Live in the Philippines on $770 a Month Still Possible?

The funny thing about running a site like PhilFAQS, where I attempt to answer the questions people have about living in the Philippines, especially for retirement is .. you become “Internet Famous” for things you never intended to become “Internet Famous” for.

Fortunately, this hasn’t jumped up and bitten me too badly … yet … but one of the things this blog always ranks highly for in search results is “Living in the Philippines on$770USD” (per month that is).

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

I’m not the one who actually started posting on that subject … in fact the first time I saw the phrase “live” was on another bloggers site and I really I commented that while a foreigner certainly could live in the Philippines on $770USD per month, I felt that he or she would be cutting things pretty close, and that a better “safe” figure would be $1000USD or more.

In fact I routinely publish more comprehensive cost of living data here, just outside Metro Manila, than I believe anyone else does online.  And if you follow the link:

You’ll see that my (Filipina) wife and I and our college-age niece who lives with us, routinely spend substantially more than$770 USD per month.  See also Current Philippine Living Costs — End of August 2009


… and before the auditor and accounting types out there jump in my case about the figur4es being nearly a year old, let me assure you, they haven’t changed much.  Electric bills have gone up the most … $20 t0 $40 a month, gas and diesel fuel has risen also (but I use very little of that) and the most uncertain thing of all, the value of the Peso has risen a bit (frankly, with the credit mess the US is in right now I’m surprised the US dollar can still buy 46 or more Pesos) … this is the unknowable issue for the future.  While I have lived here in the Philippines in less than four years, the Peso has climbed to 40 to the dollar and shank back, once touching 50 to the dollar.  No way of knowing what the long term trends will be.

That’s why I maintain that the real bottom line … not for luxury, but for safety, is $1.000USD.

Still a very nice lace to live for a retiree, though.  No matter what these day-to-day fluctuations may hold in store for us, I’ve included the latest of my popular “Big Mac Index” charts.  As you can see, a Big Mac in the Philippines (using the Big Mac as a quick and dirty world wide unit of comparisons, that is about the same in all countries) is at least 40% less than in the USA.

I don’t eat many Bib Macs, but I sure do enjoy the cost of living here in the Philippines … even if I spend more like $1200 USD than $770 per month.



  1. says

    Hmm, thought I answered this one,but then I see there is nothing there. Anyway, not only is the index pretty reliable in financial/MBA terms, but to me it’s important becuase no matter what country a foreigner is living in, s/he is going to want a “taste of home” from time to time. I know, I know, there are people who “don’t do” McDonalds (actually, I don’t use them a lot myself), but the point is, I do splurge for “US-similar” items from time to time and the Big Mac index is a reliable index of the relative costs, even if one doesn’t like “Big Macs”.

    I also wrote what I thought was avery good example of relative costs AND wages here:

    People who insist they want a job in the Philippines should really read that one.

  2. Gary says

    When I was in school so many moons ago I was taught that the amount of time you have to work to buy a pair of shoes was the best and truest test of a person’s cost of living. Of course that went out the window when I retired in 1995. Now I wear flip-flops.

    • says

      Yes, I almost had to ask, “what’s a shoe” until my winter memories came flooding back. I still think that is a good gauge of value/true costs in the USA, but a rotten idea, even in the old days, for comparing prices across countries … becuase of the huge variations in footwear and how shoes are sued. Hey, I just realized something … I can remember back to when shoes were actually made in the USA 😉

      A Big mac, though, is pretty much the same in any country.

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