For people who are planning to move to the Philippines, there are always plenty of topics that they want or need to be educated about. Things that they just need to know in order to be able to make the move.
Probably the primary, most important topic in this real is about money! There are a number of aspects when it comes to money too.. sort of “sub areas” of concern. The big one that everybody seems to be interested in is “how much do things cost”. But, there are a couple other concerns too…. “how much do you need” and “how can I supplement my income?”.
With so many different sub-areas to be concerned about, money is a wide topic for those who plan to move to the Philippines, and there is a lot to learn. Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the information out there is opinion, not fact. I mean, really, if you were to ask me “how much money to I need per month” well, all I can do is give my opinion. What you need and what I need may be wildly different from each other! It depends on so many factors. Similarly, how much things cost depends on what it is that we buy, and what I buy may be totally different from what you buy!
One thing that I find very interesting when people ask for cost comparisons is that it is such a popular topic among people who are thinking about moving here. But, on the other hand, among people who already live here, it is a nuisance, and a headache. It is not a topic that we like to talk about for the most part. There are just too many variables. If some guy that I have never met before would ask me “how much will my electricity bill be there” there is really no way to answer it accurately. I mean, firstly the power rate is not the same from city to city or region to region. Davao is different from Manila or Cebu. Another thing to consider is that it depends on things like how many air conditioners you will run, how many (and the size) refrigerators you have in the house. How will you wash clothes, by hand or in a machine. I know people literally whose power bill is P500/month, and I also know people paying P30,000 per month for their electricity.
Because of factors like this, the cost comparisons are just hard to pin down. I think you can be safe, though, to assume that overall life is much cheaper in the Philippines than it is to live in the country you are coming from (unless you are moving from some other Asian country or similar). There will be some things that are more expensive here, and you will find most things to be MUCH cheaper here than you are used to paying. It is also true that the longer you live here, the cheaper you will be able to live, because you will learn how to live cheaply, where to buy things cheaper, etc.
How Much to you need to Live here?
Much like the “cost comparisons” that I talked about above, the actual amount that you will need is highly variable. How much you need is probably totally different than how much I need. My income needs are high compared to most expats living here. Some of the reasons why I need a higher income:
- I have a large family, 10 people in the household.
- I have a number of kids and they are in private schools that cost money.
- I tend to get involved in doing charity type things.
- I didn’t come here to live cheap, I came here to live well.
Because of these kinds of factors, I don’t live that cheaply compared to most. So, let’s say that I personally need a minimum income of $3,000 to $4,000 to live on. I know others who live on as little as $500 per month. Now in looking and comparing me and this other person, we are really looking at two different extremes.
In general, I would say that you can “make it” on $1,000 per month, but you will not live a great life. For a decent style of living, I would say that you need a minimum of $1,500 per month or so. If you have a large family like I do, then you might need $2,000.
How can you supplement your income?
Well, there are lots of ways! Not everybody who moves to the Philippines is the 65 year old retiree! When I moved here, I was 38 years old. I didn’t have a pension, social security or anything of the sort. I had to be able to earn an income to support my family. I did have a nice amount of savings when I came, but I found that my savings was gone a lot more quickly than I thought it would be. When that happened I had to learn two things quickly:
- How to live more frugally.
- How to earn money in the Philippines.
Thankfully for me, I was able to learn how to do both. And, because I was able to learn those things, I have been able to stay here for a long, long time. I am currently in my 17th year of life in the Philippines.
For myself, I earn the vast majority of my living online. I have a number of different income methods that I use online. Most of what I do is probably obvious to those who read my sites. If it is not, just take a closer look at the sites and it won’t be hard to figure it out. Another this is that nearly 100% of my income is generated outside the Philippines. It is just in the past couple of years that I have started earning some income in the Philippines.
Other foreigners that I know try a lot of other ways to earn a living, if they need to. Some have things like Sari Sari Stores, Bars, Resorts and the like. Others go work abroad for part of the year. Whatever it is that they do, it seems to work well for them. For me, I prefer to stay here in the Philippines and not have to leave the country to make money.
So, as you can see from this article, money indeed is a serious factor in moving to the Philippines and living here. But, you don’t have to let it eat at you. You can do it! Sit down and figure out what you have in your nest egg, what you have still coming in and all of the other factors, and make a plan. Once you have a plan, stick to it!
And remember, what I said before… it is very important. If you are making it where you live now, I am sure you will do fine in the Philippines. Life is much cheaper here than it is abroad. That is a fact that you can count on!