How to be a Foreigner Living in the Philippines


Can you live comfortable in the Philippines for under $10,000 a year? I am tired of the USA, I want to live in the Philippines now. Your videos have motivated me to get the hell of here.

Thanks for the question and glad to see I’m motivating others out there.

This is one of those ambiguous questions. But it is a question many of you wish you had the answer to. How much would I need to survive in the Philippines?

Let’s take $10,000 as an example for your Philippines budget – is this enough for a foreigner living in the Philippines? This breaks down to $833.33 USD per month, or exactly 35,000 pesos per month at a 42 peso to 1 USD exchange rate. I like to use 42 instead of the current 43 for one reason.

When you’re a foreigner living in the Philippines, you will need to transfer money from the USA, and there’s going to be a fee. I know with XOOM (what I use) there’s around a $6 or $7 fee. On top of that, wherever you pick your money up probably takes a small cut out of the exchange rate. I transfer from XOOM into a Filipino bank account, and I know the bank takes a small percentage off the top. So I just stick with 42. If you’re using your ATM card to withdrawal cash, there will definitely be fees.

If you were a Filipino, 35,000 pesos is probably in the top 10% of all salaries. A call center employee makes anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 per month, so at 35,000 pesos, it’s like being a big shot. But you’re not Filipino. You’re a foreigner living in the Philippines, and your lifestyle is different. The big question is, how much are you willing to sacrifice to get to the Philippines? Are you willing to sacrifice air conditioning? What about hot water in your showers?

If you rent an unfurnished apartment, you can probably get something decent around 5,000-7000 pesos per month. You then would have to buy everything you need. If you rent furnished, as you can see from my most recent videos, I’ve got a two-story, three-bedroom apartment for 12,000 pesos. In places like Angeles City, this apartment would go for more, but I’m in the quiet little city of Dumaguete.

So let’s take 7,000 pesos per month for your apartment. You can find them cheaper than this or more expensive. At 7,000 pesos per month, you’ve got 28,000 pesos left for everything else. If you don’t waste money at restaurants, I would say 300 pesos per day for food is more than enough. For example, you can buy a kilo of chicken breast for 120 pesos. That’s 2.2 pounds of chicken at 120 pesos. It’s impossible to eat all of that in one day. Tilapia per kilo is even cheaper. Eggs are cheap, vegetables are cheap – food is cheap. Shop in the public markets or just buy smart in the grocery store. For one month at 300 pesos per day, that will run you 10,000 pesos. Now you’re down to 18,000 pesos.

At the end of the month you will have your electricity bill. This depends on how often your lights are on and your air conditioner is running. Can you handle using just a fan? Your electricity can run from 1,000 pesos up to 7,000 pesos. The last month with Robi in Angeles City, our bill was 6,400 pesos for electricity. We had three air conditioners, and at least one of them was usually on. When we’re sleeping, at least two were always on. 6,400 pesos per month is extremely high. I think for my apartment in Dumaguete I was paying around 3,000 pesos.

If you take public transportation to get to the grocery store and other places, jeepney rides are around 8 pesos per ride if I recall. Tricycles will range anywhere from 10 pesos up to 100 (in Angeles City the tricycle rate is horrendous for foreigners).

Will you be going out a lot? Will you buy a motorbike and then have gasoline expenses? Will you be hand washing your clothes or taking them to the laundry shop at an average of 28 pesos per kilo of clothing?

Many factors can go in to this, but one thing is for sure – if you want to be a foreigner living in the Philippines, you can survive easily on 35,000 pesos. I have friends there that survive on less than 10,000 per month.

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  • PJ

    True, my sister lived there while going to college for two years n it only cost us about $5k a year US dollars.

    just depends how comfortable you want to live. its a decent place to retire especially if your from the UK or US. just gotta get used to the humid weather n that water over there isnt as safe n there is no public trash cans. oo n wen u buy electronic devices, u gotta test it first because there isnt any returns or exchanges at most stores

    • Zeus Dog Dog

      This is true, I bought a fan and the girl at the mall pulled it out of the box and turned it on. Then had me sign a paper that it worked.

  • dell1972

    Thank you for answering my question. Thats not bad at all. Compare to here in Chicago, I am paying over $1200 a month for rent, electric and that not including food or gas. I will be heading to the Philippines soon either in July or August! DId you received my message to help you with the Ant problems in your problem. My dad use to work for Orkin. I will give you some more tips when my dad call me back.

    • admin

      Yea, I got the email, thanks :)

  • kuya Ricky

    food is cheap. Shop in the public markets or just buy smart in the grocery store. For one month at 300 pesos per day, that will run you 3,000 pesos.

    300 pesos a day for 1 month is actually around 9000 give or take depending on the month….

    • admin

      Haha…my math skills have gone to shit.

      • HomerPH

        huh, 1 month does not have 10 days, FUCK, i was wrong all these years :-)

        we love u ryan

  • Wet Work

    Wondering about how health care works there, and costs for decent insurance, or how it works if you don’t have it and get sick, especially for retirement age guys. Geezers like me have to expect some health issues to arise at some point. You have to include that in your budget somehow.

  • elviscaprice

    Your comment on ATM cards and there being a fee is correct for most cards but not some. Capital One ATM Mastercard bankcard is my ATM card of choice when traveling overseas. They reimburse you up to $25 per month in ATM fees from any ATM in the world. Also they do not charge any foreign transaction fees. Also I find their exchange rates more favorable by taking out the local currency than getting dollars and exchanging locally. They tend to give you a rate between the bid and ask. Check it out, you never have to have a foreign bank account.

  • Robin
  • Random Reader

    >> Shop in the public markets or just buy smart in the grocery store. For one month at 300 pesos per day, that will run you 3,000 pesos.

    That’s wrong math. 300 per day X 30 days is not 3,000.

    • Jack

      makes ya wonder what other “math” is off around here huh?

      • gm47

        Harsh… anyone can make simple mistakes !

  • Ringer

    As a foreign couple living in the Philippines we tend to live as we did in Australia. We follow a healthy diet (good fish (definitely not Telapia), no American or Filipino food (too much salt,sugar and oil), aircon (this is the tropics and fans do not cool in this heat), no public transport (do you really want to breathe polluted air and risk being robbed?). We grow our own vegetables and fruit, have out own chickens and our own power supply coupled with a large generator. Yes, you can survive here on a strict budget if you are prepared to die young. However, if you plan and have the means to set yourself up in a comfortable way, life can be good.

    • soyummykaya

      Nice to hear you grow your own. Where abouts is this?

  • Keith Monen

    buy smart in the grocery store. For one month at 300 pesos per day, that will run you 3,000 pesos. ((( 30 days in the month would this not equal 9,000 ??? I can not understand this statement above 30 days x 300 = 9000