unadulterated tourism? Also important, how long are you going to stay?

For me it’s all of the above…and six months.

Which ties right in to the next point: The Visa Business

As far as I can tell from forums like Forumosa.com and other online information, Taiwan does not require that you to complete a visa application before arrival, unlike places like China or India. You can arrive with your regular passport visa and extend it by going through the proper government channels. There are consulates in both Taipei and Kaohsiung. https://visawebapp.boca.gov.tw/BOCA_MRVWeb/subroot/MRVWeb0_disclaimer.jsp *This site is a good place to start the application process and gather any other information you may need.

*Side note: It is possible that the airport on that side will not let you enter Taiwan without a proof of outbound travel. So if I were in the shoes of someone wanting to stay indefinitely, even if you just buy a cheap flight to Hong Kong, I would suggest you do it. 

We all need a place to live so here is step 4: Finding a place to live.

Because we all need a place to put our junk and lay our heads. If you are going for school, some places provide housing while others point you in the right direction. If you are everyone else…I joined sites like Tealit.com (which coincidentally can help in those roaming jobless, find a little bit of work). There is also a Facebook page that caters specifically to foreigners looking for places to live in Taiwan. If you can read Mandarin there are also sites and apps like 501. In all there are so many opportunities for housing if you know where and how to look. Just be sure to always do your due diligence and do not send money first! Make sure you have signed the lease and have keys in hand before handing over your cash all trusting like.

Now housing can range from $2700 NT ($90 USD) for a room in a shared apartment to $15-$22,000 NT ($500-$700) for nice apartments in Taipei. But there are a lot of mid-range places to find. $9000-$11,000 NT ($300-$400 USD) *All USD conversions are rounded up from the current exchange rate. At 30/1

I found a place on the edge of Taipei for $9000 NT ($300 USD) all inclusive. I don’t mind the prospect of living with people. Since I have never lived alone I already know that I would lose my marbles if I decided to do it now. Besides what’s better than making new friends and having someone to notice if you came home or not? As I want to check it out, see the area and meet my possible roommates I have booked a stay of a few nights in the Formosa 101 Hostel.

 

Food: Comparing what we spent during our vacation to Kaohsiung last year I calculated that eating can be as cheap as $10 USD a day or around $200 USD a month if you are into cooking and you do well with meal plans.

 

Connectivity: I have found that phone plans can run as low as $775NT ($25 USD) a month with plans from Far EasTone Telecommunications also many people people use messenger apps like LINE and places like Kaohsiung and Taipei have free wifi everywhere. During our time in Kaohsiung we became pro wifi hunters. But you need at least data because wifi can only get you so far.

 

Travel: In city travel is rather inexpensive if you make use of the MRT and do not mind walking. Taxis can grow rather costly. But in a pinch they are still cheaper than a ride in New York. In Kaohsiung $200 NT ($7 USD) loaded on a MRT card lasted about 2 weeks for us so I am only expecting to spend about $60 USD a month in all travel. Only because I know that I will be making at least one or two trips on the THSR (Taiwan’s high speed rail) to Kaohsiung. Which can get a little pricy too.

So here we are with: School, Rent, Phone, Travel, Food and Play all covered.

Depending on your length of stay, your future plans and how you want to live. There are a few other things to think about. Things like Traveler’s insurance and whether or not you think you will need it. And Banks, I have gotten so many hyped up reviews about Schwab Investment Bank. So I went with it. There are no ATM fees. No conversion fees. It’s free to have and easy to use and any ATM fees you may accrue abroad will be refunded to you. I mean…yes please.

 

Now here it comes, the very last thing in this nut-cluster. How the heck am I going to get from point A to point B? I thought of all the ways, believe me. And with the new MRT line opened at Taoyuan airport this March I would have loved to take that. But it’ll take about 2 hours and I’m going to have a lot of junk so that one is an automatic out. In the, after airbus options and the like it end it came out to one simple, expensive answer, it’s going to be taxi time.

So that’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Now I’m sure there will be some amendments made. But I am full of desperate hope that all of this will go according to plan.

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