Our Philippines February 2015 Expense Report

Incessantly tracking our expenses to afford any would-be retiree of world traveler thinking of coming to the Philippines some sense of how much it actually costs to live here, the Dream Team proudly presents it’s February 2015 Expense Report.

Short Version:

Longer Version:
One of the many aspects of the Philippines that foreigners appreciate is the opportunity to really let your Western dollar stretch.  Here at myphilippinedreams.com, we have been tracking our living costs for the past eight months.  The bottom line is that what it used to cost for one months rent in the West is about what one can expect to pay for an entire month’s expenses. 

Rent, restaurants, and cost of labor are ridiculously low here.  Gas, electricity, and inernet costs (for what you actually get) are higher here than in the West.  With the give and take of all of that, however, you are probably going to notice a massive reduction in your spending once you are settled in on these tropical shores.  Maybe not initially, as staying in hotels and eating out every day can quickly add up, but once you get yourself situated into a comfortable house or apartment and are able to chillax and cook your own food, your costs are going to plummet.

Michell and I live a simple but fulfilling life here in the Philippines.  Our house is small but we have a nice yard and it’s not too far outside the city proper.  We go out to eat a lot, go on trips, hang out at the beach, chill in our airconditioned room when it gets too hot, and have hot water to take showers in.  It’s not the exact lifestyle that I had in the West with my big shiny 4Runner, central HVAC, 24-hour electricity, 30 GB internet and 500 channels of cable TV, but it’s showed me that cutting down provides some measure of simplicity and appreciation – as in, appreciating when the dang internet is actually working. 

It’s working now, so I better get a move on getting this done.


Rent 230
Electricity 45
Gym 27
Internet 22
Water 6
Cable TV Zippo – Ain’t got time for it
Grocery Shopping 218
Eating out 223
Diesel Truck 46
Gas Motorcycles 28
Visa Fees 60
Cigarettes 35 (Yuck!)
Phones 12
Laundry 12
Dry Goods 62
Unaccounted 33*
Doctor Visits (2) 17
Medications (painkillers/anti-inflammatories) 21
Trip to Oslob 48


*”Unaccounted” is the difference between my starting monthly bank balance and my ending balance that doesn’t fit into any of the other categories.  That’s mostly parking attendant tips, hither and dither small purchases (stuff at sari-sari stores) and stuff that I just forgot to write down.

With that done, let’s take a look at our monthly expenses that we have been tracking for the past eight months:


July 14 1058
Aug 14  940
Sep 14 1160
Oct 14 1113
Nov 14 1183
Dec 14 1198
Jan 15 1059
Feb 15 1193


That works.

Don’t forget that you have to factor in initial setup costs when moving to a new place and furnishing your pad.  Here’s a rough estimate of ours:


1998 Pajero 6,500
2013 YBR125 1,500
2012 RUSI Scooter 500
House Furniture and Setup 3,200
Desktop PC 840
LED TV 504


We don’t really use the truck all that much, and truth be told, you really don’t need a car/SUV.  Motorcycles are cheaper, use less gas, and can get in and out of traffic easier – just make sure that you have a good helmet.

Got anything to add?  Leave it in the comments section.


++Tired of the rat race?  Have a small pension or retirement and thinking of ways to stretch your dollar?  If you are considering the Philippines as a destination, subscribe to our website (and You Tube channel) to learn all the pro’s and con’s of making such a dream a reality++

Comments 16

  1. hey Guys!

    Absolutely love the youtube channel. So great to see your journey together as a couple and the inspiring videos about life in the Philippines.
    At this point I am seriously looking to make a trip later this year. Can’t wait to see the pyramid house. Really into the health stuff and his place place looks uber cool. Hope to stay there as guest if he is renting rooms there at that time. Thanks for featuring his place.

    ok. so the initial reason to leave a comment was to mention for some reason in the blog post, up top, the price is mentioned as $1,1xx or something. i think there is an extra one in there somewhere. anyway, glad to have the opportunity to share what a positive effect your guy’s channel has had for me in motivation and looking forward to visiting the Philippines. All the best and keep living the dream!

    1. Post

      Thanks, JB! You were right – I had an extra “1” in our monthly total, and I corrected the post.

      If you are going to stay at Pyramid Wellness Center, make sure that you rent a scooter or motorcycle (Harold’s Mansion has the cheapest rental rates that I have seen here). Dan’s place is a bit off the beaten track, but it’s also very close to Forest Camp, Tajero Recreation Center and the ziplines.

      Take care!

  2. Hmmm?? Parking attendant tips ? When riding cycle/scooter to mall, shopping, does a parking HELP guarantee your bike will be there when you come back? Do you use a bike/chain lock when leaving them for extended period? movie, etc. Dual Citz: Would it make it worthwhile to get rid of fees and hassles of renewal ?

    1. Post

      You can’t get Filipino citizenship unless you give up your US citizenship, which would be crazy to do. Attendants keep an eye on your bike – I have never had a problem with my bike while an attendant was there. Michell’s scooter was stolen because she parked it in a dark place with no attendant. We got it back from the police but still…..

  3. Hi, Michele and Ned.
    nice pairing U two !!! keep up with ur great videos.!!!
    I was wondering about insurance expenses..???
    truck and 2 motor cycles?
    is it not mandatory in Phil?
    may be can use that a topic !!!

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  4. The information that Philippine Dreams provides is of invaluable help covering a broad range of subjects which will enable those that wish to retire in the Philippines an insight before they make the leap and reassure them it is affordable as they can look at costs and see if their budget is doable. As in all life personal experience for retirement needs will vary but you give a first class reference baseline to work from. Your videos come to life and bring the Philippines into the viewers grasp wherever they are and is very reassuring to help with a settling in process for those considering the move it is very good planning and preparation I only wish it had been around 5 years ago when I first started coming to the Philippines.

    1. Post

      Whoa! I am going to put that as an advertising/marketing blurb on our website! Thanks, Chris, but I am just stumbling along like everyone else. It’s the learning process and the misadventures along the way that are making this such an enjoyable journey. 🙂

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      You can get Phil Health which covers about 50 percent of hospitalization in-patient costs. It costs 80 USD a year and you need to be here for 90 days to get it (need your ACR card).

  5. I really appreciate your video’s and your outlook on life in the Philippines. And, I love your monthly breakdown on your budget. I just retired last December (2014) and am looking for a place to retire. You provide me with lots of information and I’ve narrowed my search down to the Philippines and Thailand. Keep it up, right now I am planning on spending 6 months in the Philippines and then 6 months in Thailand to decide which place will be the place for me. Keep the videos coming. Thanks

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  6. Love your videos together.you look pretty comfortable living in the phil.all you said about our lifestyle and culture in the phil are true. Me and my husband intend to go back in the philippines someday, because nobody will take care of us here the same way our family does. Michelle knows that well because life in america is kind of independent living but filipinos are not ,we take care of our folks ,brothers,sisters tilll the end of our life and that is a tradition that is difficult to break on us filipinos ,there is good and bad sad of it but at the end we take care of our family .It a tremendouus amt of gratitude,responsibity to our love ones. Anyway ,good job in summariziing a monthly lifestyle in the phil.I hope that the lord Jesus will continue to Bless you and your wife.By the way we are from crestview,florida and lives here for about 21 yrs ,but my filipino husband since 1975. Just stayed in the phil 4 months ago to have family reunion. Thank you!

    1. Post

      Thanks so much! Yeah, I myself am slowly adapting to life here – some days are easier than others, though. 🙂 And the way that Filipinos take care of their own instead of putting them in homes is pretty awesome. I know I’d rather spend my last days surrounded by those I love instead of in some hospital bed in an impersonal institution!

  7. Hi, nice website you have, but I am scared to see your expenses for I am sometimes sending money to the Philippines and with 500 dollars 3 families can live for 2 months, your expenses for a month is too high, now some of my friends are scared to go to the Philippines, because of the living expenses. Please don’t get offended, just my opinion.

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      S’all good. I don’t know why you are sending so much money to three families, but I will assume that they are Filipino families, right? We live a middle class lifestyle, and I wouldn’t want to recommend anyone coming here that doesn’t have a good amount of savings and at least $1,200 USD steady monthly income. For what we are spending, we have a nice two bedroom house with a decent yard and security walls, air conditioning (you have to have it around city areas), we eat out a lot, go traveling about the islands, a truck, two motorcycles… all of that costs money. Plus, there are flights back and forth from the US, surprise medical bills and the occasional dead PC or phone that needs to be replaced. What we are spending is actually average – some guys scrape by on less and some live extravagantly on more. We could save money by not traveling, not eating out, living in a crappy house or apartment and not using air con, but I don’t want to live like that. I like to be comfortable – and for about $1,100 a month (usually less), we are very comfortable.

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