Living in the Philippines – Is this Paradise?

1This article came about by the number of people who talk about is this it? people who have been reading on the internet for months or even longer. Deciding to retire to the Philippines where a beach is on every corner and you can live like a king for less than $500 a month.. welcome to Paradise!! what a lot of people forget to mention is they don’t live on $500 a month and often have found ways to increase the pension plan they already have by business ventures. But they also forget to mention the failure rate of people coming in to the Philippines from outside falling victim to business scams often with foreigners or the fact that often these paradise sellers are selling E-books that are out of touch with reality. Am I putting you off coming ? Well I’m not trying to I am more of the writer who gives someone a bloody nose who asked want does a punch in the face feel like. Just cut through the dreaming and to the chase. I’m not a long term veteran of the Philippines but I do know what you the reader will experience in the first couple of years unless you hit some amazing luck. Firstly can you live on $500 a month with the exchange rates I cant really keep this upto date so I will just to a basic conversion to P25,000 a month you work out if your budget can match it.

  • P3,000 – Firstly you need to find accommodation and if your living in the city its getting more expensive but heading out on the fringe like where me and my wife live we rent a small 1 bedroom house which is P3000 straight off your budget.
  • P1,200+ Electricity if you have at least one air conditioning unit if your on a tight budget I would just say live two weeks without it and you get used to the climate or get used to moving  your day round it. For example very rarely do you see me out at midday when the sun is high. I am normally in the house until after 1pm unless I am going somewhere such as the malls where its in total cover.
  • P300 Water try and get somewhere with a “Deep well” currently they have no tax on them but with the water shortage starting to be a worldwide problem who knows where this will lead. Drinking water around P300 a month including large bottles and some you pickup on route.
  • P2,000 Transport currently we have 3 vehicles and doesn’t matter if we had one P2,000 is a realistic figure for our transportation.
  • P4,000+ Food bill for groceries and its increasing in the West prices have gone down a little but in the Philippines they have gone up. But then again Japanese goods seem to be increasing in price in the UK due to the poor exchange rates on the pound. Also this is based on mainly local foods nothing fancy like Bratwurst or any other imported goods.
  • P2000 + Monthly medical expenses for our daughter Zoei may seem a bit high but we have vaccines literally every month which have been as high as P5,000. You may not think you need to budget for this but good medical insurance is likely to cost you £1,500 as a full-time expat and your probably going to have to pay up front at the hospital and then reclaim so be warned.
  • P1500+ Visa costs are fluctuating and to be honest if your married to a Filipino get off the tourist visa as it doesn’t seem to be set annually and you can probably save 3/4 of the annual costs aswell as time that you have to do with a tourist visa.
  • P1000+ Clothing and general goods.
  • P1000+ Regular events.

Ok your thinking that’s only P16,000 a month where is the other P9,000 right? well the thing is there are a lot of + signs there. Also missing out the budgets are birthdays, weddings, fiesta. What about family emergencies? and I’m not talking about just your partners I’m talking the ones where you have to jump on a flight. So can you live on P25,000 a month easily? Because one thing a lot of the people I know thought when coming to the Philippines is that they are going to do a specific setup and stick to it. Next thing they have a girlfriend who is then wanting a wedding maybe a child or two and suddenly your not living like a king your living like everyone else. What would I say to anyone arriving to live on a P25,000 budget a month. Simply go on holiday first and get a feel for the place. The standard of living at that amount and learn the ropes. Don’t get into any of the investment schemes that go on as we are currently in a recession and the 3 major ones I know of have all been pyramid schemes of different sorts but the end result is the same. What I would say if you have a new partner in the Philippines your getting a place with is look at how your going to finance your life and what influence from family members is going to affect the harmony of your home. If your partner is already working I would advise to keep things that way as it allows her independence aswell as helps to increase your earning potential as a couple. Try a few small ideas that can bring you in some extra income but think in Pesos. I know of someone who has internet cafes netting around P10,000 profit a month each which seems like small money but at the end of the day its regular income and watching over rather than direct involvement keeps the cash flowing and gives you the time to do something else.

Life in the Philippines is very hard for most Filipinos why else do you think there are millions of them working overseas? Why are you going to be cut some special slack just because your a foreigner? in a lot of cases you are more of a victim as trusting people can be difficult at times as you are seen as the rich foreigner by many.

So my answer is simple can you live on P25,000 a month the answer is yes but its no bed of roses. Can you live a happy life with a beautiful woman at your side on that budget yes. But then again its likely your partner has seen more hardships than what you will be grumbling about in your house.

Can it be paradise? it can be for a lot of people but this is something I was discussing with a friend last night and you only need a bump in the road with the wrong person or an arguments and your pretty much seeing your dreams going up in smoke and a good chance of your life going with it. I love Cebu and I blend in as much as possible. I treat all Filipinos with respect and avoid raising my voice. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t keep a machete by the front door or weapons in the house. Because at the end of the day I am still a foreigner to a lot of people and that brings the risks.. I haven’t had anything major happen to me but with the chat me and Leo had last night you realise between us we have lost a few friends and in ways that would be headline news in the UK but just a normal incident in the Philippines. But as Leo stated himself the difference to us to the people we no longer relate to in the UK is we are living an adventure. Leo has been to a lot of places I have marked on my calendar to visit over the next 10 years but I’ve also spent most of my life travelling other parts of the world and its those things that make it impossible for other people to understand us.. as they worry about paying the council tax bill or the cost of fuel prices. I’m busy thinking of visiting Hong Kong and touring more of Cebu Island and maybe into Luzon. Aswell as thoughts of a cookery course me and April want to do in Thai-land. The sort of things a lot of the people around us wouldn’t think of but may stereotype us as dreamers but the difference is we already have been to places they will never reach and that is what really means living in Paradise.

The difference is that there is no one going to bail you out when you live this sort of life except yourself. You may be lucky and be one of the guys that make a lot of money or be the next person selling E-Books to people moving to the Islands. But how many others failed?

I sound bleak but I’m not.. in the last year I have met a few people from the Airport who read a lot of things online and expected women to be all over them like some rock star and living in a world of sunshine and happiness. The sunshine and happiness is there but often expectations are too high and adjustments to the life is too hard. So what I will say is grab a flight stop a month and get a place to rent. If your struggling let me know and I will find you a short rental place.IMG_2839

All Filipinos I have met so far have either been great,helpful or business minded. I haven’t had any of the problems that a lot of expats have had but at the first sign I’m not happy about something I just pull the plug on it. Take things slowly if your going into business. But generally most people are nice just going about they’re day to day business like everyone else in the rest of the world. Difference is most people will take time out of their day to talk to you and most are interested in the smallest details as most things they haven’t experienced outside of the Philippines so talking about things that you wonder why they ask and you think they are getting bored the opposite is true a lot of people are fascinated on how things are different.

0 comments for “Living in the Philippines – Is this Paradise?

  1. TropicalPenpals
    July 19, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Hi Alan,
                thanks for the reply.. thats my point 🙂 you no doubt know which sites im talking about selling the live like a king mentality on $500 a month. Its just crazy to be telling people they can do it. Inflation and devaluation on the conversion rates have hit that for six. If you asked me was it possible 10 years ago I would say definitly. But the majority of expats dont even expand into creating a small emergency fund by increasing incomes by 30% and saving it with things like a mini sari-sari or some other minor business which in the West the profit margin we would think what is the point. But its that 30% a year from small ventures that beats the inflation.

    —-for people reading this——
    Now I dont want to name sites or the owners but they sell E-Books and the websites look like they are built in the early 90s which is probably as reliable as the information. Its a sales pitch! want real answers from real people stick them on here.. Alan has lived in CDO a long time. Im up in Cebu although I only have a few years under my belt I do know at least 300+ people that deal with everything from business to getting a get out of jail free card. The importance with TropicalPenpals is its and open discussion Blog/Forum except for those Russian But basically means everyones opinion is welcome. Doesnt mean you will always get the answers you want but what it does mean is that you get the truth.

  2. TropicalPenpals
    July 19, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Forgot to add about rentals.. me and April pay P3,000 our small house is big enough for 2 people. We have Zoei our daughter now and within a couple of years we will need a bigger place. I do have a house in mind which will be around P1m – P2m. There will be 4 x converted apartment 1/bed houses within it which I will be renting out each one of those will be P5,000 a month rent. Why so cheap? Simply I want people to be there a long time I cant be bothered with the coming and going.. A few good expats in a small secure compound everyone knows each other and its much safer than rooms changing every 3 months. The water will also be part of the rent only real cost is the electricity and I would include it but it varies so much in the Philippines from house to house its just not worth the gamble. Although I am looking into solar/wind energy to at least take some of the load in the future.

    But thats a long way off at the moment as i didnt hit budget this trip. But your right rents are high in the City. The budget on the list is mine and Aprils “Basic” which normally means if we have little cash we stick to it and its possible but it isnt “living like a king” its survival/existance..