Can you live on P10,000 per month?

I can’t!

But, the Philippine Government’s National Statistics Coordination Board has recently pegged that amount, P10,000 per month as the amount that a Filipino family of 5 needs to remain above the Poverty line. Let’s see, P10,000 per month for five people? So, that works out to P2,000 per person.

I’m ashamed to say, but for me, that kind of money is just “fun money” that I don’t really worry much about. And, to imagine that if a person earns that amount per month, they are considered to be doing OK (not poor)?

PesosIf you consider nothing but the price of meals, and assume three meals per day, and a month with 30 days, that works out to P22 per meal. If you spent P22 per meal for one month, per mouth, all of your money would be gone, if you were earning P10,000 per month. What about rent? Clothing? Transportation? School for the kids? Electricity? Water?

Let’s look at some of these other expenses. Let’s say that there is a father who is the only employed person in the household, he has a wife and 3 kids to support. That would be typical of the family of 5 that the National Statistics Coordination Board is talking about. If this working father pays P20 for transportation to and from work per day, P1,000 for rent on his dwelling per month, P50 per person per month for clothes, P100 per kid per month for school, P300 per month for electricity and P50 per month for water, that would total P2,500 per month in expenses (and I think that these figures are quite low). So that leaves him P7,500 to pay for food for 5 people. That means P50 per day for food for each person. P25 per meal if they eat twice per day, or P16 per meal if they eat three meals per day.

You know what? That figure of P10,000 per month for the poverty line is 16% higher than it was 2 years ago, so figure 8% inflation per year over the past 2 years (let’s not worry about compounding for this discussion). In the past few months we have basically seen a doubling of the price of rice. Some other foods have more than doubled in price. I was told by a friend in Manila that onions there are more than P100 per kilo now!

I don’t see how poor people can make it in the Philippines today (and remember, if you make P10,000 per month for a family of 5, you are not poor!).

It seems like every time there is a financial crisis, increased inflation, lack of pay increases and such, the Government tells the poor people that they need to “tighten their belts” a little more. From what I can see, those belts are getting pretty tight, and I’m not sure how much smaller they can go.

What do you think?

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1344 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

Live in the Philippines Consulting


  1. Mark C. says

    The US Health and Human services website ( Puts the poverty level for a family of 5 in the US at $24,800. Somehow I think that family would live a little better than a "not poor" person in the Philippines.
    It would be real tight but I bet the US family would have at least one car, electricity and running water.

    Mark C.

    • says

      Are these guys serious? Why dont they try living on P10k/month with 5 kids? I am single and making great money here, but even then it is not that easy trying to strech your peso. Food is expensive here. Cost of living is also, I know it depends on where you live, but if you live so far and has to work in Makati for instance, the transportation cost is enough to choke you. Lucky for me I own my business, home paid for and live in the Fort, which is a nice area. What about if one of those kids get sick? How dare these people claim that P10k/month is above poverty. That shows you how clueless and heartless these politicians are…but these are the guys how invoke God every chance they get, and yet they dont care about the poor and suffering. Where are these lazy bishops who live in luxury in all of these..encouraging people to have more kids they cannot afford?…yeah, P10k/month…are they drunk? is this a joke?

    • Ian says

      I have just returned from the Philippines where i stayed for only 3 weeks, but WITH a Philippino family. I found eating out at fast food chains cheaper than cooking at home. Main reason – the “fresh” produce available has been thawed from frozen to “fresh” so it cannot be re frozen = a lot of waste. The P10,000 limit is a total joke, a man who works in the cafe at manila airport works 6 days a week 10 hours a day and gets this, he thinks he is doing ok – poor bugger. The new city hall in Calamba is WOW! What a palace for the polis – surrounded by great squalor and obvious hardship, but have a look at the official posts about Calamba, they make it sound like a paradise – it is a dump. The only way i see to improve the average persons lot is to have an open comments page on a Phili website – accept ALL comments and stimulate discussion. P.S. If they let foreigners actually buy property or houses it would inject MONEY in to the economy, 25% of the economy comes now from prostitution and 25% from O F W’s – I don’t think the Chinese will invade, would cost them to much to fix the joint!

      Sorry to sound negative Bob, but in truth am actually CONCERNED about the crap being fed to the fili people by their beurocrats. Thanks for letting me post.

      • says

        Sounds to me like you were mostly judging the Philippines based on western standards… makes it hard to enjoy your stay here.

        Your statistics about OFW and Prostitution are way out in left field.

        • Ian says

          No BOB the stats are totally 100% right. As well, by any standard when you have a palace, and squalor that is visual squalor is it obvious to a blind person. Their problem is they are being told the joint is fine and moving forward and they mainly believe it. Very interesting the family I stayed with, the man works for a shipping line and has been to many countries including the US. One comment he made was that policemen there actually look like policemen and traffic rules work – might NOT be true but that’s the diff Bob. How any one can say living in besser block, small rooms with rotting tin rooves, no ceiling, most without own water supply and brown outs consistently, oppressive heat, no proper sewer, where kids bath in the street , some of which are just mud tracks and when these are within 100 meters of and make up the bulk of the community dwelling alongside lavishly appointed malls that are fine by any standard is just obvious. Western standards don’t need to be applied to see the difference Bob. It is just plain disgraceful! To end this diatribe of mine I will say what I said at the beginning, my stats are 100% accurate, I will search for the reference for you, they were taken from international reference sources which I did not save, but will find just for you.

          • RandyL says

            I gotta agree with Bob. Even though the monies remitted from OFW’s is substantial, 25% would almost mean that the Philippines has NO economy of their own. Back in the days when the USA leased the bases and with all the money pumped into the Philippine economy by ALL US personnel, this amount was estimated to equal about 10% of the Philippines total GDP. So to say that prostitution accounts for 25% is just irresponsible math. I would dump that source of information you rely on if I were you.

  2. says

    Hi Mark C. – Don't forget the TV either! Even the poor family in the States would have a big screen TV set! They might have to do without plasma, but that's OK! 😆

  3. AussieLee says

    Good Morning Bob,
    At first impression "10,000" looks impressive but at this very minute's exchange rates that only USD7.57 per day or AUD7.92 per day! Given what I saw of prices over there even three years ago I'm a bit surprised how a family can live on this. Obviously no luxuries or extras. Certainly no grog or casinos! What about medical expenses? Dental expenses? Power, I thought, was very expensive? How much is it per kilowatt hour? What is rice per kg now? It is still around AUD1-2 here per kg.

  4. says

    Hi AussieLee – I certainly agree with you. Most poor Filipinos use very little electricity, maybe a single light bulb at night, something like that. Power here varies depending on where you are, but it is indeed expensive, figure around 20 US cents per kilowatt hour, and you're in the neighborhood. Rice here in Mindanao has already topped P50/kg now, and people are having a hard time. Here in Davao, over the past few days there have been food riots, albeit minor ones. I hope it is not a sign of things to come.

  5. AussieLee says

    Thanks Bob,
    Thats very informative. I had the feeling the power there was basically the same or even more expensive than here in Australia. (We have heaps of cheap coal). That explains why so many middle class families there have a nice house and a car but no AC – not even in a small living area for example. Ditto for rice – basically identical in price. Our Australian harvest of rice was the smallest (down 90%) since the industry began in the 1920's due to the continuing drought. Where I am we are in our in our twelth year of drought (below average rainfall of 400mm pa). We used to be one of the largest exporters of wheat in the world too before this drought. Record prices too for grains. I work for a pulse (lentils,peas,beans) exporter and the price of this stuff is nudging USD1,000 per tonne in bulk! Like fuel prices, these prices for basic grains will flow through the system and make many commodities more expensive to the ultimate consumer.

  6. says

    Hi AussieLee – Yeah, I have been hearing about the drought in Australia, and it seems to be really bad. I think that in the past few months you guys have started getting a little more rain, though, right? Still not enough, but hopefully things have started to turn a little bit. It seems that it's hard times in a lot of places these days. 😥

  7. rick b says


    Getting tough here and things have accelerated in the past few months, but looking at the world news here in the philippines, we are not on our own, it is a worldwide phenomenon, BUT that is of no comfort to the poor here and like you a big NO i could not survive on 10,000 per month, no way

    Bob, why is everyone here still so cheerful, can't answer that one myself, on 10,000 per month i would be out of here, people here have no other choice, i admire them

    • Ian says

      Every one in the Philis does seem REALLY nice, but they get fed B S from their government which leads them to believe the place is doing fine. Sadly it aint.
      Go to Google Philippines if you want a real good example and type in Magna Carta,
      You will get Magna Carta of Nurses, Magna Carta of this and that but not a single mention of perhaps one of the most significant documents that allowed freedom of the people to spread. Too many police, too many security gaurds and NOTHING works any way! What the heck are they protecting?

  8. says

    Hi Bob – I was trying to run the numbers to see how they compared to what I experienced in the province, since the city is so much more expensive. Given the right circumstance, say for instance no rent and growing some of your own food, it might be possible to get by with that. I can't imagine it isn't considered poverty level though. It would be quite difficult to make that work and obviously there is no room for other expenses that might arise, such as health problems.

    Considering the large numbers that live in the cities, this is really doesn't feasible as a benchmark.

    • RandyL says

      Hi Randy, while everyone must note that one single indivdual could hardly make it on P10k per month, remember that the real scenario is that ALL family members contribute towards living expenses. So if there are 4 income earners in a household, then it would be much easier to sustain that household at P40k per month than at P10k. In all the years I have been associated with the RP, I have yet to see anyone living by themselves. It’s just not common.

  9. says

    Hi rick b – Yes, it sure is a worldwide thing. I am sure glad that I don't have to try to make it on that kind of money, though! 😯

  10. says

    Hi Randy C – Yeah, things could be done to mitigate that, like growing your own food and such. I still think that I could not make it on that amount of money, though! Imagine people in Manila where prices are much higher than here in Davao, let alone out in the province!

  11. chas says

    Hi Bob.I would consider p10000 a month as living in poverty,more so now with rising prices.I can never understand how politicians of any country do their sums,massaging the figures springs to mind.Here in the Uk they tell us inflation running around 4 % plus.I know for a fact the true figure out there on the streets is nearer 20%.Regarding rice,globally there is no shortage,just manipulated prices by world politics,market speculators and hoarders.I did mail you a recent article about the ridiculous rice situation.In case you did not receive it/others may also be interested,log onto "" click on Asia,look at right hand column for this title "How Japan helped ease the Rice Crises" its certainly an eye opener,i thought grain mountains were exclusive to europe in the past.Regards Chas.

  12. says

    Hi chas – Yes, I got the article you sent, and I did send a reply, it sounds like you did not get that? I agree that inflation is higher than what government figures show (for many governments). There may or may not be a real rice shortage, but when you are hungry and there is no rice at the market (or at least no rice that you can afford), that amounts to a shortage for you!

  13. says

    Hi Bob! Php 10,000 is definitely not a lot of money specially if you have, say, 3 kids. The ironic thing is it's hard to get a P 10,000-paying job in the province. Most of the employees subsist on minimum wage which would be around 5,000 per month. If you're in the province, there just might be the chance of planting papaya and malunggay in your backyard which could alleviate food expenses at least. I do hear people budgeting food on a per day basis and it seems to work for them. Not the fancy food they'd prefer though but just something to get them by.

  14. says

    Hi Cathy – Yeah, that's what I was thinking too. Most people that I come in contact with are making it on minimum wage (or less) jobs. P200 per day, or even less than that. Their take home pay generally is around P5k like you say. I suppose that multiple people in the family (mom and dad) will have to work just to be able to feed, cloth and educate the family. Not a good situation.

    • Ian says

      The family I stayed with at least own their own place, not great by our standards but they own it thank god. The family consisted of two sisters of 46 and 60 , their brother of 51, his wife and their two kids. The brother has a good job in Manila and does his wife. They both stay in Manila during the week ( they also own the place there – also a bit dumpy) and they go “home” on Fri night and get up early and go back to work on Mon morning. The brother keeps the family, he is a good man. He is doing o k but it is hard for him to keep every one. They are trying to get on and I wish them luck. They are nice people.

    • says

      I agree,10,000peso/month is way low.Also I notice so many entry-level jobs are on contract anyway-6mos.or so and your out.What motivation can there be for many people?How can you make long-range plans with a system like this?

  15. says

    hello bob
    hmmmmm now 10,000 a month is not even close to what i send to my fiancee.i have inlaws living in the house i rent.i think its more like 20,000 i send there just covers the rental and utilities and food.thats no extras like clothing,schooling ect,ect.even 3 years ago when things much cheaper that 10,000p per month was a low estimate. even here in the usa things are getting much worse by the day.were sending millions of dollars to this war in iraq and we have starving people in usa here.i live on a remote island off the coast of maine usa and the prices are out of sight buying a sailboat and heading south to florida to seek my figuring heating oil prices to be 7usd per gallon by this the goverment implimenting so many regulations that they want us lobstermen out of buisness.mabe they want us all on the picket lines asking for handouts from the goverment.i know things will be terrible soon here.
    thanks bob

  16. says

    Hi Cheryll Ann – Nice to hear from you, I hope you are doing well! Yeah, I agree about the population situation, it really does increase the poverty level.

  17. john says

    Bob, it is a shame the government can allow such low wages for hard working people. The rich might as well call them slaves! I hope the rich see the writing on the wall and start taking some serious steps towards sharing the rewards of their peoples labor before unrest lights up like a western praire fire. It always does if people get hungry.

  18. says

    Hi john – Yep, it would be a good move to see salaries go up here. However, workers will have to increase their productivity too! Instead of needing 3 people to man every cash register, do it with just one, and pay the guy a good wage! That way inflation will not increase.

  19. dans says

    hi bob,

    Our governement is so incompetent doing their job, i don't know where did they get their statisticians, one of the thing they never include is that 80% of filipinos don't own a house so rent will eat up the budget, the electrity is half owned by the government and it is one of the most expensive thing in the philippines, then our senator who passed the e-vat which is an additional burden, our circus governement is a bunch on lunatic people, morons, imbeciles and idiots politicians.

    how on earth they come-up with such figure?

    • Ian says

      Their stats on employment is also a joke as with the national health scheme, yes these things cost money, but either the people are worth investing in or they are not.
      About time some truth came out in the Philippines.

      • says

        Your stats are a joke as well, so why criticize them when your stats are the same – referring to your stat that 25% of the economy comes from prostitution in a previous comment.

  20. says

    Hi dans – I can certainly understand your frustration. Like you, I don't see how people can live on the low wages that are available to most here.

  21. says

    I think some household help are better off than miimum wage earners.

    Some househelp earn 4.5k a month but they live rent free and have free food, free water, free electricity, free laundry soap, etc.

    10k a month for a family of 5, seems errrrrrr, well I'm not sure how they can live on that…

    I would consider 10k a month for 1 person maybe but 10k for 5 people is not poor… geez…

    The Philippines MUST control the population and raise wages.

    There are so many poor people because the poor keep having kids, some have like 13 kids, OMG!

  22. Jim Cunningham says

    Hi Bob- I can only but admire anyone who can survive let alone bring up a family on the sum you mentioned.
    I know the Pinoy is resourseful and is not just reliant on a salary but farms as they term it i.e. grows vegetables and keep chickens or goats albeit not in the cities.
    The other thing that keeps them afloat is the importance of the extended family as they all support one another. But I wonder if the belt is pulled any tighter the result will be strangulation or revolution as has happened before. People whoever they are can only take so much before they react and very often tha consequences can be dire. Lets hope a peacful solution can be found to this present crisis.

  23. says

    Hi Jim Cunningham – Good thoughts there. I guess that the saving grace may also be that a lot of these families will have one or two family members overseas and sending money home. I wonder how the government counts that money in relation to income. In other words, does the P10,000 include remittances that are sent to the family from relatives abroad, or does that money just act as a bonus to bring them over the top?

  24. says

    I've been visiting here since 1999 and living full time in Luzon nearly 2 years now. this morning I saw somehting I had never seen and my wife hadn't seen since martial law days, when she was agirl … people lined up to get rice from the NFA waregouse (National Food Authority). And I am talking lined up for blocks and blocks. Things are not good here, and most US-only residents have no idea.

  25. says

    Hi Dave Starr – We have rice lines in Davao too, and over the past few days there have been a couple of mini rice riots here. I heard a report that one dealer of NFA rice here was caught passing off 1 kilo bags that really only had 750g of rice in them, and it caused quite a stir. I can't verify for certain that this happened, but it was reported on the radio here.

    • Ian says

      In Calamba city and most places i went there seemed to be plenty. Very good supermarkets stocked to the hilt with most things you can imagine. No lines for food and plenty of street stall options for the locals as well.

  26. Dr. Sponk Long says

    Hi Bob. Thanks for the update on the oilng price rise. I wonder if you have any info about camote, gabe, cassava and saging. How much have they risen in price?

    As I said before Filipinos may need to decrease the amount of rice consume daily and switch some to other sources of carbohydrates that are plentiful and easy to grow (in the backyard).

    Rice will not go back to the year ago price anymore. The sleepy rice section at The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has waken up. Rice is now "in play" with speculators. Like oil, it will be a hot currency/commodity.

  27. Luc says

    I hope there will be no riots because the foreigners are often the target. They often get the blame for everything that went wrong. Happened about 10 years ago in Indonesia and just recently in South-Africa.

  28. Jim Cunningham says

    Hi Bob- Good point regarding family members working overseas but I don't think that will have been taken into consideration when computing the ammount needed to stay above the bread line as the Government has put it. I don't think the poorest people have even been included in the equation but as someone earlier mentioned if you work with a company they may provide accommodation and meals and other subsidays that take a bit of the burden off the cash ammount paid. The fact remains the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

  29. Bob New York says

    Although I have been learning about the Philippines for the past couple of years, it still baffles my mind about wages there. I saw many educational facilities on my recent visit and toured a couple of them. Students go to these schools and universities, earn their Degree and then if they are fortunate enough to find a job in their field of choice the pay is equivalent to ( in USA equivalent ) a few Dollars a day. And those University Degrees ? I have first hand knowledge that many University Degrees earned at Philippine Universities, are equivalent to the same degree if it were earned in the USA. There are educational services that do these comparison evaluations and I have had first hand experience in dealing with them and Philippine University Degrees.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, when I am in a far away place or a place I have not been to before and I see something that greatly differs from what I am acoustomed to here in the USA, I never criticise or comment that what we have here is better. What interests me more is in finding the reason why certain things are different and often there is a good reason. Here is one of those situations.

    Filipino Bowling, A Lesson in Economics-

    In the 1960's and part of the 1970's when the bowling Boom was going on in the USA, I earned my living doing service and repair of Brunswick Automatic Pinsetters and related equipment including the Automatic Scorers when they were first introduced. Many of those bowling centers are long gone, closed down as the operating cost ate away at the profit to the point there was little profit left in operating a bowling center. There is only so much you can charge for a line of bowling and after that people just will not go there any more.

    While I was in Iligan City, my friends there took me to their local Bowling Center which is something I wanted to see. I was interested to see what kind of machines and equipment they used there, the vintage, and in what kind of condition things were in. When I entered the bowling center I was quite surprised to find no machines there at all, this bowling center always used " pinboys " and they still do. This was the first commercial bowling center I had ever seen that used Pinboys.

    I sat and watched this for a while and I was allowed to go behind the masking units for a few minutes to watch the pinboys in action. One of my friends told me he really wished they had a modern bowling center with pinsetting machines, automatic scorers etc. I asked my friend how much a line ( game ) of bowling cost at this center and his reply equalled about 35 Cents ( US ). I thought about this for a few minutes and then commented to my friend that if this bowling center had all of that equipment, would he pay the peso equivalent of $3.50 ( USD ) per game to bowl there or would he not be able to go there at all. The answer was obvious of course and for that matter no one else would be able to bowl there and the place would go out of business and there would be no bowling center at all.

    This explanation also made me realize why many things are like they are in the Philippines. If certain things were brought up to date or upgraded to the standards other parts of the world enjoy, the people could not afford to make use of it. Why do people not have washing machines and have to wash clothes by hand ? Maybe even if they could afford the machine they might not be able to afford the water and electricity to use it and for that matter refridgerators as well.

    ALthough this bowling center seemed to me to have been completely bypassed in time of any automation or other modernization I could easily see and feel that the bowlers there were having just as much fun, entertainment and enjoyment as any of the bowling centers I have ever been in here in the USA.

    So in the end, which really is " better " A bowling center with the latest technology that is forced to go out of business due to excessive operating costs or one of a past era that is still available to the community where people can still enjoy the sport of bowling ?

    This event gave me one of the answeres I was looking for, why certain things are the way they are in the Philippines and it could be applied to many other situations I experienced there.

  30. says

    Hi Bob & Mark C.

    If you are going to compare living in the two countries let's be honest here. I personally am, getting real sick and tired of the innuendos that are thrown around about people in the US. Absolutely the poor in the US are better off than the vast, vast majority in the rest of the world. But remember this is a temperate climate with people spread out over large distances. So for one a vehicle is virtually necessary to get to work or to go shopping. Public transportation is only available in major cities and a lot of people that I know that live in them not only do not have cars but do not have drivers licenses either. In this day and age it is extremely difficult to heat a house in winter without electricity for some kind of use, to start an oil burner etc.

    As far as large screen TV in "poor" households that is another farce that is perpetrated here. Most of the people that are in the poor economic category in this country do not have large screen TV's. Believe it or not I know several that only have a black and white with rabbit ears and get a total of 2 channels, never mind not having large screen TVs. Is that more that a "poor" house hold in the RP? Your damn right it it. Is a poor household in the US better off than a "poor' household in the RP. Your damn right they are. However if you are going to denigrate people in the US do it accurately.

    Not all people lust after material things in the US. For instance I am still watching a 23 yr. old Hitachi, in which the picture is every bit as good as it was the day that it was bought. There is no need to run out and get a large screen TV. Watch out throwing a wide net. You may catch fish that you do not want, and may bite back.

  31. says

    Hi Dr. Long – All of those things have increased greatly over the past year. I don't have numbers (although I can get them if it's important to you), but we are talking large increases. The Philippine government reported yesterday that in May the inflation rate hit a high for the past 9 years, at over 9%, and reality is that it is even higher than that.

    Hi Luc – There already have been some "mini-riots" here in Davao, although foreigners were not targeted.

  32. says

    Hi Jim Cunningham – Good points there.

    Hi Bob New York – Here in Davao we have a more modern bowling place with the modern bowling equipment just like you would find in the USA. The place just opened up about 3 years ago. We also have an older place like what you describe too.

  33. says

    Hi Wayne Derby – Lighten up, my friend. When I said about the big screen TV's, did you notice I put a laughing face? That means that it was a joke. Nothing to get mad about. I will say that there is no doubt that the poor of the USA are better off than the poor of the Philippines. I certainly would not want to be poor, though, no matter where I would happen to be in the world.

  34. chas says

    Hi Bob,Glad you receieved the article i sent you.Gremlins must be at work as i did not receive your reply, no worries as i now know you received it.Yes i agree,shortage or no shortage of rice,its still a shortage if its unaffordable.I know times are tight for many families their and i hear that many in the provinces have stopped cooking by LPG and going back to wood fires for cooking.One thing that never ceases to amaze is the cost of electricity there,2nd most expensive in the world after Japan.Phils has abundant water supply and waterfalls, you would think Hydro power would be exploited to the full.Regards Chas.

  35. says

    Hi chas – Here in Mindanao, we do get most of our electricity from hydro, and mostly generated over around Iligan whee there are a ton of waterfalls.

  36. chas says

    Hi All,Latest news,Global markets 06/06/08 Price of rice falls 20%.Obviously this will take time to filter through,lets hope its a trend in the right direction.Regards Chas.

  37. carl n ruby says

    Hi Bob;
    I am recently married to a wonderful Filipino woman, Ruby, we were married May 22 2007. Recently I returned to the Philippines to spend 8 weeks with my wife (her US visa is not yet approved). From Feb 4 2008 till Mar 26 2008 we lived together in our small one room apartment in General Santos City.
    My income is merely average so we were on a budget; we used public transportation, bought our meat at the public market, bought our fruit at the roadside markets, and cooked our meals at home. Now we resided in General Santos City which, the cost of living is somewhat cheaper then in Davao.
    I was surprised at how inexpensively two people can live in the Philippines. But our monthly budget was more than the 10000p you propose. One time we were forced to live on 3000p for the week (until my next deposit arrived) — but we had rice and meat already and our rent and current already paid, so it wasn't too bad.
    And although we did not have money to travel that week, we did rent movies (3 for 60p) and go to the movie theater (60p each plus jeepney fare of 20p each) and even bought meat bread and drinks for a grand total of 300p spent at the theater.
    If I exclude our travel expenses and use our most inexpensive week as an example then we spent 1500p per week on rent and current; 2500p per week on food, soap, and misc; and 1000p for transportation; for a monthly total of 20000p — this for two people.
    It would be very hard for two people to live on 10000p per month — but five ???
    The sad part of this story is I know our Filipino neighbor, he had a wife and two small boys, he drove a tricycle for a living — sometimes his family lived on 300p a day — eating rice only after he returned home from work.
    This 8 weeks I spent in the Philippines helped to open my eyes so I can see just how good we have it in the USA — even with my average salary, $4.00 a gallon gas, and a looming recession, we are richly blessed materially in the USA.
    The thing we do not have — and the Philippines does — is respect for the elders and strong families. The US used to have this 50 or more years ago, but it is now lost to materialism.

  38. says

    Hi Bob,

    This site is great! I've been on here a half a dozen times in the last couple of weeks and soaking up the wealth of information from all your other blogs as well including How much it costs to live in The Phils. I'm headed to Davao right after Christmas to check it out for myself as I'm thinking about hanging my hat there fulll time when I retire at 60yrs young. :roll:
    Should be in the $2500-$3000 per month range at that time so, given what's been said here and the above mentioned blog, I should be able to live comfortably as a single man, correct?
    My question is, given the rate prices have been inflating in the Phils., do you think it could cut in to my "comfort" zone significantly say, 10 or 15 yrs. down the road? Just curious to find out your feelings are on that.
    Your opinion is much appreciated.


  39. says

    Hi Bob,

    Just thought I should mention I'm turning 55 yrs. old this Monday 😯 so semi-retirement is only 2 yrs away and full-time is 5 yrs. away. By the way, I totally agree with you on the Php10,000 a month. That's roughly $250 Canadian, and I can't imagine how a foreigner could possibly survive on that.

    Thanks again


  40. says

    Hi chas – rice is still going up here, with rice prices in Mindanao already up to P65 per kilo! I hope we can see those price drops soon!

  41. says

    Hi carl n ruby – Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I go to GenSan regularly, and I lived there from 2000 until 2002. It's a nice place. Yes, it is a bit less expensive than Davao, but not a big difference. I'm glad to hear that you had a nice time there. You are so right that most Americans don't appreciate or even realize how well they have it compared to so many other countries.

  42. says

    Hi Trevor Davies – Welcome to my site. I am glad that you found it interesting and informative. The amount of money you will have available to you is certainly enough to enjoy a great life here. I really wouldn't be able to comment on how it will be years down the road. Certainly, the day will come when $3,000 or so is not enough to live here, but that is a long time off, I think.

    Happy Birthday to you, Trevor! 😆

  43. says

    $2500 to $3000 a month will be enough to EASILY live very very very well in almost any area in the filipines, even Manila. Even with a wife and a couple of kids.

    One thing that you need to understand is that with capital you can easily make a nice chunk of change in the filipines running a business.There are so many business opportunities.

    One thing that drives me crazy about the filipinos is they really do live this saying, "Bahala Na." Which I guess means "what will be, will be." Having not grown up in the filipines I agree I do not understand how they have been conditioned to certain things…but I tell my girlfriend that just because she is in a certain position NOW, it doesn't have to stay that way.

    The filipino people should be OUTRAGED their government says P10,000 is the poverty line! Wow! That is just crazy! I have so much respect for the people of the filipines. They are the warmest, nicest, most welcoming people I have ever met. But they must rise up and say enough is enough.

    This is a country that could make a huge leap forward if they would just hold their elected officials accountable.


  44. says

    Hi Todd J. McLean – I have to say that I agree with everything you say there! I have often said to Feyma (and her to me) that if the Filipino people were to just voice their feelings on the way things work here, a lot would improve over time! Too much acceptance is not always a good thing! 😯

  45. says

    Hi Bob. We both know that we have many issues in America that need to get fixed, but I think the issue with the flipino people is their culture. In America we are much more willing to voice our displeasure and be confrontational.

    In the filipines we all know that confrontation is not something they really want much of. And that is actually one thing I really like, but there are some situations where you just have to put your foot down and not put up with things anymore.

    I love my fiance more than anything in the world but she doesn't seem to understand that you CAN make changes. And that drives me crazy! LOL. Where you are now is not where you have to stay the rest of your life. It seems like so many filipinos are resigned to their present situation.

    And we all know that there is filipino time and real time. LOL. If the flipino people want to be more competitive in the world they must have more of a sense of urgency. Be more efficient.

    Having said that…I do love their laid back attitude…but I do think they take it to an incredible extreme. I don't mean these comments to be rude or disrespectful, but I do get frustrated with that BA HALA NA attitude.

    The filipino people are a people that have so much to offer and they need to step up and demand their government does better. Until that happens things are not going to get much better for them.


  46. says

    Hi Todd – I hear you, and I understand what you are saying. I've been through the same things myself over the years. If you don't mind my asking, where do you live? I assume you are in the Philippines, based on some of your comments, I just wonder where specifically, if you don't mind.

  47. Steven says

    I have been reading your articules and peoples comments on the Philippines. I have been to the Philippine several times since the late 1980s and has seen the vast improvement, especially Manila. I have been to other areas as well and seen the poverty and the class divide between the haves and have nots. This is not just a Philippine thing naturally, it just seems more noticable. A spanish legacy I suppose, if you have read anythng on Philippine history the sole purpose of the Spanish when they decided it was part of their empire was to convert the Philippines to Christianity, by any means possible and not educate the people but keep them subserviant. Then the Americans came, gave the Spanish a size 12 boot up the arse and told to pack up and piss off.
    When the Americans took over they found no infrastructure, plenty of churches though. Sorry guys but americans did not treat the Filippinos must better, they did build a good infrastruture and setup a good education system, unfortunately WW2 happened and the a series of bad governments. the occassional dictator, a polical system which is corrupt and sorry to the christians who maybe reading this is also a big contributer to the problems in the Philippines. Because of the churches attitude towards any form of birth control, is also a major contributor to Philippines problems. The polical system is still feudal where the power brokers still have a very strong influance on the Philippine future, these people do not care about the Philippines but more about their power. This is why the Philippines is what is today and only people who can change that the people themselves.
    I agree with some of what Todd has to say but lot other countries and cultures have a simular attitude. I have many Filippina friends here in Australia any serious talk in regards to their country is off limits. In fact it is the young in the families who have Australian education and Australian friends are the ones who voice there opinion on the problems in the Philippines. It is shame that these younger people never go back to the Philippines, as these are the people who could bring about change. Unfortunately it is the older people who go back from other countries they have been living in, they do not like change as the system benefits them. It also benefits any foreigner who wants to live to there.

  48. says

    me and my hubby plan to live in the philippines in 5 to 10years from now, but before that we need to build the house first everything need to get ready before we move and we planning to put a solar panel in the whole roof so we can have a cheaps electricity in the future, i know solar panel is cost of fortune to fill the whole roof. so we are not depending to the main source of electricity,will electricity in bohol is a bit dearer than the other places in the philippines.anyway the 10.000.00peso it might enough for the 3 people without any extra curicular activities actually we're not a pub goer couple so i think p10k is enough.

  49. faudan says

    Going through your site and reading your views and being able to experience it living here firsthand means so much to me and every Filipino who needs to enculcate to our government that what we are making for a living is just not enough to suffice our daily needs. And yes… we just have to pull our belts really tight… down to the last whole available. Much more to the mockery of some who are conveniently living abroad (yes I do encounter people greeting me with "how is it living with your sardine can tin-roof houses?" ). So, I'm thankful for being a voice for us here… This made me cry though.

    Due to the tripartite treaty we have here wherein which our minimum wage will be based to the cost of living in certain areas – but even that is not applicable now. Lately, we were glad to have heard that tax exemption will be applied to most people who are earning a 150,000 gross annual fee but I guess, they meant the capital city – which is Manila. From that, I personally feel bad since the minimum wage here is below that, and we will still be taxable.

    Anyway, to Todd J. McLean who said this:

    One thing that drives me crazy about the filipinos is they really do live this saying, “Bahala Na.” Which I guess means “what will be, will be.” Having not grown up in the filipines I agree I do not understand how they have been conditioned to certain things…but I tell my girlfriend that just because she is in a certain position NOW, it doesn’t have to stay that way.

    This is because you get used to it… you have no choice… you may whine all day but what's the point? I have several foreign friends and it's easy for them to say in front of their President's faces, "we're paying tax and you're running the government like shit" without being imprisoned… but here… you can't simply just do that… you'll get filed with a lot of cases and be in jail (speaking of democracy huh…) Voicing out is not a choice if you want to have a career…and not be considered an outlaw.

    To RickB and the question:

    " why is everyone here still so cheerful, can’t answer that one myself, on 10,000 per month i would be out of here, people here have no other choice, i admire them"

    My answer to that would be… we need to find ways and means to laugh… we save for our outings like karaoke or watching movies… and pretend that EVERYTHING IS OKAY… Why? If we won't, the country would be a large den of deranged people…

    and for Jim Cunningham:

    "The other thing that keeps them afloat is the importance of the extended family as they all support one another. But I wonder if the belt is pulled any tighter the result will be strangulation or revolution as has happened before."

    Most foreigners do not understand that… of why people here live in one house when they can all flee and live on their own… a 10K salary is hard to keep up for a single person, how much more if you leave… that would all basically end up with rent and hardly a decent meal…which is why we tend to help each other because we all do not have a choice. I am from Mindanao myself… the fact that we are the food basket of the country is not enough for us to get cheap meals… GOD! a decent meal where you get two cups of rice and a piece of viand is already worth 50 pesos and you're not even sure if you're getting thypoid or whatever from these places where you eat… You see cockroaches, rats, flies… It's just INSANE…

    Now, would you wonder why every Filipino wishes to work abroad and find ways even the illegal ones just for them to leave the country and why most hardly wanted to come back here? It's because you can be a waiter abroad and still get to eat sausages and ham on a daily basis… here, even food discriminates the rich from the poor… there's a difference in eating sardines and packed noodles for the fact that you wanted to pair it with your rice as meal and having no choice at all…

  50. says

    Hi faudan- Thank you for sharing all of your interesting thoughts. The things you say certainly give us an insight into the Filipino way of looking at such issues.

  51. faudan says

    Towards Luc on June 5th, 2008 9:40 pm:

    "I hope there will be no riots because the foreigners are often the target. They often get the blame for everything that went wrong. Happened about 10 years ago in Indonesia and just recently in South-Africa."

    well, somehow it's not racism or what… ok I won't name countries as each has a different culture… but really most of the certain few foreigners here act like kings… so, it's like…. mmmm… you eating good… then you have your dog watching you eat and you play around with food before handing it to them… the tendency is that, the dog grabs on the food and if they don't get it, the animal behavior preceeds and bite you… but not to everyone though… just a few particular countries… like… LOLS! no comment or this might be deleted… i'll say one race in particular… god!!! Kor____… and the list goes on…

    anyway, as for the "bahala na" attitude if I may add… look, let's face it.. what most don't understand is…. here in the Philippines, jobs are rare… it's just RARE… lots of positions availabe… but rare. WHY? because establishments won't hire you if you're not a college graduate… (they need college graduates for what??? to file folders? answer phones?!?!. I know a friend who's in the states now working in a bank filing folders… and she's not a graduate… and she's ok). Here? Funny that even salesladies have to be at least second year colleg…. What exactly are they selling anyway? nuclear weapons that would need some scientific explanations? And why do hardly anyone finish college? Because it's useless… the tuition would cost you your life… and companies will always prioritize private schools… and not just private schools… it has to be a well-known private school a.k.a La Salle, Ateneo etc etc… the rest… you'll hardly assume an office position and start with a low pay(despite a diploma)… And some who take the undergrads… (specially the chinese here…who practically runs almost most businesses) take advantage of it and pay below the minimum wage salary… I know a few who pays P110 per day… and when you badly need to help in the family…you take it anyway… Even Mcdonalds and the rest of the food chains…they practically make enough from their daily sales to at least provide a decent pay… but still they pay practically 25 pesos per hour… what exactly is that? charity??? thanks for adding insult to the injury…

  52. says

    Hi faudan- Indeed, there are a lot of problems in the Philippines, and I understand your frustration. However, the problems in the country are not because of the people on this site, so please bear that in mind. I welcome your comments, but I feel that you are on the edge of shedding your anger on some of the readers and commenters here.

  53. sugar says

    Hi Bob – I saw the article on the main page. Cool. I’m with you and others too. I can’t too! I remember just this year (or last), our Meralco bill was like 12K +(siblings and I share) so 10 is hardly enough. There’s cable bill, phone bill, internet, water, food, rent.. etc.. Most workers should have pay increase. But also live within their means.

  54. rebecca ferry says

    How about if you’re single and already owned a house, i think for me it’s doable already provided that a person has no vices at all and live like a filipino, as for me being a pinay and single w/ a house of my owned or even i lived w/ my mom, i think 10k is fine, of course no car , no aircon but w/ electric fan i think it’s ok for me and i’m sure most pinoys w/ 10k expenses monthly and used to live a simple life, this kind of cost of living is already a blessings from God. I just don’t think foreigners can live in the Phils w/ this monthly expenses , oh by the way, i only speak for any single pinoy but if married w/ kids, i don’t think so……

  55. Nenette says

    I don’t think I can live on a ten thousand peso budget. I am single and plan to live comfortably in GenSan for $3-4k/ month. If that is not enough then I can throw in future ss and retirement income 10 years from now ( if not totally lost to deflation by then!).

  56. BennyM says

    Well i’ll be living on zero a month in the province when i go there in june. The old man will be there and no doubt he’ll want his special food and all that i most definetely will be eating. 20000 in the province on average though works out pretty good for me…

  57. Philip says

    Good Morning Bob,
    how are you and your family going, hope you are well, good article
    things a hard in a lot of countries at the moment as you know with droughts and floods natural disasters and the general cost of living is rising every day. I am not
    sure if you can grow your own vegetables there? I know by doing
    this it can save a lot of money at times. The cost of living is the 20K stated, is that what you would need a month to live there? I am just wondering what it would cost to live there if you had the basics and a couple of children??? There are so many different versions of what you would need there to live per month, take care

  58. Philip M says

    Hi Bob and everyone else.
    The solution to this is simple, and applies to the Philippines and every other country where the government stipulates an unrealistic minimum wage.

    Here goes ……..

    The government set minimum wage should also be the income of politicians, MPs congressmen, whatever you want to call them (parasites is the word I prefer).

    That would see a few changes worldwide, changes for the better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>