Cost of Living in the Philippines

How Much Does it Cost?

Many times I see the same question asked – “How much does it cost to Retire in the Philippines?” The answer to that question in itself is not that complicated. One could conceivably live here on $400 per month. The majority of the Filipino population lives on less than $10 per day!  The real question then should be – “How well can I live in the Philippines?”

Now in order to answer that question, it must be broken down into smaller, more defined, personal questions such as:

Makati, The Financial Capital of the Philippines
Live in Makati (Manila)

1) Where do I want to live? Makati or in the provincial jungle?

2) How do I want to live? In a simple bahay kubo or a modern fully air-conditioned condo?

3) Do I want to continue working? Yes or No? Part-time or Full time?

4) Do I want to relax and do nothing?

5) Will I need healthcare? (Many variables here)

6) Will I be supporting a family? How big is the family?

7) Will I need transportation?

8) Will I …….?

9) Can I …….?

Live in a fishing village like me!
Live in a fishing village like me!

As you can see, the list of questions can go on forever, but all these questions hinge on one very important thing – what you can afford! It all comes down to one common denominator. Income. Without it, you could likely be homeless here, and that is not a good thing in a developing country. With a little income, you can assimilate into the population. With more of it, you can live comfortably. With a lot of it, you can live in luxury! In the right places, life in the Philippines costs a fraction of what it does at home…and the living can be much better. Only you know what you are willing to accept as your prescribed living standard, and with no two people being alike, it means there is no one sized answer that fits all.

With all that in mind…you simply can’t live anywhere for free.

What if You Could Have the Freedom to Earn from Anywhere… Create Your Own Schedule… and Travel Anytime You Wanted?

Many blog writers already living here in the Philippines are asked the question all the time. We also hear things like: “I’m ready for a new adventure” or ” I’ll just get a job when I get there.” Many of these individuals are dreamers and have little money to even get set up here, let alone survive from month to month after they get here.

How Much Do You Have?

Those of us that are already living here understand all the attractions of living in our chosen paradise. After all, we were all drawn here by the same exotic forces – I think. While some expats planned well to live out their retirement years here, others just came here with very few assets and somehow landed on their feet (but that is extremely rare). One thing is for certain…you should not expect to come here to find a job!  There are none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. And even on the slim chance you did land a job (legally), it would pay little to nothing. Filipino wage standards are not anything to get excited about.

Now would be a good time to take a look at a previous article I wrote about Expectations.

It’s Not All About the Cost of Living!

Although this article’s title eludes to the cost of living (or what it would cost to retire in the Philippines), it is actually more related to the income needed to live here…which directly relates to the cost of YOU living here. Anyone who might be thinking of quitting their job and moving here with the idea of creating an income AFTER they arrive better make an appointment with a psychic, psychologist, psychiatrist…or any one of those occupations that begin with the capital letter “P“. 

What if you had an income that went with you? One solution is to earn an income from back home while you live in the Philippines where the cost of living is much more affordable. You don’t need a local work permit since you’re not really working locally. That way you put dollars (or whatever currency you earn) in your pocket, but you spend it here where those dollars go farther.

Online and passive income opportunities really do exist, and you don’t need years of specialized training to get paid. You don’t need any one particular qualification to get started, and you don’t need lengthy experience to make them work. And that is a good thing because in reality, like I mentioned earlier, it’s nearly impossible to get an official work permit outside your home country. Generally speaking, you can’t “take a job” from a local in most countries, the Philippines being no exception.

This is the point I am trying to make: There may be many earning options you’ve never considered…active, or passive, and it all depends on whether you want to continue working in paradise. The opportunities that do exist (online) can work whether you’re looking to augment a modest retirement income and earn a little bit on the side, a few hours a week… or whether you’re looking for a full-time income. Before ever making concrete plans to settle here in the Philippines, you should completely research any potential earning options, and when you find one you feel good about, make the investment and create that income stream BEFORE you hop on the plane and fly into utopia.

Identifying ways and having that income established before you get here will leave you more time to do things like relaxing at the beach or eating out….reading a good book… taking an afternoon hike… or hanging out at the mall. And of course travel because everyone needs a break from paradise from time to time!

Give some research a try. There’s no obligation… No commitment… and best of all… No Cost. It is easy to search for opportunities, just enter search terms like: Passive Income Streams, or Online Income Opportunities, or Make Money From Home

You can also subscribe to online publications like International Living, Live and Invest Overseas, and Live Abroad who all provide ideas and insights into generating income while living overseas.

You can also sign up here for International Living’s Fund Your Life Overseas newsletter.

Other related articles on this blog:

Retire Early, You Will Need a Plan
Can You Retire in Paradise?
Cost of Living in the Philippines Update

This blog is not affiliated in any manner with any of the above suggested publications or subscriptions.


15 thoughts on “Cost of Living in the Philippines

  1. Oh how true your words. “If Only” the ones who need to listen most would hear them before they take the plunge.

    You not only need to do something about your income BEFORE you make the move, you need to consider the fact you really have to have something to do to occupy your time … no you can not play golf all day every day … before you get here.

    I have preached this exact same message for years. The two main excuses for inacation hear are:

    1. “I don’t have the time”. BS, the one thing we all have is the exact same amount of time. If you use this reason at least be honest and phrase it, “I refuse to spend the time>’.

    2. “I don’t know how”. The remedy? Learn. Nt only is it easy, it’s good for the brain’s health, just like walking is good for the heart and the waistline.

    Learn, Earn and live well.

  2. I know of a few people that live here in Samar without much, if any, steady income. They live just like a typical squatter family lives…day to day. All you can do is warn people about the potential pitfalls when coming here and if they don’t want to heed the advice, then it is all on them. Like they say, you can lead a horse to water…….! But at least we can keep trying Dave.

  3. Randy, good way to put out good info. You’re right also. How many times have many of us seen this argument?

  4. Kevin, those of us that live here or visit often know of somebody that probably should not be living here. All we can do is help to educate.

  5. So many people try to put a price on how inexpensive it to live here. You’re the only one to add reality in that everyone has their own standards. I lived in Makati in a condo. It was a small condo and in a nice complex with a pool. The rent was about $1000 a month. The gym in the condo complex was a joke, so getting a gym membership is about $50 to $80 a month or if you want a Crossfit gym it’s double about $160 a month. Food,cable,utilities ,transportation, will vary depending on what you get but roughly $500-$1000 a month. By the way food is the same prices as the states.So is your iPhone data plan just with slower speeds. The transportation is cheaper than the states an they even have Uber now,but the traffic is much worse on most days. Cable cost less and so do utility bills. So I guess for my lifestyle and I haven’t even touched on the cost of my hobbies like cycling,tennis and travel. It’s much more than you’d expect. If you plan to supplement your income,you need a working visa,not a tourist visa, or you need to have a successful online biz. It can and is being done by a few expats but most just live of a retirement or pre-retirement fixed income. Just my take and my experience on this topic.

  6. That’s life in the big city Doug – EXPENSIVE! Those of us that are “done” working and are on fixed-retirement incomes do well outside the larger metropolitan areas. Provincial living costs much less than city living and can be less stressful also. My advice has always been to choose your standard of living and know the costs before you jump in.

  7. This article really sums up the life in the Philippines. Nice post!

  8. Great article Randy ….. like always
    long time not visiting your site cause of traveling and camping. 🙂
    I am planning to visit the Philippines very soon and I would love to visit with you and your Island, I will use the new flight LA to Cebu so, I will be not to far from you
    If you care for that please keep in contact via e-mail
    p.s. your home is looking better and better with time
    take care and hope I’ll see you soon

  9. Cebu is a twelve hour overnight trip by ferry to Calbayog… get a cabin. Let me know if you are heading this way. The house is always a work in progress and it is home now.

  10. Hello Randy,

    My name is Reggie, I am currently one year from retiring from the civil service (the old pension type) from here in Alaska. A side note is that I noticed you mentioned you worked for the weather service? I did also in Guam.

    I have found your blog and videos well grounded and informative.

    I am giving serious consideration to retiring in the PI, I loved my 6 years living and working throughout Micronesia and the Philippine people as a whole. I have been investigating, online, possible places within the PI and I envision liking a Provisional pace more and love the idea of being near coastlines that are not so touristy and it seems Samar fits the bill well.

    Like I said I won’t be retiring until about this time next year (I will be 63 then) and will not be able to take extended time (3-6 months) to visit/investigate until then so I am starting to plan that out now. I hope as time draws closer we can communicate about such things as travel along with recommendations where to visit and general renting/housing options and the like.

    Until then please keep up your great site and postings

    Take care,


  11. Hey Reggie, after 20+ years working weather in the Navy, I then worked for NWS Tupelo for one year term appt, then under an ASOS contract for 4 more years. 25+ years in the business was enough for me. There are a few retired weather guessers living here on Guam. As far as retiring in the PI, my best advice to you would be to


    well, and have a reliable exit strategy. While life in the Philippines is slow and relaxing, it can be nothing like what you have come to expect. There is good and bad with any decision, just know that the undesireable things can soon overwhelm the good. Good luck with your retirement going forward.

  12. Thank you Randy for your reply. Yes I was an AG in the Navy on the Nimitz for a few years. Since then (1980) I have been a GS civilian working various gigs as a IT manager here in the states and Japan, Scicily, Germany, Japan and Guam for various agencies and for WFO Guam for 6 years. I miss that part of the world and people.

    Again thanks for your work on your site there, i particularly like the humor you incorporate. Refreshing from the other sites and gives a good inside view of everyday province life.

    Take care there, maybe we can hookup if I make it there in the future.

  13. If and when you ever head this way, give me a heads up. Would love to share some weather stories over a beer or choice beverage. Guam is still good!

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