49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines — Book Review

This article about Earn a living in the Philippines was originally written back in 2008.  It has been updated on 22 October 2010. Today, 11 August 2014, I have re-reviewed this product and I still recommend the book. 

To order the new edition, just click here: 49 Ways to Make a Living Without a Job+

How to Move to the Philippines Manual


I’ve been a little busy in the past few weeks.  Some of the things I have been busy with have nothing to do with blogging or making money online, but one thing that has taken up a lot of more of my time that I thought it would was doing a review of Bob Martin’s book, 49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines.

You Can Earn a Living In The Philippines

Bob is an American who moved to the Philippines about ten years ago and has been making a living here, entirely from his own efforts and business acumen ever since. This sets him apart from me and many of my expat acquaintances who have an income already from pensions or investments.  The proof is in the pudding.

If you can live here for 10 years, live in a nice house, raise a family and live a life that has a balance between work and pleasure, then you may certainly say you have expertise in that niche.

In addition to knowing Bob online for some time, I have visited him at his home several times, met his family and some of his employees and it is my considered opinion that Bob is doing those things I mentioned, and more.

Keeping It Real

49 Ways to Make a Living Without a Job

So when Bob announced his plan to release this book I waited anxiously.  It does not disappoint. There are a number of ideas in the book that I already knew about as well as quite a few that I had never heard of.

In all cases the ideas, in my opinion, are all viable and should provide a long-term income for anyone who chooses to actually set out and make a success of any one of them.

In fact I really wonder that Bob didn’t aim it at a broader audience, because a majority of the methods here will work for folks still living in the US, for example.  In other words I recommend this book for people thinking about the move to the Philippines in the future, as well as those already living here.

I also recommend this book to my Filipino friends.  Very littl ein this book is “foreigner specific” or “country specific” at all.  Th eonly reason a Filipino can’t profit from this book isif she or he refuses to take action. “Foreigner” brains are NOT superior to Filipono brains, trust me on this.

Disclosure:  Bob is a personal friend, and also a business partner.  If you buy this book from this review, I will earn a commission, which does not affect the price you will pay.

Don’t I Need a Lot Of Money?

Absolutely NOT. Most do not even require an investment of any consequence.

A few do, but even those are investments earmarked for buying real property or to invest in a proven business system with guidance and managerial assistance provided.

Is This a Scam?

I was able to detect no scams or questionable ventures here.  For those that do not know,the Philippines is rife with many ‘make money’ scams … many of them revolving around an endless assortment of the “Amway-style” Multilevel-marketing models where you basically begin your business by pissing off all your friends and family members trying to get them switch to your brand of shampoo an soap and eventually end up with a flat bank account and a garage full of patent fertilizer products.  There are NO MLM recommendations at all in this book.

This is good because personally I suggest you avoid ALL MLM programs.

What’s included in “49 Ways” are real-world products and  ideas which an honest man could use to start another business that appealed to other honest men.

So Is It The Perfect Book?

No.  But the only real criticism I could offer is that some of the ideas are short … but, in fairness, think about this: In the 12 years or so I have been intimately involved with helping people who want to move to the Philippines as well as making my own, successful plan to do so, a number one issue from people of all ages and al walks of life have been how to make a living … or how to find a viable business idea to help family members make a living.

In most cases, they (we) have no clue. That’s what this book provides.  Well thought out and intelligently selected ideas for making yourself independent of that monster that people think provides security, a regular J*O*B.

Long Enough to Convey the Message and No Longer.

It is not a textbook .. in order to fully develop some of these ideas one would need a sizable book for each one I think. A real rule of writing is any written product should be long enough to do the job it was designed to do, and no longer (I ought, perhaps, to apply that principle to some of my blog posts, perhaps.  Maybe?).

That is exactly what this book is.  It is exactly as required by truth in labeling, 49 ways and I can assure you, it will only take one of these 49 ways to ‘click’ for you to make the book more than worthwhile. The book is available in paper or eBook (instant download) format and it comes with a no-hassle, no risk guarantee … I recommend it.

Does The Author Know His Stuff?

Earn a Living in the Philippines

Earning a Living in the Philippines Works

As I said at the top of this review, I have updated it to reflect 2014 conditions.  The book is still on my recommend list.  While double checking the URL’s in this article I came across a huge discussion on a Philippine Forum regarding this book.

It It a Scam?

At least 20 different forum commenters were discussing back and forth the perceived value of the book, especially its price, whether or not Bob knew what he was talking about, if the particular methods discussed were applicable to the Philippines and so forth.

You know what almost every commenter said somewhere his comments?  “I haven’t read the book“.

Then how the hell did they know what they were talking about?

One thing I can assure you is, I known Bob personally for years and his guarantee is honest.

If you are at all interested, just buy the damn thing and if it doesn’t seem worth it to you, ask for a refund.  It will come virtually instantly, no questions asked.

Who Should NOT buy This Book?

Anyone who intends to buy it and then let it sit unread while s/he “thinks about it” and takes no action.  This book and any of its competitors is totally worthless if you do not intend to take action.  All the “Good Ideas” in the world are useless if not acted upon.  For those of you who feel you have years to go before the move, the book is an excellent spark to kindle what you ought to be thinking of already.

The vast majority of people living in their own country would be miles and miles ahead of the game if they implemented a money-making idea NOE, so that when they were ready to move, they would already have a reliable source of income established.  One less thing to worry about.

Get Off The Dime!

It amazes (and sometimes exasperates me) how so many here in the “Want to Live in the Philippines” niche would rather just talk rather than find out for themselves. Take action is my view.  I did.  Inaction and endless talking about what might or might not be is why you are there, wishing you were here, will not help you Earn a Living in the Philippines.

49 Ways to Make a Living Without a Job


  1. marshallmellow says

    A timely review Philly.

    I have purchased this book from Bob Martin and although it is no 900 page discourse of everything and all, I fully agree and support the points you have brought out in your review.

    I am not agreeable and supportive because I am “validating” my decision to purchase this book. I am affirming the value of Bob’s work because it has and will continue to “fertilize” my thinking on ways to provide income for myself and my Filipino family/community. (Perhaps I should come up with another way to phrase that so others will not think I am full of it – hehe)

    Bottomline is I do not have “buyer’s remorse” and I am more than satisified with my purchase of Bob’s book. I will be recommending it to anyone who is interested in the subject should they inquire (seems like that is just about everyone who is contemplating making the move to the Philippines).

    Just a last comment to mention I have purchased Bob Martin’s other book “Retire Like A King”. I haven’t broke the seal on that one yet but I am looking forward to doing so very soon.


  2. says

    @marshallmellow: Hello Marshall, thanks for the feedback and I’m glad you liked the book. The real value in that book is if someone actully will grab one of the ideas by the horns and ride it … everything there is workable, but so many, sadly, will read about it, convince themselves as to all the reasons nothing will work for them, and put it on the shelf (I’m telling a big part of my own life story there as well, not casting stones at anyone).

    I got a laugh out the fertilizer analogy too. Years ago a guy who now lives in Mindanao, a good freind, got himself deep into the ‘Amway’ craze. In particular he was heavily pushing some sort of plant food product they sold which was going to revolutionize life in the Philippines as we know it … or so some people’s sales pitch seemed to suggest. I tried to make a humorous reference to the similarity between that product and the one that comes out of the south end of a northbound carabao, but I guess I was too blunt and he never got the humor. Too bad. He was/is a nice fellow and I still consider him a friend, but he hasn’t had a word to say to me in years 😉

  3. marshallmellow says

    ahhhh now I get the reference to the patent fertilizer…sounds like your humor got lost in the translation, so to speak. Life is too short not to laugh when you get the chance eh…

    It is so easy to get caught up in the excitment and such when working in the Amway type ventures. Unfortunately too many on the lower end of the payout spectrum do not reap the rewards.

    I have to admit I have missed some opportunities in past years when I didn’t have the confidence to go forward…shoulda woulda coulda comes to mind.

    but now it is ONWARD and UPWARDS!



  4. says

    @marshallmellow: Opportunities we didn’t tackle in the past are just best looked at as tuition paid to learn the game … it’s better to look forward, with that I would heartily agree.

  5. Richard m says

    1 way is to sell a book 48 ways to make a living in the philippines for a smart american that lives here.i’am american and live here in south philippines and it is very hard to make any money.period..food and many items are expensive.and if not married in philippines for get any loan.buy anything on credit.etc.to live even close to american standards u will need at least $1000 u.s dollars every month.most workers make less than $5 a day.eat only rice.meat once a month.so how ya can make at least $1000 month here?

    • says

      Hmm. Intersting thoughts, Ricjard. Thanks for commenting. Funny thing is one of the big reasons I am living in the Philippines is to help stay out of the great American credit trap. After three years away from the US I was back in Florida a couple months ago and hated the environment .. Americans are still going crazy getting deeper and deeper in debt … and most of the ‘band aids’ applied to the housing credit crunch are coming loose soon .. it will get worse, in my opinon before it gets better.

      If you were to read the book, or if you read most of the articles I write here on this subject, you’d note that the formula is not to make money from the Philippines itself, in most cases, but to live here make money from other sources. I’m a little confused on the comments on credit because you can’t ‘make money’ by borrowing it … like going in debt for a house as an example … a single family house is not an asset it’s a liability … my recommended financing method … works great here in the Philippines too … is the single payment plan .. everything down and nothing per month. Best of luck in finding the way to make money that’s right for you…

  6. says

    Dave: I saw this posting from the comment in Bob’s article today. Bob and I were having a discussion recently about the number of expat web sites that have gone live over the last couple of years. Most of them are either poorly constructed or the admins simply do not keep them up to date. Many have written their own books, many of which consist of either spurious or dubious advice. Your site, Bob’s, Dave deWall’s, and a few others are the ones I read… Most of the others are just drivel. What so many expats fail to realize is that there is nothing magical about the Internet. You still need to become visible, and it is WORK. If it wasn’t, everyone would be gazillionaires.

    I have read Bob’s book. I also recommend it thoroughly. The value of reading it is to get someone to think for themselves about business and what drives business. It also drives a javellin straight through the ubiquitous sari-sari, jeepney, Internet cafe ideas that are so common here.

    Bob’s book quite skillfully does much of the same thing that earning an MBA accomplishes. It shows you how to take business concepts and apply them to a specific situation…

    I know your thoughts on college from some of your other articles. What my MBA did was bring the lecture concepts from my undergraduate education together and show how, for instance, those biology and science courses they force you to take apply to the business world. Bob’s book does much of the same thing: Take what you do know, and see how it can apply to earning a living.

    • says

      @John Miele (ID 4112): Boy you’re going to dog me about the master’s degree issue for a long time, aren’t you John? I’m not anti-education, but I am very much anti the “sit on a degree and believe you have something coming becuase of it” crowd. And you have to admit there are many out there who fit that description.

      Based on what I know about you and the impressions from meeting with you, you are the type guy who would get his feet under him and make something of himself with or without formal education, so the fact that you did earn an advanced degree gives you “more traction” and thus the ability to pursue certain work at higher levels.

      But there are thousands out there who have earned degrees and actually learned nothing from them … I spent 30 plus years in a technical field making things work that highly educated folks designed out of a textbook and which failed to perform in the real world.

      Those people were not sub-optimal performers becuase they held a degree, but they were sub-optimal performers becuase they thought that since they had a degree pathways were supposed to open for them and they didn’t feel they had to have any actual experience. Waving a degree at a problem is a poor substitute for knowing how things actually work.

      But I am _not_ anti-education, and never meant to convey that attitude. My apologies to those I have wronged.

      Everyone ought to pursue formal education to whatever extent they feel will serve them best.

      • says


        We’re cool… seriously. I’ve got a new site coming soon that I would like to show you… Perhaps another lunch in the near future if I can focus on something for more than five seconds? I promise… (cross heart, hope to die, etc. etc. 😉 ) I won’t bring the college subject up again!

        As someone who has both hired and fired dozens of people over the years, I nearly always have chosen someone with your 30+ years of experience over a degree any day of the week, without regards to age. (Especially in your engineering field… Engineering requires a great deal of book knowledge, but there is absolutely no substitution for experience.) I remember one guy at work, with an MS in electrical engineering (from MIT, no less) who blew up an entire ship’s electrical system by mixing up positive and negative battery terminals. Another was a sales manager with an MBA from Thunderbird (very prestigious) who didn’t know what “duties and tariffs” were… So I really understand your point.

        Perhaps I should have chosen a better analogy to Bob’s book? I really think that Bob’s $30 price tag is inexpensive, valuable information that, though appearing to be common sense, is actually a substantial part of what is taught in business school.

        • says

          @John Miele (ID 4114): Yes we’re cool on this end too, John. I’d like to get together again too, at least once before Christmas … ut at the way things are flying around here I don’t know if that will work… but let’s try.

          Actually my best work friend and inseparable “partner in crime” for many years in my last real job had a masters in electrical engineering … and his scientific mind came to very good use often when much less knowledgeable “black box pushers” would come to try to sell us the latest and greatest box or software or test set, etc. that our world-wide network just _had_ to purchase.

          But John was a rarity in the EE area. He could switch out pins in a Cannon plug faster than most technicians, he could climb a microwave tower faster than most GI’s assigned to ‘help’ us and boresite the antenna while they were still looking for the correct page in the maintenance manual. But that makes a good story only becuase it is something close to unique.

          I also remember a time in Japan when I hosted a meeting with one of the giant telephone companies. I wanted them to demonstate for me, my boss and another important dignatary a very impressive little briefcase size satellite terminal they were selling.

          As I hurried to the room where I asked for the meeting I saw my secretary in the hallway, directing me to a larger conference room, across the hall from my office. Since the Japanese company was sending a “living legend” of theirs, a PhD engineer who had invented dozens of modern telecom advances, they, of corporate necessity sent along about 10 more ‘executive flunky’s”, becuase a man of that stature requires a certain entourage.

          When I entered the room, there was my boss, our US dignitary guest, about 10 junior executives standing around sheepishly and the “great man” himself, two underlings holding his belt while he thrust his whole upper body far out of the third-floor window, satcom in hand, sweeping it from side to side, desperate for a signal.

          Problem? My office, where I had scheduled the meet, faced south. The window across the wall faced north. The bird they were trying to hit was equatorial. The math involved is pretty simple. The practicality of looking across a whole hemisphere os sky where your target satellite “ain’t”? Well, apparently not so simple, PhD or no PhD 😉

          How did I solve this without causing the “great one’ embarrassment, and perhaps having him fling himself to the ground in his disgrace? Ah, that’s a story for a different comment, this one is already too long.

  7. Tom says

    Hi; I am interested in the book. I checked Amazon with no luck. I’m wondering where I can get this book? By the way, you do a great job with the website here; I stumbled across it a few days ago and haven’t been able to leave yet!

      • Tom says

        Thanks Philly! I visited Manila last summer and spent a few days in Boracay. I’ve been a teacher here in the U.S. for ten years, but am considering just up and moving because, well, I liked it there. People here tell me I am crazy, but your site helps me feel my decision isn’t such a bad one. Thanks again!

        • says

          @Tom (ID 4284): As Billy Joel once said, “You may be right, I may be crazy”. I fail to see how one’s state of mental health would control where you live. Crazy people, in my lay person’s definition, are those who spend their life witing fpr other people to ‘approve” how they want to live their own lives.

          Let’s look at two eventualities if you come here to live.

          The most favorable outcome would be that you are very happy, almost everything goes perfectly OK for you, and you live “happily ever after”. This is the best case scenario and one would have to be crazy not to want such an outcome.

          The other end of the spectrum, worst possible scenario. You come here, things don’t work out well, you hate the place, the place hates yu and you wind up going back to the US, or to some other country, to seek your fortune with a different dream.

          I mean, if that’s the worst that can happen, why would it be crazy to try what you want in your life? Because you might have to fins another job? (Perhaps a better one … non-degree conversational English teachers can make $30 an hour in Korea, as much as $40 an hour in Japan … when I was teaching in Japan some years ago, a bachelor’s degree was worth $5 an hour more, a Master’s about $10.

          Because you would be giving up what? tenure in a pay-limited, inflation-capped overly regulated job? So you could look back 30 years later, when you are too old and frail to travel and ask yourself, “What might have been”?

          To my mind, that would be the crazy course of action … but then again, my mental health stability has not been tested and approved by the US FDA or any other recognized authority. Caveat Emptor 😉

          • Tom says

            And as Waylon once crooned, “I’ve always been crazy, but it’s kept me from going insane.” Thank you for putting the big picture in perspective. Also, the information about teaching English in Japan is helpful, since my Master’s would help me earn the big potatoes (or squids, in this case). In addition to teaching, I am doing some writing on the side. My second self-published book will be out in January and I’m writing my third now (a horror story set in Manila). My plan is to try to eventually earn enough through writing (maybe, say, 2000 per month) and then I can just make the move. Do you think the 49 ways book might be of value for me? I don’t want to shell out nearly 49 if it isn’t. : )

          • says

            @Tom (ID 4477): Well as far as the book goes, I think I already said what I needed to say in my review. It’s invaluable to people who are actually doing something, like most book, totally useless for those “thinking about”, “researching about”, etc. Only you can decide where you fit in that spectrum. In more than 12 years of being heavily involved in the “I want to move to the Philippines” subject matter area, I find that about 95% of the people are never actually going to make a move, regardless of what their research indicates, they are just in love with the idea, not the action. I don’t mean those words to sound harsh, but when you mention a business in the Philippines, a vague iea about “writing online” for several thousand a month, or working in Japan as an English teacher … all in the same paragraph or so, I personally wouldn’t buy any books until I had my options/plans a bit more focused. Just Dave’s advice, it’s free, you asked for it.

            If you can write book length manuscripts (even short) books, you solution is right in front of your face. Write non-fiction books about problems that people have a need for solutions for and publish them yourself on Amazon, or even from your basement/back room as my friend Jack Reed does. You should look very carefully at his book on self-publishing, he’s a ‘real” guy, and he’s been making a ‘real” living from his words for years now, since long before the Internet. Everything he does you can do from the US or from the Philippines … I’m not emulating Jack at this moment becuase a., I’m lazy and b., I probably have ADD or ADHD or whatever the current buzzword is … I don’t care to focus on more than a thousand words or so at a time, but there’s absolutely no doubt the potential as well as the real-world results are there.

            I own both books. In your case, this one would seem to have more immediate value. http://www.johntreed.com/HTWP.html (by the way, I have no financial connection with either offer, this is just my personal opinions based on reading the actual products) Be well.

  8. Tom says

    Dave, thank you for the tip; this looks right up my alley! Also, was trying to think of “how to” topics that I might have some familiarity with and I noticed John has some books on coaching football. I have coached high school wrestling for a number of years. My son was a state champion in 2008. In my experience of coaching I do know that it is pretty much every father’s dream (and sometimes the athlete) that their son becomes a state champion. I think I know what my first book might be.

    I’m not sure if you realize it or not, but you’ve helped me quite a bit in the short time I’ve known you. ADD be damned, you have a lot of wisdom and insight. I trust your opinion, and value your friendship. I will let you know how things go as my new game plan unfolds. I’m ordering the book today. Thanks again!

    • says

      @Tom (ID 4523): There’s a value to ADD I know for a teacher in a classroom setting it can be horrible, but ADD people live more, experience more and do more in life than “plodders”. There’s a fair amount of “legitimate” research that’s been done that indicates this is true … but it’s not always easy to find, especially in the formal education “industry” where conformity and matching cookie cutter standards is the ultimate goal.

      Anyway, rant switch off and on to bigger and better things. I’m trying to pull together and update a bit more of my information here to make it more accessible. One thing I really want to focus on in the next few weeks is the teaching English idea.

      I’ve written about it here a few times, very few people seem to catch on to the idea that getting a job at a school teaching English is one way to go, but the world is wide open and unregulated regarding coaching and teaching conversational English online. There should even be, perhaps, a different word for it aside from ‘teaching”, becuase that denotes a person with formal qualifications. But there are millions upon millions of folks out there who just want to learn the basics of speaking and writing enough English to succeed in their own small way … and they don’t necessarily need a degree holding teaching expert.

      Japan is a great example … Japanese high school students have more formal English education than most US high school students … yep, they do, but they have very limited speaking skills and little chance to practice … so they are willing to pay well for the chance to practice and be coached, critiqued and guided by a native English speaker.

      Koreans are a huge, fruitful market too … thousands even flock to the Philippines to take conversational English in schools here, but you can do this all online as well, better faster cheaper.

      The majority of people who approach me about earning a living here in the Philippines refuse to even think about the one asset almost all of them already possess … conversational English skills.

  9. Anthony Lane says

    Philly, As i posted in a previous article of yours. I have wife and kids in Davao but i work in the USA with a dead end job which after i send my wife and kids their $700 a month it leaves me little to save and live on here in Caliornia for my hopeful life living fulltime in the Phil with my family. I speak great English and am a friendly well mannered American that loves different cultures and people of the world. Please HELP me help my self in finding an opportunity in Japan or Korea teaching English. I would even pay you for your time if we could Skype to get the ball rolling for me. Please contact me ASAP please. I am extremly excited to hear about these opportunities. Thanks Philly, when you have the time.

  10. Kevin B says

    I amazes me to this day that people can go online and state with such conviction facts that are either completely wrong or just complete nonscence….
    yes you can own a business in the phils if you are a expat, sure you are limited as to what type of business but you can and you can even send money overseas! YOU JUST HAVE TO KNOW THE RULES!!!
    I have been looking into stating a business in the Phils for some time now and I will be buy this book to help me achive this, as with anything in life knowledge is power the more you know about some thing the easier it will be. so even if this book doesnt lead directly to a business I’m sure it will give me more knowledge about how to go about things.
    The time is coming and it wont be too far off when the Phils Govt realises if cant survive without overseas investment so now is the time to be in on the ground floor.
    Im sooooo over negitive people

    • Zein Raine says

      Hi Kevin,
      So I’m quite interested what are your thoughts after having read the book?? Please volunteer your thoughts on the good points and ‘not-so-good’ points on the book? Have you done anything yet in terms of following up on these ideas?…have you actually gone to live in PI yet? Let me know pls. Thanks, Zein

      • says

        @ Zein Raine:

        Thanks for writing in. I have to say, thpough, that with nrearly 1,000 words in the article here that you have commented on, I think I have said all I really need to say about the book. The book is always offered with a 100% no-nonsense money back satisfcation guarantee, so why not try it and decide for yourself.

        One thing I will say though, the book is absolutely worthless UNLESS you do two things:

        1. Read it:
        2. Take action for yourself:

        You will not earn a living from any book or guide, you will only earn if you take action and do somehting … find a need/problem/pain that people have and solve the problem for them. That’s the secret. Godspeed

    • Philly says

      @ Marlene

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m particularly interested in the link you included about nursing homes that don’t feel like nursing homes. One of the reasons I chose to live in the Philippines is the elder care experience. When I get really old and need help in caring for myself, I am not ever going to be lying lonely and only half-cared for in an expensive nursing home. My wife and I have built a modest, solid, 100% handicapped friendly house (for what would be the price of a shack in most of the USA) , and if ever either of us requires care, we’ll just hire in help as required. I can get an experienced RN for under $100 a month, so no worries.

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