A $1000 to live in the Philippines?

“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.

$1,000 can carry you for a month
$1,000 can carry you for a month

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.


Post Author: Feyma (349 Posts)

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.

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  1. Paul says

    Interesting question. I agree with you Feyma in the right place in the Philippines (there are many) $1,000 can offer a very decent life if managed properly. What interests me even more is how in the world was this person able to subsist in the States or Europe on such little money.

    • says

      HI Paul – Still lots of places in the Philippines that a 1000 bucks is more than enough to lived. Just go to the province and live like the local. Yes, it is interesting on how a person with $1000 makes it in the West. I guess a person have to lives with the family or a friend and try to find work, even to be a packer at the grocery store. Very interested to learn from them on that.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

      • Papa Duck says


        He probably didn’t live on $1000.00 in the States. He was probably working and than retired and started drawing SS or Disability and than moved to the Philippines.

      • says

        Hi Feyma, good article. $1000 a month in Marinduque is very adequate for a single person plus fresh seafood and vegetables are abundant. However, Marinduque has no night life and still has electrical power and water supply problems. Hopefully this situation will be alleviated soon. Have a good Day.

        • says

          Hi David – Good to know that your area is a good place for any foreigner to retire too. Yes, I’ve heard you guys there had good seafood and veggies too. Typical of a small place the power is one of the problem.

          Thank you for sharing the info about your place. Maybe one of the reader might retire soon in your area.


  2. Lenny says

    Fema, You couldn’t write a better article than this..Your absolutley right….In the US you have to rent a room with a room mate and it would still be difficult, especially if your in need of any type of transportation, that alone can kill you….

    • says

      Hi Lenny – Thank you so much. For sure it will be a tight budget for someone in the Us. For transportation there, walking and biking would be a big help on the budget.

      Good to see you again. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Take care!

  3. Lenny says

    In Metro Manila yes food is higher,, Fish is 189 a kilo and Mangoes are 180 also…Meat like Pork Chops are 275 and Hamburger is 310 lean or 275 fatty…Liempo is 190…pasta is 60 sauce is 75 I bought 2 cucumbers the other day for 38P…cigarettes Marlboro are 40 a pack…some places 35……….

  4. Don says

    $1000 is doable, but the hidden costs are what will hurt the most. Medical expenses, flight home due to death in family, emergency in Phils, etc. And forget about having a girl friend unless she will share costs. At least in US, there are other welfare benefits like food stamps, medicare, etc. In Phils, would be without much of a safety net. Also, not including inflation and foreign currency devaluation as other article had discussed.

    • John Adams says


  5. Gary Suzuki says

    I posted something similar elsewhere. You need to consider the future value of the $1000 per month available. Using the U.S. as a base in the scenario below:

    Inflation runs higher in the Phl than in the U.S. so even if you get cost of living increases in your $1000 per month it won’t keep up with inflation in the Phl. For example, let’s say that inflation runs 2% higher in the Phl than in the U.S. (very conservative estimate). $1000 today would be worth only $817 in the Phl in 10 years. In addition let’s say that the peso was at 35 to the dollar instead of 43 to the dollar then that $1000 would only be worth $665 in the Phl in 10 years.

    But the biggest problem would be quality of life as you get near the end of your life. Medical expenses go up (as the value of your benefits are going down). In the U.S. if you run out of money Medicaid will take care of many medical expenses including nursing home coverage.

  6. Paul Thompson says

    With proper preparation it can be done, but if $1,000 USD was it, I wouldn’t want to try it. My combined pensions far exceeds my needs, but only because when I was working I built my house, and never had a mortgage. I paid cash for everything I buy, my car is paid for and the only bills I have are water and electric @ around seven to eight thousand Pesos per month. With that said, I live on $1,500 USD per month and can save for things we need, go out with friends and live a comfortable life of leisure. The key is to start planning when your in your 40’s or 50’s, if you wait until your earning power is gone and think you’ll live well here, the best they can expect is to just get by. Plan, plan, then plan some more!

    • Bruce Michels says

      Plan, plan and plan some more are words of wisdom. And people should take heed I’ll be in the same boat as you with my combind pensions just don’t have a house yet. I’ll wait till we get there to build. You and Feyma are correct planning ang budgeting are the keys and the ability to live a simpler life that you may not be use to could peove difficult. Just because they call it paridise doesn’t mean it is for everyone.

    • says

      Hi Paul – I’m with you. For us we need way more 1000 bucks a month. We tried living a simple life.

      Like we always said here on LIP study and learn about the life in the Philippines. It is not an easy adjustments. This is not paradise as what everyone said.

      You are right PLAN, PLAN…

      Take care!

  7. Dan says

    I think a single person could live ok there in the Philippines on $1000.00 if they knew how to manage their money. You could not have a girl friend with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes….with dollar signs for eyes..blinking all the time…then of course with having a GF there comes all the requests for a little money here and a little money there from the huge extended family that comes out of the here and there and every where to help you manage your few bucks. So..if a single person was happy living simple…was there to enjoy the country and the sights and for get the Girl friend thing…I think you could do it…..Nice read Feyma.

  8. says

    We were supporting my mother-in-law, niece and nephew in Guimaras, a rural province in Western Visayas, for the past two years for under 1,100 a month. My wife had her mortgage paid off, but recent circumstances led us to move to a subdivision outside of Iloilo City where our monthly rent is now P6,000. Now we are only paying our own bills and doing fine. 1,000 dollars a month? It’s possible, but like you state in your article, Feyma, it’s all about what lifestyle you live once you arrive in the Philippines. My wife and I are content with our simple life. And I don’t miss my stressful job back in the States one bit.

  9. Don says

    I think the next article should expand on what the “Simple Life” is all about and am not talking about the former Paris Hilton/Nicole Ritchie show, although that would be interesting to get them down to provinces.

    One’s idea of living simply in the Philippines can be very different from that in the US. Even the poor have a lot of luxuries that are unheard of in Phils. One blog I follow has the fellow rarely leaving home and eating the same food every day and just dreaming of a day they can go on holiday from their self imposed paradise because of a tight budget. Boredom is a real danger.

  10. Mike says

    One thing I’d add for the benefit of those moving to The RP is to bring extra shoes, if you need a larger size. Hopefully, the fellow who used to make mine for me has passed his business along to his kids, because I had to put cardboard in the bottoms for a couple of months, until I could have some made!

  11. big p says

    Hello Feyma;
    He can probably exist here for P1000.00 a month but I don’t think he could have a good life here with that much money. One person said he would have to be by himself, no family. I think to live on that amount of money he would have to have a a local wife/gf to help him get the items to live at cheep rates.

  12. JohnM says


    Personally, I think US$1,000 is really pushing it for most people who have grown up in the West. Perhaps if they have a lump sum to buy a condo or something, not having to pay rent.

    The idea of living single here, no girlfriend, wife, or female interaction, is really a bit of a stretch. The vast majority of foreigners living here are here due to women (Yeah, I know there are many who do not, before anyone gets indignant with me). I don’t know what planet some guys are living on, but in my experience, unless you are some Brad Pitt lookalike with a rich sugar mama (I hazard a guess that 99.999% of LiP readers do NOT fit into this category), women, girlfriends, and wives cost money… a lot of it. Why, on God’s green Earth, would the Philippines be any different. THIS part of the equation is what is so often forgotten… and is more important than how much pandesal costs.

    In Manila, US$1,000 per month would be a real stretch… Especially if you are paying rent. VERY few expats would be happy living anyplace that rents fall below P5,000, more likely P10,000, per month.

    I also wonder about the standard of living below $1,000 per month in the USA… also, especially if you are paying rent or mortgage. At least there you have social services on which to fall back on. Can it be done here? Certainly. But I don’t think anyone is living king-like on US$1,000 per month… Most are scraping by, in my opinion.

    • JohnM says

      To further illustrate, here in Manila, we pay $500 per month for rent (comfortable, but certainly not luxury). Utilities (HOA fees, electric, phone, Internet, cable, water) run around $300 on average. That’s $800 per month, and we haven’t eaten or clothed yet. Doesn’t take a math genius to figure out the balance.

      • says

        Just for comparison purposes, John…. we rent a fairly upscale house in Davao, our rent is P35,000. Our electricity is usually around P15,000. Internet, cable, water combined are around P6,000. So, just the basics are P56,000 or a bit more. Kind of blows that $1k out of the water. Of course, we live pretty well, though, which is not a must.

        • JohnM says

          Bob: I haven’t seen your current house, but I would hazard a guess that your last house, in Manila, would have rented near 50,000 per month… easily.

          • says

            I don’t know for sure. We paid about P40k/month for our previous house. I was told by an Austrian friend who has lived in Manila for about 20 years, that the house could have gone for as much as 100k in Manila. But, I have never shopped for property in Manila, so I don’t know what it would really be worth. 😉

        • says

          Hi Bob – To obtain your real costs you would have to extrapolate your business costs from your normal household costs and keep them totally separate for this particular question.

        • Calikid says

          You mentioned above that you get by on roughly P56000 in Davao – How many people are you supporting? If I am planning a $2000 retirement income for myself and most likely a Filipina partner, is that reasonable for various areas in the Phils?

          • says

            Actually, Calikid, you misinterpreted my earlier comment. I didn’t say we get by on P56k. That only covers our rent, internet, electricity and water. I didn’t mention things like food, transportation, schooling costs for the kids, food, etc. There is no way we could make it on P56k. To answer your question, though, there are 10 people living under our roof.

    • says

      Hi John – I agree with you, 1000K $ unless you own the property you would be scraping the barrel for an average couple wishing to retire here.
      Who wants to retire here living from hand to mouth with very little in the way of a social life never mind something happening medically to either partner.
      This is why over the years here on LiP contributors have stressed the importance of planning for coming to stay here.
      We are not extravagent as a couple but we need a bit more than the ammount suggested and just consider having children to feed,clothe,educate and entertain into the bargain the mind boggles.
      The Philippines may have been a cheap place in the past to spend a vacation but certainly not so cheap knowadays or in the foreseeable future if current exchange rates are anything to go by.

    • says

      Hi John – I know what you mean. I know for sure in your area that the cost of food were way higher than the cost here in Davao. I guess the property rental too you are more than here. I think clothing, you guys are cheaper since almost all the clothes factory are in that area. I had a friend who is in the business of selling clothes. She has store in Manila, Cebu and Davao. It’s more per piece to sell here in Davao than in Manila because she had to add the cost of the shipping and other stuff.

      Like i said, it really depends on where you live and how you live here in the Philippines. I said also that to have that kind of money, a person has to live like a local.

      I was helping a friend, he rented a place for P7k. I helped him decorate the place. It was pretty nice with 3 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room and bathroom. Problem is no privacy. Lots of people in the compound.

      As always John thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

      Take care!

  13. joey says

    I dont really think i would even try to live in the RP on just 1000 dollars, unless i had a good amount of money set back. And then again i would still have a good plan. with the economy like it is here in the US, and knowing that the exchange rate could fall at any given time, then that 1000 doallrs is like 500, that could mean disaster. just my 2 cents.
    know friends that are really in bad shape trying to live on that amount of money here in the US, and they get help with food and medical, but still have a hard time making ends meet. The worst thing that someone could do is move somewhere they dont know and get into a financial situation and not be able to get back to there home country. I know my wife made it on less than 1000, but she was born and raised in the RP and know how to live to that standard. But now i even think she would have trouble trying to live on just that amount.

  14. Roselyn says

    Hi Feyma: Very informative and excellent article. Here in the U.S., young and single people are now renting rooms from older persons who have extra space. References are a must. (I had to write references for some of my college students.) Some trade lodging for house or garden maintenance to save money. The rents are about $300.00 per small room with utilities (no cable/no internet), shared bathrooms, and kitchen privileges (cook and clean after yourself). A single person cannot live on $1,000.00 a month in the U.S. The Philippines is definitely an option if one can live the local way.

      • Roselyn says

        Hi Katrina: I am in New Mexico. I lived and grew up in California. California is so much more expensive in the cost of living than New Mexico.

    • Papa Duck says

      Mrs Feyma,

      I will have a pension from the Florida Retirement System whem i retire in 2014. My G/F owns a Internet Cafe in Bataan where we will be living, so we will have some income coming in from that. I may start some sort of business for some added income. Also i will have a sizable amount of money available in Savings. Than when i turn 62 will draw Social Security if its still there. Also should be able to get a decent Tax Return every year if the tax structure is not changed. Here in Florida you can rent a furnished room in a nice house for $400-$500 per month including all utilities, cable, internet and all houses priveliges included. Good Article. Lots of good info. Have a nice day!

      • says

        Hi Papa Duck – Good for you. I think living in Bataan might be cheaper than us here in Davao. I haven’t been to that place yet, so I am just guessing here. Later when you retire there at least you can give us an update on what really the cost of living in Bataan.

        Always good to see you here and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

        Take care!

    • says

      Hi Roselyn – To be honest, with the economy nowadays theirs nothing wrong with sharing rooms and expenses. A lot of the college students do like that here now too.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and thanks too for the comments.

      Take care!

  15. Jonathan says

    Feyma, just to quote “But clothing and housing maybe Manila is a little bit cheaper than us here?” no definitely not.

    • says

      Hi Jonathan – I know that Manila is cheaper on the clothing. I know someone that owns a stall in Manila, Cebu and other places in the Visayas and in Mindanao. She buys her stuff from the factory somewhere in the South of Manila and she also goes to Hong Kong, Thailand and other places. If she sells it here in our area she has to add the shipping cost and other stuff.

      I think on the housing it might be cheaper here. Definitely on the food we are cheaper here than in Manila.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  16. says

    Hi Feyma – I think you have made a very brave attempt at trying to give a breakdown in cost to someone asking the question is $ 1,000.00 enough to live here per month.
    If that same question had been asked in say 2008 when we came to live permanently in the Philippines I would have had no hesitation in saying yes. However nearly four years later I would have to say no in the case of the average Mr & Mrs Expat returning to live here.
    The reason why I say that is when we first came to live here the exchange rate £ to PHP was higher than it is nowadays i.e. we get less pesos to the £ in fact much less.
    Food, electricity, water and fuel have all risen considerably which has exacerbated the exchange loss.
    Now I’m only talking about a couple not a guy who comes here to retire with a ready made family with all the ramifications that situation can bring.
    Without a nest egg and having bought and built as we did and knowing what I have learned from this site and similar as well as the experience I have gained since living here I would never have attempted to come and retire here.
    I know every ones wants and needs are different but you would have to work very hard here to separate your wants from your needs to live reasonably comfortable on the amount suggested. I say this having worked all my life and my wife as well up until we retired here and if we were to have to live under a certain standard I’m sure our nest egg would fund a ticket to whence we came.
    I personally only see costs rising here and any economy based on a currency that is non exchangeable in the open market such as the peso, is shaky at best and volatile at worst as inflation continues to gain momentum as is happening here.
    In replying Feyma I have attempted to give and insight into the past, present and possible future planning one might consider before coming to live here on a permanent basis, however each to their own.

    • says

      Hi Jim – I understand what you are talking about. But each of us is different. Like Bob and I we could not live just $1k in a month. Not even near that amount. From the bill alone its totally lucking. But for a guy that really wants to make it here it might work for them. Just living the simple life the local way, it can be done I think. I’ve seen and read some people that lives in the country or the province, they just need small amount of money.

      Thank you also for the good comment and advice. I appreciate that. Good to see you here as always!

  17. David S. says

    Great article Feyma. Thanks for sharing. If someone asked me if they could live in a third world country on $1,000 a month, the first question I would ask is: How much do you spend a month today? If they don’t have a deeply entrenched habit of closely monitoring expenses already they probably won’t be successful living on a tight budget. Even so, as you pointed out, it takes time to learn how to get bargains in a new culture. They will have to be willing to make life style changes to accommodate the local culture. They should also have a nest egg of at least $15,000 to tide them over in the event of an emergency. There are no safety nets like county hospitals or food stamps in third world countries.

    My $1,000 a month budget (based on an exchange rate of 43P/dollar is:

    Peso/Mo USD/Mo
    Rent 10000 $233
    Utilities 5000 $116
    Int & TV 2500 $58
    Food 15000 $349
    Visa/mo 1892 $44
    Misc 9000 $209

    • says

      Hi David S. – Thank you. Really good advice you have there. Good to see on the monthly budget entry you have there. The really important stuff.

      Happy to see you here. Thank you for stopping by!

  18. Robert says

    I am one of the few here who can positively say that living on $1000 is absolutely possible.
    I live with my wife and her mother on the beach in Palawan and enjoy better quality of life than anyone could do it on that amount in a big city.
    My 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom house is fully paid and I drive a fully paid scooter at 63. I eat fish and rice, torons, fruits vegetables, sweets etc just like I did in Canada. I have Internet, cable TV, A/C split type, 3 dogs and plenty of papayas and bananas growing on the property, size 40m x 45m.
    If you do not believe me, come over for a proof.

    • joe says

      hi im canadian pensioner single no dependents monthly pension totals $791. can i possibly live on this amount in palawan. i live frugal eat same as u drink very raely a beer occasionally no need for rest or other activities am 70
      your reply would b gretaly appreciated

  19. DanielY says

    Can one live in The Philippines for US$1,000 per month? The simple and complex answers are (as Feyma stated): YES and IT DEPENDS.

    It depends on where you live, what kind of lifestyle you can be happy with, and what is the family size (# of persons) for the US$1,000 to support.

    Is it do-able? Yes, BUT – there are a lot of Trade-Offs and Adjustments to the western lifestyle (forget about it !!!). In fact, it will be a totally different lifestyle – could be what you will come to LIKE or HATE.

    A simple comparison: US$1,000 = P43,000 today. This is the income of a small bank branch manager, and way above the P20-30k income of an IT Programmer Analyst. Minimum wage for locals range from P8k to P12k depending on city/region. Many call center works make between P20-25k.

    If locals can live on half of the US$1,000, you can live on the full US$1,000, but you will need to be able to live like a local – major lifestyle changes, and run the risk of NO goverment assisted Medical Insurance and services.

    If you want to relocate and live in the Philippines, maintain a reserve of US$5-10k for medical costs. If you get sick and this money is not enough, you are due to die anyway – so don’t worry too much about it.

  20. Rey says

    This topic is very interesting to me since I am planning to settle down in my home country when I reach 50. In my opinion $1000 is enough to live comfortably in the Philippines. I live frugal in the US and each time I invest here will be the money I will spend when I quit working.

    Life in the US is not as greener as it was but if you are ahead in your investment, you are okay than the rest.

    I live in Fremont California and I know the cost of living here is one of the highest in the US. I work as an engineer in one of the companies here and I have to be thankful I still make a descent wage. A factory worker in our company starts at $12/hr. and I asked myself how they live on that income. A single person earning $12/hr will have a net income of about $1600 per month. A co-worker from the factory shared her story how she can survive here with that amount and here is how she budget that money.

    Room rent = $500 per month (inc. water and elect, internet)
    Cell phone= $60
    Transportation= $240
    Food = $600
    Others= $200

    On top of income she does not have to worry about medical, dental, vision because part of those expenses are covered from company benefits.

    My point here is $1600 is possible to live in California so as in the Philippines w/ $1000 budget per month. I agree that you must have a nest egg for emergency expenses.

    • says

      Hi Rey – Thank you. Like what I said it really depends on how you live your life. If living like a local and not in the big city, yes that $1k is doable here. I’ve seen and heard from friends about a foreigner living in the province. They like it there for the fresh air, fresh veggies and they grow chicken, pigs and cow for meat.

      For sure if a person can live $1,600 monthly in California, then it will work for a person to live on $1,000 monthly here in the Philippines.

      Thank you again for sharing here. Have a pleasant weekend!

  21. sugar says

    Hi Ms Feyma – if 1,000 dollars equal 43,000 pesos. And living here in Manila, for a single person, no family and all, probably it’s good provided small rented place and not so much to pay for electricity and water other utilities and not so much eating out.

    For a family.. especially with 2 to 3 kids.. that’s not gonna be enough. A school tuition fee costs abut 60K and up and that’s only for pre school kids. House rent is pretty darn expensive in Manila. Biz expats ( that I know, and see) lives in village or condo.

    For $1000, the key probably is not too much excess of living expenses?

    Great post!

    • says

      Hi Sugar – I think if a person only has 1,000 bucks a month, I will advice for him not to live in Manila. It is so darn expensive in that part of the country though. The $1k in Manila might just pay almost for the rent. So it’s not wise for a guy that just had monthly income of $1,000 to live there in Manila. Lot’s of provinces in the Philippines for them to choose from.

      Hey, I am not trying to put down Manila. It just that we have to tell the person which place is good for him to settle with his tight budget.

      Thank you for the nice comment.

      Take care!

  22. says

    Nice job of writing about living costs here in the Philippines Feyma, you have touched many topics and sparked many responces…lol. Living here in the Philippines on less then $1000 (US) a month but I am one of the lucky ones. Area where I live is much cheaper then Manila (Quezon city area) The people are both friendly AND helpful, food costs are watched by the wife (filipina), and I pay no rent..which would of been a hugh added expence. It is quiet clear that people need to relize that hugh cities and tourist destinations are going to be more costly for them. Being from the farm belt of the GOOD OL’ USA (IOWA), I had learned to grow most of my own food,cook almost anything eatable ( is seaweed really a necessary addition to a meal?..lol), and how to pray for what I want, to pay for what I need. Here in Ilocos Norte the cost of living is a bit cheaper then else where and if a person makes use of the land and seas around them, they too can live a full, happy life..
    Regards to all others who have posted here, any information about how you all manage to live here is a big help to others wishing to live in paradise…

    • says

      Hi Davila John Thomas – Good for you. Happy to know that you are living the life that you wanted and enjoyed it. That’s the most important thing, you’re enjoying living in that part of the country.

      Are they growing lots of seaweeds in Ilocos Norte? Is your area safe or far from bad typhoon? I’ve heard about good stuff and good scenery there. I’ve never been to that part of the Philippines yet.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing you thoughts.


  23. says

    We live on about $1500 a month here in the US. So I think we could live on $1000 easily. I know most people do not live on that little and some can not live that way but we are not living in a mobile home either. I do have some standard of living cost. 😀 I just don’t have all the bells and whistles and newest gadgets and flashy cars. I live well within my means. Because what do you really need? I like to spend my money on those I love and going on trips. So I guess it is all about standards of living and whether or not you really need that live in maid or not.

    • says

      “whether or not you really need that live in maid or not.” It seems surprisingly common place that when expats move to the PHL they out of course have one or more maids helping them, whether relatives, or not. Since I’ve never had a maid when living in the US, I wouldn’t want/expect to have one if I lived in the PHL, regardless of how cheap they are to hire.

      • Ricardo Sumilang says

        It’s not so much as the need, or even to conform with the common practice of having a live-in maid because they are cheap to hire, but once you are in the Philippines and have witnessed abject poverty all around you, it’s pretty darn hard to deal with your conscience if you said no to a a local seeking employment, relative or not, when you know in your heart you could make a difference in their lives. If all you have is $1000 a month to live on, perhaps you ought to delay your retirement until such time as your pension grows to a point where it will allow you to have a better quality of life in retirement. In my opinion, $1000 a month is subsisting, not living.

        • says

          I’m curious Ricardo, how far is the “rich”foreigner supposed to take the concept of making a difference in their lives? Employ one sister or brother, if there is more than one, does the same conscience require employment of all brothers and sisters regardless if there are five or ten? By not employing any of them, you wouldn’t be seen as playing “favorites” at least.

          In my view, if your going to help out the family/locals, help them out with giving them unconditional money, rather then employing them at local wages that I would not myself consider fair or reasonable. I’m not sure MY conscience could deal with paying a domestic helper P200 a day to clean-up after me. Unfortunately, this perception is based upon personal knowledge of how some of my in-laws treat their “downtrodden” relatives who they “fetch” from the provinces to work like house-slaves in Manila.

          • Ricardo Sumilang says

            For the vast majority of unemployed Filipinos, P200 a day is better than nothing, trust me. How much does a tricycle driver make? As regards favoritism, Pinoys may be poor, but they are not stupid. They don’t expect you to employ the whole family just so you can be seen as fair.

  24. Mark says

    It will be interesting in the next 10 years to see how the US dollar fares w/r/t the Phil peso. The China story, China taking over the world economically is in my opinion overdone. Just look at the number of cities that they have built with no inhabitants, just to keep their econimy rolling. When the great reset of the worlds fiat system occurs I think the USA will default on much of its debt and the result will be long term a very strong commodity based US dollar. Could even see 50-60 Peso to the dollar in the future. At that point living on $1000 US per month would be cake.

  25. says

    Feyma, I forgot to mention that there are a lot of foreigners ( single and married to local women) in Marinduque enjoying the simple lifestyle in a typical provincial atmosphere in the Philippines. Again have a fantastic day!

  26. Bruce Michels says

    I have two good friends that live in the Philippines one in Subic Bay the other in Cebu. The first one says he lives well on 1000.00. He has his girlfriend control the house money and has a small allowance. He lives like a local. It took him a while to get use to some of the food. My other friend have a house in Cebu and lives with his Filipino family and does well on get this $500.00. but all he does is fish, swim and doesn’t get out much.
    So yes it can be done just depends on you mind set. Me no way will I my asawa and I be stuck in the house. So I’ve planned for a high dollar value something along the lines of Paul T. Going to enjoy retirment.
    Great article lots of food for thought.

  27. says

    Good Article, Feyma.

    All this chatter is good fodder to digest in one’s quest to validate the thought, that, “YES”, I can live on X amount of dollars in the Philippines. This all begs to answer the question, “What happens when I need something major like bypass surgery, recovery time from a major auto accident, or some other unforeseen major expense”?

    If you “bet the farm” on the naive premise that you can live your life happily in Paradise without some sort of “cushion” for the unforseen then you are setting yourself up for a rude financial awakening.

    I would think that having only $1,000 US dollars a month would really be a recipe for disaster. Where is the “Plan B” backup plan, to allow you to escape being that new old Kano begging for money outside the mall?

  28. Roderick says

    So if I had a monthly income of $7000 could I live like a king in the phillipinnes with wine, women and song every night ! I really know that $ 7000 is more than enough to live well,but I wonder what minumum figure would be needed to live the very comfortable life in paradise. Is the minum threshold to live very well 7000, 3500 or something in between

    I know that these forums always discuss how much is needed for living on the edge, but there is litttle information on funding a comfortable lifestyle. So how much will I need to live the high life

  29. John Miele says


    I can’t belive I’m answering this, but you can spend as much as you want. Luxury goods, however, are typically imported and carry high duties here: You won’t find any bargains, that’s for sure.

    I know of areas in the Fort where large mansions are renting P200-300,000 per month. Lease a Mercedes SLK for P50 – 80,000 per month. Buy an imported boat and make payments. Eat out at Casino Espanol every night at P3,000 per person plus another few thousand for every shot of single malt scotch. Go whoring in Makati near the big hotels and pay 5,000 per night every night of the week.

    A silly question…

  30. John Adams says


  31. Jeffery says

    I have a Social Security income of $1950.00. I have friends in Dipolog, Dumaguete, and Cebu. If I were to Marry a Filipino lady, what are the government requirements to live permanently in the Philippines?


  32. Maylen says

    hello guys.
    I had friend who married a foreign guy from US, She been sharing me about thier lifestyle,, they rent apartment which is 12k per month with two rooms and they had two sons now her husband pension just a little its less than what you guys mentioned here if im not mistaken ist 1000 dollars but they are so happy and so contented.. its really depends of the couple if how they manage thier budget… for me 1000dollars is too much this is just my opinion. might others cant survive that amount but some are.

  33. Maylen says

    I had Neighbor here she met A guy few months ago in Dumaguete he is 67 years old my neighbor just 21.. when they met in Dumaguete he was living alone for about 9 months when he started to live here in PI he wasnt interested any women because he might cant afford to feed her because of her little pension every month.. But time came that he is not happy living alone so he contacted my Neighbor and he went here in Cebu to met her again in about two months they got married in church it was very simple but ilegant.. And you guys maybe wondered if how much pension that he got everymonth… its just less than 30 thousand a month, Now they rent now a house which is 7k in Dumaguete and they built a small sari sari store.. Its very possible to live comfortably even if how much money we get like others said it is really depend how to Manage the Budget… So ineresting topics!!! thank you guys for sharing all of this!!!!

    God bless us all!

    • David Heil says

      Let me get this straight, this 67 year old expat married a 21 year old local girl, and the two of them live on 7-800 dollars a month. Is this correct? If so, amazing!!

  34. Atong Estrada says

    $1,000 a month? That is enough to live like a King from a 3rd world island.

    $1,000 x 42 pesos/$1=42,000 pesos

    Semi-furnished studio condominium in Manila w/ aircon, single bed & all bills paid: 10,000 pesos

    Food: 9,000 pesos per month at 300/day

    Entertainment (booze, girls, etc): 10,000 pesos month

    Total Monthly Expenses: 29,000 pesos

    Savings: 13,000 pesos or $309!!!

    $1,000 is more than enough if you’re not going to live extravagantly….

  35. says

    Great article Feyma, and great responses as well! I have a question, though. My salary is exactly $1k / month and I was wondering what would be the best place for me in the Philippines.

    I am not man of many needs and I am still young I guess (26) and single, but I do need certain things like a beach, a motorcycle (happy to pay monthly rent if affordable), furnished 1-bedroom condo and relatively stable internet access (for work). I would also like to go out 3-4 times / month, but I do not know if that’s possible on this budget.

    My work would take out a good chunk of my day and when you combine that with activities like swimming, playing a guitar, reading books etc, it looks like the same life I live here in Europe, but without me being truly happy (near the sea :)

    Any suggestions for such a place for $1,000 / month?

    • says

      Hi Cimer – To be honest if you want to make it with that kind of money I think you can. Just stay with in your budget though. Really if no vices you can make, but not in the big city I think.

      Good luck to you.

  36. says

    Pretty easy if you invest a bit of money at the beginning to establish urself. Me I bought a house, furnished it with all nice things, cable and internet and a car(all up $16,000). I support my girl and her extended family and fly back and forth to Australia three times a year. I do all that and support myself for 13 weeks a year in Australia and 39 weeks a year in Philippine on $9500.00 a month for all.
    Here is my budget for one year
    Car Repairs, Insurance, Rego. $1000
    Food and Medicines $1200
    Philippines 39 weeks
    Elect, Cable & Internet @1 MBS $1200
    Food for 3 people with family visits as well $1000
    Entertainment $2500
    Family in Providences Support $400
    Flights back and forth $750.00 x 3 a year $2250.00
    Not having to pay rent anywhere and having a small income my girl generates from lending some of my money out is a good life.

    Now there are always misc. expenses that come up but, we save and pinch if needed and when needed. But, never go much off those figures. Im a generous and helpful man, I have put teeth in many mouths, helped wih hospitals when needed. Always I am paid back in many ways and usually the money comes back to me. I have many filipino friends and they always make sure we get the best service and prices on any thing we buy. I am a part of my extended family and act accordingly. I am not an open wallet to all. I act when and where I can afford to.

  37. says

    I wanted to add that we live in Angeles City, just outside Friendship. Our house is very nice and clean and we even got a second building and lot in that price. I dont have to send my girl any money for support when I am away as she is the one that pays all the bills thru the year from her lending income and the amounts I actually spend are far less than the amounts I quoted, they are mearly our costs of living. The right girl and family make all the differance. I consider myself a very happy and lucky man of 63 years old. I just had my hair cut at a cost of 30 pesos but, I gave our friend 50 coz he walks to our house to cut it and I like him. We went out last night for drinks Bar Hopping and then to a show at a music lounge(Dunk Shot), cost of the night for Bar Hopping, Show, 12 SML’s(beer), a snack and after, 2 bowls of Arozcaldo(local rice dish with chicken), tipping and parking=1,200 pesos or less that $30.00AUD.

  38. Steve Maust says

    It is tough to live in that budget for most people from Western style of living. They want the same as they had in the States. I am not saying it can not be done, but it is hard. I thought the same thing about the Philippines before getting my place there. Oh this is going to be so great! I can live here on less than a $1,000.00USD a month. Well one thing is the peso to dollar rate dropped. That cost me quite a few peso a month. Now that $1,000.00 is just 42,000 Peso a month. I have no house payment as it is paid for. But still have school cost for kids, electric (no ac in the house), food and all the necessities, tricycle payment and the gas. I would have to sit and figure it all up, but the money that used to be fine to live on is getting short. I have had to increase the budget to $1,500.00USD a month to make things a little better. All this said I am no single man. I do have a wife and 3 kids, so that makes my money situation a little different. Plus we live far out in the province. But my life is good there. I am not permanently there yet. I to still work 90 days on 21 off, so my assessment may be a little off there too.

    • Steve Maust says

      If you could not I would wonder why! Even my small income allows us to live pretty well off. I am not rich in no means but we have what is good for us. But also I do not live in Manila, stay at home and do not travel that much and I eat a lot of home cooked meals. A trip to town every week gets us to Jolli B’s or some where else to eat for a change.

  39. Joe says

    Hi Fenya: I’m a 48 yr old recent widow (my wife of 11 1/2 yrs died last May of cancer at the age of 41). I currently live in a cold winter climate in the US, and have entertained thoughts in the last few months of retiring to the Phillipines. I am particularly interested living on the beach on Bantayan Island (although I’m open to any island with a white sand beach that’s sparsely populated). Considering that winters where I live are rather harsh, high temperatures and high humidity would be a welcome relief.

    However, any moves or trips to the Phillipines will have to wait at least another 14 years since I have an 8 yr old son and like his mother does not do well in the heat and humidity. So I’ll have to wait until he graduates from college.

    As for being able to afford to retire in the PI, given the type of living preference I’ve described, I know a lot can change in 14 years. However I do not have a pension or retirement plan with my current employer, and it’s a huge question mark whether Social Security will be available when it’s time for me to retire (more specifically will the SS fund be broke).

    Leaving those two aside, using the $1,000 a month figure that’s been tossed around (conservatively speaking, probably very conservatively speaking), at that amount would last me nearly 44 years (if I retire at 62 or 63). Using the $1,500 a month analogy, with everything being equal, it would last me 29 years (without getting into specifics on the amounts, I’m taking into consideration the two life insurance policy proceeds from my wife’s death, her combined pension and 401K, my IRA, and when the time comes to sell my house, which will be paid off by the end of the year).

    Basically the only extravagant expense I would need there that I have here is a computer and internet access.

    Otherwise I’d be content living in a tropical climate on the beach where my only wardrobe would be tank tops, shorts, and flip flops (or go unshod as much as possible).

    • says

      Just my opinion, of course, but I feel that in 14 years, it is impossible that you will be able to live in the Philippines on the amounts that you mention. We have lived here for 12 years and the cost of living has at least doubled in that time. I see no reason why it won’t at least double again in another 14 years.

      • Joe says

        Appreciate your honesty Bob. Presuming the cost of living doubles in the next 14 years, on the low end of the scale (@ $2,000 a month to live on), I would probably have to push my retirement age out to around 70 (though it’s doubtful I can tolerate the Midwest/Great Lakes winters up to that age), my funds could probably last me 25 years. On the high end (@ $3,000 a month), I’m probably looking at a minimum of a dozen years, 15 years being the max (and that’s if I retire at 75 or later). If the latter is the case, then retiring in the PI will be almost impossible. Not sure what my options will be then, because retiring in the US will definately become unaffordable.

  40. DanielY says

    I just want to point out an important factor: The US$ to Philippine Peso conversion rate !!!

    About 15 years ago, around 1997, before the asian currency crisis, the USD-to-PHP conversion rate was about 26-1. It crashed to about 39/40-1 by year 2000, went up to around 50-1 around 2005 and slowly came down to about 41-1 right now.

    The life of someone who was making about USD 1,000/mo in 1997 (pre-crisis) and today in The Philippines would not be bad. True, prices have gone up, but if you take into account the Dollar to Peso conversion, it has accounted for a lot of the price increases. So your standard of living, does not go down by 100%. Maybe 10-20% overall …. but, during the heydays of 2003-2006, it went up drastically.

    Just something to consider.

  41. Joseph says

    I Lived in the philippines for two years and had no problem with $1000.00 a month.If the average philipino can make it on 5000pesoes that is about $119.00 Dont bye a car ,rent a fancy apartment eat at home .One thing that will eat your money is staying in hotels it is not cheap to tell youthe truth they are way overpriced.I was lucky to find a real clean place in dumaguete for about $12.00 a night .dont party every night and get a real girlfriend forget th bar girls

  42. Greg Curtis says

    I am thinking about moving maybe by mabalacat dau i have a girl there now she use to work thebar but now she a stay at home mom can you tell me about that area money wise to live….i usally stay at at hotel because i need air…shoeer an toilet thks great site

  43. Harold M says

    Does this thread end at Feb 24, 2012? I was really getting interested. I met a gal in Paranaque in 2011 and she will be coming to the USA this year and we will be married. I’m an independent trucker, age 59, and plan to retire there at age 62. Letty is 57 and owns a house, commercial property and a boarding house. I’m helping her to pay off her mortgage before my retirement and I will have no bills either and will have V.A. and SSI with a total somewhere around $2000-$2500, I hope. She also owns a 4 hectare lot in Real, Quezon Province, which is where we want to build a nice, albeit, simple Nipa house as our nest. As for vehicles, I think a good used Multicab for bringing supplies from the big city monthly and a used Honda car and maybe a motorcycle will be great, oh, and I must have a boat for fishing. I have four boats now but will give them away to favorite family members at retirement so I can use them when Letty and I come here to visit. I know this topic is supposed to be “living there on $1000″ but after reading all of it I had to share my $0.02. Hey, if anyone knows anyone who needs a bed or commercial stall in Paranaque…..let me know. It is off Santa Ana. Or, if anyone is looking for a home with business income potential…. I am, as one of your posters said, a truly lucky man to have found the right woman there. Business minded, simple interests, a good Christian, close to my age, cares for her man and beautiful.

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