Our $1,400 1-Bedroom Apartment in Taipei, Taiwan

We are moving on up!  To the east side…

Things are going to get a little more upscale and relaxed around here in the GCC household.  We just signed a 1-year lease on a 1-bedroom apartment in Taipei, 1 block from Times Square and 2 blocks from Central Park.

We are now residents of one of the finer neighborhoods in the very heart of the city.  (One of our neighbors has a Bentley, which I enjoy riding past on my bike as he is stuck in traffic.)

My new commute to Chinese class is a joyful 10 minute bike ride down tree lined streets, and the hospital where we plan to welcome GCCjr into the world is just across the main street.  There is even a 7-11 10 steps from our front door.

Posh living does come at a price, however.  Our rent is now $1,400 a month (40,000 TWD + 2,000 TWD management fee)

But enough talk, let’s get to the tour

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The World’s Smartest Toilet

Toto Neorest 500

Toto Neorest 500

It was 20 years ago (today?), on my first trip to Japan that I first happened upon a bathroom fixture with an intelligence that exceeded my own

Granted, that isn’t all that impressive of an accomplishment, but after using the latest generation product in our new Taipei apartment I’m convinced the gap has grown

The things these toilets are capable of is truly incredible

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Taiwan Convenience Stores

One of Thousands of 7-11's

One of Thousands of 7-11’s in Taipei

Convenience is a wonderful thing.  Let’s not make life too difficult, after all.  But it is often over-promised and under-delivered.

Take the so-called convenience stores that are liberally sprinkled across the United States.  What exactly is convenient about them, anyway?  More often than not, it is just a fancy name for a gas station that will sell you some fried sodium or a super-sized cup of syrup.  If you are really lucky, they might have last week’s tube shaped mystery meat conveniently resting under a heat lamp

And then there are the automated customer service phone systems, available 24 hours a day. For your convenience.  Press 1 to stay on hold.  Your call is important to us

If that is convenience, I’ll take arduous

That is, until now

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I Love Uber

UBER_

Ring…  Ring…  Ring…

“Please hold”

“…. call is important to us.  Please wait on the line….”

“Yeah?”

Hi, I need a taxi please

“OK?”

Yeah, I’m on 23rd St, near Denny Way

“No intersections!  What is the address?”

Uh…  its 123 23rd St…

“Zip code?

I’m not sure…  one second?  (Hey, what’s your zipcode here?)  Ok, it is 98112

“Ok, it will be about an hour”

An hour?!

“You still want a taxi or not?”

Yeah

“Ok, an hour.”  Click!

It was already pretty late, but another glass of wine would make the time flow by nicely.  We just finished a nice home cooked meal at a friend’s house, roasted chicken with herbs and vegetables from the garden, and settled in by the outdoor fountain to wax philosophical with other friends also waiting for a taxi.

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Monthly Expenses (September 2014, Taipei, Taiwan)

Dragon Incense Burner

Praying over a Dragon Incense Burner in a Taoist Temple

For the past 2 years we have moved from place to place, figuring things out as we go.  At most we had a planning horizon of 3 months, figuring out our next destination by talking with locals and other travelers

This month though, we had to make some big decisions.  First, our rental home in Taipei was put on the market, requiring us to move on. (The asking price is only $1.2 million, if you are interested)

We had the idea of traveling during the 2nd trimester of Winnie’s pregnancy, and then having a destination birth.  Things happen though, and our Doctor put Winnie on temporary bed rest for a few weeks until things stabilized (Don’t worry, all is well, but we need to take it easy.)  Winnie is now back on her feet and ready to take on the world, at least when she isn’t ravenously hungry or completely exhausted, which is about 23.5 hours out of every 24.

Given the circumstances, we did what normal people do and rented a sweet apartment for the next 12 months (stay tuned for more details.)  We will remain in Taiwan through the full term of the pregnancy, and I will be applying for residency to avoid quarterly visa runs.  Big decisions!  It is great to be flexible

Let’s review how this all impacted our spending
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So You Want to Be a Farmer

Moo

Good Mooorning

Retirement is as unique and varied as the individual retiree.  Some people want to travel the globe as we are doing.  Others want to play golf or fish.  And others just want to break away from the corporate world to live the good life on a farm of their own

For a time, we considered a brief stint on a farm.  Already growing some of our own vegetables and greens on a small public patch of land in Seattle, we wondered what it would be like to raise a few chickens and maybe a pig

As food lovers with a great interest in grass-fed cows, free range chickens, artisan cheeses and cured meats, we loved the idea of moving our table one step closer to the farm

After reading Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer’s Guide to Farm Friendly Food by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, we decided to give farming a trial run

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For the Love of Biking

bicycle-159796_640

A bicycle is many things… a wonderfully elegant example of human ingenuity and craftsmanship.  An efficient form of transportation.  A builder of self-confidence, health, and wealth

A bicycle is a wonderful learning tool, providing valuable life lessons in personal limitations and how to overcome them.  It is a tool for self-confidence

And at any age, a bicycle is freedom.  As a child, a bicycle opened up my world from a few square blocks to a few square miles.  As a young adult, a bicycle provided freedom from the stress of college and the workplace.  And later, a bicycle helped enable freedom from the need for income

I look forward to making many more great biking memories

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The Cost of Traveling the World (August 2014, Taipei, Taiwan)

Calligraphy

Calligraphy for Posers

August was an exciting month for our family, with confirmation that Winnie is pregnant with our first child.  With that much excitement, we didn’t have much time or energy for other activities.

A baby on the way has impacted other things…  we are having more meals at home and have hired somebody to help with cleaning and home care a few hours a week.  Based on the advice of her flute teacher, Winnie is putting her flute lessons on hold until things are more stable.  She has also decided to avoid contact with the chemicals in oil paints, so no more art classes for awhile

Eating more meals at home has affected our grocery spending and dining habits.  We even ventured to the local Costco for the first time for some heavy duty shopping

With all of these changes our spending patterns shifted around a lot, but the total was roughly similar to previous months in Taiwan

Full details below

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