Can you really afford to live in the Philippines? Myth vs. Reality

I was inspired to write this article while standing in the queue at the Bayad Center at SM North last night. About three people ahead of me, an obviously elderly Kano was paying his bills, and arguing about the seven peso (US$0.12) additional fee that is charged to process PLDT payments at SM.

As this utterly stupid and asinine argument was occurring, I started to reflect on things a bit…

“Hey, you old bastard! Your social security payment alone is probably around ten times the average wage here! What is your damn problem?”, I thought.

Furthermore, I saw a debate online about the “Senior Discount”, and a number of Kanos were complaining in the comments about racism because they cannot receive their 20% discount at Pizza Hut like Filipino “seniors”.

Honestly, when I write that I don’t hang around expats very often here, this type of stuff is the reason why.

Bayad Center
Bayad Center

First off, I’ll address the senior discounts. This is most DEFINITELY NOT an issue of racism. It IS an issue of citizenship, nationality, and Filipino retirement. Senior discounts in the Philippines were instituted, by law (RA 9994), in order to provide elderly citizens a break on the prices of basic commodities. They are mandated by law, and paid for through FILIPINO SSS contributions and FILIPINO corporate income taxes. The discounts were intended to help the poor and needy: Not some American snowbird on a pension who feels entitled. Even though the article to which I am referring (I will not link to it because I so vehemently disagree with the crap being said in there) stated, explicitly, that it was a violation of the law for foreigners to obtain a senior discount card. Don’t believe me? (Someone is bound to argue that they have one anyway). Here’s the text of the law:

Senior citizen – means any resident citizen of the Philippines at least sixty (60) years old, including those who have retired from both government offices and private enterprises, and has an income of not more than sixty thousand pesos (P60,000.00) per annum subject to review by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) every three (3) years.

The term “qualified senior citizen” shall refer to a resident Filipino citizen who meets the statutory requirements of Section 2 of the Act and Section 2(b) of these regulations.

Violation Penalties:

use of the Senior Citizen privilege by a person not entitled to use the privilege is punishable by a fine of not less than P50,000  and a prison  sentence ofnot less than six months. If the offender is an alien or a foreigner, he/she shall be deported immediately  after service of sentence without further deportation proceedings

So, all of you Kanos holding cards or complaining that you don’t get your discount, take note that the penalties for violations are stiff, and that ANY merchant can report you to BI for fraudulent card use. So, if you decided that you qualify and hold a card, then don’t use it. You are stealing from the mouths of elderly Filipinos. Hope that 40 pesos you saved at Pizza Hut was worth the jail and deportation…

As to the guy griping about a seven peso fee… If that is such a hardship on you, then perhaps you should have stayed in the United States where you were qualified for relief programs.

Filipino Senior Citizens
Filipino Senior Citizens

Look, I understand fixed income, I’m a senior, I’m frugal, times are tough, and so on. However, realistically, anyone who contemplates moving here on a pension, for whatever reason (love, healthcare, whatever) should damn sure be certain to separate the myths from the reality. Just as in the USA, there is inflation, prices change, and things will never stay the same. Look at it this way: If you are earning $1,500 per month in US Social Security or pension, that YOU paid into, you are in a better financial position than 70% of the people in the Philippines. Do you really, honestly, think that anyone here gives one whit that you are financially strapped? Of course not! Then why complain? YOU made the decision to move here. NOT the cashier at the Bayad Center earning P 300 per day, if she’s lucky. Why bitch at her?

So, some myths and the reality:

Myth 1: Living is cheaper here.

Reality Check: It can be, if you want to live at Filipino standards. Most foreigners may say they can, but realistically, most cannot. Most likely, your biggest savings will come in rent and commodity foods. Electricity, gasoline, vehicles, and virtually all imported goods are more expensive.

Myth 2: You are not rich.

Reality Check: Even if you are “poor” by US or European standards, you are considered wealthy here.

Myth 3: I won’t help my wife / girlfriend’s family with money.

Reality Check: You WILL, if you want to stay married.

Myth 4: I have ___ Years experience at ___. I can get a job / earn a salary.

Reality Check: No one cares how long you were an HVAC technician. There are hundreds or thousands of Filipinos who are willing to work cheaper, with no benefits.

Myth 5: I can set up a business online, like Bob, and make a living.

Reality Check: Yes, it is possible, as Bob can attest. However, if you think that the money will start rolling in just because you started a blog, then think again. It is, and requires, WORK. I can think of at least 20 dead web sites started in the last year by expats trying to make money. The rules of business are the same everywhere, but the Philippines has a very different culture, and what you think may apply is most likely very different here.

Myth 6: The Philippines is so corrupt. Every official is out for graft.

Reality Check: Though there are some corrupt officials here, it is nowhere near as widespread and prevalent as some make it out to be.

Myth 7: I can live like a king on $____ per month.

Reality Check: I’ve met a couple of kings through work. Not bloody likely. You can be comfortable, and depending on financial ability, live a pretty good life here. However, luxury goods are expensive here, just as in the rest of the world, and the king lifestyle will get awfully expensive very quickly. Locally produced good, labor intensive services, and rent will be where your real savings will manifest. However, maintaining a foreign lifestyle here for pennies is not really possible.

So, that list is a starter. If I were retiring here, of far more interest is making a very general budget, giving plenty of room for currency fluctuations, and not tying myself down after I immediately arrive to the extent that I could not return. I would be prepared for lots of miscellaneous fees, visa fees, visa runs, and costs that may be higher than I expected. I would have a bona-fide income generating plan BEFORE leaving, and not simply rely on what other people, especially other expats or girlfriends, write online or tell me about business or earning a living here.

Bottom Line: If you cannot afford the P 500 express fee at immigration, the P 20 tip to the parking attendant, the P 7 Bayad Fee, or a currency fluctuation, then please… DO US ALL A FAVOR AND STAY HOME. NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOUR COMPLAINING!

Post Author: JohnM (207 Posts)

John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.

Live in the Philippines Consulting


  1. Steve Maust says

    Good post! I hate hearing all the complaints to from people that choose to move to the Philippines and then can find nothing good with it! Like you said if they think they are going to live like a King, maybe they should recheck their bank account. There are things there that are cheap but there are still cost (electric for A/C?) that can add up quickly.
    I liked your point about having income also. Bob has done a great job on the internet, but he has to “work” many hours to keep that going. It is not just a cut and paste job. You are right in saying you need to have a bona-fide income generating plan BEFORE leaving. Sari-Sari stores do not make $10,000.00 a month and I doubt most make 10,000 Peso!
    Thank you again for the post!

      • jonathan says

        Considering the economic situation now in th PH, earning PHP 5,000 a month net for a sari-sari store is not bad. In the 80’s, our sari-sari store used to earn that same amount coz we live very near at two big universities in Malate but income dwindled as competition increased due to 7-11’s and other convenience stores that sprung up cartering to students.

        • says

          Jonathan: The key to those profits is that both stores are pretty well managed… the owner is always on site and the family doesn’t dip into the inventory. That is where most of this type of business fail… Even more so than from competition.

          • jonathan says

            Well John, having had a first hand experience with a sari-sari store business we do “dip into the inventory” from time to time coz its unavoidable. During the course of its life, sometimes the capital would almost went to zero. Luckily for us, its NOT our parents’ only main source of income coz my father had a regular job and my mother is a skilled seamstress (we had a ladies dress shop before RTW was popular but that’s another story). The sari-sari store only augments my parents financial capability to let us children go through school and have a relatively comfortable life. I think, the sari-sari store would be successful if its not the main source of income. I do believe though that much of the success of these stores were effectively killed by the convenience stores like the 7’11’s.

  2. Dan says

    Good post John…..I see the same thing here with a lot of the seniors at some of the check out stands at various places. Bitch over 10 cents…and tie the line up…or the one I hate the worst… your in line…..wishing it go smooth and then some one ties the line up because they think what the lady rang up was on sale for 39 cents instand of 49 cents….so the check out lady has to either go check the price…or get on the speaker phone and shout in it for some one to check..blah blah..and so the lines tied up….over maybe 10 cents…hahah…I think your right….if forieners do not have enough money to live by the rules there or else where then I would say they need to stay home and make it hell for us some times……But then to be fair.,..there are many,many good seniors also….and some times with a little patience and such things can be worked out and they can smile and go about their bussiness.

    • Don says

      I think that asking about correct charges is not an expat thing. Locals do it even more, but guess your point is that a kano can afford the 10 cents. I think thats wrong attitude and leads to being ripped off. If you think the bill is incorrect question it because as soon as you pay and leave the building, little you can do.

      • says

        Don: This wasn’t about overcharging… Everyone has to pay the fee. This guy was thinking he was entitled. My point is also this: If 10 cents is a hardship, then perhaps moving to the other side of the world wasn’t the brightest idea. There are no social support services here of which foreigners can avail.

        Also, take a look at all of the bitching and moaning on this site and others about visa fees… Virtually never are the fees charged by the US to Filipinos ever mentioned (MUCH, much higher and far more red tape). My argument still stands: If those fees are a hardship to you, then you can’t afford to live here.

        • JohnC says

          Then what are your feelings about Balikbayan rates?
          In Manila, numerous hotels offer a discount to Filipinos because they are not Kano’s, irrespective of age..That’s why my wife whom is orignally from the Philippines always makes the Hotel booking; same with getting a Taxi, when I mysteriously appeared following my wife’s negotiation for a long trip, one of the drivers actually said ” If I know you are with foreigner you would have had tp pay double…Does this count as discrimination in your eyes or not?


          • says

            John: Hotels in tourist areas routinely do these types of things… I’ve experienced it in Hawaii and when I lived in Florida. In fact, Disney even does similar deals for Florida residents, Hong Kong residents, and California residents at the respective parks, so that never really bothered me so much. As to taxis and paying the Kano prices, I just take another taxi if I’m being ripped off. I know a tourist would be lest likely to notice, and I’ve been taken in many places in the world, rather than just here.

            • Mars Z. says

              John M,
              You are exactly right on hotels. Everytime we go to TN, we get the college rates on certain hotels because our daughter goes to that certain college, even after she already graduate and just attending school functions. So is this unfair to non-college affiliated folks trying to get a room rate? On the other hand, I don’t get a discount on other status other patron gets, and I don’t complain. I have that choice to find another hotel.

              • says

                Mars: As an alumnus of Marquette, I receive, if I choose to avail, discounts on about 2 or 3 hotels in Milwaukee…The hotels are higher end (Including a true classic 5 star hotel…in Milwaukee of all places!) next to campus and the discounts were intended to encourage alumni to speak on campus, attend basketball games, and yes… donate.

                The hotels benefit by filling rooms with guests who are likely to spend money.

                Much the same principle with balikbayan discounts… It encourages Filipinos to stay when they might alternatively stay with relatives or elsewhere.

          • Miss August says

            Las Vegas loves locals. You have a local address and driver’s license you get better pricing on show tickets, etc.

            You’re a tourist, you pay the “tourist extra fee.” 😉

            • says

              Miss August: I remember it well when I was living in LA, the rates would double / triple on the weekend when all of the people from SoCal came up.

              I’ve never seen traffic like returning to LA on the 15 on a Sunday Afternoon.

              • Mars Z. says

                When we were living in Marin County (Novato), Ca in the late 80’s, during the low season, we usually get package deals from casino and hotels with almost 50% discount on an unsolicited specials from Reno Chamber of commerce or tourism specials.

              • says

                Mars: I think Vegas and Singapore are the only two places on earth where it is cheaper to eat out than to cook at home. Some locals steered me to a few places in Vegas where complete meals were so cheap that you couldn’t even go to the grocery store and buy the makings for a sandwich for less.

          • Joe P says

            Funny comment here, but I always used to be able to get a “Locals only” discount on hotels in Manila as a foreigner since I had the Philippines Driver License and my US Citizen Balikbayan girl Friend did not. We always laugh about that. I am the “White guy” and get the local discount, she is the Balikbayan and she did not.

            John if I ever do get to live full time in the Philippines, I think folks like you are the type I would hang out with. I agree….I HATE getting into conversations with expats when I am at the mall or elsewhere. 70% of the time they are just in full complaint mode and I DO NOT understand why.

  3. House says

    I’ve noticed “anger management” issues with Mr. Miele in his last few columns. Perhaps it’s time for a break and a nice vacation?

    • says

      No anger management issues… I call it like I see it. Would be a pretty boring read if every article was positive. I did notice that y tode was getting a bit “rougher” though…

      Next two upcoming articles are about food, so no anger there.

    • Ralph in Iraq says

      John keep doing what you do………I like to hear all sides………the things you wrote about today are the truth………and happen way too often………some expats need to calm down………and stop bitchin about how bad it is here…………If living here is that much of a problem for them………Please pack your bags and leave NOW !!!! …

  4. Paul Thompson says

    I would be embarrassed to ask for a senior discount, even if it was legal. I don’t need it, it’s there as you stated, “For the people who need it.”
    The kid that brings my groceries to my car on Subic Free-Port, is not allowed to accept a tip, but if he finds P .20 in the cart later?
    I meet a lot of Kano’s here, and I’ll cull them from my life in a nanosecond, if they act like what you just wrote about.
    I saw the same thing in Puerto Rico, Gringos sitting at my bar moaning about the Island. One of my friends was a local girl who was a travel agent, I’d hand the Gringo her card and tell them, “She’ll even drive you to the Air Port.”

    • says

      Paul: Good move at the bar… The senior discount thing does bother me when I see it, though. I’d like to believe that most of the foreigners that have the cards are just ignorant of the rules. If so, I hope they read this and stop using them.

      • Dan says

        Question John…If only Fillipinos senior are allowed the disscount…then how in the hell are foreigners obtaining them. From what you shared about the law..its not legal for them to have one……so they must be bootleg discount cards and if so and business are taking them any way…..something wrong on both ends……the foreigners end for having one and the bussiness for taking them. But I have met some awfull sefish kanos here in the USA…or just refer to them as people…that would bend the rules all most untill the rules break and still bend more for their so called entitlements…That is the biggest thing wrong in this country..they USA….entitlements…..

        • says

          Dan: I think that most get them because they, or their spouse, “know someone”. I have a suspicion that most are ignorant of what they are doing (or at least I’d like to think so)

          • Dan says

            Got it now John..if they are married to Fillipino woman who is a senior and her kano huband is a senior..then maybe she like it if they both have a card..never thought of that.

      • says


        I don’t think so… She has been eligible since before I ever met Rebecca. In fact, Rebecca has to go through a whole routine just to figure out if she needs anything (like medicine). Last time I was up there, she was coughing and I asked her why she wasn’t using the nebulizer. I was told it was broken. I asked why she didn’t say anything… Answer: She didn’t want to be a burden.

      • Paul Thompson says

        Why would the Easter Bunny hide chicken eggs, is there something he doesn’t want us to know? Living here and Puerto Rico are similar in so many ways.

        • Mars Z. says

          Ha ha ha, Paul, the bunny rabbit don’t want the other bunny rabbits know his girl friend is a chicken. You know, the that always cross the road?

  5. AlexB says


    He he he. The elderly expat isn’t up to date with the real world. If one pays a bill in person at a bank here, it costs $1.50. So he’s saving 30 cents there already or P12.90, good for 3 stops on the LRT. Unfortunately, whether in the Philippines or in North America, there’s a fee for almost everything. As for the rants, I don’t think it is really about whether the Philippines is affordable or not, or being able to retire like a king or a pauper. It’s really about the times. Would these guys really want to retire in the Philippines, if things have been better for them in their home country?


    • says

      Alex: You are probably right in that those complaining would be complaining anywhere. You are also correct that fees and inflation are simply a part of life, wherever you happen to be.

    • Joe says

      Hi Alex,We have corruption in both Countries. Would just like a little something,resembling helping the impoverished in the Phillippines! New President,no answers….We have great problems in the U.S.! Nothing gets done in the Provinces,except those in power,reap everything! Until the populace is educated,at least through High School(Equivelent to 10th grade in the U.S.) I don’t see any fast changes in the lives of the most needy! I’ve been in Leyte Province during Elections….BUYING VOTES is still the norm! It’s about time Locals talk about real problems…..instead of if you don’t talk about them(THEY GO AWAY)!! Unfortuneatly,They don’t go away! just my 2 pesos worth.

  6. DWAYNE says

    John you really went out on a limb today. I will have to politely debate your findings as follows. Just my shallow two cents worth based on visiting and interacting with hoardes of Kanos.
    myth 1. Living in the Philippines can be very affordable as long as you live in the province. You can eat, sleep and socialize just fine on SS income. However any move down into the high 30’s with the peso and watch the door as it hits thousands of Kanos in the arse heading for Nam, Cambodia, Laos, and back to the USA. Europe I think is too expensive?
    Myth 2. Yes the perception is that
    Myth 3. Utter horse dudu. The first thing you do when you meet your girl is take her away from her family. Tell her up front you will not be helping her and all will be just fine. Out of sight out of mind. Your brainwashed if you think that is required. Now maybe you want to do it out of kindness or humanity but that is your choice not your girlfriends or wifes!
    Myth 4. Agreed
    Myth 5. Very possible but will take some money for programming. And who really knows how much Bob or anyone makes with these sites anyway and what is the criteria for good enough money???.
    Myth 6. Totally corrupt to the point growth is signifcantly impeded. Corruption here affects every single aspect of life and keeps this country in the basement. Take away OFW remits and watch this place become a cesspool fast. They take too much for granted in the Philippines with OFW money and it will be their undoing in time if they don’t act to combat corruption
    Myth 7. For a measly $1,700 month you can live pretty good but no king and again only here in the province

    This was fun John. Again a great topic. You ever think to start your own blog

    • says

      Dwayne: Actually, Bob has been quite public about his earnings from some of his ventures (within reason, obviously), and his book is a very good guide. So many people become seduced by the idea of lounging on the beach in a hammock here that they forget that earning money is real work, though.

      There is corruption here, but I believe that it is simply more visible than in other places in the world… I certainly would not argue that the US and Western Europe are corruption free either. Scandals like Enron and Madoff showed that it is alive and well, with billions being stolen right under people’s noses. Who hasn’t driven around in the States and been caught in a speed trap by some yokel sheriff?

      As to retiring, here in QC, we live on about $1,700 – $2,000 per month. Could we move up in status? Certainly. But we are comfortable and not really ostentatious. That amount would suffice even in Manila for a retiree. But not King-like.

      • says

        Let me just say that since the downturn in the world economy a few years ago, I earn a lot less than I used to. But, I still make a good living. I had a good job when I lived in the States, and even in this downturn, I still earn more now than I did when I lived in the States.

        Steve Maust mentioned in his comment that I have to work “many hours” to keep my businesses going. That is not necessarily correct. Back before the economic downturn, I worked about 2 hours per day on busy days. Many days I worked only about 30 minutes per day. I do have to work harder now, because most of my money comes from places where money is tight now, but still I don’t work nearly as many hours as I would with a “real” job.

        Anyway, I just wanted to clear up those things, since they had been brought up in the discussion.

        • says

          Bob: Certainly you are successful… But you probably “work” more than you think you do… Nearly every time we have spoken, you are thinking of new business ideas or how to refine existing business. That thought process is work also. You also seem to bridge that gap between thinking/wishing/dreaming and actually doing something… That seems to be a big hurdle in many people.

          I might note that I believe, as an outsider looking in, that motivation plays a big part of anyone’s success. You seem to truly enjoy what you do…

          • says

            Hi John – Thanks for your comment. I have always been a doer rather than a dreamer. Most people seem to dream and talk more and do less. When you actually “do” a lot of things, you find that some work out and others don’t. One thing I have been good at is that if I think of some new idea, I will mull it over for a few days, and I can usually make the right decision of whether it will succeed, so I have a pretty high number of successes compared to failures.

            You are right that I am almost always thinking of what might be a good way to do something in business, or a new idea. It’s just the nature of me, I suppose!

            • biz doc says

              hi bob, john,

              i guess the challenge really is ensuring that your life savings don’t evaporate before your learning curve in making money here starts paying off.

              not everyone gets the same breakthroughs obviously– heck even us pinoys are pretty frustrated about not being able to launch our own business ideas within our target timelines for some reason or another.

              one thing’s clear, you’re all in OUR boat now, so better do what you can to keep moving forward until you get there– wherever that may be financially ” )

              • says

                Biz Doc: You are correct that everyone needs to make their own way… Dave Starr frequently writes about business here on his web site, and about how he feels more Pinoys could become their own bosses.

          • biz doc says

            truth is, a lot of pinoys aspire to become business owners, except there’s not a lot of help to be had from government to help make things happen.

            business registration & documentation alone is too troublesome that many give up on it, and essentially go into business with no legal identity and paying no taxes along the way.

            there’s much to be done, yet people aren’t tapping their elected representatives to lobby for changes on their behalf.

            depending how you look at it, everything here is either stagnating, or in transition.

            = )

        • Steve Maust says

          I guess you do not “work” straight hours in a day, but like John said you are always working on something it seems. And unless your a super fast reader and typer it has to take a minute or two to read all my crazy comments and respond to them! And you do it every time.
          I find that people are looking for someone over there already to just come out and tell them: I make money this way and here is a step by step way I do it. They are not willing to put in the hours on research in how to do it themselves.

  7. Ricardo Sumilang says

    John, I have a different take about the “elderly” Kano arguing about the extra P7 (U.S. $0.12) on his PLDT bill. If he is elderly and is arguing about 12 cents, we can assume that he has been living in the Philippines for a very long time, and is firmly entrenched in Philippine society. As such, he must now live, feel and think just like the average Filipino who thinks P7 is worth arguing about. Also, it may be an honest mistake on the part of the PLDT, and whether his monthly income puts him in a much better financial position than many Filipinos (we don’t really know), is therefore irrelevant, if his questioning the additional charge is a matter of principle.

  8. Tom Ramberg says

    I am sure this comment might lead to a backlash but I am a big boy so I can handle it. Regarding the common complaint of being a walking ATM machine for the extended family I say ha ha! It is your fault for not choosing a wife that is age appropriate and has a stable financial history. The same result is demonstrated worldwide. If you became a sugardaddy then quit complaining. I married a businesswoman almost five years ago and have never been hounded for money. Have we given help during a medical crisis? Of course! They are my family and we care about them. We have also helped some to improve their living conditions. This help was our choice and was unsolicited. In America I am estranged from part of my family because of their constant sob stories regarding finances so I disagree it is culture it is just poor manners. So maybe a reality check should be if you could not find a partner at home then why do you think a stunningly beautiful girl would be interested in an old coot. Is there a shortage of attractive men here? I also have to ask why are Filipinas refered to as girls instead of women? I have aways considered my wife to be a woman as she is intellectually eye to eye with me. My friends at party once were very drunk and one kept saying that money can”t buy love. I replied that some old foriegners don’t buy love but they make installments payments on it. Needless to say a laugh was had by all.

    • says

      Tom: You and I largely agree on this, but I didn’t put it in the article as it was really a little off topic. I also look at it as it is none of my business how anyone chooses to live their life. But, you are 100% correct in your assessment. We’re adults here, and with adulthood, comes responsibility, wherever you are. It really is sad that some people still do not get it.

      One time at NAIA an American expat was sitting with me in the smoking bar, talking about his girlfriend (The typical 18 year old / 80 year old relationship). I wasn’t saying much when he said something to me that really underscored some of this… His statement:

      “I know she only likes me for my money, but I don’t care. I’m divorced and my children are scattered. In the States, I would pay $3,000 – $4,000 per month for someone to take care of me. I spend $1,500 per month here, she cooks and cleans, and I get sex as often as I want. ”

      At least this guy had a reality check….

      Great comment at the end… I’ll have to remember that one.

    • David L Smith says

      just maybe Tom your comments are very direspectful to a lot of filipinas who have chosen older men for their partners . If you want to class these guys as sugar daddys then by suggestion you are saying the women are gold diggers. Wish you luck in the future mate because the fact that you are in a relationship with a woman in your own age group does not guarantee success. Maybe time to live your own life and stop judgeing others .

      • says


        At the risk of veering waaaayyyy off topic…

        Tom’s comments may seem disrespectful, but he is not too far off the mark. As I stated above, I personally don’t care how someone chooses to live their life, but realistically, look at the example I gave above…

        A 62-year age difference.

        Now, you can say love is blind, I know someone… etc. etc., but the reality is that such a relationship is most likely a financial transaction and nothing more. Doesn’t impact me in the least. As long as both parties recognize that fact, then who cares… nobody is being taken advantage of. It is none of my business.

        About two years ago, I received a slew of criticism in an article (I can’t remember which one) because of an offhand comment I made about old goats with young girls here. It started because a reader was complaining about being stared at everywhere he and his wife, 40 years his junior, went. My response to him was that if you married someone that young in the STATES, you would receive stares… What did you expect? If you dont let it bother you or her, then fine. But do not expect the population at large to be accepting of your decision that contravenes the established mores here.

        Quite frankly, a fair number of expats here are merely sex tourists… I’m no prude, been there, done that. However, I have met some truly creepy guys here, in a far greater number than perhaps anywhere else I’ve ever been, with the exception of Thailand.

        Some people act like this country is a sort of sexual free-for-all, with no limits to morality or what money can buy. Then they complain about it… For every web site like Dragon Ladies and the complaints about scammers, there are hundreds of women who are promised the world and then dumped ignominiously here. It is naive to believe that both parties in many of these marriages are completely ignorant of the real score. Not saying that true love is impossible in such situations, but Tom’s comment has a ring of truth to it. You may not like that truth, but it is a reality.

        If you have met someone and you are both happy, then more power to you. It is nobody’s business how old either of you are.

        • David L Smith says

          John…I couldn’t care less if Tom is being disrespectful to older guys or even to me cos i am a big boy to, lol….my point is that to infer that the young women in phil who have married sugar daddys just to better the cause of their own familys is total disrespect for the genuine women who do love their older husbands and are not in anyway gold diggers.

          • says


            As I said, been there, done that. I have a lot of respect for women that take this “burden” upon themselves and do whatever makes them happy. Only they can answer for themselves what makes them happy and they enter into a marriage on their own free will. Nobody forces anyone to marry here.

            Nearly every Filipina that marries a foreigner will hear at least a few remarks from Filipinos about money, status, etc.

            It will happen.

            However, we all make choices in life, and must live with those choices and their consequences, both good and bad.

      • Tom Ramberg says

        Nope, never crossed my mind that these women are gold diggers but rather victims of circumstance. I personally do not think that these women would be willing to make such a personal sacrifice without the hope of a better life for themselves and their family. I equate this to taking the gamble that you will survive being an OFW in the middle east. My comments were actually an add on to number three. I often hear guys lamenting being pressed for money and in my opinion this is why it happens. Disrespectful? Never! Well at least not to a Filipina woman.

      • Ed says

        Hi guys, I am 8 years older than my wife but my baby is making a lot more than my social security. When I am making a lot of money, I invest on my wife education before we get married. Now it pays off and I can visit the Philippines every year. We plan to live in the Philippines for six months and come back to the USA for our medical health check up abd visit our 2 sons. My social security of $600/mo. + $ 4,000 my shares of our tax refund is enough for me to visit the PHILIPPINES every year. I inherit the house and fixed the roof damage by typhoon. I plan to remodel if I have some left over this year. I enjoy my vacation and all my relatives are excited for me to come back. I plan to start a small clothing store this year.

  9. Hudson says

    Hey John,
    You know how we Kano’s love to complain…lol. I remember when I was a child and the cashier was overcharging my mom by 2 cents. My mom was complaining and the cashier remarked “but it’s only two cents ma’am”. Mom angerly retorted “BUT IT’S MY TWO CENTS!”. The cashier in a huff handed mom the two cents. Score one for mom!…lol

    I see your point though, the discount is set aside for Filipino’s :)

    • says

      Hudson: This wasn’t a case of overcharging or skin tax… The fee is paid by everyone. This guy wanted sympathy because he is on a “fixed income”. He thought that his age entitled him to something special. That is the real issue.

  10. Anton says

    John , you are right , me , just bin on holida,s in iligan [ planning to retire there ] i saw it allso .
    But i did not know about that it,s illigal to use the senior discount,
    When i make reservation for boat [ Cagayan-Tafbilaran ] the girl said to me :
    i give you Sen.disc.
    I said no , don,t need it , but she granted it anyhow . Maybe because i did her a favor before .
    But it,s true , about the 20 P tip , i alway,s give a few peso , and will do it allso later when
    i retired .
    Maybe allso because me and my Philippina both work in Hotel/restaurant buisenes ,
    and have a good salary , but still get Tip in Holland .
    Anton [ Netherlands ]

    • says

      Anton: The business is required to give the discount only if you hold the card… So, you are correct that she was doing you a favor. This would have been “off the books”, however, and you would not have violated the law. She may have gotten in trouble with her boss, though, if he had not authorized it.

      Having worked in restaurants myself, I tend to be sympathetic to the staff. Tipping is really not the norm in most of the world, though. When I bring Rebecca to the US, I foresee an argument or two (I just know it)

  11. Ron says

    John you really nailed this one. Corruption, greed, money for sex, kings, lavish life styles, the rich and down trodden. You even managed to throw in a few curses here and there. Something tells me a movie is in this posting. Envision Anthony Hopkins arguing over a few pesos with some Filipina beauty on his arm-think Wowwowwee dancer. ( (-; ) (Do they still have them by the way?) A strong willed store manager like a young Tom Selleck and he becomes enraged that you question the cashier who is his true love played by another stunning Filipina. The plot takes twist though when the Police get involved and the cop played by a handsome Anthony Bandares realized a major crime of greed and corruption is taking place in his country. He soon finds himself attached to the Greed and Corruption anti-expat crime unit and is assigned another stunning Filipina as his partner. Soon they find themselves investigating the major crime of tipping the parking attendants at a major Boracy resort full of more stunning Filipinas running around in Bikinis. The culprit is an old expat sailor named Paul who has a liking for cold beer and new tires. Soon they find that the king pin behind all of this is an international blogger who lives well through his efforts. The king pin hires another stunning Filipina to set up the cop and his stunning Filipina partner and soon we have a real story brewing on the beaches of Boracay that are of course still filled with stunning Filipina beauties. A disclaimer here I could have this fun for a long time but John you are right on in what you wrote about and I love your open attitude. Now for what I wrote does it have any bearing I have no idea but I bet Paul gets a kick out of it. To be continued.

    • says



      Like House’s comment above, some of my more recent articles have taken a more hostile tone. I do try, however, to mix up the good and bad as to the things I write about and I try to think of things that people will find interesting.

      Perhaps I think that my tolerance for stupidity is waning the older that I get?

      • ian says

        John- i disagree with your use of the word “hostile”. I believe that a more realistic phrase would be ” relevant yet honest”
        Just because you are being honest about an unpopular topic does not make you hostile- although many times the responses that you get will be !!!! lol

        • says

          Ian: I feel that if I sugar coat everything, then there is no point to writing the article. Some people respond differently, and I always welcome disagreement.

    • Steve Maust says

      I am waiting for you to get a call from ABS-CBN! I can not wait to see this show! Hope Paul gets to play himself in this!

    • Jack says

      John and Ron,

      I like the plot for the movie but Ron left out a major character. There needs to be an actor for John … maybe Leonardo DiCaprio and his asawa … how about Lea Salonga.

  12. Jeff says

    Although I don’t live in the Philippines I do like to visit when possible. Maybe one of these days I’ll be fortunate enough to live there at least for a little while. I believe it was my second visit when I went to an internet cafe at a mall in Cebu. I saw an older expat walk in and ask about the cost of using the internet service. I don’t remember what the cost was but he was unhappy with it. I do remember the cost was insignificant by western standards and he could have easily paid it. Also, although it cost more than other internet cafes, I think he should have considered he was in a mall. The cost of anything is always a bit higher in a mall. Although he didn’t argue I felt he came across as rude because he frowned, said it was too much in a somewhat less than friendly tone and walked out. I would think as a resident he should have been accustomed to the cost of the local services. I would also think as a guest in someone else’s country that he would try to be more friendly. Like I stated earlier, I would like to try living in the Philippines at some point in my life. I don’t want guys like this particular one giving me a bad name before I get there. One last point. I like your use of the word “entitled”. One huge problem we have in America today is the feeling of entitlement to someone else’s money. I’m sad to hear some Americans have taken that mentality to the Philippines with them.

    • says

      Jeff: I agree with you on this… I’m going on three years here now, and I still occasionally relate in terms of dollars, but am starting to think in pesos first more often. Honestly, I’ve never been accused of being a great money manager (Despite all my business schooling)… 50 cents or $1 just doesn’t matter to me. I’m not squeaking by as a sidewalk vendor earning a couple of hundred pesos a day, though. It amazes me that some people can be so blind.

      • Ricardo Sumilang says

        I’m just like you, John. I can not relate to the pesos at all. In every visit to the Philippines, I absolutely have to have a calculator in my pocket at all times for instantaneous conversion of php to the USD. I’m lost without the calculator when I am in the Philippines. The thousands of pesos price tag on anything, from food to products to services don’t mean anything to me until I convert them to USD. Far from being a cheapskate, I just want to know whether the peso price for the merchandise or services I am about to purchase is a fair price according to my USD frame of reference. Even here in LiP, whenever someone mentions the price of products or services in pesos, or the salary of the average Filipino, I always have the website of the conversion table at the ready.

        • says

          Ricardo: Generally, I round up or down to the nearest 10 on the exchange rate when in the shops. A few pesos difference here or there normally doesn’t make a huge difference unless I’m buying something expensive.

          So, when it was 47, I divided the peso price by 10 and then 5 in my head. Exact? No. But normally pretty close and quick and dirty.

          Now at 43, I just divide by 10 and then 4.

          The only caution is that when you relate prices to things elsewhere, your reference may be totally wrong. The one that springs immediately to mind is taxi fares. In the tates, very seldom is a taxi fare less than $10. Here, 90% of my fares are less than that. I’m just not going to get into an argument or a tizzy over a dollar or two. I just don’t need extra stress like that in my life.

    • Bob New York says

      Jeff Commented : ” I don’t want guys like this particular one giving me a bad name before I get there. ”

      That is a good point to bring up Jeff and it is something that I try very hard to keep in mind when I visit. There are cultural and other differences that are considered as being normal in The Philippines that can wear on the patience of a visiting foriegner if you let them. There are times when I keep my thoughts and mental reaction to certain situations to myself and not loose my patience. I feel that in doing so it could have a negative affect on those that follow be they tourists, visitors or those that wish to move there. At times I know I do have to put a little extra effort into trying to be on my best behavior.

  13. Bob New York says

    I think descriptions like ” Paradise ” and ” Live Like A King ” at times may be more of a state of mind than anything else. It can mean different things to different people depending on their perception. Yes, there are some ” Bargains ” in the Philippines just like there are in many other parts of the world but not ” everything ” . A so called bargain is usually compensated for by some things being more expensive than expected.

    • says

      Bob: You are correct that those terms tend to marginalize reality. Overall, I’m guessing my living expenses are about 40% cheaper than in the States… Mostly through much cheaper rent. They could easily spiral upwards, though.

  14. chris says

    Hi john ,just wondering how long you have lived in the phills for ,i one day hope to retire there or at least stay for 6 months at a time ,it always ccncerns me about the living there when you are a tourist you dont realy care but if i were to become semi permanent i think it would ,i must admit i have a good few years before this could happen anyway but i think that someone such as yourself could really lay out the nuts and bolts for someone like myself on how much it does really cost to live there ,to be honest i could not even grasp the money side of there currency so i probably got ripped of many times hahaha dumb aussie anyway why not tell this idiot to just pay the 10 cents and get going i mean its not s if he is donating it to a refuge or something ,when i stayed at a place in lanang there was a scots man who would drop in and use the bar nesarly every night he did nothing but bag phillipinos ,it got so bad that i had a word to the mangaress who informed the owner about this and we were later informed that one couple had actally left because of this ,i say if you dont like the people or the place then get the hell out

    • says

      Chris: Part of the problem about perception is that when you visit as a tourist, you are very rarely in contact with the “daily grind” reality here. The first time I visited here, 5 star resort, significantly cheaper than even a modest motel in the States. Restaurant prices that are less than the West. Cheap beer. Cheap smokes. You pay HOW MUCH for rent?!?!?

      It is very easy to begin to think that things here may be a bargain…

      Is it cheaper? Well, as I mentioned above, I save 30% to 40% from living in the States. I remember that costs / prices in Australia were largely comparable.

      Will you save? Well, if you live a modest lifestyle, then perhaps. It can be very, very easy to fall into that trap, though.

      • roy says

        Well John, you’re right, rent could be cheaper there by 50%. But that’s all about it. Electricity there is astronomical. Food is also expensive. Here in the states, it’s very seldom that I can blow hundred dollar in a day. But there it’s so easy. A single meal w/ friends can cost that much. Shoes, clothes-they are expensive there as well.

        • says


          Quite a few things are cheaper here, but the overall cost is largely offset by certain things being more expensive. Electricity is the biggest, followed by imported goods.

          One of the things that caught me off guard when I moved here was the poor quality of the common consumer goods often sold here… Yes, they were cheap, but you get what you pay for. Quality often has to be searched out actively here and you most definitely pay the price when you find it.

          The other big cost savings is that I drive far less here… I’m still justifying the expense of a car in my head. However, I can compare it to my last US address… LA. Cars for my ex wife and I were an necessity, rather than a luxury, for commuting to work. The 2-3 hours every day spent sitting in traffic and filling the tank twice per week were a major expense. Living in Manila (or, by my travel experience Cebu or Davao) is absolutely possible without a vehicle. Even most of the expats I know here with regular jobs tend to live near their employers and taxi / jeepney / MRT to work. The savings is quite considerable (I’m guessing that for two cars in LA, between payments, gasoline, and insurance, we were spending at least $1,200 per month just getting to and from work)

          • Don says

            At least the price of a car is about the same in the US. In my job, I need a car to commute as its nearly impossible to get a taxi during rush hour, even paying off meter. Jeepneys are not practical and unless you live in a mall, no MRT. Another expense is if you want a driver, about p15k month.

            This in Metro Manila.

            • says

              Don: I haven’t had too many problems getting taxis here, but I work from home and am not commuting… When I’ve had to commute, I have always used the MRT/taxi combo because it is so much quicker. But you are right in that in certain areas, a car becomes preferable.

        • John Adams says

          yes expect to pay more if you are in the city, if you do not like local food cost go up, i love living in the province our electric is not high, we have air cond in the bed room, fans in the day all the usual appliances our bill runs about 1600 a month water 165 ,pldt 990, we have pigs and chickens we butcher, and keep in the freezer, we dont have blackouts, it is rare if we do and not for long, and no problems with neighbors, they are all family hahah, we live on my SS about 1200 per month and we sell a few pigs, and rice, i had savings i used to build our house and buy furniture, most of the friends i have that live in the city, can’t believe how i could build a house so cheap, i have less than 500,000 in 65 sq meters in a nice location very strong built, and nice looking, my wife’s family thinks it is so big, and can’t believe we built a dirty kitchen with such a big house, i used local carpenters and i also helped. I am lucky to have a very hard working wife, yes i am 68 she is 35 but as i have told her anytime you feel you need a younger man go for it, their are plenty woman here so i am not worried about that, if she left her sisters would be over hahahaha

  15. rebecca Ferry says

    This is an interesting topic that reminds me of the arguments between my Japanese -American employer and her sister during my vacation in Hawaii.I can’t believed they’re arguing about the discount promo from Cosco for just a few dollars that leads to the sister to walk away and then i asked myself, “why did they arguing for just a few dollars discount from the Supermarket? i just don’t get it ! They’re quite rich and live in a beautiful mansion and lived a very good life but they’re arguing for just a few dollars? I can understand if it happened to a poor filipino sisters but they’re not poor for heaven sake! Well, about the old expat from SM, i don’t know John but maybe as the other poster mentioned here , he lives in the Phils. quite long and already feel the impact that living in the Phils is not always easy as he thought .

    • says


      I don’t understand the logic either…

      When you are better off than the majority of the population already, how could anyone expect any sympathy?

    • Ricardo Sumilang says

      “They’re quite rich and live in a beautiful mansion and lived a very good life but they’re arguing for just a few dollars?”

      Exactly, Rebecca. Many rich people who live in beautiful mansions and live a very good life are usually the kind of people who would argue “for just a few dollars.” They are rich because they are tight with their money. To take it further, some of the best tippers in the world are the poor; the worst tippers are the rich, in general.

  16. David L Smith says

    Hi John
    Your article has reinforced my belief that i am about to retire in the right country with a better culture then where i come from. I truly admire the phil people for the way they treat and respect the elderly from any part of the world. Its the way i was raised but im afraid in the western society the culture is for a general lack of respect for a person once he/her is deeemed to be past their use by date, i refer to employers, shop people even their own familys in a lot of cases. It dismays me to see so many ex-pats also going to live in Phil with this attitude. You yourself refer to this elderly gentleman as an old bastard, why?….ok he may be wrong, but do know if the guy is sick, full of pain that makes him cantankerous or even losing his marbles for want of a better discription, cant you find it in yourself to cut him a bit of slack because of his age…another ex-pat refers elderly guys who have a younger wife as old coots…Ok guys what goes around comes around , you will be old one day and i bet you anything the phil people will treat you with more respect then your own kind will…Im not yet at that stage to be classed as old yet but i have no fear that when that time comes i will be looked after well by my adopted family over there.

    • says


      I have a tremendous amount of respect for age and life experience. In the last several years I have hired a number of people as engineers over 65 years old for my company…and they are valued employees, so dont start that crap with me.

      The argument I saw occurring was utterly stupid and idiotic…

      First off, the cashier is a low-level employee, most likely not empowered to do anything even if she wanted to do so. What purpose is served by someone yelling at the poor girl? That, in my mind, justifies the use of the term “old bastard”… Picking on someone who neither deserves it nor can do anything about his precious money.

      Secondly, as I wrote, even someone living on US social security is in a stronger financial position than 70% of the people living here. This guy’s rant / meltdown was unlikely to generate even the tiniest modicum of sympathy or “understanding”, as you put it.

      Thirdly, so many people are so quick to scream “discrimination” here because the culture is different. There is a reason that there are so few old age homes here… People respect age and the wisdom that comes with it.

      However, this guy was behaving like an ass, pure and simple. He is giving expats a bad name. His public display was uncalled for, arrogant, and full of entitlement.

      • David L Smith says

        Mate …im sorry you only see a differance of opinion to your own as crap, tells me a lot.
        I respect your opinions and thoughts but wont contribute to this debate again.

          • David L Smith says

            Yes i guess i did John …but i didnt mean that you disrespect old people in general, only that to refer this elderly man as an old bastard was harsh in my book however he was acting. My wifes grandmother has dementia and she is a shocker at times, demanding, childish, overbearing, a total embarrassment to take out in public, lol…but you know watching how the younger ones cope with her , only offering continual love and support to her was a life experiance for me. I commented to my wife that where i come from in most cases the familys would have her put in a home and probably only visit on special occasions….naturally my wife was shocked and said Oh no hubby that is not the phil way , we treat all old people with respect even if they are not family……. Is it possible the guy you heard ranting and raving over a few peso has a few mental problems John, anyway Im sorry for giving you the wrong impressions that i think you disrespect all old people. i guess i just wrote my post badly.

            • says


              We’re cool… I’ve been around a lot of people with dementia (grandparents and I was a cook in a retirement home for a while) and I really don’t think this was the case.

              Rebecca’s uncle died three years ago, and I was amazed at the care that his children gave him in his last couple of years… There is no hospital in the world that could have equaled in care what they did for their lolo. He was completely out of it, but they really made his last time as pleasant as possible.

        • Heinz Schirmaier says

          @ David Smith: John is absolutely correct, perhaps you have never heard of the saying: ” When in Rome, do as the Romans do”! We are in THEIR country, WE are the guests and if you can’t understand and appreciate that, GET THE HELL OUT! you have NO business being there. I’m sure YOU would feel the same way if a Pinoy would act the same in whatever country you are from!

      • Papa Duck(Aka Randy W.) says


        I deal with the old farts alot here in Florida. The worst part about them is having to drive on the same road with them. You can’t pass them or they always pull out in front of you. They really take offense when you suggest they shouldn’t be driving. But really some of them shouldn’t be on the road and are a danger to themselves or others. I know its hard for some of them to give up there independence. When they get there AARP Cards they really take advantage of the the Senior Citizen Discount or Get the early bird special at restaurants. That kind of nit picking is totally uncalled for for someone that clearly afford it and to yell at a clerk who had nothing to do with it is totally uncalled for and is an embarrassment to americans. Good job John!

        • says

          Randy: I remember that well when I lived there… A big part of the problem was that people retired down there far away from family for support. Being that in a large portion of Florida, a car is almost an absolute necessity with little public transportation, even to pick up groceries or something similar, it really can be a burden not driving.

          My mother went through this with my grandparents… and it was not easy getting their licenses from them. However, there was the larger safety question.

        • says

          John: I think it was here long before that… It is common throughout Asia and the Middle East. Additionally, most of the remaining Igorot have the same respect for elders, and they were not influenced by Spain.

    • Boss says

      Lol David, relax old buddy. I’m an old coot at 50 and I love being a sugar daddy in the Pines. The trick is knowing to keep control of your life and enjoy the dwindling years with a plan B in your pocket and do a lot of homework.
      The reality is you have to have a good income to provide for your asawa and your children and extended family. That is a responsibility that is expected from you as a daddy and a father and companion to your extended family.

      Be good natured to the majority of the locals and toss away the riff raff from your life. Then I am sure you will enjoy your time in the Pines whether your an
      old coot, a sugar daddy or whatever else you envisage yourself to be.

      • Badge says

        You mean it’s a requirement of being “white”? I’m sure members of the extended family are mommies and daddies too so what’s there excuse? Your obligation is to your wife and your kids just as the responsibility of the extended relatives are to their own families, that’s it

  17. alf says

    Hi John! Thanks for your post, specifically number 3, where you hit it right, bull’s eye. Number 6, about corruption, seems to be the general observation. But I’m glad that as a foreigner, you have a different view. Although corruption in the Philippines is a culture, there are still Filipinos not succumbing to it. Well, living in the Philippines is the same as in other countries. It is just a matter of preparation and mind set. God speed and Mabuhay! – alf

    • says

      Alf: Thank you… About helping family, there is a balance between humanity and being a sap. However, anyone who gets married here and believes that they will never give help but still have a happy asawa is deluding themselves.

      Marriage is a partnership, whether in the Philippines or the USA, and everyone will have to help their family at some point or another (I’m not even necessarily talking cash… A sympathetic ear can do wonders sometimes.)

      As to corruption, I truly find the whole perception overblown… I have met many officials who were just doing their jobs and have been very helpful.

  18. JohnC says

    Very interesting contributions some of which are very opinionated, but then isn’t that what freedom of speech is all about. ..
    I used to work and live in Manila (married to a Filipina 20 yrs) and went back recently to check out different suitable location possibilities for a part of the year to escape our Fabulous UK weather!, Wife doesn’t want to be very close to family; she has developed a liking for privacy when required.
    I wasn’t a happy bunny last week at having to pay the equivalent tax of $15.00 each just to leave the country (Manila International). I travel a great deal through my wotk and believe that the powers that be, instead of showing little or no reverence by soaking visitors, could learn so much about hospitality from their Asian neighbours and remember that we do have choices..
    BTW. Went to Pto Galera via Batangas, had to pay both a terminal and pier fee OK, but all we could see for it was beggars and piles of Garbage greeting us at the terminal..IMHO principles and standards or lack of have not changed and sadly for the “lovely people” I don’t think they ever will..My conclusion although not cast in stone is that for “survival” in relative comfort, a different mind set is absolutely necessary, for us anyway..

    • says


      Nearly every country in the world has a similar travel tax (even the UK and US), but the airlines normally collect it with the ticket payment in most places… Here they do not, therefore it is visible. Not sure why (lack of infrastructure, create jobs?), but several surrounding countries still do it the same as the Philippines (Indonesia, Brazil, Thailand (stopped last two years, part of ticket now), many Caribbean islands). Last time in Brazil, I saw someone having a fit about the tax payment… They had spent or changed all of their Brazilian money and the tax was only payable in Reis. I offered to swap some bills for him, but he stood on “priciple”… Being escorted by the police to the ATM before being put on the flight by the escort.

      Needless to say, it is always paid, but the Philippines’ tax is just more “visible” since it is not automated.

      • JohnC says

        John M, Travel tax not collected in tickets? Where did you conjure that one up from? Rose tinted specs’ mate; I have both Cebu Pacific & Cathay Pacific invoices in front of me showing travel tax, plus we had to pay when leaving the country. I just think it’s nice to see something for the Taxes, ie my comment about the terminal & pier fees in Batangas with only Garbage & beggars to show for it..I feel that you may have become inured to what goes on around you; happened to me when I was based in Haiti…The Yacht Club in Pto Galera has now been targeted as a soft touch by the Mayor for additional mooring fees which if implemented will virtually destroy the club and they do some “great” stuff for disadvantaged local kids without profit; when the word gets around, the guy will have shot himself in the foot because a great number of good spending Yachts People myself included are becoming too nervous to locate there and there is absolutely O transparency with the local Govt accounts; what does he care, he’s alright Jack.

        • says

          John: Every ticket has a bunch of taxes added, but the airport exit tax was the one which was to which I was referring specifically. For instance, in the US there iss a 25$ exit tax, same type as the 750 pesos here, that is added to the ticket… It is why there is no counter in the US but a counter her… But you are still paying the tax. Thailand’s counter closed about 3 years ago, and you are still paying the tax, but the airline collects it as part of your ticket now.

          • says

            John: On my trip to Europe earlier this month, the base fare was about $1,000 and the taxes were about $450…. to the Philippine, Danish, Dutch, and Norwegian governments. There were exit taxes included for every country except the Philippines (Though there were other Philippine taxes paid, too)

    • Bryan G says

      If you become a resident then you have the added privilege of paying about $60 when you exit the country! The first exit every year will cost 500 pesos airport tax plus 250 security fee then a total of 2800 at the residents exit booth. Exits after that are 2200 pesos.

      • says

        Bryan: This type of tax is also very common in some countries… Not just the Philippines.

        Indonesia’s tax for residents and citizens is over US$100 per departure. Vietnam has a tax of around $50 for residents, and so does China. In fact, China requires a certain period of time be spent outside of China for residents… One month at every renewal. And they still pay the tax when they leave. Several Caribbean countries also have additional departure taxes for residents.

        Consider yourself lucky that the Philippines doesn’t do like some nations and assume that foreign residents are cheating on import duties… There are a few places that require residents to maintain receipts and prove that duties were paid on the last entry.

        • says

          Bryan: To further clarify, most of the countries that do this (except China) tend to have relatively lenient visa rules regarding residency… They tend to be places where lots of people come and then make visa runs frequently. The logic is that since those staying on tourist visas are paying by extending and coming and going more frequently, whereas those with residence tend to stay longer and travel less frequently. So, Indonesia (lots of Aussies), Vietnam and other parts of SE Asia, and the Caribbean islands (Lots of Americans) try to tax the residents in this manner to “recoup” the lost revenue.

          Filipino Citizens are also subject to a travel tax… and it is complicated. If you buy your ticket in the Philippines, it is normally paid by the airline. If outside, then they need to stop and pay the tax too… So it isn’t just residen foreigners.

          • jonathan says

            Yup, Filipinos are subject to travel tax too around PHP 1,600++/person except for OFWs (if you’re leaving to your country of work if not you have to pay the travel tax too) which is a relief for us.

            The last time I took my wife to HK (it was her first time to travel abroad), she was surprised of that fee and how much we have to pay. There was another fee, I think it was the terminal fee? I forgot. We paid a total of almost PHP 7K just to get out of the PH as tourist to another country. Then she asked me if upon arrival/departure in HK are we going to pay for for travel tax there? When I replied in the negative, she scratched her head (lol).

            • says

              Jonathan: Correct… You can get a tax clearance from the POEA if you are a bona fide OFW. The process used to require Rebecca return from Abulug about a day early in order to get the form before she returned to the Middle East.

  19. Bryan G says

    I have little to do with the expat community in the Philippines – I have two British colleagues that I have known for over 20 years who settled here and that is about it.I have met socially a few others – most of whom were good people but there have been a few,one of whom was a fellow Scot, that I found totally obnoxious,arrogant and ignorant. The Scot made me ashamed of my race. We all have criticisms of aspects of the Philippines but some of these people were totally contemptuous of Philippino society and people.I wondered why they stay in the Philippines then I remembered that some come here not to get a new life but to get away from a past life – this is a good place to hide.

  20. Salty says


    It seems to me that another area that one can enjoy a significant savings over the US is in private education and college for children. Based on some simple research I’ve done, the cost to send one child for a year to a typical US State University would cover an entire four-year degree at some of the better universities in the Philippines. Many of the top universities in the Philippines are also accredited in the US. Private elementary and high school education seems to be significantly less too.

    • says


      Yes, university can be a bargain, and the quality at some schools / programs is very high.

      There are certain aspects to education here that I don’t like, but there are also some good things too (Like a focus on the fundamentals).

      In any event, our son will have the choice as to where, depending on what he wants to do in life.

      • Vinny says

        John & Salty,

        After the dust clears, we’ll have sent our only child (daughter) to 12 years of private school here in Chicago (4 of those years Jesuit) due to the terrible public school system here. Needless to say, with the increasing costs of college every year, we’ve entertained the idea of sending her to a good school in the PI for her nursing degree just to avoid having her/us going into any debt. Currently, we’ve always been able to pay for her private school out of our operating income; however, college might be a different matter since college tuition is all over the board, depending on many factors such as the type of institution, location, etc.

        John, I know you can appreciate this as a Marquette grad: Empathy for the poor, the belief in social justice and the ability to critically think are all hallmarks of Jesuit teaching/principles and what separates it the most from other schools. My question is: Are the Jesuit schools there in the PI (e.g. Ateneo) just as good in quality as those here in the States?

        • John Miele says


          Ateneo has a good reputation, but we felt the student to teacher ratio there was poor. We send our son to Claret, with which we are very happy.

          Many of the Jesuit schools are on par, even better in some cases since there is not as much nonsense, than their US counterparts. Even Ateneo, one of the most expensive in the Jesuit group, is still much, much cheaper than in the USA. You do, however need to check in person before choosing, and I would live close as possible to the school.

          • Vinny says


            First and foremost, “Thanks” for the quick reply. I really enjoy reading your articulate and well-thought ideas and comments. Thanks for the advice about the schools, especially the teacher/student ratio. Glad you brought that up since it slipped my mind. Again, thanks.

  21. Allan Kelly says

    Hi John.

    I agreed with pretty much everything you said. It seems to have brought about a lot of comment, some off track. The only thing I would add is this. I plan on spending five to six months a year in the P.R. when I retire. I will be on a fixed income. Will I live cheaper than here in Canada? Maybe not if I end up feeding and helping my wife’s family. But, so what. The family treats me great. Instead of paying car insurance, TV cable and $25 haircuts in Canada, I help a dozen other people live better and have $3 haircuts. It does not seem like I am getting short changed. Who wants to live like a king? A king does not get to sit around with the neighborhood guys, listen to stories and enjoy a few SMs.

    • Mark G. says

      Allan best post I read on this page! I feel bad about the ‘old guy’. I sympathize with the clerk. I don’t understand ex-pat with poor attitudes. I have been a minor victim of the skin tax (taxi). I have helped out the wife’s family when need arose. I live simply in the provinces when I’m there (at least 40% cost of living savings). I’ve paid an extra ‘exit fee’ to a PNP officer at NAIA. I have a Filipina wife 30 years younger than me and a beautiful new baby. I enjoy interacting with Filipinos on a regular basis and can’t see living anywhere else in the future. I behave the way I expect others to behave, just the way I was brought up I guess. I’ve been told that I ‘left a good impression’ with the neighbors, which I can only take to mean they got a bad impression from some other ex-pats they may have met at one time, lol. I’ve come to love this place and it’s people so I will accept whatever comes with living there. Doesn’t matter what anyone says or does to criticize, discourage or encourage me. It’s my life after all, lol. I just don’t understand people who would behave badly when they ultimately made thier choice to live there.

    • says

      Allan: You hit the nail on the head. Helping your wife’s family is just part of the package. I had two American ex-wives, and it was part of the deal in the States too… I don’t get some of the attitudes I see.

        • John Miele says

          Benny: If you truly care about your wife and her feelings, you will help when you can. There are gold-diggers on both sides of the ocean.

          • BennyM says

            Johnny: If the wife really cares about her hubby and his feelings she will be respectful of how hard he works to obtain his money and the way he handles his money. Once you get married to a person, they are your number 1 priority in life, not the ones you grew up with unless of course the girl values her family more so than her husband. They are your FAMILY when you get married. If a woman cannot put her husband before her relatives (REAL FAMILY) and love him like family then that tells me that tells me that she does not sincerely love him and that he is 2nd best in her life. If that’s what love is, then i don’t wanna know…

  22. Roselyn says

    Hi John: Excellent article as usual. Most expats chose to live in the Philippines because of the myth that you can have young Filipina wives even if you are twenty years (or more) older than her, not good looking, and in poor health. One audicious post through the internet by an expat even described his retirement to the Philippines as finding “cheap women and beer”. Its this myth of finding young and beautiful women with just a social security paycheck or disability paycheck that makes it attractive for many of these retirees. It is very surprising for these expats to find out how expensive it is to support the Filipina wife, her family, and the expat’s expectation to maintain his lifestyle (consuming goods that he is familiar with and imported).

    • Dan says

      Yes Roselyn I think you are right and probably many old men find out the young Fillipina is pretty darn expensive after all said and done. But!, Then the middle aged Fillipina I would think be pretty darn expensive also…what saying is..if you can not support the woman or understand the suitcase she brings with her and all the surprizes inside..then you best stay single and for get out about it all……and then have only your self to bitch to…because no body else give a damm.

      • Roselyn says

        Hi Dan: Can’t disagree with you here; young or middle aged women have great expectations for expat men.

    • says

      Roselyn: That reputation really irritates me (as you might have deduced). It really bothers me how some people think of their wives as property, rather than people. A lot of the macho stuff written is simply just bull. Amazing how some people turn into 60 year old frat boys when they come here.

      • Heinz Schirmaier says

        LOL John! you hit the nail on the head, but any of the young pinay and a glass of cold water would kill those old farts, me included, especially coupled with Viagra! hahahahaha!

  23. jim says

    John….. Grate article, to save time,and embaressment,for the lady at the counter and speed up the line. I would have just givin the old bastard the seven peso to shut his mouth. It’s just chump change, and litens the load in your pocket.

  24. says

    Excellent article, John,

    I would venture to say that about 99% of the whiners and complainers who bitch about the little things in the Philippines were masters at bitching long before they arrived on Filipino soil. There is an old saying, “Misery Loves Company”. Some people’s cup is always half-empty, some see the cup as half-full. If we wrapped our minds around that concept we would all be better people.


  25. says

    Great article John! As mentioned before I love your style…no messing around…write as you see it and I agree with most of what you say. I wish you wrote more on this site.

    I get absolutely disgusted by the amount of critical comments I see about the Filipines and filipinos on this site. Especially from one person here…but I will not waste my time with him.

    To see and hear Americans, many of them so much better off than their filipino counterparts, moan and groan about some of the things they moan and groan about is just embarrassing and silly. Apparently they do not understand how pathetic they are.

    And I have to STRONGLY respond to guys that say, “The first thing you do is get your filipina far away from her family and keep her far away.” Are you fricken serious? That is horrible.

    If you cannot handle dealing with her family financially or emotionally you should NOT be with a filipina ….period!! To purposely take your wife or gf away from her family because YOU cannot handle it financially or emotionally is a DISGRACE. Grow up and learn to deal with things like a man…. not some control freak wuss.

    I have lived in the filipines and I know many that do….trust me on this one….if many of these guys that complain left for awhile they would soon see how good they have it the filipines.

    No, you might not live fantastic on $1500 to $2000 a month, but in many places you can do just fine and enjoy a life style that is much more peaceful and enjoyable that what you might find in America.

    And finally, I want to comment on the age difference. I could care less about the difference in age. If the filipina and the man are happy….great for them! I have seen many marriages between filipina and much older men work out GREAT. And NO…it is not always because the filipina just wants financial sercurity or the man just wants sex. Age is much more respected in the filipines that anywhere I have been.

    EVERYONE has their reasons for being with who they are with…it is not for me or anyone else to judge if it is right or wrong. The biggest gold diggers in the world, from what I have seen and many many men I have talked to, are American women. My God. Many American women will flat out say they will not be with a man that doesn’t earn much…even if everything about that man is perfect for them.

    It gets really tiresome to hear the same old B.S. complaints on this site and others…when if these babies that are complaining would actually take a step back they would see they have a fairly nice life in the Philippines.

    • says


      Thank you…

      and I would agree, pathetic is the proper term.

      Look, I occasionally get frustrated at things too, sometimes. However, very rarely is anything good going to come from blowing one’s top. We are all human, but you cannot ever forget that you are a guest here.

      As to helping family, I love my wife, and her problems became mine on the day we married. How could I view that as a choice? We either have the money to help or we don’t, but it still is not really a choice.

    • rebecca Ferry says

      Helping the wife’s family members is not mandatory or expat’s obligation, i always keep reminding that they can help them if they want or if theyhave the means to help them but if those expats are also struggling to provide something for their own family, they can always say “NO” or I’M SORRY” and the relatives need to accept that. I have a cousin who married a foreigner and they made the Philippines (Cavite City) as their homebased since the beginning of their marriage, they had 4 beautiful children and all are studying in British International School , at first my cousin’s husband helped the relatives but since their children needs more educational financial support as they reach higher education , my cousin and her husband talked and decided to cut off some finacial help for the extended family and they understand that my cousin’s priority are to give the best education to their 4 children.The husband is a Chief Engineer working in a foreign vessel and only earned $1,500k w/o any pension so you can imagined how the family streched out the money, anyway, they owned 2 houses, the other one is rented out and my cousin worked as a partime real state agent but i know they’re still struggling, as i said helping out is not your obligation , just tell them your financial position and they need to accept that whether they like it or not.

  26. Bruce Michels says

    Great article and those facts are dead on. I also see you have drummed up with an explosion off emotion here.
    All I have to say is that when I go back home to the Philippines with my asawa it is because we want to and have a love for the country and people. We also know that we are truley blessed to have a healthy retirement income (through a lot of hard work) to live at a high standard.
    But with all that comes responsibility we must have a degree of humility and honor. We are expates living a life most Filipinos can only dream about. So we must be stewarts of our integrity and live by good morals and convictions. This country allows us to live here and it’s people are very tolerant of us being here. THEY are not our play toys and their country and customs are not for ridicule.
    Sure there are some Filipinos regardless of age that use expats and vise verses. weather it be old marring young or using each other for self gradification. But this is not the only country this happens in Southeast Asia. So to that I say what ever floats your boat just don’t come around me I’ve got nothing for ya!!
    However; Those who are always bi##hing about the Filipino way and are generally unhappy with there life in the Philippines. Go back home they probabaly bi##ched about that place to before they came to the Philippines. I really dislike those folk period!!! I they hate the Philippines so much why did they marry or shack up with a Filipina in the first place. OH by the the way for all those who say they don’t have the money to go home GO to the US Embassy and claim hardship they will get you home on the taxpayers dime. You just got to pay them back.
    John I agree with your facts and keep on trucking.

  27. says

    Good points John….

    We just got done helping my mother-in-law get her senior discount for her electric bill…..this saves her 5% a month which comes to around p25 a month. When I found out how little it was my first reaction was….why bother? She also uses her discount at the pharmacy and wherever its available to her. I think the reason for her still using it is because even though Joy and I help her out she just keeps on living the way she was accustomed to be fore I married her daughter. A peso saved here and there makes her feel good. Old habits are hard to break!

    I remember being in the states a few years back and ordering take out a McDonalds…..ahead of me was an older man….maybe 70ish…..he was giving the young trainee cashier quite an earful almost to the point of crying…….I tapped him on the shoulder and proceeded to tell him the error of his ways…..he then threatened to beat me up…..he was maybe 5’7 150lbs… 6′ 230lbs……he had a change of heart…..he stared at me the whole time he ate. The moral of this story?….No matter where ya go you can find an ass#### like him.

    As far as saving 7 pesos…..My motto…..dont fret the small stuff….if 7 pesos becomes life or death then you just might be in the wrong place.

    What I find living here is that many who come here to live or retire have no clue about the culture or people. Some of the questions I have gotten here leave me speechless. Maybe there should be a class one should attend and pass before coming. Joke.

    Keep on writing to the point…..

    • says


      Good for her… She and her government paid into the plan and she should take advantage of it… The program was set up for people like her, and there are many Filipino seniors for whom 25 pesos IS a big deal.

      Will always call it like I see it… The articles become pointless if I do otherwise.

    • Dan says

      Hi Greg…enjoyed reading your comments. I think if any who were thinking of comming there to the live..vacation or what ever..could pretty much get a good start on what to expect by reading this LIP on line mag. I know that I have been reading it near since Bob started it and have found it very usefull to me plus very interesting also about the culture,what to expect..what not to expect..the laws and much more pertaining to the Phillipines and the great thing is……its free….all a person needs to do is devote a little time and with a open mind they can learn a lot and use a lot of what they can learn here to help them decide what would be the best for them.

      • says

        Thanks Dan…..

        I agree, this one of the best sites to discuss issues and get a little humor along with it. Sites like this make the world a little smaller, and help each other learn from others.

        If one has a good attitude and an open mind, it doesn’t matter where you live…’s all easy sailing!

    • Mars Z. says

      Hi Greg, about the class, Filipinos are required you to attend a class when immigrating to other countries for issues you commented above.

      • says

        Mars: Rebecca left before they started giving the class… OFWs often gripe about having to take it, but they do give them useful information in the class that is often distorted / incorrect when obtained from family / other OFWs.

      • says

        Mars…..I think a cultural class for people coming to live here is not such a bad idea…..problem with many I have met here is that I doubt they think they would need it.

        It can be embarrassing to me some of the behavior I’ve witnessed. Hopefully over time these guys will get a clue…..kinda like learning the hard way I guess. When I go to the mall and meet a guy and he starts telling me about his sexual exploits in front of my wife, I can’t run fast enough. Fortunately Joy is understanding……if I could deport these guys I would….I wonder how some of these guys even got here….many with records back home are allowed to come here???

        Maybe somebody on our end or this end needs to be more discriminating??

        End of rant…..

  28. David L Smith says

    Hi John
    I have known my wife for two and half years now and got married last yr. In all that time her/my family asked for nothing from me, they were just happy for us and our child. Even my wife has only ever asked for the useal wifey things like what are u getting me for my birthday hubby, lol. I got so many stories from expats that when im married i will be expected to support all the family and the demands will be huge cos im a westerner and considered to be rich. Well nothing was further from the truth, even though my wifes family are poor farmers they are very proud and in fact would give me the biggest portion of the chicken soup they had prepared for our visits. I have come to love and admire them very much and today it gives me just as much pleasure to freely give to them any help i can , including monetry as it gives them to receive my kindness. I have taken over the wifes youngest sisters college fees as it was proving a big burden to the parents(id heard that sometimes they went without food) so they could pay these fees. I think im very lucky to be married into a family such as this, maybe other expats have not been so lucky, but i do agree its no good whingeing about it if thats the case , far better to confront the position with the family and if its unworkable, then time to move on….I also believe knockers of love between old and young should realise that there is no guarantee of happiness no matter what ages the partners are. My best buddy in Australia was married for 25 yrs to a woman the same age…he was a hell of a worker and would work many 16 hr shifts in a week to provide everything his wife and kids needed. His reward for this was to find out his wife was having an affair with a man/boy 25 yrs her junior…she was the one to encourage my mate to work so hard, no wonder….so i say live and let live and if people are happy screw the accepted morals or the right way to do things..formed by narrow minded bigots in the first place anyway,hahaha

    • says

      David: A lot of the talk about financial support is greatly exaggerated… I’ve only been asked for money by Rebecca’s family once (outside of the truly life-threatening heart operation for the newborn), and it was requested with much shame… And I gave it to them, and… It was paid back.

      But I assume that if your wife’s family had a real emergency, you would help in any way you could… It is only natural and right.

      A lot of the age stuff is also brought on by the actions of many who come to this country, acting like 70 year old frat boys on spring break.

      I never meant to state that age differences cannot work or aren’t sincere. In fact, I think a far bigger impact is the number of people who become involved online with someone here and jump in quickly without spending time with that person. Last time at the US Embassy, I needed a document verified which was in the same area where you obtain the “permission to marry” certificate. I counted at least four people who had literally just arrived in Manila the day before, met their online loves, and were headed to the altar. Several had never left the US before. Given the cultural differences betwenn here and the States, I sort of did a big double take in my thoughts…Could these marriages work? Possibly. However, I think the likelihood is higher that some of these same people in this situation are the ones posting their sob stories online later on after things fall apart. If you add in a huge age difference to such a situation, whereas an age difference might not matter as much in other situations, it certainly does not help things.

      Again, it doesn’t impact me one bit how old someone is… I’m married and do my own thing. Yet the perceptions by people are what they ar, are unlikely to change. If it doesn’t bother either party, then great. However, like the guy complaining to me about everyone sting at he and his wife, it is really naive to think that everyone might be accepting of a situation when you violate a cultural norm.

      • JohnC says

        If you don’t like the heat get out of the kitchen; however the status quo leaves no room for improvement and the good news for the one eyed man is that the bubble won’t be burst for those that have more and we can go on forever making excuses and turning a blind eye because “we have more”.
        I love the Philippines and know of no one person whom more than I would like to see adverts on Western TV saying “Come to the Philippines” instead of “Malaysia, Thailand, India or Bali” together with Tourism education and of course, welcome appropriate charter flight fares! But as long as the few in government suppress the many for the sake of their own comfort zone’s, the majority will never benefit from the tourist wealth going to what after all are competitor countries and the benefits for the people that the cash flow generates..OK, some folks are comfortable with that. A Don Quixote effot, I tried to do something about it when I managed a recruitment office in Manila meeting officials but the results were always the same, the greedy hand comes out and wants the fruit from the tree (under the table) before the roots have even had the opportunity to settle.
        400 years of Spanish rule followed by 40 years of Hollywood have certainly left their mark but then as a traveller, the natural human tendency to compare like with like is extant…Certainly throwing the towel in with the different mind set for us would be the key to survival if we chose to settle there.
        Oddly enough, it’s my dear Wife originally from a traditional provincial (Pampanga) family whom out of all of our SE Asia travel experience seems to prefer the quiet areas of Thailand for a residence.

        • says

          John: I’ve never stated that there wasn’t a problem with corruption here…

          However, to hear some people talk, you would think that you are entering the wild west with a complete lack of laws or civility, and that is simply not the case. Is it risky to start a business here? Absolutely.

          However, I can say with absolute certainty and familiarity that the West is hardly corruption free. When I was working as a chef in Chicago, the restaurant paid: The local cops to not ticket customers; the restaurant union to not strike; the health department to overlook violations; the garbage union to empty the garbage that was already paid; the liquor board to keep license “violations” off the record; the local alderman to approve the business license… Do I need to go on? All of this just to sell bowls of pasta to the public.

          My point being that business people and other face this type of stuff everywhere… It is a cost of doing business… It is up to each business owner to decide if they want to take a stand and risk going out of business or to do whatever they need to do in order to make a living.

          • JohnC says

            Interesting Experience; well, for us anyway. In the fortunate position of being in a business that affords me the privilege of being able to travel in S.E Asia,
            we had to linger in Thailand on business 3 times last year during which time we were able to squeeze in some fun time also..On all three occasions upon returning to Europe we felt a sense of loss as to what we were leaving behind; the courtesy, natural welcomes smile upon arrivals, cleanliness, in ones face elegance & culture, food, the whole ambience; we realised how much we miss it (I’m not entering Thai politics here), even parts of Bangkok airport are a work of art & clean!
            Recently having to repeat the exercise in the Philippines, the only way we can describe it is “draining” and my Filipino wife of 20 plus yrs’ remarked during departure flight form MNL what a relief & luxury it was to be leaving. Feeling drained we were so happy that we no longer had to live there. .Now that is not to say we would not again consider it in the future but it would have to be a thouroughly well researched area of compromise and certainly with good infrastructure.
            Paradise is subjective to each individual which to some is getting Blitzed Bar Hopping in Angeles City or simply enjoying family life…I’m sure there is place that pushes the right buttons for us, just haven’t found it yet…BTW. Check out the MM2H (Malaysia my second home Govt’ programme on the net..Be nice if PI could emulate it but doubtful.

            • says

              John: I’m familiar with the Malaysian program… It can be quite an attractive offer / setup. I’m not so certain that I would want to live there, though there are many nice things about the country.

              Like you, I have travelled extensively in much of the world. Realistically, any place in the world has both good and bad… It is a question of weighing which things are important to you in life. The Philippines has its’ problems, but we chose to live here, and we deal with those issues on a personal level. If it ever becomes nonbeneficial, then there are plenty of other options.

        • Heinz Schirmaier says

          @ John C. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do NOT promote the Phils as a great tourist country! There are enough ignorant foreigners there including India Indians who own the majority of Hockshops and Loan companies. Can you imagine what that would do to THEIR ECONOMY?? For heavens sake, we would not be able to afford living there and actually will have to return to our respective countries. NO PROMOTION OF PHILIPPINES!! Reminds me of when I was living in Colorado. Motto was: Please visit Colorado, but after that, GO HOME! LMAO!

  29. says

    Great article, John. Let me put my spin on some of your myths, from the viewpoint of an old American expat geezer of 59 living in the Philippines since July 2009, married to the MOST patient Filipina in the world for 11 years.

    Myth 1: Living is cheaper here. Yes, it is. We live in a rural province, Guimaras, but my wife had paid for our house and property years ago while working as a slave (OFW) in Singapore and Taiwan for years. But I live a blended Filipino/Western lifestyle. Directly support 5 people at our “Compound” for around $775 (USD) a month, and help out five others. But I still bitched in a recent post about 3 jeepney drivers in Iloilo who tried to stiff me for 5 pesos each ride thinking the rich Kano was not going to ask for change. Not a matter of the measly 5 pesos, matter of principle. Don’t charge me more because I’m a kano. That’s my opinion. But as far as the senior discount goes, I’m not old enough anyway, and there are far more people here deserving of it.

    Myth 2: I AM “rich” by Filipino standards. Just live here awhile or visit.

    Myth 3: I won’t help my wife / girlfriend’s family with money. I made a promise to my wife over 11 years ago that I would support her mother and her family living in Guimaras, and we sent the family money 400 USD each month while in the States, about nine years, until we moved here. Now my mother-in-law and nine other relatives live on our property. I was fortunate to have a good job in America and draw a monthly income from my company’s retirement account. I don’t intend to ever break that promise.

    Myth 4 and 5, agree with you. Myth 6. The corruption in the Philippines is staggering, and in my opinion is deeply ingrained in all levels of the government, from the local barangay officials to the Palace. Worse than America? You bet. It has a stranglehold on this nation.

    As far as Myth 7 and living like a king. Well, I joke about living like a king in the Philippines on my website because everybody waits on me hand and foot here. I get the celebrity treatment and haven’t gotten flipped off once. I’m old, but people treat me with respect. Cute SM (not the kind of SM some of you boneheads might be thinking of) girls gush over me at the SM City Malls. I don’t measure my quality of life by how much material things or money I have. I measure it by my quality of life. My retirement in the Philippines sure beats the commute to work, and the mind-numbing boring job I had for almost 30 years any day.

    • says


      Certainly it can be cheaper, but on your site, it appears that you live a relatively modest lifestyle. If you tried to live with all of the “conveniences” and “luxuries” that you had in the States, that $770 per month would not be possible (multiple vehicles, central air, convenience foods, eating out every meal… The normal USA “Keep up with the Joneses”).

      Now is it a better quality of life? Only you can judge, but in your postings you appear to be happy and pretty well adjusted.

      As to helping family, you are keeping yours, much as I am keeping my very similar promise… If you don’t want your spouse to be happy, then why get married? Right?

      • says

        You’re right, John, we do live a modest lifestyle, no doubt about that. Tell me about “Keeping up with the Joneses!” I dearly love my wife but for someone that grew up literally in the middle of a jungle in the Philippines without shoes to wear to school some days, that “Jones” bug sure bit here when she got to the States in 2000. Bought a new big house, new bigger trucks, etc. No problem with that now in our rural province where scratching out a daily meal for many folks is a big deal. Thanks for the reply, John, you’re articles are always full of information and insight.

      • says

        Well, thanks, Papa Duck, just saw your remark, but just ask my wife, I always have more to say! God bless her, no wonder I call her The Sainted Patient Wife.

  30. Chasdv says

    Hi John,
    Interesting article,or should i say rant,lol.I had a good laugh at some of the comments.

    Well this “old coot” (just love that expression) must be the exception to the rule.
    My younger partner prefers to work,as she enjoys what she does,and likes a little independence,rather than freeload of the back of this old coot,much to the amazement of some of her friends.
    (Its the “quality of the person” that matters,not the age).
    I am not in need of a nurse maid (yet),enjoy my independence and am quite capable of looking after myself.
    Some old coots need to take a leaf out of Paul T’s book,chill out,enjoy life and see the funny side.

    Well i’m off now to the “Victor Meldrew Appreciation Society” for a beer,ha ha ha,lol.

  31. David LaBarr says

    Hi John,

    As always, a great article and mostly great comments. My wife and I have been married 16 years now and have two great children Mark 14 and Ruth 8. I love her family, her friends, and her church and they love me.

    This you may find hard to believe. Every once in a while, while having coffee and reading my newspaper, an expat will stop and invite me to their group get togethers where they discuss problems with their wives, Filipinos, and this lousy country they hate. Wives and Filipinos are not allowed. I have to hold myself back and just tell them that they are all sick. They really embarrass me. I personally would support a move by the Philippine government to send these sicko’s back where they came from. I can just imagine what kind of life their wives have.

    • John Miele says

      Dave: I’ve been invited to a few…. And I normally reject it out of hand. There are a couple of business groups in Manila that I’ve looked at, bit they are not expa focused and Filipinos are not only welcome, but encouraged to attend.

      Bob wrote about these groups a while back, and like you and him, I have no desire to join a group where my wife is not welcome.

      I have no need to turn to others in “support” of my exalted existence here.

  32. Malcolm says

    Hi John
    Calm down mate. You are such an angry man.You are going to have a heart attack..LOL Let it all roll over you. That is the secret of long life. Only complain about the things you can change.

  33. dans says

    hi john,

    Nice article, you really hit it!, anyway..

    I have this special “list” and on that list, I write things like the people you describe in your article. this list is known as my ” stupid list” – it is a collection of the kind of people who are beyond the abysmal stupid .

    stupid people like – the one who kept complaining about the country and yet, still continuing to live there. – or people who will marry a very young poor girl and later on will complain about supporting the family. these kind of people regardless of their skin color, language, or nationality is really welcome to be my list – lol..

  34. jonathan says

    Hi John,

    Again, nicely written article.

    Here is my insider view regarding helping the wife’s family and her extended family etc. As you may well all know, our country has a very close-knit familial relations. We even recognize as family members cousins, uncles, aunties etc up to the 2nd or 3rd degree of relations. So you might end up having 10-20 relatives visiting your house one day, it’s the norm especially in the provinces. So it goes hand-in-hand if you are married to a Filipina, you might encounter them one day and yes they would ask for your support usually, financial support. Does the expats here think that it’s only happening to them? Of course not, us Filipino husbands too experiences the same because it is our culture. We help our extended families (by marriage) in any way we can. And sometimes, there would be misunderstandings too for whatever silly reasons you can think of. Being an OFW has its pros and cons, and one of the cons is that once you get out of the PH, our families thinks (even at the back of their minds) that you are expected to help more since you will be earning more than your locally employed brother, sister, husband, wife etc. Now, if you can’t handle that, don’t marry a Filipina, marry a Filipino instead (lol).

    • says

      Jonathan: That is why I tend to let Rebecca decide on these things… I trust her and as an ex-OFW she has already dealt with it for many years. I promised her when we moved that since she was giving up her job, we would help her mother and brothers with the same amount she was sending: That they wouldn’t feel hardship because of her decision.

      As to extended family, how much and if we help is case by case. I will say that money requests are not all that common, though, even from extended family.

  35. Monique says

    Someone directed me to this article… funny to read all the responses.

    Some comments turned to general discussion about westerners marriage to a Filipina and their family issues. I even have come to a conclusion that Philippines biggest export may probably be are Filipinas.

    As an immigrant to western countries, I have not rely on any government assistance even if its available. I work and study until I was able to be on my own.

    I agree with the author, if I can afford to live in PH then I would be there for good by now.

    I haven’t lived in PH since I was a very young kid and Im now over 30 so you can imagine if I go visit my family’s root – what do you think I am going to get ?

    For someone like with western upbringing I have struggled to try to understand why do we keep sending support to the homeland ? Philippines is not a welfare state but isn’t it sending financial support is basically supporting the people to be on welfare ?

    just my 2 cents

    • says

      Monique: Thank you for your thoughtful comment… Part of why some of the comments stated that I was angry were due to the fact that my article last week about OFWs was rather harsh.

      You are right that it is a form of welfare, and you have done exactly what my wife did: Rely on your own wits and talents because no one else will pick you up.

      Best of luck to you.

    • roy says

      Hi Monique,

      It’s a Filipino thing. Since you haven’t grown up to the Phil, you cannot begin to grasp its concept. While the rest of my family is here, and therefor have no immediate relatives there to support, we still send something to the Phil like money, balikbayan boxes which often contain used clothes. Money may go to an aunt who’s sick, or a cousin. Former house help also figure in our list. Friends who may never have BB in their life would surely appreciate little luxuries coming from those BB.
      Yes, it could be a burden to be asked from time to time. For the most part though, it is a pleasure. It’s so hard to explain. Ok, when I see something here that’s so cheap but I don’t need it for myself, I just get it & think of someone from my friends/cousins who would be happy to have it. If I did not have anybody there as in nobody there that I knew, I surely would have no reason to be ‘connected’ to the Phil.

      • jonathan says

        Hi Roy,

        I think its not only unique to the Filipinos, these remitting of monies and sending of things. Here in KSA, I’m seeing a lot of South Asians workers sending those same things too back to their homeland and even sending perishable items like onions and garlics! They have close family ties too by having multiple families and relatives living under one roof.

  36. says

    Hi John – One of the more relevant articles of late with costs rising for all who choose to live here in the Philippines. The crux of the matter is good planning for those expats coming to stay here and when things do go wrong having an exit plan as well.
    Recently we visited our daughter in Australia and its little wonder that there are so many Aussies living in the Philippines as that is a very expensive place to live.
    As you mentioned in your article if you cannot afford to be here don’t come and stay but the fiscal state of the majority of pensioners the world over makes it tough where ever they may live.

    • says


      Though it has been about two years since I visited Australia (a country that I truly enjoy visiting, by the way), my last trip there I heard an awful lot of concern from my colleagues about rising prices, particularly in Sydney. It really had gotten expensive.

      The thing about planning is that someone retiring will have basic expenses, regardless of location: Food, Shelter, Transportation. Everything else is really a luxury. Additionally, inflation is the norm in 95% of the world, so it is something that will need to be faced. The big difference is that though you may save money here, if through currency fluctuations, civil unrest, or other reasons you find yourself in a bind, there are no social services on which you can safely rely upon, unlike in your home country.

      Not telling people to abandon their dreams by any measure, but the question of “can I afford it?” deserves serious thought and planning, as you state above.

      • says

        Hi John – Your spot on with your insight. It was Sydney we visited Bondi actually and although a lovely place, I would not like to be living on the breadline there.
        Sometime ago we had a discussion on here about buying or renting a property and we are so glad we were able to afford to buy when we did as it makes our monthly outlay that much less and affordable.
        I suppose we all have our reasons for being here but good forward financial planning is a must for all who come unless ofcourse money is no object.
        Kind regards.

        • Boss says

          A taxi fare from the airport, 15 kilometres to where I live at the moment cost 78 Aussie dollars, a plane ticket from Manila to CDO cost 54 dollars. Yes on face value Sydney is expensive. Yet in terms of beauty and infrastrure it is hard to beat. There has to be a price for quality. Oh by the way a one bedroom unit facing Bondi beach sold a few months ago for 7 million dollars. Real Estate prices here have to be seen to be believed. Yes, David your right, Aussies are taxed to the hilt.

      • David L Smith says

        Yes John the expenses are high over here and it doesn’t help matters when we are taxed on everything…we have a drought tax, flood tax, river tax and now we are going to cop a carbon tax, you name it and the Australian goverment will tax it…Time to pull my farts in i think in case i get hit for a pollution tax from them next, lol

  37. Mike says


    Out of curiosity, and a lesson to be learned, would you give me the names of the 20 or more websites that took a nosedive that you know of?

    I’d be very glad to see them, and grateful if you could point me that way…

    You can send it to me private by email if you are willing…

    Of course we all learn by our own mistakes, but we should also learn from others’ mistakes…

    This was a great post I must say…

    Be well.

    • says


      I don’t have your email, and I’ll send some of the sites that are still up, but honestly, quite a few are no longer active.

      Most of the sites that fail do so for a few reasons:

      1. They are infrequently updated… You generally need to have fresh content in order to keep people coming back. Take LiP, for example… Bob has new stories daily and people bookmark or RSS the new additions. As mentioned above, it is work. There are ways around direct contributions, and Bob deals with some of that in his book. Many people simply lose interest after a promising start, or it becomes too much like work for them.

      2. Poor site design. Despite many templates being very easy to use, if you do not have an eye for design, it is best to leave it to someone who knows. Many people try to go in too cheap, and the sites look like a train wreck.

      3. They don’t give it time to succeed: Unless you are willing to spend a lot of advertising money or you have a topic that is major-media newsworthy, it takes time to build a following and generate publicity. The day your site debuts, you most likely will only receive a few visitors, if any. Additionally, it takes time for the search engines to rank you and list you.

      4. Poor advertising: Facebook and Google offer advertising that is cost-effective. Falling for the many “build traffic” scams on the net can ruin your reputation. You need someone like Bob to manage your SEO (or do it yourself), use valid key words and tags, and keep out the Spam.

      5. Unique topic: You really have to distinguish yourself in a crowded market… If you are not unique or interesting, people will not visit.

  38. says

    Thanks for the good work of practical info…i just want to share a thought with every one. “Life is best felt by experience than words. What we all go through is true and if we go through we should go through knowing not owing”

    thanks once more John

  39. says

    There is something else to consider about inflation. Inflation can be under 2% in the USA and there will be no COLA for retired Federal workers, military and probably SSN and others. Not sure about SSN and others. But it could be 10% here and you wont get a COLA.

    There has been no COLA for retired Federal workers for the last two years. Inflation in the Philippines is projected at around 4% this year.

    But as for living here cheaper, it is cheaper to live here and I don’t live Filipino style. However, I also do live Western style. I had to find some middle ground.

    But yeah, I’m so sick of the complainers. One of the first things I noticed when I got here is that when expats gather, they TEND to sit around a moan. So like you, it isn’t often I join in those gatherings. Though there is one in Cebu this month I might go to.

    And double yes on not accepting what people say on boards. I actually saw some people talking about human trafficking this week. They were asking how this was human trafficking when the girls were not transported. It was on a forum and these two had over 3000 post.

    There is a lot of bad information out there and you know, some people get into trouble and think they are going to be able to easily buy there way out of it. Like you hinted at, some might be able too but most are going to pay the price.

    LOL @ 12 cents.

    • says

      Rusty: Haven’t seen you on here in a while… Hope all is going well for you.

      I think most people that are successful in staying here also find that middle ground… It was the same when I lived in the Middle East, and expat colleagues generally confirm that suspicion. Most people will never be able to 100% convert over… You pick up too much from life experience otherwise.

      As to inflation and pensions, you took your own destiny and placed it into your own hands, Rusty. So, if you get a COLA less than inflation, you still have a means to survive. You planned for change, in a manner of speaking.

    • Dan says

      Hahahahahahaha Rusty….that a good name for a web site ( if not all ready taken )…….. LOL @12CENTS.COM

  40. Wade Henderson says


    I’m a young guy (21) and I’m starting as a pmp in the USA making around 120,000 USD per year, the plan was to save up along with a few other fellow PMP’s to get around 3.5 million dollars to start a Corperation there for the benefit of the Philippines and us. With an income of around 10,000 USD per month, would it be wise to start this venture? The business is a planned combination of legal, manufacturing, accounting, and other areas of intrest in a way that would employ the nations graduates and keep the educated workforce in the nation.

    From someone that has been there to a kid that knows nothing other that spreadsheets and management styles, what would be the one of the first things I should do, what are some pitfalls you would know of? Could I try to gain gorvernment support to accomplish this, assuming I come humble and willing to improve the economy of the country?

    Please help!

    • says


      First off, your business effectively becomes a consulting business, and therefore would be limited to 40% foreign equity if started here. If your partners are Filipino and you trust them, that might not be much of an issue to you, but that is the law as it stands.

      I would strongly suggest that you contact the PMI chapter here and attend one of their meetings. I don’t know if your membership in the States would carry over or not. However, as the local members are the ones in your profession, that would be the place to start.

      I am not a project manager, but from what I know, most government contracts for such services would be restricted to Filipino companies. The amount US$3.5MM is probably enough to get someone’s attention in the government, but I would be extremely cautious: It is a competitive field in the Philippines, and most of the companies (big construction, engineering, etc.) that have these needs operate their own in-house departments. You also face a hurdle that the DTI may lump you in with “Engineering”, which is on the negative list (0% foreign ownership allowed). This may happen since so many projects are engineering or infrastructure based. Also note that accounting, finance, and much manufacturing are on the list (The areas you mentioned), so if you decide to move forward, the services of an attorney familiar with corporate law will most likely be necessary.

      Now, could you set up differently? Well, as an independent individual, you are sort of in a gray area, particularly regarding ownership with regards to being a consultant… If you are incorporated outside of the Philippines and only conduct business with foreign firms, then you are probably OK. But once you hire employees and pay taxes here, you need to be registered with the DTI, and that is where it gets tricky.

      In any event, I suggest that before investing anything, you talk to the PMI, the DTI, and possibly the Fil-Am Chamber.

  41. Eric Gee says

    Maybe that’s part of of why I don’t live there…..I would have given him the 12 cents and told him to STFU and quit embarrassing his nationality.

  42. Favour DF says

    Plz. John, in my search to visit Philippines i came across your work. i need your advice. what are the requirements to travel and live in phil? i have a plan to do business (technical services) but don’t know any one there.

    • says

      Favour: That is a tough one to answer, since I really don’t know much about your situation…

      My advice:

      1. Decide what type of visa you will need (Are you married to a Filipina? Can you quallify for SRRV? Will your business employ more than 10 Filipinos? Will a tourist visa suffice?)

      2. Decide where you want to live. (City, province, close to hospitals, wife’s family, resort on the beach?)

      3. Decide if you have enough finances to earn a living while the business is building a following. (Do you have a pension or other cash flow? Do you have a substantial amount of savings?)

      4. Contact the DTI to find out if your business can even be owned by foreigners… (Technical services can describe a huge array of professions)

      5. Is there enough demand here for the business to even be feasible? Do you have market contacts? Can you finance the business? How entrenched are local competitors?

      6. Prepare a broad budget of expenses, leaving at least 50% over what you think you will spend as a cushion.

      7. MOST IMPORTANT: Before committing, I would visit here several times as a business trip (NOT vacation), contacting people like the Fil-Am chamber, local banks, trade organizations in your industry, and possibly folks like the World Trade Center or the US Commercial Service to get an accurate picture of the local market in your industry. (If you are a Mason, Toastmaster, Rotarian, or in similar groups, attend a local meeting and start networking.) Get on LinkedIn and start using it.

  43. Bill says

    There’s only one thing that I wonder about. I’m from Canada. Well, here, all kano are from America, because even the Netherlands is a US State, but whatever.

    I find that Filipinos tend to have WAY more money than Canadians. I mean, me, my family, and most of my friends can’t even afford to drive, let alone own real estate. However, Filipinos own massive houses, huge cars and trucks, and spend TONS more a month than I could ever earn. Even some of the bigger sarisari are making bank!

    Whenever I meet anyone or go out with anyone, I want to take the jeep, but they make fun of me and say only take the taxi. Filipinos will spend up to p3,000 for a taxi, for what I would spend p25 on a bus! (BTW-p3,000 is 2 months of rent for me)

    I see people at Meralco paying bills upwards of p6,000 for a month(clean people, you can tell it’s not past months)! Don’t get me started on furniture. Ever been to a furniture store in the Philippines? 20 bucks at walmart? Not here. p70,000 lang for a couch? “Lang”? I’m lucky I could afford bamboo to supplement my empty Ginebra box sala set I made(we’ve been sitting/sleeping on the floor for a few years now). The other day, I was at Cebuano sending off the monthly stipend of p1,000 to family, with a p500 bonus for brother’s HS graduation. There was a Filipino there sending p150,000! He was complaining about the p6,000 transfer fee. But damn! That’s a lot.

    Or how about the p500,000 PER MONTH condos? People think the kano is rich. Most who come here are old, with a life savings and 3 years to spend it partying. No knowledge of the peso, no family left. Also, most westerners can’t afford to travel, unless they are rich. So that’s all you see. American TV is generally all rich people. Like Filipino TV. All millionaires. I can’t live like them. I AM POOR.

    People talk too much about the poor people in the Philippines. But the reality is, most westerners are ALSO poor. Not to mention, not all Filipinos are poor. MANY I meet, are way more mas mayaman than I will ever be. We pay just over p1,000 a month for our apartment, eat fish, rice, and bananas every day. Ride the jeep about 4 times a month, at most. We’re considering moving to the bamboo barangay. (Free land in exchange for votes to the owner when elections come around)

    I’m not arguing with you. Your blogs are generally refreshing. All too often people’s blogs make me think they are run by the local government. “Retire in the Philippines and live like a king in paradise, surrounded by sexy young girls!” Ha, ha! Life here is tough. I live here because my brobense girl has no interest in a visa or moving abroad. It’s all about the bamboo and fish heads for her. That’s fine with me.

    But still, not all Filipinos have it hard here…

    • says

      Bill: No, not all do, but the disparity in wealth if far greater than in the West. Around 5% control 95% of the wealth here. There is money here, or all of the malls and shops would not exist.

      However, it is a mistake to disregard the fact that those living in dire poverty go well beyond anything in the West.

      Many, many Filipinos would gladly accept the welfare and social services provided to the poor in the US. There is little to no safety net here, which is a big difference.

      • Bill says

        Without a doubt. I agree there. I think the West is heading this way soon also it seems. Only want to point out there IS money here. Some people only see the poor. And the Pinoys only see me as rich. While the others here mock me for walking, or riding jeepney, or buying the cheaper items at Uniwide(or for shopping there at all). I’m actually going to make the shift to talipapa only soon. It’s not as fresh as one might expect, but it’s cheaper. And no long jeepney rides to get your stuff home.

  44. sherk says

    Thanks for doing us this favor…. Can i use this to slap those foreigners living in this country who think of themselves as kings and oftentimes "above" us Filipinos… ?

  45. kikas_head says

    After reading this article, I have never been so happy to be female.

    1. I am able to avoid most of the pervy talk (although I often hear it in line at immigration).

    2. Since I am with someone close enough to my age, no one says boo to me. I am guilty of judging old men with young (albeit of age) girls. Whenever I have gone to the embassy, I am amazed at the difference in age. It always makes me a little sad. I know I shouldn’t judge.

    3. I married into a family that is very comfortable by US standards so there are never any concerns about financially supporting family. We have some scholars, but not all are blood related.

    4. I rarely see any other foreigners. Are they hiding somewhere? Admittedly I am never really in Makati, so that could be part of it. The only foreigners I see on a regular basis volunteer with the same NGO as me and they are all very normal.

    5. I have been guilty of getting annoyed when someone tries to charge me a special price. It is just a waste of time. Sure, try to squeeze me, but when you are trying to take me for P1000 for an item I KNOW is P200, I do tend to get annoyed. Luckily, there are always a million other stalls that will sell the exact same item so it all works out.

    6. Our utilities are cheaper–EXCEPT electricity. Meralco will take what you save on water, cable, telephone, HOA dues, and then some. Electric prices are INSANE and this includes being very prudent with usage. It is insane.

    7. Food can be cheaper–imported products are quite expensive, more expensive then say Singapore. We have taken to getting our weird staples in the US (i.e., truffle oil, enchilada sauce, etc) and having them sent here with either a visitor or via door to door.

    It is worth noting I am from the Bay Area so we are used to high priced items. Prices might be a lot higher here than from the flyover states, I am not sure.

    Finally, we would never have come here if we did not have constant income from both here and the states.

  46. Philippine186 says

    I love the author already, Not in a gay way but damn he really knows how to capture my heart, Jawz Paul, and Bob also have a catchy and intriguing stories.

  47. says

    Wow. This is the very thing I was thinking about last night as I signed off from some of the Yahoo! Philippines boards.. too many unthankful, cranky old ex-pats!! Geez, tell me where else are they going to live as they do and be treated as they are? Definitely not in the States where they’d be eating cat food and HOPING someone came in once a week to tidy up their mess, sent from the county.

    It just amazes and disgusts me how people can be so unthankful. Looking forward to meeting some decent expats and locals who simply want a peaceful, joyful life.

  48. says

    My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to finding out about your web page for a second time.

  49. Outback Academic says

    Hmm, i just read the article, think you have a lot of baggage there john! I love the saying ” a fool and his money is soon parted” I would watch my money as well and query where i think a charge is not right to ensure the next expat is overcharged a higher amount, if its was a pricing situation based on my race. And on my partner, i have never given money to her family after eight years, except when their roof was blown off in a typhoon. She works as well and our moneys are our own, 50/50 for everything. And on tipping it is a terrible habbit taught by previous colonisers.

  50. Chris S says

    Awesome post John!!! :-)

    I am not even living there yet and I know exactly what you mean. I have been there several time and hear so many Expats bitching and moaning about the smae thing. Shame on them! My beautiful wife and I already have our plan and thankfully I AM one of those few who is able to live a Filipinos lifestyle. We have a small simple house in the province and I couldnt be happier when I am there. It has even gotten to the point that when I am in the Philippines and I see a Kano (which is rare in our area) I get somewhat upset, hahaha as if I am a native and he should not be there, even though he has the same right to be as I do… These people (Stereotypic Expat) need to remember why they came here in the first place, I bet it was for the beauty of the place, the love of a wonderful Filipina, and the low stress and happy life, rather than financial. This poor(sad not financially) old Expat has now created higher stress and strife for himself over a few pennies, how stupid and how sad that he has been reduced to this in such a beautiflu and wonderful place. But I try my best to stay clear of the well known poular areas where Kanos tend to be. I am glad I have never put much emphasis on money and material things, I love the Philippines, the Filipino peole and lifestyle, (always happy not matter their conditions) I love to live in the province.

  51. Gary Perry says

    First of all I have to say I disagree with you evaluation of expenses in the Philippines in comparison to the USA. I have lived in the Philippines 3 different times and I am a US Citizen. There are a few things that I found in the Philippines that were more expensive than here in the USA but most things were drastically cheaper. Real Estate is not only cheaper to rent but drastically cheaper to buy (any standard of housing) I would not try to live in his so called Philippine standards and can live for one fourth of the cost of living here in the USA.
    I had a condo in Manila not one of the luxury condo’s but instead a modest condo it was in the Makati district about 1/2 mile from GreenBelt Mall or Glorietta Mall whatever you want to call it and not much farther from the Power Plant Mall. Not only did I live that much cheaper than I could here in the USA I did many more things. My girlfriend lived with me and we ate every meal out (either fast food or regular restaurant) We saw at least 5 or 6 movies every week. We used public transportation only ( most of the time only taxis ). We went out at night to clubs and had appetizers and drinks and we still lived much cheaper than I could here in the USA and that is not going out to see movies, hardly ever going out to eat and living in a real dump of an apartment. I don’t know what world this guy was trying to live in but most all electronics there were much cheaper, clothes were so much cheaper it wasn’t even close to the cost of our clothes here so if you think it is much cheaper to live in the Philippines you are correct. To Justify my statements let me say this. Makati is the financial and governmental center of Manila, and here in the USA I live in Joplin, Missouri it has been amongst the lowest cost of living areas in the United States for decades now and has nothing to offer compared to Manila in the Philippines. Oh and I also lived in Cagayan De Oro in the Philippines which is on Mindanao Island and it was even much cheaper than Makati in Manila.

  52. Gary Zies says

    Regarding Myth # 5. I think it takes a lot more than just hard work to make an online business work in the Philippines. It also takes a healthy amount of know-how and lots of good fortune. You’ll have to provide a product/service that’s not already available and if you become successful you’ll have to fight your competition by always staying a couple of steps ahead of them. Simply copying Bob’s ideas is not going to cut it!

  53. liloandan says

    Great article….. we live here because each of us likes different things about the philippines, the people, and the culture. Myself…. I like the beautiful beaches, the philippine pastries, god awful karaoke singing at midnight and my families big smiles when I come home. So please, take Johns advice and stay home, retire to florida!!

  54. paul chapman says

    Philipines is great place great weather great people but do what I do rent place 5,000 pasos month keep your slef to your self and dont let your dick run your head and you can live great life for £ 150 month.

  55. Gary says

    Here it is, 2 years after this was posted and I wonder why I didn’t comment before. I miss your posts on LIP John. I understand why you had to stop. You are a very busy man!

    I like my life here in the Philippines. Meriam is great and so is her family. We got into a money problem and it was her sister who helped us out. Is the Philippines perfect? Nope but then the United States has it’s problems too.

    Do expats complain too much? Very much so, I am so tired of hearing it. So if you can find the time please post again on LIP. Sometimes the truth hurts but at least it is the truth!!!

    • John Miele says


      I stopped because I did get too busy… It does take some time to not only back up my article with facts, but to answer comments (I believe that if someone takes the time to comment, I at least owe them a “thank you” at minimum). That is, in large part, why this site is so useful to expats… Bob takes the time to put up useful articles that are more than simply hearsay and to personally respond to most of those who comment.

      Additionally, it really started to become tiresome, after a while, with some of the articles that were, I guess, “controversial” in some people’s minds. There were a few I wrote that still get comments, sometimes really obnoxious, four or five years after they were written. It got to the point where it seemed that no matter what I wrote, except the most benign of topics, started some people off on rants. Though I don’t mind helping people with advice on general inquiries, I am far too busy with my “real” job to spend time getting into pointless arguments online that simply waste time. I am relatively thick skinned, but wasting time does get on my nerves (If you think I am an idiot, then why bother to read what I write?)

      Bob has been a good friend to me, and I did enjoy writing on here. He extended an open offer to write again in the future, and I may take him up on that offer should the desire hit or I feel that I can write something useful to others.

      He operates a number of quite useful sites and has helped me with advice and assistance on a number of other sites I have started (both paid and gratis). I highly recommend that readers on here use his services and use LiP as a resource. With a couple of exceptions, I find most of the other expat sites either boring, full of bad information, or simply bitch out forums.

  56. Steve hawker says

    Hi John, great article and feed back, not sure how I missed it, slack, busy etc. All well said and answered. Cheers, Steve

  57. says

    I was happy to pay a few extra pesos for the sake of a convenient place to pay the bills. It would cost more than seven pesos just to get on a jeepney and ride to the different utility companies and pay directly.

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