Live on less than $1000 a month in the Philippines

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Maybe you are retired, or maybe you are just tired. Maybe you are looking for a place in the world to live and see what you can do to make that money go as far as you can. There are many sites that will tell you many things about living in different countries, and there are varying opinions on how much, but as we have lived in the Philippines for a few years, we can definitely give you some ideas on how to do it the cheapest. 



First, understand that like anywhere, the bigger the house the more money. If you want to live the same lifestyle you do at home with a 2000sq ft house, then you are not going to be living on a thousand dollars a month. If you don’t mind locals and local neighborhoods you can find a decent apartment for $100 to $200 a month. We are not talking luxury here, it won’t be large, but we are talking comfortable. If you pick a decent area and make friend with the locals, things will usually be fine. Your best bet is to befriend a few locals and ask them to make sure you are ok for and have them help you find a place. Strangely enough, we actually feel safer in the local area surrounded by locals, as nothing much happens here without everyone seeing it. Sort of like the old days, people protect their own.


Food is one of those things just like home. Go out and eat and it will cost you a lot more. There are local places that aren’t bad, but local here and a local coffee shop in the states is a huge difference. We cook mostly for ourselves and visit the markets for fresh produce. Figure $200 a month for food. That’s not all dried noodles like college, but it’s also not having steaks every night. It also includes going out a few times just for the soul.


Though nowhere near as high as the states, you will find utilities are painful here compared to everything else. If you have an air conditioner running all the time, you might have to add $200 a month to your utility bill. $100 a month for water and power is reasonable, and you can cut that in half fairly easily if you don’t mind hot weather. 


Learn the local transportation system, though of course use your head for carrying money when you do. A jeepney here, which is the standard for local transport is about .25 cents compared to $3 for the same distance in a taxi. Longer distances you can take a bus, $1 compared to $10 in a taxi. We have explored a lot of the Philippines using the busses, though don’t always expect to have a seat as its always busy. The metro is also a great deal, and you can travel all over Manila for a very inexpensive rate.


Your visa is an expense here for staying. You can extend your visa for $50 to $100 a month, and you can extend it for a 6 months period maximum for about a third less than the monthly. You can keep extending it for 3 years until you have to leave the country and return. Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to take any travel deals to other countries as often it’s the same price as a visa, so you get a cheap exploration vacation. 


There are many things to do in manila, though not quite the same as the states. Movies, bowling, fine dining, even amusement parks. There are malls galore, as malls seem to be a staple of the Philippines. Your entertainment budget it up to you, but we padded what else was left out of the $1000 with entertainment, as you still want to have fun right? 


Doctors, dentists, and other such services are very inexpensive in the Philippines. There are many western trained doctors and dentists, so you don’t have to worry too much about quality. Like anything though, check the reviews. A doctor visit here costs less than the copay of a doctor in the states. There is no real medical insurance here, but a cat scan that might cost you $5000 in the states might only cost you $500 here. If you go to the hospital, make sure you go to the top hospitals, or you might have a bit of culture shock. Like anywhere the top places are always fairly good. 

You can definitely live here inexpensively, it all depends on what level of luxury you want to live at and how much entertainment you want to enjoy. Many people will tell you there is no way you can do it for $1000 a month, but we do it every month and we are quite happy with our lives. We don’t really scrimp that much, we eat out occasionally, and travel all over Manila. We have made great friends, and the stress of paying less money out is well worth anything we could do otherwise. So, if you can’t make it on your retirement money, and you are a friendly sort, and don’t mind a bit of an adventure, it’s well worth looking into the Philippines. The majority of people speak English and are very friendly. Maybe we will see you here.

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