“Feyma can I make it to live in the Philippines for just a $1000?”
I’ve been asked this questions through emails more than a dozen times. Questions from a foreigner that wanting to retire here.
Before answering the questions, I have to ask some questions first.
- Are you single?
- No family here to support, I mean a lady or a lady with kid?
- You have to tell me where do you want to live. Expenses here really varies from place to place.
I answered the question not on how he should spend the money, but what can he spend on the basic needs here in the Philippines particularly here in Davao City. A single guy: A 1000 bucks in Davao where I’m based, you could make it if you are living a simple life. You have to live in a low rental place, I mean the rent should at be less than P10k a month or P15k a month at the most. The P10k is hard to find here in the city for that price if furnished. You’re also paying the electricity(might be P2k-P3k) and the water(might be like P500) and cable(might be like P750) and internet(varies the speed you like from P1k-P2500). If you eat like the local people then you can eat cheap here.
Just go to the small eatery/carenderia and you can probably eat maybe less than 100pesos each meal. I guess if you don’t indulge yourself too much for the imported items, you will be okay. You don’t go out too much during night time to drink or something you will be okay too. Just wear also the local brand for clothing and shoes/flip flops then you will be okay. Shirts you can buy on sale sometimes for P150-P300. Flip flops ranges from P80-P250. If you want it really cheap, go for the “UKAY-UKAY” ( The Filipinos call it “THE UK” in short). You can find at the UK a shirt for men for like P50, jeans shorts you might get at around P150. If you had Filipino friend let her/him shop the clothing for you at the UK. If you are going to the ukay-ukay yourself, the prices will not go down instead it might go up especially if they had no price tags on the items, plus it is hard for you to bargain. Unless you’re like Bob that knows how to speak the language. Bob knows how to bargain there.
Way of transportation here could be cheap, if you like walking, it will be cheaper for you to just walk around town or ride jeepneys instead of riding the taxi. Riding taxi can be expensive. If you add up it will cost you lots of money. The start up of the taxi nowadays is P40. I think its P3 every how many meters or so.
Local snacks are cheap (that foreigner likes it too) like halo-halo (P30), donuts (side walk vendors P10, at the mall P20-P25), humbao (siopao P15-P20), banana que (P5). Fruits (mangoes P50 per kilo, banana P25 per kilo, pomelo P90-P100 per kilo, pineapple P15-P20 per kilo, watermelon P15 per kilo) and veggies (potato big one P80-P90 per kilo, lettuce small P30 a piece, cucumber P50-P60 a kilo) are cheap here too not the imported ones of course. If you want to live cheaply too and you want to cook your meals, you can do it. Like me I usually substitute the imported items that I can’t find in the stores here. Thank God for internet. It’s almost all there what to substitute and such. Like just a sample, my kids likes to eat pancakes, one of the ingredients on the pancakes is buttermilk, can’t find it here or I seldom see it here. So I made my own buttermilk, whipped cream, heavy cream, pumpkin ( I substitute it with squash) and other ingredients. Lots of other stuff that’s not yet available here in Davao. So being I cooked most of the time I usually substitute the ingredients. Well, I think it works, Bob and the kids liked what I made for them though. Meats usually cost P120 per kilo, fish P80-P150 per kilo. Pasta P60-P100 a pack, if cooking for 1 person it will take a long time to finish a pack of a pasta. Really if you just spend the money wisely with just the basic necessities, 1000 bucks is really good for a single foreigner guy here in Davao City.
But there is also a solution to be living way less here in Davao. Just rent the place like a room for rent with like a bunk bed, just ask the landlord if you can put an air conditioning to your room with your expense. Some room rented it for P800 per person and 4 people inside. Just try to rent the whole room to yourself and just put a small fridge, buy a little thingy (dongle) for internet hook up for your laptop. Just watch shows that you like on your PC. Just like the backpackers. Not a lot would do it, but some might do it too.
I am talking about Davao expenses here. I’m pretty sure living in Metro Manila is way expensive than Davao when it comes to food. But clothing and housing maybe Manila is a little bit cheaper than us here? Cebu is expensive than Davao in food too. General Santos City is cheaper than Davao in food. Cagayan De Oro might be similar to Davao in prices or it might a little more or a little less. I think in some areas like Davao 1000 bucks is already okay to live monthly, to other areas like Metro Manila and maybe Cebu City 1000 bucks is not enough there.
I know someone that I helped before. He is receiving $1000 bucks a month from disability. He was renting a condo here in Davao. As far as I know he is still here and enjoying the nice life of being here. He spent less than P25k for a condo and electricity and water included. He saves a lot by eating and cooking the local food here. I think he still had some extra money to spend for going out with friends. It really helped him a lot by living in Africa before. He told me that the lifestyle that he has here was way better than what he had in Africa. So I think that helped him a lot for the adjustments of living here.
Really my advice to anyone, before moving here try to ask yourself if you are ready for a lot of changes that will come in your life. Are you ready to be living outside your comfort zone? If not just stay where you are and learn more, until the time that your mind is set to accept the challenge. I tell you it is not an easy living here. It takes a lot of adjustments and patience. If you are living with the same income as above feel free to share how you live here in the Philippines. Thank you.
Feyma Martin is a Columnist here on the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, she is the wife of site Publisher, Bob Martin. Feyma is originally from the Philippines, but went to the USA for 10 years after marrying Bob in 1990. Bob & Feyma moved to the Philippines to live permanently in 2000.