How to Retire in the Philippines with No Money might appear that I’m two sandwiches short of a picnic. If you’re so poor you can’t even pay attention, then this post might be exactly what you’re looking for. But then again, maybe not. It’s virtually impossible to live anywhere in the world without any money unless you’re extraordinary adept at living on the streets.
Nevertheless, while you might get away with surviving as a homeless person in the States without any visible means of support, you won’t have any safety net in the Philippines to assist you.
That said, however, you can live quite live quite comfortably on a limited budget in the Philippines, especially if you live in “the province” as opposed to the Metro Manila area. Yes, it’s all about “location,” “location,” “location.”
The $500 a MONTH PHILIPPINE LIFESTYLE
If you want to live on $500 a month you’ll have to live a more “native” lifestyle. You’re wondering if you could even survive on that amount of money.
I personally have known American expats on our island province of Guimaras who have lived on 500 US dollars a month. However, you would have to be a single person without a spouse or significant other.
If you’re married or have a girlfriend or boyfriend you’ll find that in most cases you’ll also be supporting the family. You probably won’t be able to do that on a $500 a month budget.
Also, this Spartan budget doesn’t apply to anyone with major health issues. While a doctor’s visit in Guimaras or nearby Iloilo City can cost as little as 7 US Dollars, a $500 a month budget won’t cover any major prescription or other medical costs you might require.
All costs listed below are figured on a 50 Philippine peso to 1 US dollar exchange rate. At the time this post was published, the exchange rate was around 53.40 Php to 1 USD.
You need a place to stay, obviously. There are plenty of houses for rent throughout the Philippines, but a small house in Manila might set you back up to $360 per month or more. That will take a big bite out of your budget straightaway.
If you want to be living in the Philippines on $500 per month or less you need to stay away from Manila. Apartments in Cebu, one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, can start from around $150 per month.
We rented a three bedroom home in a well-maintained subdivision in Iloilo City for $100 a month.
A room with a shared bathroom in a location like Dumaguete City in the province of Negros Oriental, can be had for as little as $60 per month.
Now let’s take a look at groceries. If you are living in an apartment or house for $150, very doable in our region of the Philippines, Western Visayas, you have around $350 of your $500 budget left if your rent is $150.
Your breakfast could consist of two boiled eggs. I have boiled eggs for breakfast quite often or a bowl of whole grain oatmeal.
Medium-sized eggs costs 6 pesos each, 13¢ each, or about $1.50 a dozen. A kilo of white rice costs from 35-40 pesos, 85¢. A single guy might go through a kilo in three days.
If you eat lunch and dinner at a local street food joint you can have tasty grilled pork on a stick with a cup of rice for about a buck. Or, if you like oysters, they only cost 35 pesos for a steaming bowl, 70¢, at our local talabahan (oyster) outlet.
All over the Philippines food from vendors, street food, is cheap.
You can get a meal and drink for about P50 ($1) from a carenderia, a Philippine fast food stall.
Say you spend $150, 7,500 Philippine Pesos, for a month’s worth of groceries. That’s an average of 250 pesos a day for meals. I’m not saying you can always eat healthy, but you can get by. Kick in $150 for housing costs and your budget now totals $300. But that still leaves you 200 US Dollars, 10,000 pesos. Let’s check out some other expenses.
Take public transportation. It only costs a little over eight pesos, 16¢, to travel in nearby Iloilo on a jeepney. If you ride on a tricycle on our island province, it only costs about 5 or 6 pesos. Or you can walk.
My 16 Gigabyte monthly Internet service with Globe only costs 999 pesos a month, 20 dollars. Or, you can go to any number of spots that have free Wi-Fi and pay nothing. Internet cafes in our region of the Philippines run about 30¢ an hour or cheaper.
Electricity & Water
If you can get by without the use of an air con, which many expats in the Philippines do, your monthly electric bill can run 20 US Dollars or less.
Our monthly water bill used to be six US Dollars. We now have two wells on our property and use a water filter system for our drinking water.
If you’re single you’ll need to extend your tourist visa every 59 days at a cost of approximately 100 US Dollars, or $50 a month. Of course, if you’re married to a Filipina you can come into the Philippines using the Balikbayan Privilege which is free and is good for a year.
Or, you can do what I did and have your spouse sponsor you for a 13 (a) Permanent Resident Visa which has no expiration unless you screw up and get kicked out of the Philippines. This visa costs around 160 USD. All I have to do is register every year at my local Immigration Office for a cost of 310 pesos, about six bucks.
Of course, if you do get married in the Philippines and retire in the PH, your expenses will increase. But having a loving wife by your side, as I have had for over 18 years, is a blessing that is priceless.
The Final Tally
OK, here’s where we’re at. Again, $300 for food and lodging a month. $50 a month for your immigration fees. $55 bucks for utilities including Internet. Transportation costs could run around $20. That’s $425 which leaves you with $75 for entertainment. Now that’s 3,750 Philippine Pesos for entertainment which is not a bad amount of discretionary cash in the Philippines. Just stay away from the karaoke bars and cock fights.
You can see from the figures above that it is possible to live on $500 per month in the Philippines. How to Retire in the Philippines with No Money. No money? Nope, but you can live quite comfortable on a limited budget.