(Last updated 26 Jun 2017)
- 0.1 The Answer Is Absolutely Yes
- 0.2 OK then, here are the truths behind that ‘yes’.
- 0.3 The Problem Is The Difference Between “Can” and “Will”
- 0.4 Big City or Province?
- 0.5 But The Province MAY Be Cheaper Only If You Can Find Accommodations
- 0.6 And Living Cheap Isn’t Easy If You Can’t Get Around
- 0.7 It All Depends. You “Can” But Very Few Of Us Have The “Will”.
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Share this Article:
How Low Can You Go With Philippine Cost of Living?
As I recently posted, Philippine Cost of Living — Don’t Be Too Damn Cheap , yet again, in spite of all the really important issues you need to decide upon for yourself, the number one questions on virtually everyone’s mind is “Cost of Living in the Philippines.”
I’ve lately seen many articles on this subject, in addition to noticing, last time I checked, that several more sites have stolen one or more of my more noteworthy articles on this subject …
(if you are ignorant and lazy then you might be relying on the saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery … but my take on the subject is thievery will get you rich quick, if it doesn’t get you a midnight visit from someone you don’t want to meet … steal if you wish, at your own risk … you know who you individual ass warts are)
…. anyway, the real question on so many minds these days seems to be, can you live in the Philippines for $888 USD per month, or for $770 USD per month, or for $500 USD per month, or pick a number, as low as you want to go.
The Answer Is Absolutely Yes
My answer, without equivocation is YES. Yes you can. So that’s about it for this post, more news tomorrow.
Oh, did that answer seem a little short and not explanatory enough?
OK then, here are the truths behind that ‘yes’.
There are roughly 100,000,000 (that is 100 million) Filipinos in this country as I write this. 90,000,000 plus at the last official figure. That’s a lot of Filipinos, dude, by anyone’s yardstick. According to the last official figures from impartial agencies, the average Filipino lives on less than $300 per month.
They have mouths, they need water to drink and need to eat (ideally several times a day), need shelter, and so on. So you can too.
I’m constantly amazed by the arrogance and racial discrimination I hear so often from fellow Westerners. “Oh, that’s the Filipino way, I can’t live like that”. Well, if you have to you can it’s as simple as that.
The question you have to face, as Dirty Harry once put so eloquently is, “Do you feel lucky”? Well, do ya?
I do not. I don’t really know how I would live on $300 USD a month here in the Philippines … I’m pretty sure the short answer is “poorly”. I also am pretty sure that after a month or so I would weigh a heck of a lot less than I do know. The heck with South Beach or Paleo or Keto, poverty is the most assured diet we know of.
The Problem Is The Difference Between “Can” and “Will”
There are a number of articles on-line readily available if you search for something like ‘Live in the Philippines for $500’ or something similar. Originally I was going to review several of them.
Then I decided that there were too many in the list, and the good ones wouldn’t benefit from my review while the bad ones didn’t deserve to learn their mistakes from me … so let’s build a budget from the ground up and dispel or explain a few ‘truisms’ that aren’t always true in the process.
Assumptions: First of all, who are we building this budget for?
In my case I say a single foreigner in reasonably good health, aged, 40 or 50 something. Or sample budget subject does not have an exception expenses such as required daily maintenance drugs, and is not severely addicted to anything stronger than beer or cigarettes.
He or she does not know any language except English and does know basic cooking/housekeeping to the extent s/he can take care of him or herself with simple tasks like cooking meals, doing laundry and figuring out how to put a new roll of paper onto the bathroom tissue spool.
Basics: Given the single foreigner status there are only two common ways or sample person can stay in the Philippines. Either by continually renewing a tourist visa or tourist visa waiver, (and also leaving the country once every 36 months or so), or if qualified by age and income, obtaining an SRRV (Special Resident Retirement Visa).
I’ve talked about both these programs many times in the past, so I am not going into detail here, except to say you need to budget about $50 a month to keep yourself current in any program. (Note: the SRRV Courtesy Visa for former US and allied military is much cheaper as of 2017)
This is a good place to mention the place you are going to live, also. A great many articles and opinions circulate every day, many to the effect that “It costs a lot to live in Manila and it’s always cheaper to live in the Provinces.”
Based on personal experience I would say that statement is sometimes close to correct but it can also be very misleading. here’s some thoughts before you rush to judgement.
Big City or Province?
One of the very first things you are going to have to consider … and one of the larger items in your monthly budget … is going to be your accommodations … the place you will call home.
We of course are going to be confining ourselves to rental property for the purposes of this study, I don’t know any way you are going to buy a house in the Philippines on a budget like we envision, so I’ll leave that task to someone with more imagination than I have.
In general rental property in Manila will cost you more than rental property in smaller major cities such as Cebu, Davao City, etc. And property in those secondary cities is likely to cost more than in lesser cities, farther down in the size hierarchy. That essentially only follows the law of common sense or supply and demand.
But The Province MAY Be Cheaper Only If You Can Find Accommodations
However, the supply of rental property is in an inverse ratio to the size of the city. The Philippines is not at all like the US where you can go to a town of moderate size and find accommodations like apartment complexes or even trailer parks where rent is cheap. The smaller the city, the lesser your chances of finding suitable accommodations.
Also, the farther you get from major cities, the tougher it is to find things you need. While fresh produce and meat “off the farm” may be quite cheap, the costs for even local Filipino branded products is liable to cost as much or more as in the big city .. and if you want, say, a tetra pack of milk and there is only one store in town who sells it, you are going to pay their price.
And Living Cheap Isn’t Easy If You Can’t Get Around
Larger cities also have much better transport possibilities, especially on their suburbs. Where I live, 5 miles or so from the actual political border of Metro Manila, I can walk outside my house and wave and a tricycle will swoop up and take me anywhere in town for 60 cents or so.
I can walk 2 short blocks to the Jeep route and ride to the LRT station in Quezon City for 50 cents, 24-7, I can flag down a car service (FX) van passing and ride into the city with air conditioning for 90 cents.
In provincial towns only a few miles farther out my choices are “shank’s mare” (Google is your friend), a few tricycles in the day time, Jeepneys at certain hours only, or standing by the side of the National Road waiting for a Philippine Rabbit or Victory Liner bus to appear out of the haze.
If I lived closer in to the “Metro”, there are all these methods I just mention plus, a bazillion taxi cabs, passing by, ranked up at all the malls waiting for fairs, hanging out at all the bus stations, etc.
Everyone, it seems, wants to bitch about cheating cab drivers, but trust me, cabs here are not that crooked, especially if you know where you are going and compared to the USA?
They are dirt cheap and convenient. Especially if you are mobility limited in any way, cabs in the Philippines are a true Godsend. No cabs out here in the “cheaper” provincial hinterlands.
It All Depends. You “Can” But Very Few Of Us Have The “Will”.
There are a lot of reasons to live well outside Manila and a lot of reasons it may not be so wise (or cheap) to do so … and for a foreigner, for at least your first few years of ‘teething time’ here in the Philippines, I recommend sticking closer to Manila rather than farther away.
More budgeting in my next post, I see I am already over 1,000 words and that’s a strain for many who are in a hurry to read at one sitting.
Another good article on this subject here: Cost of Living in the Philippines – 2017
And I just came across this very well thought out and organized article. Highly recommended,
Stay tuned for more thoughts on How Low Can You Go With Philippine Cost of Living?