Do You Have Enough Money to Live in the Philippines?

Do You Have Enough Money to Live in the Philippines?

Planning to live in the Philippines some day? I’m sure one of the foremost questions on your mind is “How much does it cost to live in the Philippines?”, or “Do I have enough money to live in the Philippines?” That was certainly one of the most researched topics I did before retiring to the Philippines in July 2009 to live in rural Guimaras with my beautiful Filipina wife.

Thao in Boracay - Philippines

Let me attempt to answer those questions with this:  What kind of lifestyle do you expect to maintain in the Philippines, and where do you plan to live? If you’re planning a Western-type lifestyle with all of the conveniences you’ve become accustomed to over the years, then be prepared to pay for that once you make your move to the Philippines. Here’s a few things I do not have (because I do not have the budget for it or it’s not available in our rural province of Guimaras) that I enjoyed back in the States:

  • My favorite foods. I miss Tombstone Pizzas (and a regular oven for that matter.)  Genuine Johnsonville Brats (now there’s a place at the SM Hypermarket that sells them, and the sales girl claims they are authentic, but they just don’t taste the same to me and are expensive.) Good hot dogs are also hard for me to find (but I did get a lot of good suggestions from this “Hot Dog” post I did.)
  • A hot shower. I could purchase a hot water heater for the shower in our CR (Comfort Room/Rest Room.) Our contractor has left outlets that we can plug a heater into, but frankly, I don’t want to spend the extra P5,000 to P12,000 (113 USD to 272 USD) at the Ace Hardware in Iloilo at this time. So I can live with the cold water, which actually has been quite chilly this past month as we have experienced lows around21 ºC (69.8 ºF), but with the weather turning a lot hotter in the next months, especially March, April, and May, that cold water will feel pretty good.  My asawa uses water from our well in the front yard which I haul in for her every day. She feels that water is somewhat warmer than the water from our shower which we get from our city water department in Guimaras for a cost of about $5.25 (USD) a month, and that’s for a family of five.
  • My truck. While I’ve posted many times in the past about not needing to own a vehicle in the Philippines,  I still miss driving my red Chevrolet Colorado around the back roads on a stretch of Historic Route  66 that ran behind our small town of Auburn, Illinois, where we lived. That stretch of brick road was built in the mid-1920’s and snaked through some back country roads. I do miss that, but certainly do NOT miss the daily commute to work one bit (especially with the extremely bad blizzard conditions that have been hitting the Midwest and other parts of the United States.)

What I’m attempting to illustrate is this:  If you plan to move or retire to the Philippines and expect or desire to live the type of lifestyle you might be enjoying now, than you might as well stay put unless you have a substantial monthly income that will support such a lifestyle.  Sure, it’s cheaper to live in the Philippines, for the most part, than what it cost us in the States, and the US Dollar is still worth a lot more than a Philippine Peso (a little over 44 pesos to 1 USD currently.)  But there’s a trade off in good medical facilities available to us in rural Guimaras where we reside, and if you have any existing health issues you better think long and hard before moving here.

I can’t tell you if you have enough money to live in the Philippines. We’re spending around 750 US Dollars a month and support five people on that.  Everyone has different needs and expectations. Our house is already paid for, and we surely don’t live an extravagant lifestyle, plus, we live in a rural province so costs are cheaper than say, Manila.  

My eBook, The Philippines Expat Advisor can give you some valuable information and help in planning your move. At 350 pages and a price tag of  only $29.99 it can be downloaded and available to you in just a few minutes. So if you have a dream of quitting the rat race and telling your boss to “Take This Job and Shove It!,” my eBook can help.

178 thoughts on “Do You Have Enough Money to Live in the Philippines?

  1. Hello Dave,

    I love your website and your interesting topics. My name is Randy, and its my dream and goal to retire to the philippines too. I am military retired and currently working civil service. I’ve been to the phils twice so far and each time enjoyed myself. Anyway, I want to let you know you have one additional reader. Thanks

    • Great to hear from you, Randy L! I’m glad you enjoy my website. That really makes my day! I’m so glad to hear from readers that have never left a comment before. If there is every any topic that you would like me to cover that would help you in your move to the Philippines, please let me know.

      • I read once in a while too. I am 100% disabled retired US army an been living living Philippines for the last 10 yrs.* in Angeles city an before that 2 in Makati.Have a nice condo paying about 3 times what most my other friends do for their places but mines 5 or 6 times better an has nice pool an is brand new an 5 min walk to fields ave.Is 20,000 peso a month.But pretty much have an can get just about everything you need here if look hard enough an have a smart gf who does most things an knows how to do things right. But enjoy reading some things you put here thanks.

        • Thanks, Jay, I have an American expat friend that is retired military and has a disability pension. He’s doing OK here. I note that you’re in Angeles City. Have a lot of faithful readers there, my Alexa ranking puts me at the 11th most popular site in the Philippines. Maybe you’re helping jack up my ratings there.

          Sounds like you’re enjoying life. You’re right about the having a smart gf (or asawa like I do.) Makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for the comment and for the info.

  2. Hey Dave,
    Recently we tapped into all our contacts both Internet and family and came to the conclusion that we can live comfortably in Cebu at a cost of 60,000-80,000(1400-1800 USD) Peso’s per month. This is for a family of 4, 2 adults, one 12 yr old , 1 – 3 yr old. private schools all peripheral costs of middle class rented home including a few nights out. Our anticipated arrival date is mid-May.
    Looking very much fwd. to it !!!

    • Brian, sounds like you’ve got a good plan in place. I think your budget is very realistic. Looks like you’ve done your homework, and you’re ready for the big move. Look forward to hearing about your adventures when you get here in May. Good luck!

  3. Dave,

    Quick question. Is that a picture of the sainted patient wife with the article? (seriously, I read the blog for the articles and not the pictures. hmmmm, what was the article about.)

    • Ha ha, no Jack, that wasn’t my beautiful asawa. Got that picture from Flickr, they have a lot of great photos of Filipinas there. Glad to know you appreciate them.

  4. The answer to this question will vary with each person. I have to pay rent so there goes 5,000 pesos each month. It is a 80 sq. meter apartment and is fine for the 3 of us. Our water bill runs about 250 pesos per month. I like long showers. If I need hot water it can be heated on the stove and I take a dipper bath. It is hard for me to keep costs down. Meriam likes to go out to eat and I like the movies in Davao City. Saw the “The Green Hornet” and laughed myself silly. I never went to the movies in the States. Cost too much. I think my car kept me broke over there and now am happy to be without it. Still learning how to live here but enjoying every minute. For the first time in a long time life is a joy.


    • Dave, adding Gary’s rent of 5,000 pesos to your $750 a month cost of living is just over $850 USD a month. Still way cheaper than living in the USA but the cost of living in the Philippines seems to be rising faster lately than in the USA (percentage wise). What do you think?

      • Lance I had a paid-in-full house back in the States. The cost of taxes and insurance on the place was more than my rent money here. Plus the cost of owning a car was a major cost each month. Health insurance cost over $300 per month. I learned not to be a big spender. Much better here but still have to keep a eye on spending.

        BTW – When I didn’t have insurance I drove to Canada every three months to buy my meds. Much cheaper there. I think Canada has much better health care than the USA.

          • All I can speak for is Michigan and it is a mess! The effect on the seniors is really hard. Healthcare costs just keep going up and no one seems to care. My last few months in Michigan food costs went sky high. I had trouble keeping up.

            With that being said I think the poor and working poor are in real trouble here in the Philippines. I know of teachers that are only making 4,000 per month. That is so low. A person makes 150 a day and works 7 days a week is making 4,500 per month. How does one live like that? OK, worst here in the Philippines.

          • THe USA has some of the lowest food costs in the world. If “last few months in Michigan food costs went sky high” then food costs must be really going up in the Philippines.

        • Most health care is free in Canada because we have higher taxes. The govt regulates the price of some drugs which keeps most drugs cheaper here than in the USA but also means that some high priced drugs are not available at all in Canada. Also some expensive medical procedures and tests are not available here or require a lengthy waiting period due to limited supply. A person with a good job or lots of money is probably better off with the medical system in the USA, whereas a person without much money or that has a job with limited benefits would be better off with the medical system in Canada.

          • My then wife was taking a breast cancer drug that cost $220 per month. I was disabled and had NO health insurance at the time. So a 3 hour drive to Canada and we could buy 3 months of the same drug for 20 US dollars. Most of the trip was on the interstate. I found a doctor who had a US and Canada paper. So customs folk were happy as that is what the law said. I remember the AARP taking bus loads of people to Canada to buy their meds.

            • 220 bucks a month is lot of money, Gary, hope your wife is doing well. I lost aunt to breast cancer and my Mom to ovarian cancer. Prescription costs in the States are outrageous. Glad to hear AARP helped you out. I joined them when I turned 50.

      • Yes, I agree, Lance. From what I have seen it seems that the rate of inflation is being kept down in the USA, but like you said, it is still far cheaper to live in the Philippines than back in the States. A couple could live on a thousand bucks USD and still be quite comfortable here.

        • “A couple could live on a thousand bucks USD and still be quite comfortable here.” How developed an area is that (i.e. a rural place like Guimaras, a city like Iloilo, etc) ? Does that include rent?

          • Meriam and I plus Jhona get by on $1,000. Really have to keep an eye on costs but it can be done. Tagum City isn’t the largest city in Mindanao but have about 220,000 people living here. They are building a new city hall and new 168 Mall. Lots of sidewalks too. Our mayor is doing a great job of moving forward. Meriam said it was a mess when he took over.

            • We get by on about $750 a month for a family of five, Gary, but our house and lot is paid for. We have to live a pretty simple lifestyle, but it sure does beat working. Glad to hear your place is on the upward swing.

          • Gary, I’m not familiar with Tagum City. How do you like it compared to other cities in the Philippines? What % of the population is Christian and what % is Muslim? Is it as safe as Davao where the mayor keeps the criminals under control?

          • Yes, that’s including rent, Lance. I’ve seen some decent looking apartments renting in Iloilo for 200 USD a month. I can’t say that figure will work in Manila, but for a region like Iloilo and the much smaller Guimaras I think it’s a realistic figure.

          • 200 USD a month for an apartment in Iloilo seems expensive. It must be furnished or a very nice unfurnished place. Maybe that is the Kano price. I know a Filipino-Canadian who is going to rent a 3 bedroom house near Smallville in Iloilo for $150 USD a month.

        • Late comer to this post. Inflation is under control due to monetary easing. At this point in time, if QE3 is implemented, it will put the USA in the hole so deep they will never get out. Then inflation WILL rare it’s ugly head, that’s inevitable. I don’t want to be around when it happens. The RP will do a much better job keeping the lid on food prices…they have no choice. There will usually always be a cheap sustenance in RP. Fish and rice!

          • Fish and rice, the staple of my family here, Randy. My asawa has found a good price on some rice at 36 pesos a kilo. She also has some vegetables growing outside. Next post deals with how we’re collecting rain water for our drinking water needs. Have to be thrifty.

  5. Don Herrington of “Living in the Philippines” has been here since 1989. His web site is huge and his yahoo group newsletter has 17 or 18 thousand members. I like Bob’s web site but Don has been here much longer.

    • I regularly read Don’s site, Gary, and he helped me recently with some business in Cebu through his emails to me. I am a member of “Living in the Philippines” Forum, and researched his site before moving to the Philippines, and still check it out on a regular basis. I like Bob’s site, too, and would recommend anyone planning a move to the Philippines to check out both sites along with my humble little website which will give you quite a more offbeat look at life in the Philippines. I’ll pretty much tell you just about anything I experience here. Well, it’s back to Iloilo today for another round of shopping. I’ll get to more comments later, thanks, everyone.

  6. What Dave, YOU are hauling water every day! I thought you called yourself a king there at the Compound. I didn’t think a king would have to haul water as one of their duties.

  7. Hi Dave,
    I am almost finished with my house in New Corella, Davao Del Norte (cost around 100,000p or $2300). Then my cost of living will go way down. My health has improved considerably since moving here 11 months ago. I stopped using aircon 4 months ago which cut my electric bill in half down to around $40 to $60 a month. I am eating less and we grow rice and vegetables so my food cost will be low. I am shotting for 4000 to 6000p per month. I have a multicab, but will limit use of that. food 6000p, electric 2000p, gas 2000p total living expensense around 10,000p or about $227. Then I have to buy food for the animals. That will run another $250 or so. So we will be spending around $500 per month.

    • Sounds like you’re are doing great, Richard. Congratulations on the new home, it sound like you are really on top of your expenses. 500 bucks a month is great. I think that if it was just my asawa and I, we could live on that, too.

  8. It can cost a lot more when you first move to the Philippines, and sometimes that catches some folks off guard. Hopefully, in three years at the age of 62 I’ll be able to collect my Social Security that I’ve paid into for decades that will more than double our monthly income, but the way things are going back in the States, who knows what will happen. I’ll also be able to tap into my retirement investment fund, which I can say is at the highest level since we started the fund in August 2009.

  9. Hi Lance, Our mayor works much like the mayor in Davao City. I really don’t know how many Muslims there are here. Looks like about the same as Davao City which is a lot. Most are Catholic with the largest Catholic church in Mindanao being right here. Meriam has worked all over the Philippines and she says she likes Tagum City the best. Not too big but still has the malls. No tall building.


    Slow web site for me.

    • Thanks Gary. That Tagum City website doesn’t work for me either, but I will look at some other sites. Just wanted the opinion of someone actually there, as it is different than just reading about it. If your wife has worked all over the Philippines, what does she think of Dumaguete?

      • So I asked Meriam. She LOVES the place! Nice and clean and of course the people are very nice. It has been a few years since she worked just outside the city and things might of changed but she said she really enjoyed the “dancing cop.” I guess he has some great moves as he directs traffic. I think she really enjoyed working with the people there. Peaceful and gentle. She said the people do not talk loud like they do here in Tagum City. Good luck Lance.


        • Thanks Gary, glad to hear Meriam loves Dumaguete. On my next trip, I am planning to check out Dumaguete, Davao, and now possibly Tagum City based on what you said and I read about it. I’m curious, why does Meriam like Tagum better than Dumaguete? What other cities does she love? I am thinking I would prefer to live in a university town, so it has many educated people and I may possibly do some more studying myself. But not too large a city, I hated all the pollution in Cebu and downtown Iloilo. Miagao was nice (small town with a University of the Philippines campus) but a bit too far to the hospital in downtown Iloilo if there was an emergency.

          • Lance, ever though about just off the beaten path? Samar has a saying –
            “Discover Samar…Before Others Do”.
            Calbayog City (City of Waterfalls) is a first class municipality that lies along the National Hwy, with nice little airport, new infrastructure, two hospitals, Northwest Samar State University, and local technical school (CTI). A brand new bus terminal and a beautiful wet/dry market is almost finished. Calbayog recently made the top 15 cities (as did Iloilo) list of good cities to live in. When I was there in April, I walked around town looking for all the things (stores) that I would need to be comfortable living here, and found more than I bargained for. Just a suggestion.

          • Dave, from everything I read it sounds like Iloilo is a great place to live. Many times it’s family that dictate where you locate, and I’m just fortunate that Calbayog is a nice place. I’m just glad I’m not in Manila! 😉

            • I love it here, Randy. My asawa and I have pretty much decided that Iloilo will be the place for our future home. Lots of great shopping, good healthcare facilities and great people.

          • Thanks Randy. I took all the city names that were mentioned in that article and could only come up with 14, but I’m sure I’m missing one. Looks like that list may be from 2006 because there’s a “PIA Press Release
            2006/08/24” printed in the upper right. I’ve been trying to find a more updated list and have struck-out so far, but here is the list of cities (that I could find) in the order that they were listed in the article – with their goals:
            1) Calbayog City, being one island, one people, one culture
            2) Cebu, the most livable City in Asia;
            3) Dumaguete as a center of sustainable development and quality holistic education
            4) Iloilo, a premier city;
            5) Marikina, a world-class city; 6) Samal as an urban center in rural setting
            7) San Fernando, La Union envisions itself to be a Botanical Garden City;
            8) San Fernando, Pampanga as gateway in North Philippines;
            9) Sorsogon, as progressive gateway to the South;
            10) Tacurong, as the most livable city in Central Cotabato; 11) Tagaytay as a resort, retirement and character city; 12) Tagbilaran, a prime eco-cultural tourism hub;
            13) Tangub, the agri-business and learning center of Northern Mindanao;
            14) Toledo, as the premier and livable city in the west coast.

            • Thanks for sharing that info, Paul. So our present location, Iloilo, is fourth on the list? I certainly think it deserves a place on the top ten. Been to Cebu. Liked it, but too big for us to settle in, but I love visiting there. Lots of good locations in the Philippines to visit and to retire in.

          • I didn’t realize that article was that old. Nonetheless, it shows how progressive minded some of these leaders have become in bettering the lives of people who live in these cities. This is all good I suppose.

  10. The trips to Canada were made with my EX-wife. Who was also a Filipina. She walked out on me as I was unable to meet all of her needs. Then she came back a few days later and tried to shoot me with a 12 ga. shotgun. I had forgotten to show her how to take the safety off. I was only 8 feet away when she pulled the trigger. She had a friend pay off the police so she didn’t go to jail. All of that after 24 years of marriage. Took almost another year for the divorce.

    • Gary

      Wow! You were really lucky. That was the biggest thing you ever forgot. If that was in the Philippines it wouldn’t have surprised me that she got off. Good Luck and be safe

    • Well Gary…There is a prime example of what a safety on a gun is good for.One of my exs years ago left me a message on my answering machine and said that it was a good thing I was not at home because she was going to shoot me with her pistol!

      • My ex has a 380 Auto hand gun. Glad she didn’t bring it with her. The shotgun was a Windchester made before WW1. Great gun. My dad used it on quail. He was almost as good of a shot as me. Kansas was a great place to grow up in. Started high school in 1959. Good years.

        • My Dad didn’t take us hunting, Gary, but he often went with my Grandpa, his Dad, to shoot squirrels and rabbits back in Central Illinois. I had some good times growing up in the 50’s and 60’s when Dad wasn’t hitting the bottle and hitting Mom.

    • Wow! What an ex-wife story, Gary. My American ex-wife only locked me out of the house (house was in her name) and threw all my stuff out in the front yard packed in garbage bags. Four deputy sheriff squad cars pulled up in the driveway as I was trying to get in. I was then served with an order of protection at my workplace (no physical abuse or cheating was involved.) My ex had not packed all my stuff so I went with an police officer from our village so I could get the rest of my stuff. The soon-to-be-ex told the officer I could not enter the house. The officer (who had just went through a messy divorce) said to her: “Ma’am, he has a right to collect his property, and as long as I escort him there’s nothing you can do.” I got my stuff, and she filed for divorce. She gave it all of nine months of marriage and tried to get half my pension, and a monthly alimony. She got 400 bucks from me after a year of making our lawyers richer. The American way.

  11. Well I guess I have to refigure my budget. They had a big announcement on TV yesterday. Water rates are going to double in February. Got the bill that afternoon. Yep! They were right. Can wait to get the electric bill this month. They said that would double here in Tagum City also. Troubles in the middle east effect all of us.

    • I saw that same report, too, Gary, and it really irritated me. We just got our water bill today, and it’s the same P228 (but we have well water, too.) Hate to see what the electric is next month.

  12. If my electric bill doubles it will go to about what I had in Michigan and that was less than 50.00 US Dollars. I had a well in Michigan. No one in Vestaburg has city water. All wells. The cost of a new well is high!! My new one went down to 192 feet before they found good water. Very good water but it has iron and is hard. A water softener took care of that.

    • You had quite a low electric bill in the States, Gary. Our winter bills in Illinois were about 400 bucks a month, but we had an all electric house. You should have used one of my wife’s relatives who is a water diviner. He located a water source for our well at “The Compound” and fortunately did not have to go so deep.

  13. The man that dug my new well did the same thing. Metal if I remember right. The old well was a 80 foot so he thought he would hit water at that level. Since I was paying by the foot I started getting scared at 100 feet. Then at 120 foot he hit the “ice age” level. I now have a piece of wood that is 10,000 years old. After 52 more feet he hit really good water. It tested out just right for Michigan. Going from a 2 inch to a 5 inch gave me more water than I could shake a stick at.

    • It’s hard to believe that the water divining works, Gary, but my wife has had two wells dug by her relative with the diviner. Man, they really had to dig deep for your well!

  14. You’re a fortunate man, John. You found the right one. I have found the right one, too, but had to make some poor choices before I did. Well, like the “Man’s Prayer” for the Possum Lodge states: “I’m a man. I can change. If I have to. I guess.”

    I’ll be sure to check out your site, John, I see it improving all the time. I get a lot of help on my site and have some great commentators and a great Webmaster, Rich Pawly.

        • Dave, RIGHT! I didn’t get here until April of 2010. I was too busy keeping a 17 year old from moving in with me back in Michigan. That would have been a dumb move on my part. That girl just wanted to leave home I wanted nothing to do with that. Well she liked my sports car too.

          • I knew you weren’t the reason for the birth rate spike in 2008, Gary. Funny thing about that 17-year-old girl in Michigan is that you don’t need a sports car in the Philippines to have the young girls chasing after you. I can’t imagine how that good-looking Canadian guy, Lance, is going to be able to fight them all off when he visits here again.

        • Good point Dave, I never thought of that. I was okay my last visit because my (now ex) girlfriend was with me but I will have to figure something out for next time. Maybe they will be put off by my modesty, lol.

          • Lance, did you ever hear that old Mac Davis song “It’s Hard to Be Humble?” “Oh Lord, it’s hard to humble when we’re so perfect in every way.” We’re just cursed, I guess.

  15. Hi John,

    I thought my first “I do’s” were going to be my last. After 17 years I came home from work one night and found her in the arms of the guy next door. So much for that. I just fixed my supper and went to bed. It had been a long day and I was too tired to fight. Besides…this was before I was disabled and I could have hurt the poor guy. I met the guy on the street later and told him how sorry I felt for him. Poor guy.


    • Man, you’ve lived quite a life, Gary. I believe you have more stories than I have to tell. Never had such a terrible event happen to me. Sure don’t know how I would have reacted, but it sure would have crushed me.

  16. Hi Dave: Just numbers for your reference. I live in Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S.A. This is a small university town. My cars and home are paid for. My total expenses (just spouse and myself) is around $2,000.00 per month. This is only for the basic needs of utilities, insurances, and food costs. Your budget of under $800.00 for five people in the Philippines is awesome!

    • Thanks for your information, Roselyn. Our house payment alone in the States approached $1000 a month alone. We might not live an extravagant lifestyle in the Philippines, but we are comfortable, and it sure is a lot cheaper. Thanks so much for sharing your insight. I really do appreciate it.

  17. Yes very chap army pension about $3800 month live Angeles city with girlfriend an im brandnew condo builtin pool 24hr armed security free wifi maid once a day cleaning.Its great here been here 7 yrs well AC 5 Makati for 2 yrs before that lot more expensive there.But here have hot water cable an dsl an wifi internet an if get brownouts can just go resturant or bar with Gen.

    • Sounds like you’ve got a great life in Angeles City, Jay B. I envy your hot water, guess I’ll have to break down and buy that water heater for the CR. Thanks for the comment.

  18. hey dave: well im new to d phils. i live on mindanao near ozamiz city on d beach my expenses breaks down like this. 4000 mo. rent for a 3 bedrm 1 bath elec. 1500 , water 500 thats for 3 houses we split it. food 6000 , i like to eat good. i bought a jeep for 32000 runs good i spend around 1500 a mo for fuel i ride around a lot. 100 is my share on the cable bill n my internet runs 995 a mo. red horse is cheap but i find local rum is cheaper hahaha. oh n i have a live in maid that runs 2000 a mo. she was 1500 but. she is a great cook. its me n my phils. wife n 1.5 yr old daughter. i find the life style here is much cheaper. when we first arrived we were paying 15000 for a apt. all utilities included
    . that was aug. 2010 i found out it was cheaper out of town so we moved to clarin . in nov. its like you say there are many life styles here you just have to make a choice of what you want to give up to make it work. i need to go the maid just cooked fresh shrimp w/ fries mmmmmm life is good ohhhhhhhhhhh yaaaaaaaaaaa.

    • Hi, vc, thanks for the detailed budget report. Good of you to share it. Sounds like you are living the good life, indeed. Your rent sounds very reasonable along with your other utilities. P2000 is about the cost of a maid in Guimaras, but my wife wants to cook and doesn’t want a maid at this time. Maybe she’s afraid that I’ll want to hire a cute Filipina! Again, thanks much for the information, hope to hear from you again.

  19. 900 month is possible depending on your location in the Philippines, Drew. We support a family of five and spend around $775 in USD every month for our budget, but my Filipina wife had already bought our house and property and paid for it before we were even married. Check out Dave Starr’s website, PhilFAQs. for some tips on how you CAN own property in the Philippines. Good luck on your future plans, and hold on to your dream. You’re smart by doing a lot research now. It can really help in your planning.

    • I figured I’d chip in as the last post on this was a few months ago and costs may have risen since then.

      It really does depend on the area you want to live in, and also your lifestyle. I finally settled on a place this week in IloIlo- what would be described as an average 3 bedroom house in the US. I’m paying 20K Pesos a month (roughly $470 US). I pay about 6,500P monthly in taxis, and my wife and I have a food budget of $400 monthly. This doesn’t include utilities, entertainment, etc. I can tell you that we are not living lavishly either. Eating out a couple of times a week and catching a movie every other week.

      Yes, some things are cheap here compared to a lot of US states, though other things are more costly. Electronics, appliances, brand name clothes- such as Levi’s and Nike, are all more costly in the Philippines. If you like to work out, as I do, good luck finding a decent gym in IloIlo. There are 2 that I would recommend and they cost well more than my gym membership in the states. Also, supplements/protein shakes and bars- less than half the variety at GNC, and twice the price. IPet care can also be very costly here. I have a parrot and there’s not a single petstore in IloIlo that carries parrot food or bird toys. I have to get them in Manila.
      However, other things- such as going to the movies, dinner, or having a massage are considerably cheaper than the US. Taxi’s are too.

      Rent however, is tricky. We have been to every subdivision in IloIlo. The upper end places are very limited and prices can be astronomical depending on the place. The coveted Southville subdivision currently has a house for rent at 200,000 Pesos PER MONTH (no I didn’t add an extra zero). That’s a whopping $56,000 per year. Other nice subdivisions, such as Puerto Real, Villa Rosario (if you can find a house there), and Metropolis are in the 35-45K per month range. You can find cheaper housing in a subdivision like Savannah or Park Regency in the 6k-15K range, but it’s farther out and you pay more for taxi’s to the city. Also, water can be an issue, as in so many areas here in IloIlo.

      Personally, I love the hospitality of the people and I don’t mind doing without certain luxuries I had in the states. But if you prepare to move here: Traffic is not easy by any means- I laugh when I pass the stop signs in the city proper as not a single car ever stops. Ironically, with all the traffic, a lot of Filipinos don’t seem to look when they enter the road, either. Also, be prepared to carry toliet paper when you go out as it’s not supplied in many places. You will not hear a whole lot of “excuse me’s” when people bustle by you. There’s an enormous amount of stray dogs and cats that walk the street.

      Anyway- I think you get the gist. I’m just tossing in my two in the hope that it illuminates some things to look at for those contemplating a move here. I’m very comfortable with my life here, but it’s not for everyone…my wife reminds daily of how she misses the US 🙂

      • Dan, thank you SO MUCH for that detailed information. You’ve really illuminated me about living costs in Iloilo which my asawa and I frequently visit. We had planned to move from Guimaras to Iloilo in a few years, but I am stunned by the housing costs. Glad my wife has already paid for our lot and house that we live in. I might have to rethink our plans. We are planning to build and buy a truck for our transportation. SM is planning to building in Guimaras (confirmed to me by a manager at SM City yesterday) but the local hospital leaves much to be desired. There are no decent large shopping malls in Guimaras.

        Ha ha, a “Stop Sign” here means “go.” A “Slow Down for construction” means go faster. Thanks so much, Dan. Feel free to contribute anytime. If you would like to send me an email sometime please use the “About/Contact” section located at the upper left hand corner of the website. Thanks again! 😉

        • Hi Dave,

          Thanks…I have to add one to the list. I got my first haircut in IloIlo today. I’ve always had my hair cut by a woman, and I was surprised how difficult it was to find a woman in the Philippines willing to cut my hair. It seems that men, or ladymen, are the ones who cut a guys hair here. Anyway, my semi-homophobic fears were put at ease when I found a lady at the Freshaire salon in SM City willing to cut my hair. She was very thorough, it took almost an hour, and it turned out well. Here’s the best part: 110 Pesos! I was floored. A wash and cut for $2.50 US! I’m lovin it 🙂

          We will be checking out Guimaras in a couple of weeks..I’m looking forward to trying the legendary sweet Mangos. I will shoot you an email before we go- maybe we can meet up for a cup o’ Joe 🙂

          • My asawa gets her cut by a lady boy named “Bambi” at SM City in Iloilo, Dan, but she pays the big bucks, 200 pesos. But you were fortunate to find a Filipina to cut your hair, I’ve never seen that in any shop I’ve passed by in Iloilo. Only see the lady boys and men barbers at the regular barber shops.

            Sure, let me know when you plan to visit beautiful Guimaras and try some of those sweet mangoes. Be glad to meet up.

    • Tim, you will be LIVING LIKE A KING on that pension. I’m getting less than 1200 USD a month and supporting five people on that. I plan to collect Social Security at age 62 in two 1/2 years (IF it’s still around, and that’s a BIG if.) Any of you other expats want to weigh in on Tim’s query?

  20. hi Dave, i live in australia and my gf lives in angeles city which i have been supporting her for over 2 and a half years but i told her to get a job to make it easier 4 me to live. she lives with her sister and mum so how much do they need a month to live on? coz i think im sending her far to much money.

    • Good question, Richard. Probably are sending too much money, but I couldn’t tell you what kind of a budget would be reasonable there. Murray or some of you other faithful readers out there, what do you think would be a realistic budget for the area? Any ideas?

  21. Even though overall costs have more than doubled in the last 10 years, $1000US/month will support a modest lifestyle in the GMA is possible with change in your pocket.

    Many factors may however trash your budget – in relative order:
    1/ women (not so much if you’re sensible)
    2/ just one woman! (read: asawa)
    Note: it’s definitely cheaper to “rent” than to “buy”.
    3/ making and raising babies is expensive
    4/ purchasing property (unless you have some massive lump sum to buy outright)
    5/ leaving it all behind and starting over yet again.

    • Great advice, Ed! I hope my readers that have not yet come to the Philippines pay especially close attention to items #1 and #2 on your list. Guys, PLEASE pay close attention to what Ed has to say. He’s giving out some really good advice. I would only add the “Three Hour Relative” Rule. Keep at least three hours away from the relatives. Some folks tend to see the words “ATM” branded on our foreheads. Thanks for the good stuff, Ed.

  22. Thanks Dave, though these days I might note that the “3hour relative” rule is these days mostly irrelevant. They’re as close as your cellfone, failing which your wife’s cellphone, and if she’s not close enough to sit on your lap (with her cellfone) then you have way more problems. If your life is good, that 3hour rule today translates to less than 1minute even if your bayaw txt’s very slow. Physically, 2.999 hours is do-able by plane/ground combo from most parts of Phils, and yes they have come here when _I_ need them. It works both ways.

    The point is that if you marry or even accept a filipina as some sort of conjugal partner, marriage or not though more solid if you have mutual children, you’ve already married the whole family. That’s just the way it is. You are reasonably expected (from their perspective) to give all you have without reservation, though usually before you actually _can_ (the family is way more patient and understanding than your wife!). In return, they give YOU all THEY have, and in truth, they do, but note the lack of respective capability – I could write books about this. It’s up to you to balance that for a good mutual life. If you’re not up to that, then rent, don’t buy. 🙂

    If you understand and CAN afford and manage all that, you will be the envy of every man on the planet. Otherwise be very careful, understand laws, traditions, et al, and have a good fulfilling life in the years you have left.

    All that noted, at least in Phils our Pinoy wives and extended family are way better than where we emigrated away from, eh? Like it’s better back overseas? hah! Perspective.

    • Ed, you’re absolutely right about the three hour rule not having much impact in these days of cell phones and the Internet. My asawa just informed me that one of her nephews on Facebook asked for a P2 ,000 loan to pay their electric bill. The nephew’s father, my wife’s brother, is a hardworking seaman, and my spouse is sure he had nothing to do with the request; probably came from the nephew’s mom. My wife politely told him we are unable to help. We have just moved and have a lot of extra expenses at this time.

      But yes, if you are married to a Filipina or have a Filipina girlfriend, you, the “rich foreigner,” are expected to provide for the extended family. I knew that before I married my wonderful asawa, as she was the main “breadwinner” for her Mom and several nephews and nieces when she worked overseas in Singapore and later Taiwan. After we were married and my wife joined me in the States, we continued to send a generous amount of money each month to support her Mom. There’s the catch. I promised to support her Mom. Suddenly, two twin nieces joined the support group in Guimaras along with another niece and nephew. I was not pleased by these additions, but we faithfully sent our money to them every month.

      Now we don’t. After over 11 years of marriage, for the first time in our married life, we are supporting only ourselves. That is what her sister back in Guimaras wants, and we are more than happy to comply. Siblings (eight in total) are being asked for support now that our own personal ATM has been shut down (again, this was not our doing) and suddenly money is being found to help my wife’s mother and another niece and nephew that still remain at Guimaras. Imagine that.

      While my own Father at the age of 79 still has to work about 40 hours a week back in the States just to survive without any help from me. Better back overseas? No way. Thanks for your insight, Ed, it’s much appreciated.

  23. Just have to be smart.My girl has been living with me 8 yrs here in Angeles city. Tells her family she works for me they get nothing from me Im doing an there just doing fine.An pensions little more than 200,000 peso living great here have everything need an more.Sure beats Pittsburgh,P)a an Thailand where I lived for 6 yrs before came here still go back there every few yrs for week or two.

  24. I’d like to inquire about crimes. I was told that if you are known to have come from overseas especially the US you are target. Houses are made with bars on windows, etc. Is it safe, especially for a woman? Thanks

    • Here is what the US Department of State has to say, Faith, from their website: “U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the Philippines should carefully consider the risks to their safety and security while there, including those risks due to terrorism. While travelers may encounter such threats anywhere in the Philippines, the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of particular concern. Travelers should exercise extreme caution in both central and western Mindanao as well as in the Sulu Archipelago.”
      That said, my Filipina wife and I have lived in the Philippines since July 2009. I’m a six ft. tall, 200 lb, American white guy that does stand out. I’m a target? Never felt that way, but i do exercise extreme caution when traveling in the heart of downtown Metro Manila.

      I’ve traveled jeepneys in Manila and in our area of Iloilo City, which has over 400,000 people without any problems at all. I’ve traveled solo on a lot of those trips. Most people are friendly and helpful. Just use some common sense. Our house and every house in our subdivision has bars. Some folks have barbed wire strung along the walls of their homes. Don’t let that put you off. Is it safe for a woman? Are you traveling alone? I, personally would recommend traveling with someone else, also, but that’s just my opinion. Anyone else have any comments on Faith’s question?

  25. hello Dave,
    I’m going to move to the philippines probably in december and live there! my situation is, i’m married to a pinay but we separeted now, so i be moving there alone but still will get the 13(A) Resident Visa. i don’t know what place i be living yet? i have a few place i like to visite and feel. but what i want to do is open a small biz because im not retired yet and fare from it but dont want to wait and waste my life waiting for that. i want to move now. im not looking to live in philippines a western life but i need a biz that bring me money to live on. not work on line thought, im bad at that im looking o open some food biz or other. i’m moving just with $18000
    what do you think???


    • Whew, SG, not an easy question to answer. But first I’m kind of puzzled, so maybe you can help straighten me out. First of all, sorry to hear that you are separated from your spouse, but how do you plan to get her to sponsor the 13a Permanent Visa for you? If she is going to sponsor you, what are you going to tell the lawyer in immigration that interviews both of you? You stated you’re moving here alone.

      Location depends a lot on how much you’ll be spending once you move here. But you noted you don’t have a location picked out yet. Of course, my buddies and I that live in Iloilo, in Western Visayas, recommend Iloilo City and the surrounding area. Iloilo is just big enough but doesn’t have nearly the traffic and densely populated areas that Manila has. A lot of guys recommend scouting an area first, living there for awhile and see how you like it.

      Do I understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, you’re coming with $18,000 and planning to open a business? You don’t have a monthly sustainable income like a pension? I’m afraid you’re in for some tough times if you don’t. If any of my readers that have opened businesses here have any input, please put your two pesos worth in. Let’s see what kind of info we can get for you, SG. Thanks for your question.

      • Unfortunately SG, there have been many foreigners that have tried their hand at a business in the RP and many have failed. First, you will need the proper visa that will allow you to work and as a foreigner, you cannot own the business. If you are married and your spouse owns a business, then you can work in that business if you are a legal resident. You could start a corporation but, as a foreigner, you are only allowed to own 40% of it where the other 60% must be Filipino owned. Some other things to consider; The majority of Filipino people have little or no disposable income to spend and your competition will work longer and harder than you for much less money. The average Filipino worker toils 10-12 hours a day, six or more days a week, for the equivalent of $4-$6 per day. Yes, per day, not per hour. And if you are successful at any type of business, copycats will soon appear with businesses just like yours, all undercutting your business even at a loss. The money you bring with you will definitely be at risk and could be gone before you know it and, without a recurring income, you will be in for troubling times as Dave says. I would also recommend a long visit to further assess everything here before making any critical decisions. As much as I hate to say it, the odds are against you my friend. 🙁

        • Good advice, Randy. SG, I wouldn’t recommend a move to the Philippines under the current circumstances and details you have provided. My expat friends in Iloilo know too many guys that have come over with just a lump sum of money, no sustainable income, and had to head back to the States broke. I wish I could be more upbeat, but Randy and I are just trying to give you a realistic view and not sugar-coat things for you.

          • thanks for the reply to both of you..Yes she will sponsor the 13a Permanent Visa but what u mean about lawyer in immigration that interviews both of us? I’m going to apply for that visa from my country but i was going to go to Philippines alone, is the interviews when i arrive there or in my country?

            No i don’t have other income so i only will have what i have saved. what about if i open the biz with 2 other pinoy associate instead of my wife, can i then still own a part and work? I know its not much money but i think i can open a little biz even if its not much income at first, it still be enough to live on.
            thanks again..

            • So your spouse is going to apply for the 13a Permanent Visa at the nearest Philippine embassy in your country, SG? When your spouse applies in the Philippines there is a mandatory interview by an Immigration lawyer that works for the Bureau of Immigration. The lawyer speaks to your wife and yourself, of course, the person she is sponsoring. Your requirements might be different at the Philippine embassy where you are filing from. Best to check with them.

              How are you going to trust two associates, whether pinoy or not, to open your business with? You have no legal rights as such in the Philippines. Honestly, SG, I wish you luck. I’m afraid you’re going to need it. Again, I would not recommend you making the move under your present circumstances.

        • Thanks Randy for the info, i understand. i stay in manila for over a year, i already know i love to live there but not in manila though, so i will go visit other place then feel where i like it the most.
          about the copycats they can try but they need to know how to do it first and be as good as me 😉 And about start a corporation with say 2 pinoy associat can it be done with any capital or it need to be a minimunto start? I have some pinoy friends in my country that wil be ok to do bisness with.
          thanks again..

          • The process of incorporation is basically the same as in the us but with different looking legal documents though, I’m sure. All you need is a lawyer to file the paperwork (articles of incorporation) and pay the fee and you can own a shell of a company that does nothing. The cost of a business start up would be in relation to the type of business and all that goes with it. Don’t count out the Pinoy though, they can learn to replicate just about anything as they are some of the most resourceful people in the world. And if they can’t do it, they will find somebody who can. Just saying! Unless you have a Philippine registered patent on something, and even then, all’s fair in work and competition in the Philippines. It really is just more fun! 😀

      • SG, in order for you to be legally working, first you must have the correct resident visa but then you cannot just open a company. You would have to incorporate a business and then you couldn’t own more than 40% of that corporation, but then you could work in that business. I’m not an expert by any means on this topic and I probably know just enough to suggest to you to visit more online resources that are specific to this topic. I would still remain cautious investing into a partnership. Partnerships fail more often than they succeed and that is a “known fact”. As they say at any shark infested beach…’Enter at Your Own Risk!” 😉

        • thank you Dave n Randy for your help:) its complicated all that but as you can see i already make up my mind about moviong there so the only think i can do is try my best to make it work:) im thinking to do it with pinoy that are living in my country so that way i know they not so into riping me off as they have money here. but someone told me that i cant work physicaly in the biz if i dont have work permit but i can be like the directore or manager of the biz is that correct?. thats ok if i need to hire some worker. but i will look into online resources about this as you said. thanks again

          • SG, ANY involvement in ANY business that provides you EARNINGS (in pesos) is considered working. It’s not a misnomer and I would be careful on whom you rely on for advice. Get your information from reliable sources and you can’t go wrong! 😉

          • Hi SG this is my first time on this blog but I would like to say that my wife and I run a successful business in the Philippines. We have been in operation for over 8 months now and have been through well let me say the ups and downs. Number 1 do not go into a partnership with anyone especially in the Philippines. As soon as you open your business there will be a ton of people coming to you to try to get you involved in their business schemes. Be polite and say I will check out your business plan and get back to you. Hint: They want your money and will have no business plan and will not come back to save face with the question because they do not have one lol. Never ever get involved with politics and business outside your own business plan. People get killed here because of business ventures. I am not going to sugar coat anything here. You can be very successful in business here and the secret is to stick to your own plan and do not deviate from it. People here talk a good line but do not succumb to it. I have alot more to share but please give me your questions and I will answer them with no Bs

            • Thanks, johnedmonstone, some really good advice you have. SG and others should be very careful as you stated. People DO get killed in the Philippines over business ventures. “Saving face” is a very important part of the culture. If you offend someone you might find yourself facing St.Peter or Satan when you wake up. You’re not in Kansas anymore.

          • It does not matter if a Filipino lives in your place or in the Philippines. I am sorry to say but do not trust no one. The only way to be successful is to create your business plan and stick to it yourself. You will need someone that you can trust there to run your business but you will have to be on the ground all the time. Your separated status puts you in a position that you cannot wholly own the business. You must become a resident of the Philippines to do so.

  26. Hi Dave/All,

    I find your blog really informative. It’s kind of off topic but I’m wondering if you or anyone know of a fully-furnished house for long term in Iloilo. 2-3 bedrooms, must have internet connection, preferably airconditioned rooms. Budget not more than 20k/month. Thanks!

    • I would imagine that solar panels and the necessary batteries needed to run them would be too cost prohibitive in the Philippines, Steph. We plan to build a house in the Philippines in about two years and will check out the solar options. Right now about all people can afford are solar bulbs made out of plastic soda bottles. Here’s the LINK to that story.

          • its very good idea and you could put many, it would be brighter maybe it will even work with full moon. but for the electricity solar panel you can do it your self, its not so hard to build and can be so much cheaper then buying it all ready made. is many books or even online vdo to how to do it:)

            • I’ll have to check out the solar panel, steph, thanks for the tip. But if it involves any kind of construction, I’ll let my asawa handle that. She’s a much better carpenter than I am. 😯

  27. I have been reading some of your post and find them not only informative, but also good reading. My wife and I have been planning our move to the Philippines for about 11 years now and next year will finally be the time. I admire those of you who have made the move and found a way to make it work. I look forward to the challenges and hope to make it work for us as well. Quite frankly, I am more concerned about the cultural adjustment than the financial situation. I would love to hear comments in that regard. Thank you for a great site and for accepting my comment.

    • Thanks for checking out the website, Mike P. So you’ve read some of my posts and you’re still planning to move to the Philippines? Good for you. I try to present both sides of the coin. I’ve been criticized by a few folks for not painting a rosy, “everything is beautiful” viewpoint of the Philippines. I refuse to sugarcoat anything. If your wife and you have been planning for 11 years, I commend you both for that. I think research is important before making such a radical life style change.

      Cultural adjustment? Where do I begin? I had been to the Philippines a few times before my asawa and I moved here three years ago. But nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, prepares you for the reality of actually living here.

      Can you get used to seeing people, men and women, alike, peeing in public in broad daylight? If so, that’s one hurdle you don’t have to cross. How will you adjust to your “rock star” status once you arrive? Better yet, how will your asawa react to the reactions you get? Be prepared to use your horn a lot if you plan to drive here. There is a system of horn-honking that Filipinos use, and I will never crack that code. I don’t drive myself, use the jeepneys. But at every intersection of our subdivision, EVERY motorcycle and vehicle WILL honk their horns even if no one is in sight. How about roosters? Can you adjust to being woke up by roosters AND barking dogs all hours of the night?

      I’m just scratching the surface, Mike. Honestly, some people don’t make the adjustment and return home. But if a guy like me that was stuck in the same routine for decades can do it, so can you. Takes patience. Don’t worry, you’ll get more here. Just be laid back and adjust to Filipino time and you’ll make it. Please keep us posted on your progress once you get here. Take care.

      • Dave, I’ve cracked the code for horn honking years ago when I rode a Honda 750 Magna…and fast in many cases. Horn honking is more of a proactive courtesy to create awareness. Many times I’ve seen drivers honk with seemingly no other traffic, but it is done under the proactive reasoning that somebody just needs to pay attention. Drivers in the RP are very astute at anticipating others actions and, considering the crowded roadway and pedestrian conditions, you rarely see an incident. It may just be someone standing too close with their back to the road and with a honk in advance is a simple warning to that person…please don’t take that half step backwards! Honking also can be used to indicate your intentions when many may not be paying attention. It is more of a safety thing as oppose to using the horn in the states where, in most cases, the horn is nothing more than a substitute for the middle finger. I like the horn use and find it a rather unique way of issuing caution. It’s just More Fun that way! 🙂

        • OK, Randy, I agree with you. It makes sense. When I’m doing my morning walk and enjoying the peace and solitude, the honking annoys me. But I’ll just have to learn to adapt.

          But I rarely do see any accidents here, not on the scale I saw in the States. I guess that the honking must have something to do with that. 🙂

  28. I dave, thats so true about ppl peeing any where, at first i thought ” my God,they just pee in front of averyone? and the honking lol so funy, yea they love to honk but i think if you live in a provence it be less honking then in manila i guess and the roosters lol, i wish so many time that he die! and dont forget about the trash every where. people just trash anything any where but the problem is olso that i never see trash can in the city or a trash truck so maybe if the city started to do that ppl will us it?
    but yea if you go there you need to adapt its a deferent culture people are deferent. if you want to live there you need to be open minded, you cant change it but you can change your self and adapt and enjoy it. you need to make filippino friends too, you cant just be a loner foreigner who live in a gated condo with his wife, thats kinda depressing. have filippino friends they are great people when you know them. if you cant change then is no point on going to live there. personaly i cant wait to going back permanently 🙂

    • You’re right about the honking not being so bad in the province, Steph. When we lived in rural Guimaras, with a total population of just over 130,000, we naturally didn’t have the traffic like Iloilo City does with over 4000,000. Everyone in Iloilo (and Manila) are “honk happy.”

      We don’t have nearly the amount of roosters in our subdivision as we did in Guimaras. They are banned in our area, but a few people still have them. Our local maintenance men were instructed a few weeks ago to do a “rooster round-up” but some of them evaded capture.

      I’ve met a lot of Filipino friends along with my expat friends. I agree, I wouldn’t want to be some loner kano locked up in a condo somewhere. I love to travel around the city and enjoy talking to everyone (ask my asawa.) And if you’re not open to change, better stay put. Like you stated a person needs to be open minded and adapt. It can be done, I’m proof of that. Thanks so much for your input, Steph.

  29. Thanks for all the advice. My wife and I have a 4 yr. old son and a place in Butuan City. We spend a few months there every year, so I’m familiar with most of what you say. However, I’m sure being there for 3 or 4 months is not like living there full time and realizing that this is it, this is where I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life. Quite frankly, now that the time is near and we are in the process af selling things and switching bank accounts and beginning to say our goodbyes, the reality that I’m about to make the biggest change ever in my life makes me somewhat apprehensive. Of course, as a husband and Father I want this to work not only for me, but my wife and son as well. At first It seemed only natural to me that my wife would be happy to be back home. However, I have read numerous post which say that the adjustment for the wife is as difficult if not more so than for the husband. I think my son will adjust as he has already spent a great deal of time there and always hates to leave. In closing I want to say that I find it helpful to read a site where you tell it like it is. I plan to keep reading, so keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mike P. I believe that your asawa will be the one that the adjustment is hardest for. I’m doing fine now but I know my spouse misses her Filipina friends back in Illinois. She also misses all the karaoke singing with them and the shopping trips. What about her relatives, you might wonder. Her sister in Guimaras is busy working, teaching school and tutoring. She doesn’t have any relatives or friends that she hangs out with.

      Perhaps when my Social Security kicks in and we have access to our other retirement funds, she’ll get more comfortable here as we plan to travel more. I think boredom is a major factor at the moment. We moved here when she was only in her early 40’s. She was used to working all of her life. Good luck, Mike, and take care.

  30. how much does it cost to live in the PI? lets see , the food is bad so you need to eat at junk food restaurants (got tired of eating cold spegethi with banana ketchup), yes thats right mc donalds is a step up from philippine food and as i recall a whopper jr runs 80 pesos whereas in the USA is 1.20 (48 pesos)chili at wendys usa 1.50 (60 pesos) versus 96 in PI electricity is 10 pesos a KWhour or about 50% higher than the states. i paid 2.99 a gallon for gas yesterday that works out to 32 pesos a liter versus 54 in the PI, a gallon of fresh milk at walgreens was on sale for 1.99 or 20 pesos a liter versus 65 a liter in PI. electronics in the philippines are about 20 to 30% more expensive than the states and selection isnt as varied. i cant compare post office rates since ive never even seen a mail man in the PI. i dont know about internet costs in the states since there are so many free wifi hot spots i never have to pay. oh i saw 3 red baron supreme pizzas for sale in walmart yesterday for 10 bucks. just one of those (similar) would cost 500 in the PI. since im a us citizen i dont need to pay for a visa to live in the usa and a visa to live in the PI (srrv) is 1400 bucks and to renew is 360 a year plus all the trips to BI fotos bribes etc Ah lets not forget the money you have to “borrow” to you filipina GF family thats an additonal cost and the countless beggars one encounters everyday. earplugs to blockout the noise. there are many states which have no sales tax in the PI its 12%.
    looked at apartments in the PI and they wanted 24K a month and i kindly reminded the owner about the wages in the PI and how they thought they could rent it at that price, got a blank stare, in the USA one can rent a room utilities included for 400 bucks a month (check craigslist.) and lets not forget the flight over to beautiful manila thats about 1200 dollars. changing the subject
    i read your article re major changes coming here , at first i thought it was going to be something positive like theyve enacted a law prohibiting child abandonment or a law requiring the payment of child support. so to conform to these new changes i assume this comment im posting now will have to deleted in 8 days !?

  31. Thanks, John J. I pondered a response, also, but knew it would be long. I thought of doing a post, too, but I’m enjoying my Christmas Eve chowing down on homemade egg rolls, fried chicken, sticky rice, Sloppy Joes and potato salad. I’ll check out your post. Merry Christmas.

  32. Steve, it sounds to me like you don’t have much figured out! The Philippines is not the USA! If your dream is to live on spaghetti, pizza, and McD’s, in penthouse style, I’d suggest staying right where you’re at. And if you need to sponge internet service for access, then maybe you should continue working!

  33. I’ll try to make a short response to Steve. I filled up my truck yesterday for $3.35 per gallon. My rent for a 1br apt is $750 monthly. A gallon of milk is $3.80. In the PI I McDo for less than $20. Here in the “Land of the Free” I have a hard time feeding my wife and myself for that same $20.
    You, sir, are either greatly exaggerating or are being charged the “Kano” price for things. I’ve seen 2br condos advertised in suburban Manila for less than $400US. And as for the “lending” money to your GFs family, that is on you.

    • Thanks for the input, johnfromflorida. I live in what is said to be one of the premier subdivisions in Iloilo City. I pay P6,000 monthly rent for a three bedroom home. There are two bedroom homes available for P5,000. For a P400 a month fee, we have armed security guards at the main gate and our individual enclave. There are also guards that routinely patrol our area through out the day and night. That P400 includes garbage pick-up 2-3 days a week and landscaping for our yard, street cleaning, etc. I’d have to be a millionaire to enjoy the amenities we have here.

      But it’s all up to one’s lifestyle. There are plenty of apartments and houses to rent for P24,000 and more. Those are the “kano prices” some people (including other foreigners) charge. My wife and I met our landlord, a Filipino, in person. He didn’t charge us the skin tax. You’ll find plenty of honest people around that will not take advantage of foreigners.

      As far as the relatives or a girlfriend looking for “loans” that never get repaid, we had that problem when we first arrived in my wife’s home province. Since we’ve moved a couple of hours away, no problem. That’s an issue each individual has to deal with. Boundaries have to be set and observed. If one’s girlfriend does not approve, move on.

      Visa costs? I only pay P310 year now for my annual report as a foreigner. My Permanent visa, sponsored by my asawa, cost around P6,000. A single friend of mine from the States estimates his visa costs will be 600 USD a year.

      Still much cheaper for me to live in the Philippines as opposed to the States. But I know guys here that can’t make it on 3,000 USD a month. It’s all about the lifestyle you choose.

  34. I spend 5,000 pesos per month for a 2 bedroom, 2 CR apartment. We go to Hollywood Burgers for a meal. 100 pesos to see a movie that comes out 1 day before it does in the States. I don’t need to have a car, only 9 pesos for a ride anywhere in town on a tricycle. Life is great here in Tagum City on the wonderful island of Mindanao. It is more fun in the Philippines. 😀

    • Thanks for the info, Gary. I don’t have a car either. I can get around anywhere in Iloilo City proper for a 7.50 peso jeepney ride. And I agree, it IS more fun in the Philippines. I wouldn’t trade living here for anything. 🙂

  35. In respsonse to Steve’s post, I guess I’ll chip in another two pesos worth. I will be looking forward to not paying for gasoline, tires, oil changes, inspections, tags, other maintenance, car washes, and insurance x 2 vehicles that we pay for here in the states. With just what I will save on all that crap, I can live a budgeted lifestyle in the Philippines, at a minimum!

    • We’re counting down the 12 months until I receive my Social Security, RandyL. Our income will more than double. In the States that would not have been such a big deal, but in the Philippines my asawa and I will be able to live quite comfortably.

  36. Is mid 40’s too early to consider retirement? (or would I have to wait another 10 years longer?..Anyway, I came across this blog and gathered some great and useful insights regarding the pros and cons of living in the Philippines. For the next 3 months (mid February-mid May 2013), I will be staying in the quiet beach town (where I was born) 2 hours away from Naga City, Camarines Sur as a retirement trial run. I hope I could easily adjust to the slow-pace lifestyle (again). Having been born in the Philippines and lived there for 21 years, but have live in the States longer,I hope the adjustment period wouldn’t be as bad.

    One good thing about this retirement experiment is I have my own 2/bed/2bath beach cottage (bought in 2004) waiting there for me, and the city is nearby in case I need to get away from the small town ambiance. I am looking forward to the trip yet a bit apprehensive that I won’t survive living there for more than a month!

    Keep the informative posts coming!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Lally. Is mid 40’s too early? I have American expat friends in that age range that are currently living in the Philippines. The fact that you have a home already bought and paid for is a big advantage. If you have a steady source of monthly income, I would say come on out and see how it works out for you. My own Filipina wife spent nine years with me in the States before we retired to the Philippines in July 2009. It didn’t take her long to get “Americanized” back in the States, but she’s adjusted to life back in her homeland. Let us know how the trial run turns out. Best of luck and take care.

  37. @Dave & John

    I’ll have to find out soon enough if I can adjust to the lifestyle there. I am good on the monthly living expenses and can live on a budget accordingly. I think $500-$750 (for now) as a single person should hopefully be doable until I can draw on my IRA or SS for that matter. The cost of living in a small town is considerably lower too, plus rent is not going to be a factor. I do love to travel and eat out ..so may have to sacrifice on those a bit.

    Btw John J, I had a retail business for 10 years while working another part time job, then Corporate work (starting to get burnt out)and now…well hoping to slow down (mostly do lots of traveling as much as I can afford..lol). Also 52 is young! Anyhow, will try to update on how I fare on this experiment. Thanks!

    • $750 might be OK if you’re a single guy, Lally, and don’t have a girlfriend with needy relatives. I have an American expat friend that lives in Iloilo and his budget approaches &1,000, but that includes his rent. But since you’re retiring to a small town and have your home paid for, you should be OK. Good luck.

  38. Dave got a question for you .. I’m 48 so I still have 14 years before I can collect my SS but I do have about 240,000 dollars in my scottrade account. Been to the Philippines 7 times already 2 weeks each time. Mostly Cebu and boracay but anyways do you think 240,000 dollars will last me 14 years until I can collect my SS?

    Thanks dave

    • Depends on your lifestyle and location, Joseph, but you could live a comfortable lifestyle in the Philippines. Watch your budget. I have a single American expat friend that lives in Iloilo City on around 1,000 USD a month. He eats out most of the time. I’m sure others have an opinion. Feel free to add your input. That’s my personal opinion. Good luck to you.

  39. THANKS GUYS,, no I have no plans to waste my money on any business, to much competition in the Philippines for a fornigner running a business, actually i acquired this money through stock gains after the market crashed in 2008. I was always in cash the entire time because I’m one of those people that believe the market is rigged against the little guy but when I seen stocks like FORD and CITIBANK both go to a single dollar I jumped in with both guns blazing getting 10,000 shares of each company at around a buck a share, road ford to over 12 before selling and Citibank to a little over 8 before bailing out of that and since then I simply stayed in cash. Taking no chances with my gains. I’m just a truck driver 17 years now but I have always loved the Philippines , have a few military friends there in Cebu. It is PARIDISE indeed. I will probably have a few questions for you Dave as time goes on so check the board every few days if you can. Simple questions though like for example THE MAIL!!!! If you move to a third world country how on earth do you get your mail forwarded to you in the Philippines . Post office will forward your mail to a US address for up to a year but not overseas because I ask and said Nooooo!!!! Only to US addresses . I guess they don’t want to suck up the cost of International forwarding. SO HOW DO YOU DO IT?? Questions like that. Later guys

    • I don’t have my mail forwarded, Joseph. Mail delivery from the States is not very reliable. I’ve had past W-2 forms mailed six months late and other mail from the States sent to businesses in Manila. Fortunately the Manila companies were nice enough to forward the mail to our home in the Philippines at their expense.

      You could use a mail forwarding service such as USA2Me. Here’s a Link to them International mail forwarding

      We have an IRA which my company, AT&T contributed to. We have a T-72 account to help defer additional taxes. That IRA currently provides our present funds. I don’t know much about the stock market and let my adviser handle that. So far they’re doing very well and I’m pleased with their results. I focus on doing nothing in the Philippines which I’m very good at.

  40. Also Dave I noticed you mentioned you had 12 months left until you can collect you SS. I’m just curious since your living in the Philippines and have not been contributing to your SS for some time now (I’m assuming) than wont that effect how much you will get when it’s time to collect, I have been told by others that if you retire a few years before you can collect your SS than it takes away from the amount you would of been getting simply because you have gone years without adding to the SS fund. IS THIS TRUE??

    I need to know because I’m 48 so that means I will be going 14 years without adding into my SS fund. Is that really going to screw me??

    • Here’e what the Social Security Administration stated when I estimated my benefits, Joseph, using 0 as my income for last year:

      We estimated your benefit amounts using your average earnings over your working lifetime.

      If you worked last year, we will also assume that you will continue to work and make about the same amount as you entered for last year’s earnings (or the estimated annual future earnings you entered for your custom scenarios).

      Generally, the older you are and the closer you are to retirement, the more accurate your retirement estimates will be. The estimates are more accurate when they are based on a longer work history with fewer uncertainties such as earnings fluctuations and future law changes.

      We can’t provide your actual benefit amount until you apply for benefits. And that amount may differ from the retirement estimates because:

      Your earnings may increase or decrease in the future.
      You may continue to work after your benefits start.
      Your actual benefits will be adjusted for cost-of-living increases.
      Your estimated benefits are based on current law. The law governing benefit amounts may change. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time.
      Your benefit amount may be affected by military service, railroad employment or pensions earned through work on which you did not pay Social Security tax.
      Your estimated benefits do not include Medicare premiums or other amounts that may be deducted from your benefit.
      Your estimated benefits do not include any Social Security benefits you may be eligible on the record of your current, divorced, or deceased former spouse.

      My estimated monthly benefit has actually gone up since I checked last time. I won’t know for sure what the amount will be until I go to the U.S. Embassy office three months before my 62nd birthday.

  41. thanks for all the tips guys…ima 42 year old retired american trying to get up the courage to make the move to cebu city…pension 2000 us per month…looks like i can make it on that…my question is my friends wife here in the usa is very eager to line me up with a relative in cebu to be my “helper”…is it a total crapshoot to find an assistant(housing..errands..visas info..not sexual)when i get there?it sounds like having a local to help me initally is very important(im not the sharpest tool in the shed)…i tend not to be a planner and would appreciate any input…thanks!!

    • Bill, if you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, make sure you focus on good ol’ common sense and you’ll be OK. AND make sure you don’t fall for some cute Filipina’s sad story and have legions of her relatives coming by looking for “loans.” $2,000 a month in the Philippines is a very good income. You should be OK with that if you follow the above advice.

      I would suggest checking out any future employees’ references. Ask them for a barangay and local police clearance. Ask them for a NBI, National Bureau of Investigation, clearance. It won’t weed out all the potential bad employees but it could help.

  42. Well bill I can sure tell you this and that’s that you will have no problem finding a Filipino to help you out when you get there with household chores foos shopping cooking and cleaning of your clothes or anything for that matter. I fly over there every year for the holidays for 3 weeks and I’m 48 planning to live there very soon and I can tell you that if your an American you will have nooooooooo problem finding young hot babes for whatever you wish. Every year I’m with a different super hot teenage babe to celebrate the holidays with and chicks over here dont care about age like back in America . Americans get all up tight with you when they see you with a teenage babe and your in your 40’s BUT NOT HERE in the Philippines . It’s truely like heaven on earth.

    • Joseph, I would also recommend what I suggested to Bill. Have any future employee give you her background checks from her local barangay and police department along with the NBI, National Bureau of Investigation, for anyone planning any longtime stay such as retiring in the Philippines. Unfortunately, I’ve heard of some Americans that have been scammed after arriving in “paradise.” It didn’t take them long to lose a big chunk of change really quick.


    I am writing to thank Filipinos for the way you have treated me here, and to pass on a lesson I learned from observing the differences between your culture and mine over the years.
    I am an expatriate worker. I refer to myself as an OAW, an overseas American worker, as a bad joke. The work I do involves a lot of traveling and changing locations, and I do it alone, without family. I have been in 21 countries now, not including my own. It was fun at first.  Now, many years later, I am getting tired. The Philippines remains my favorite country of all, though, and I’d like to tell you why before I have to go away again.
    I have lived for short periods here, traveled here, and have family and friends here. My own family of origin in the United States is like that of many Americans—not much of a family. Americans do not stay very close to their families, geographically or emotionally, and that is a major mistake. I have long been looking for a home and a family, and the Philippines is the only place I have lived where people honestly seem to understand how important their families are.
    I am American and hard-headed. I am a teacher, but it takes me a long time to learn some things. But I’ve been trying, and your culture has been patient in trying to teach me.
    In the countries where I’ve lived and worked, all over the Middle East and Asia, it is Filipinos who do all the work and make everything happen. When I am working in a new company abroad, I seek out the Filipino staff when I need help getting something done, and done right. Your international reputation as employees is that you work hard, don’t complain, and are very capable. If all the Filipinos were to go home from the Middle East, the world would stop. Oil is the lifeblood of the world, but without Filipinos, the oil will not come from the ground, it will not be loaded onto the ships, and the ships will not sail.  The offices that make the deals and collect the payments will not even open in the morning. The schools will not have teachers, and, of course, the hospitals will have no staff.
    What I have seen, that many of you have not seen, is how your family members, the ones who are overseas Filipino workers, do not tell you much about how hard their lives actually are. OFWs are very often mistreated in other countries, at work and in their personal lives. You probably have not heard much about how they do all the work but are severely underpaid, because they know that the money they are earning must be sent home to you, who depend on them.  The OFWs are very strong people, perhaps the strongest I have ever seen. They have their pictures taken in front of nice shops and locations to post on Facebook so that you won’t worry about them. But every Pinoy I have ever met abroad misses his/her family very, very much.
    I often pity those of you who go to America. You see pictures of their houses and cars, but not what it took to get those things. We have nice things, too many things, in America, but we take on an incredible debt to get them, and the debt is lifelong.  America’s economy is based on debt. Very rarely is a house, car, nice piece of clothing, electronic appliance, and often even food, paid for.  We get them with credit, and this debt will take all of our lifetime to pay. That burden is true for anyone in America—the OFWs, those who are married to Americans, and the Americans themselves.
    Most of us allow the American Dream to become the American Trap. Some of you who go there make it back home, but you give up most of your lives before you do. Some of you who go there learn the very bad American habits of wanting too many things in your hands, and the result is that you live only to work, instead of working only to live. The things we own actually own us. That is the great mistake we Americans make in our lives. We live only to work, and we work only to buy more things that we don’t need.  We lose our lives in the process.
    I have sometimes tried to explain it like this: In America, our hands are full, but our hearts are empty.
    You have many problems here, I understand that. Americans worry about having new cars, Filipinos worry about having enough food to eat. That’s an enormous difference. But do not envy us, because we should learn something from you. What I see is that even when your hands are empty, your hearts remain full.
    I have many privileges in the countries where I work, because I am an expat. I do not deserve these things, but I have them. However, in every country I visit, I see that you are there also, taking care of your families, friends, bosses, and coworkers first, and yourselves last. And you have always taken care of me, in this country and in every other place where I have been.
    These are places where I have been very alone, very tired, very hungry, and very worried, but there have always been Filipinos in my offices, in the shops, in the restaurants, in the hospitals, everywhere, who smile at and take good care of me. I always try to let you know that I have lived and traveled in the Philippines and how much I like your country. I know that behind those smiles of yours, here and abroad, are many worries and problems.
    Please know that at least one of us expats has seen what you do for others and understands that you have a story behind your smiles. Know that at least one of us admires you, respects you, and thanks you for your sacrifices. Salamat po. Ingat lagi. Mahal ko kayong lahat.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Joseph. My own asawa was an OFW herself before we were married. She worked as a domestic helper and caretaker in Singapore and Taiwan. She has that strong work ethic that you talk about. And complain? No, that’s not her nature.

      I love living in the Philippines. You’ll find millions of friendly helpful people. Hard working. And like my own asawa, rarely complaining. It’s not paradise, but it sure is a great place to spend my retirement years.

  44. hi dave:
    been reading your post interesting that you moved there from Auburn il. I presently live in Mason city il. but will be moving to sorsogon city next year. We own a house there and get back to visit a couple times a year. looking forward to are full time retirement there.

  45. I have a wife from Guimaras Island. I am trying to figure out how to contact the person who writes by the name of The Kano. Her sisters also go to Santa Teresa High School and we are having a lot of problems I would like to talk to someone about. We would like to help her younger sister to get a Student Visa to the USA but the school there seems to not be teaching anything. We are currently in the Philippines this summer Could you please text us at 09086813972


    • Hi, Jerry. My wife is from Guimaras, also. We know live in the San Miguel, Jordan, area of Guimaras. Your wife’s sisters go to Santa Teresa H.S. and are having problems? Not surpised. My nephew was physcially attacked by a bully there last year. The school administration allows students to go to the local internet cafes and the sari sari stores where they drink beer. When I asked a teacher at the school why this is allowed during classroom hours the reply was that “Guimaras is child-friendly.” 

      Here’s a story about my nephew’s attack. Please send me a comment once you return to Guimaras late July. I personally do not have a cell phone but will happy to meet you at The Shriven Hotel in San Miguel, Jordan, Guimaras upon your return. I worked for AT&T for 30 years and was surrounded by 150 co-workers with phones ringing all day long. Just have a magicJack to call my Dad in the States so I really don’t like to have a cell phone around. Take care.

Leave a Comment