How To Retire in the Philippines With No Money

Retire to the Philippines for No Momey

How To Retire in the Philippines With No Money.
(Updated 6 August 2019)

OK, just on the face of things this is a really silly title for an article.  You can’t retire in the Philippines (or anywhere else) with no money.

But since more than 150 people a month come here searching for that exact phrase, I figured I better say something about it.

Actually, my blogging colleague Dave Dewall said some more about it, word for word.

Two sandwiches shy of a whole picnic I think was one of his expressions.

Made me laugh.  Go read what Dave had to say here, it’s good stuff:

<h4 “How_to_Retire_in_the_Philippines_with_No_Money”>How to Retire in the Philippines with No Money

(Go ahead and read it now, I’ll wait here for you)

Now you might think that Dave’s article upset me.

Not in the least.  We’ve both been in the Philippines a lot of years now, and we’re both US retired men married to wonderful Filipina wives.

In other words, Dave knows whereof he speaks and so do I.

There are a number of prices and techniques he brings out in his article that I haven’t covered.

Well worth a read if you really want to know just how “low you can go” with monthly costs of retiring in the Philippines.

How Low Do I Think You Can Go?

I’ve seen articles quoting figures as low a $770 USD per month.  Since I am currently debt-free, I could live on that amount, but I’m surely not going to try.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend any other foreigner try it either.

In the year 2019, I would recommend no less than $1500 USD per month.

In today’s world that would translate to about 80,00 Philippine Pesos (php) per month, and most Americans could live here quite decently on that.

But You Can Forget All The “Live Like a King” Nonsense

You would need to spend conservatively and sensibly … something many of the “I don’t have money” folks out there haven’t learned yet, no matter where they live.

To put things in perspective, even the $770 USD notional figure (about 40,000 php) is the salary of a well-paid junior executive … say an assistant manager at a bank branch or a supervisor in a call center.

Am I then trying to say that low-level junior executive pay isn’t enough for a foreigner to live on here?

Actually, Yes I Am.

Here’s a chart that shows recent salary figures for a number of jobs in the Metro Manila area.

Bear in mind the Metro (often referred to as the National Capital Region (NCR) is typically 20 to 25% higher than the other Philippines cities.

Live on $770 a month?

Thousands and thousands of Filipinos earn these sort of wages and do well on them … owning or renting a decent home, maybe having a car, sending their children to private schools and colleges.

Certainly, any American could live on an annual income in this range.

But There’s a Big Difference Between Could and Would.

Very few of you reading this are going to happily live on the proverbial $770 USD per month … although you certainly could, if you had to.

If you go out to eat at American style places just a few days a week.  Or if you decide to buy a car.  Or live in a halfway decent high-rise building or a gated subdivision, you are going to blow that budget your started with right out of the water.

Anyone who has ever seen my waistline knows I like to eat and I like mostly American style cooking.

Therefore my weekly food costs (eating out and grocery spending) is easily twice what most Filipinos would spend.

I also run a car.

It’s a little Mitsubishi Adventure AUV (Asian Utility Vehicle), sort of an SUV that’s been washed in very hot water.

It’s 13 years old, fully paid for and runs well.  Got plenty of parking lot style dents and scratches, but the air conditioner is still cold.

It costs a lot to keep that little wagon on the road.

It’s Hot Here, No Getting Around That.

I don’t like sweating very much, so I have three good sized air conditioners in my house.

One in the TV room/den where I spend most of my waking hours.

One in the master bedroom, and one in the guest bedroom … normally unoccupied.

The one in the TV room or the one in the master bedroom, or both tend to be on almost all day, every day.

This means I spend anywhere from $100 USD to as much as $140 USD every month or electricity.

Very, very few of my Filipino neighbors spend that much.

I Could Go On, But I Think You Get The Drift.

The difference between “could” live on $770 a month and “would” live on $770 USD a month is pretty clear.  I’m not planning to give up my extra grocery money or my car or my air conditioners.

This is the place in my article where I planned to laboriously enter in whole columns of actual costs and give you the happy labor of sorting out the costs for yourself.

But I’m not going to do that.  It’s boring.

And almost as soon as I entered all the figures and added them up, they’d be out of date.

Fortunately, someone else takes great joy at juggling these figures around and provides the information for you, updated on a daily basis by the people who are actually spending their own money to live here in the Philippines.

Here’s One Great (always free and no obligation) source

True Cost Of Living Philippines

And Here’s Another, an Old, Trusted Friend Of Mine.

Live in the Philippines on $770 a Month?

So, now you know almost as much as I do about  How To Retire in the Philippines With No Money.

Reader Interactions


    • Dave Starr says

      Hi Paul,

      Well, the short story is, it got badly hacked, and the rebuilding process if going ti=o take quite a while. Anything I can help you with?

      • Paul says

        Not in need of help but was wondering what was happening because I love your effort on this site and was a bit worried about you.

        Good luck in restoring.

        • Dave Starr says

          @ Paul

          OK, understood. Thanks for the kind words. Restoration is going to be a long, slow process. I once was up to 1,000 articles on this site. Last year I selectively deleted more than 500, because they were outdated or, frankly, very poorly written … embarrassing even.

          I have access to close to 500 that were on the site when it was hacked, but I am not restoring anywhere near to all of them, that’s for sure.

          My biggest problem? After living here in the Philippines for more than 12 years now, writing about the Philippines, in general, is quite boring. When people ask me questions, I try to help, but just to sit down and churn out words has lost its flavor to me. Best regards.

  1. Paul Thompson says

    The last time I used credit (a loan) was in 1978 when I bought a 1978 Lincoln Towncar with 50% down. Yes I have a Platinum NFCU Visa card that has used for all reimbursable travel when working, but since retirement I’ve never had a balance higher than $800.00. I do that to not become a ghost and lose the card.
    I have added 60% VA disability to my Military, SSA pensions and savings.
    As you so apply stated $1,500.00 is more than enough for Mayang and I to comfortably live on, while banking the rest. My monthly nut is electric, water and transportation (Gas and maintenance) is about $300.00 per month, I do spend a lot on my food favourites’, and yes I use my AC a lot of the time. So I agree with your article and the info you provide.

    • Dave Starr says

      Hi Paul, Sorry for the delay my friend. The website was essentially blown out of the water completely and is starting over from scratch, so it has to “re-learn” who is allowed to post directly without being held for moderation. Couple with that is the fact the worst case of flu I can remember in years is still thrashing around the house here, making Mita and me alternately ill and work on the site just hasn’t had much of a priority.

      I very much enjoyed your thoughts on this subject, always good to have the experiences of another “tribal elder” who just happened to live here and has done it all, not just read about it. Thanks, old friend.

    • Dave Starr says

      Hi Paul, as explained in the last message, the only trick needed would be some magic pill I could take which might convince me I am still gonna be alive tomorrow. Right now it seems very day to day, Be well.

      • Paul Thompson says

        Dave and today like a light from above this morning (Friday) all just appeared without me even clicking on anything. So the problem is solved and hoping yoy and your lady are on the mend.

  2. Tito Joe says

    For some reason the link to Dave desalts article you teased is not working. Also sorry we did not get to stop by during our last visit, but you guys were pretty much an island surrounded by water on an island surrounded by water so to speak. We will definitely stop by next visit.

    • Dave Starr says

      @ Tito Joe

      Howdy Joe,

      Good to hear from you, I was wondering when you were going to show up. You are so right about the visiting prospects when you guys were here. Heck, there were many days we couldn’t even get to the local SM mall.

      I clicked on the link and DaveDewall’s article came up fine for me, so thanks for the shout out, but I think we have to chalk that up to an Internet gremlin while you were viewing.

2 thoughts on “How To Retire in the Philippines With No Money”

  1. Good to see an article from you. Sorry to hear about “the hack.” My site was hacked nearly two years ago and I just about lost the motivation and “flavor” for writing that you described. I got it all back although it took $$ and many hours to right the ship. At one point, and after 6 years of posting articles, I almost decided it was not worth it anymore but I just couldn’t pull myself to shut it all down after all that effort. So I decided to change the name of the site and forged on. I more than likely lost a quite a few readers in the switch. Like you, I continue to get several requests per month about the how-tos of living in the Philippines and such, and I do enjoy helping those folks out with answers to their questions. I must say though, that when I do see new articles posted from old-timers like you and Dave DeWall, it keeps me inspired to keep going, at least until I land a new gig as swim-suit inspector or something that will occupy more of my time. Take care!

    1. @ RandyL

      Thanks for contributing, Randy. Good to hear from you again.

      Yes, indeed the motivation is often very hard to gather up and keep going with.

      But every now and then someone comes up with an actual problem I can help with and then that makes it all worthwhile for a few more weeks.

      hope you and your wife are still enjoying the “dual-basing” concept … Guam and the Philippines. It’s kind of the ebst of both worlds.

      Thanks for the kind words and best of luck to you.

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