Cost of Living in the Philippines – Another Update!

How Much Does It Cost To Live In The Philippines!

I was sitting here contemplating whether I even felt like putting out a post today. Then I happened upon a Yahoo News Article that painted a rather bleak picture to anyone in the western world aspiring to live or retire in the Philippines (P120k monthly needed…) . If anyone currently sitting on the decision fence were to see this, they could easily resign themselves to a life of drudgery where they live currently. In other words, if it was necessary to have this exaggerated level of income to live comfortably here, then why would anyone subject themselves to live a life in poverty abroad, when they can easily do it at home?

It’s Not One Size Fits All.

Every once in a while, information runs astray like an askal dog… off in any which direction. Many of the online Philippines and expat forums are always full of chatter on this topic, and sometimes full of arguments, about how much it takes to live in the Philippines. Some guys that offer up certain amounts about the cost of living may be fairly accurate while others might be swimming in a Red Horse brew. How do you sort through it all? You can’t really. And it wasn’t all that complicated, the new Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte promises to strengthen the Peso against foreign currencies during his first year in office! There are so many variables and if you took the time to try to figure it all out, you would more than likely miss the retirement boat altogether. Yes, there is that much information to sort through. If you have read any of my previous articles over the years that pertain to cost of living in the Philippines, you will know that I address the subject of “How Much” from an individual’s own perspective. It is entirely up to the individual, based upon their own expectations of a certain living standard, enjoying that standard of living in the Philippines, and their ability to fund that lifestyle. The lifestyles of expats living in the Philippines are as varied as that found anywhere else in the world, from living as squatters to living in large 5 bedroom homes with swimming pool and a view. Lifestyles here are extremely income dependent.

Survivor Philippines

Thrive or Survive in the Philippines – It’s up to you!

Time For an Update!

It is difficult to know how any foreigner coming to the Philippines to live, expects to live. Many aspiring expats contact me through this blog or my YouTube channel and comment on my lifestyle. “You have it made!” some will say… and without any knowledge of how we got here and how we sustain ourselves. I have tried to spell it out in several previous articles about retiring to the Philippines through Researching & Planning, and all that still holds true. I know now that trying to explain to someone how much it will cost them to live here is just an exercise in futility. While the current exchange rates are favoring the USD (June 2016), things are not going so well for the Aussie Dollar or the British Pound. Other currency holders will just have to work on their own conversions. Because there are so many variables that can dictate the level of one’s lifestyle here, I will address the cost to live here with the most basic of costs…

  • Housing – varies tremendously with locale. Provincial living can be a bargain while living in Cebu or Manila can be very expensive. Whether you build, buy or rent also will determine your monthly outflow. (Note foreigners cannot own land here, but you can lease and build or purchase in your spouses name).
  • Food – Probably the most stable cost across the Philippines with little variance is food, with the big exception of imported foods. If you can eat like a Filipino or simple Asian dishes, you can really stretch out your budget. If you eat nothing but pizza, cheeseburgers, fish & chips with Yorkshire pudding for all your meals, it is going to cost more than you know! (and I have to ask why are you moving here in the first place?)
  • Transportation – Another flexible cost. While taking public transportation here can be inexpensive (and sometimes inconvenient), it can cost ever more depending on where you live in relation to your everyday conveniences. Living out in the province, transportation can add up quickly and destroy one’s budget. Having your own simple transportation like a scooter or trike can provide you with more convenience and flexibility and maybe save you some money. If you want to drive your own car, pick-up or large SUV, expect to shell out the funds for fuel, maintenance and other operating costs.
  • Medical – Here is where I cannot begin to help out. While simple Dr.’s office visits can be considered a bargain, more serious health issues should be tied to insurance plans. There are many plans available here (and some that are import-able) to fit individual and family needs and that may be particular to each individuals own health profile or regimen. Additionally, because medical and prescription drugs [availability and expenses] can vary from location to location, this will require extensive individual research. I know some guys that complain that they cannot get the prescriptions they need locally and in some cases, are required to travel to gain access to medicines.

All other living costs can be categorized and determined by wants and needs (note the big difference in these two), from child care expenses to education, and clothing allowances to travel. Do you need aircon 24/7 or just while sleeping? Do you have a hobby that needs funding. Recreation needs? Nightlife? Is your GF or wife a spendthrift, or is she good with money management. Now, throw in some cultural and family expectations! More money will be needed!!!!

You need Peso-nality to be comfortable.


The Real Deal:

My wife and I built our home here over the course of about 6 years (while still working in the U.S.) and once we arrived here, we completed it and moved in. We have no monthly housing costs other than utilities (electric, water, cable, internet, and cell phones). Our entire house is air-conditioned with hot water in two CR’s and the kitchen sink, we use a microwave oven, other appliances and a washing machine. Our electric bill averages P11,000 per month which is close to what we were paying in the U.S. (elec, water, sewer, sanitation) before our retirement, and is by far, our biggest expense. Other monthly fixed bills are as follows:

  • Water – P700 (we have a lawn and garden and wash our car)
  • Gas (for cooking) P400
  • Cable – P320 (paid annually which gives us 10% discount)
  • Internet – P1,500 (and it sucks)
  • Phone loads – Her-P500; Me-P50-100 (I rarely use my phone).

We own a new car and a motorcycle (no payments). While we are not on a Filipino meal budget, we also do not eat out a lot. We enjoy some western foods and my wife likes to BBQ and cooks hybrid meals that we both enjoy at home. We do not have a night life, we are daytime peeps. We like to go to the beach (we live next to one) and we do some traveling on occasion. We do a little shopping and we work at home and around the yard to stay busy (we have NO domestic helpers at this time). We enjoy going to fiestas, visiting with friends, and relaxing at home with a few beers (and a little wine now and then). We we get things done by ourselves, according to our own standards, and it keeps us busy in a good way. We have seen very little inflation over the last three years. Life is good, because we planned it this way. You can too!

Travel First, Then Locate!

The best and most honest advice myself and other expats will give you – Come for a visit, stay a while, spend your money, collect some data (okay, a lot of data), go back home, and then start over! Start over with your research, your goals, your desires and expectations, your planning, and your budget. And if you don’t have an income to support all of the above, then don’t do it until you do! There are always those individuals who think they can do it on very little income, or those who think they can start a business or make money online AFTER they arrive. They are the ones who eventually wind up returning home with their tail between their legs… broke. There is an old saying that goes: “The way to make a small fortune in the Philippines is by starting with a big one!” That is for sure the best advice anyone can give.

Check out some of my other articles on Retiring, Moving to, and Living in the Philippines to gain a better understanding of what it takes to live in paradise!

Try this one: The Simple Life, or is it?

Evening at the beach

Life can be good… when you plan for it!

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