Our November 2014 Monthly Philippines Expense Report


We get asked quite a bit about how much it costs to live in the Philippines.  Truth be told, the answer is pretty much “It depends.”  If you are expecting to translocate your Western lifestyle over to South East Asia, it’s going to cost quite a bit.  Steaks and other imported foods are very expensive here, “Western” style homes can be very costly to rent, electricity costs twice what it does in the United States and gasoline is also a lot more expensive here.  With that said, also realize that if you are willing to scale down a bit, ride your motor more than a car, eat locally sourced foods and cut down on airconditioning, then living in the Philippines is quite cheap.  Over that past five months, we have averaged about $1,070 US dollars a month in expenses – that’s including rent, utilities, groceries, eating out – everything.  (Note that I am not including last mont’s purchase of a new PC, video card and phone – those costs are being recouped.)  That’s pretty good for two people.  We don’t live extravagantly but we do go out to eat a lot and cruise into town for the occasion halo-halo or ice cream. 

Over the previous four months, our expenses have looked like this:

July: $1,058

August: $906

September $1,160

October $1,113 + $1,102 for new computer, video card and phone.

 Now add to this, $1,183 for this past month of November 2014.


These are the total of basic living expenses and additional purchases of things that are really not needed to survive (gym memberships, cigarettes, gadgets, etc.)  Our basic living expenses (rent, utilities, food) are about 75 percent of our total monthly expenses. 


And after keeping painstaking track of our continued monthly expenses here in the Philippines over the course of November 2014, here the breakdown for the month (Philippine Peso/US dollar conversion rate 44.9 as of 12/4/14):



Rent 10,000/229

Electric 2,450/55

Water 156/5

Eating Out 8,950/200

Groceries 9,550/212

Dry Goods 4520/100

Gas Truck 763 /17

Gas Bikes 1600/36

Phone Load 500/11

Laundry 390/9

Unaccounted 1250/28





Automatic Voltage Regulator 3,200/71

Internet 1,000/22

Ebay purchases 3817/85

Gym 1200/27

Smokes 1342/30

Trip to Kookoo’s Nest 2065/46

TOTAL EXPENSES FOR NOVEMBER 2014:   52,761 pesos / $1,183 USD


OK, so that’s not too shabby for two people. We still eat out a lot, but with the cost of dining out here, it doesn’t come close to breaking us.  And hopefully, at some point in the near future, I will be able to quit smoking and the financial cost of smoking (not to mention the health cost) will end. So that’s it for November 2014.  And if you want another resource to calculate your monthly budget in the Philippines, head over to www.numbeo.com.  



**Are you like me – a dreamer with visions of retirement or working in the Philippines?  Have you heard that a small pension can go a LOT further in the Republic than in the West?  Get all the facts – good and bad – before making your decision here at Myphilippinedreams.com**

Comments 26

  1. Great insight as always Ned. “Quick subject change”, how are you all doing with that Typhoon hitting? And what’s it like being an expat dealing with those tropical storms? I’ve traveled a lot around the world and dealt with many nuances, some planned and some by accident but with most of those situations I had the option to leave. While my wife and I contemplate moving back to the Philippines, I’m curious how you are dealing with the reality that this is home and not just a leisure tourist visit?

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      When it was originally tracking towards Negros, I got scared. I had been looking at the images of Tacloban last year and was imagining the worst. Thankfully, Negros is screened by a number of islands to the east and hasn’t experienced the high winds – just torrential rains, flooding and mud/rockslides from further up the mountain. I say “just” but it was pretty bad – there’s videos of it on Youtube. Earthquakes are more of a worry. I am dealing with living here as my “home” pretty well. Some days are easier than others, but life is kinda like that. 🙂

  2. Ned I was just curious when you Originally made the move to the Philippines did you go over there with any kind of lump sum cash to actually get you started out and then from there live off of your monthly residual income such as a pension or Social Security but I was just curious in the beginning from the get go did you bring a lump sum with you or did you just simply fly over there with no money at all except for what you have coming in every month and that was it?

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      Hey, Joe. I still work and also have a savings stashed away for emergencies or an exit plan. You have to have both, in my opinion, as coming here to work – while possible – isn’t really economically possible for most people.

  3. Hi
    Really like your posts, you are very natural in front of the camera.
    I live in the UK and I was in Davao in September and I am visiting again in April.

    I am considering moving to Davao, as I have met a sweet Filipina.
    I am 57 I would have to live on my occupational pension of just under £10,000 about $15,000 per year. Which we should be able to do according to your figures,and my UK state pension (about £7000 per year) won’t kick in until I am 66, which will make life a bit more comfortable.


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      Thanks, Gerry! Just so long as you have a good amount of savings stashed away for emergencies and a possible exit plan, that should be enough if you live as simply as we do. Just make sure you have that savings, though! I haven’t had to touch mine yet, and it is peace of mind knowing it is there.

      1. Hi
        Hope Christmas and new year went well for you.
        I do have a little savings and a share portfolio that can provide me with extra income.
        Also I do have a plan B as I won’t be selling my house, shall rent it out ( rent will pay mortgage and give me some income ), In case things don’t work out I can return to UK.
        My plan is to live only on my pension, the savings are for emergencies, and the net rental Income won’t be touched and depending how well the shares and dividends pan out, some of the dividends can be used to fund holidays, also my shares and home I plan to leave for my lady so why I finally kick the bucket she will have an income to live on, ( she would be entitled to half my occupational pension but that reduces if she is more than 10 years younger than me).
        Thats my plan I will put in in the next 24 to 30 months.

        Keep up the good work

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  4. It is hard to relate to the low cost of living. A single month’s rent in the DC suburbs is twice your basic expenses. It is expensive to live near good paying jobs.

    In one post you mentioned the economy in the Philippines might be improving and you hoped that it wouldn’t hurt the value of the dollar. Probably won’t happen quickly but it might happend by the time your a senior citizen.

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  5. Hi, Great site, thanks. I lived in Phil before but not Dumaguete. Presently in North Thailand, returning Phil, to Dumaguete 3rd week January. Could you give me contact point or addresses for some of the rentals you have mentioned(10K range is good)? Always good to have sources in hand when I hit the tarmac. Thanks Mike

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      Mike, it’s hard to simply to do this as availablity is always in flux. Best thing to do (as you know) is ride around looking for signs and network with other expats when you are here. When you get here, PM me and I will give you my number.

  6. Applause for carefully laying out expenses. Most expat sites make clear that it’s very individual, “it depends”, etc. One thing I’ll mention (though it’s none of my business haha) is you’re in you’re late 40s, smoke etc and there’s no health insurance listed as a monthly expense. Even if you have no insurance and are self insuring on presumption med care there is inexpensive, you sort of should allocate some monthly amount for future expense that you KNOW (or should know) is coming. Three cheers for the gym cost that will reduce that coming expense.

    Might want to include some future international travel (back to the states to visit family or attend funerals etc) in monthly numbers.

    Repeat, none of my business haha but these are real costs and they ARE coming.

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      I have PhilHealth at $82 a year and I still have health insurance in the United States. Nearest place to use that is Guam, though…. I also have a buddy that works for Delta, so I get really cheap flights. 🙂

  7. Well, okie doke. The $82 is $7/mo and maybe correctly excluded noise. The US insurance (almost all will extend coverage at out of network rates) likely isn’t negligible?
    Oh, heads up on that. All US insurance now, because of Obamacare, very strictly provides coverage only to people who live in their coverage area. I suspect you have an address in the US (again, none of my business) but just be aware that if you had something expensive that required you to return for huge, costly treatment, that company has a department whose job it is to investigate and see if there’s a way out of them paying. Your passport stamps are going to destroy claims of where you live and give them a powerful case to say you get no coverage and just to be fair they’ll refund a few months of premium, and you’re screwed. Just a heads up.

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      Yeah, it’s pretty close. The big thing is Western foods – if you are going to buy a lot of steak and cereal and all that stuff, it’s gonna add up do to it being imported. Numbeo is a good resource and can give you a rough idea as to how things stand.

  8. Hi Kids! What kind of internet speed do you get for that price? I am planning on retiring there, Baguio has my attention because of the climate there… I see I have a lot of catching up to do with your pages and videos… Thanks for being here! -David

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  9. Ned,
    Thank’s for your youtube video’s you seen i knw a lady threw one of oldest friend’s wife who live’s in Surigao Del Norte .Wanting to bone up on the local life there is not easy threw him he see’s thing threw a romantic eye.A culture shock hearing your wife speak such good english warm’s the hart didn’t skype up with my lady friend as of yet…Like your short little tour’s of real estate im an agent here thinking a 2nd home there might be nice…Thank’s

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  10. Is it hard to import wastern tec. item’s there or to wire money,mail package’s and gift’s…do american’s open business of course with new family member’s….

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      Mail from the West can be a bit spotty. Mail from here to West hasn’t been an issue – it makes it through no problem (thus far). Western tech can be had via Ebay Hong Kong/China and Lazada.com. Expats do open businesses here with their wives/girlfriends, but their success is mixed. Thanks, John.

  11. Ned, can you detail what the PhiHealth covers? I think you said it was like $82 bux a year so what does that really include?

    Also on the US Coverage what coverage do you have. Or how much do you spend on that?

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