Our September 2015 Philippines Expense Report!

“Money money money monnnnnnney!!!”

It’s been a while since we last kept track of our Philippines monthly expenses, and seeing as it is something folks are always talking about (“Ned, how much does it cost to live in the Philippines?….”), I thought I would revisit it this month.

Our September 2015 expenses include some medications and a doctor visits for Michell’s bronchitis (which is now hopefully under control), registration and one year insurance costs for both of our motorcycles and a 60 day extension on my tourist visa.

Short Version:


Longer Version:

Foreign dollars can go a long way in the Philippines.  With the low costs of rent, eating out, labor and an economy that is balanced to an expat’s neighbor, you can spend as little (or as much) as you basically want.

I live a pretty simple lifestyle here.  We don’t go out partying, don’t eat steak, don’t drive around in a flashy SUV but we still have all the luxuries that we want so we’re not feeling deprived:  Going out to eat, going on trips, having aircon on 8-12 hours a day, buying expensive lettuce, etc..

If you’ve been or are here, you’ll know what I am talking about.  J

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at our expense breakdown for September 2015!


Rent 174
Electricity 53
Gym 27
Internet 22
Water 6
Cable TV Nada – Ain’t got time for no stinkin’ TV!
Grocery Shopping 116
Eating out (19 times) 189
Diesel Truck Nuthin – only drove twice this month
Gas Motorcycles 28
Visa Fees 60
Cigarettes 35 (Yeah, yeah yeah…. I know)
Phones 12
Laundry 13
Dry Goods 44
Unaccounted 38*
Doctor Visits (2) 19
Medications (antibitics and bronchitis meds) 25
Registration and one year insurance for two bikes 48
Michell’s Mindanao Travel Money 105


*”Unaccounted” is the difference I note on my bank balance end of month versus beginning of month that does not slot into any of the other expenses.  It’s usually parking attendants, money for street kids, drinks at sari-sari’s or the like. 


Now let’s take a look at some of the expenses we tracked over an eitght month period in 2014/2015:


July 2014    1,058
Aug 2014    940
Sep 2014     1,160
Oct 2014     1,113
Nov 2014     1,183
Dec 2014      1,198
Jan 2015       1,059
Feb 2015       1,193



Factor in this month’s $1,083, and it looks like a continuation of the same. 

Which works for me just fine….


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



Got anything to add?  Wanna give us props for all our hard, OCD-level expense tracking?   Leave it in the comments section.

Comments 29

  1. You did good. Great memory or records keeping . I’ve been here for just over a month and I haven’t found milk or some dairy that tastes like I’m use too. Have you found the dairy that we Americans are use too?

    1. I’ve had the same problem when I visited last spring and 24 years ago when I was stationed there USMC. The only decent milk I ever had there came from a goat. Yeah, milk is my drug of choice. Good luck, Pete

      1. oh, crap, I forgot to mention we filtered the goat milk through toilet paper provided in the MRE’s (meals ready to eat). That was late 80’s to early 90’s MRE’s. They’ve changed over the years (dramatically). Adjust accordingly.
        Believe it or not . . ..back then our coffee packets were often just opened, thrown down our gullet and chased with water when we were out in the field (jungle in this case). When time permitted for the caffeine addict to heat his ‘Joe’ the goat was the preferred creamer. Never, ever the water buffalo and definitely not the creamer in the MRE.

        Side note: Show due respect and get the local Momason to milk the goat.
        Don’t Attempt It! Filipino goats are different. Watch the locals and learn
        Seriously, goats anywhere can turn into a.holes in a heart-beat. But, they are worse in PI. In my experience I never turn my back on them.
        Last note: You want to milk the goat that’s on a steady diet of vegetation. (yes, it makes a huge difference!).

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  2. excellent info man. I am living in Tarlac province in a small barangay called Bamban.. only white guy in miles. I pay aprox $89 a month for a 3 bed 2 bath house with these awesome covered porches to watch the rain and sky. it is sort of high in elevation so we are able to do without any aircon.. fans only.
    My internet/tv costs me $50 +/- a month but I have 5mps and 107 channels cimamax /hbo.. as hard as it is to believe it is better than I was having in up-state NY at twice the cost for basic.
    I would like to say more but I have neighbors here to dinner and I am cooking.. 😀

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      Health insurance 80 dollars a year. Michell gets it free. Michell doesn’t need the gym – she just needs to eat more veggies. 🙂 Travel expenses vary – if we go somewhere, we note the costs on that month’s report.

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  3. Aloha Guys,
    If you check my web site you will see a Meters Briggs program that I use for couples who are getting married. Several of the Catholic church’s here in Honolulu and San Jose use it as part of their pre nuptials. I am wondering if you think there is a market for it with fellows who are thinking about getting married to a Philippine lady? The entire process can be done via the internet. I appreciate you are busy and understand if you can’t have a look at this. I did try and send it a couple of weeks ago via the comments section and am sure I totally cocked it up.

    At the moment we live between San Jose, Honolulu and Davao, am in the process of buying a home in Subic at Little America and will be settling down there early in the new year. I am a 100% disabled Vet as a result of getting wounded in Vietnam and need to be close to the VA clinic in Manila. Its only about a three hour drive from subic and my wife’s parents live near Subic so it works out well.
    Looking forward to your thoughts and thanking you in advance.

    Pax et bonum Duane

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  4. Hi Ned & Michele.
    I have taken another step to making my move possible. If I do my maximum budget spend will be £1,000 a month or $1500. I will also have an emergency fund.
    I am 58 years old, I am receiving an occupational pension of about £10,000 p.a. thats about $15,000, also I have a small portfolio of shares that pays out over £3,000 p.a in dividends.
    I have my house but I do have a substantial mortgage on it, but this week I had several estate agent’s look at my home, luckily I live in a popular desirable village in the UK, and I can rent. The rent will more than cover my mortgage, also I can sell my property and have a substantial amount of money.
    By renting my house, gives me an exit plan, that if after 6 months or even two years down the road, I can move back to the UK, also I should not need the money I make from rent so, that money will stay in UK. Then if I decide to sell, there is money in the bank to pay the mortgage until a buyer comes along.
    If I go down the renting route or sell my home, the move won’t happen until the new Tax Year which is April 2016. By waiting for April I won’t pay any tax on my Pension, and less tax on my rental income (should I decide to rent). My next move is to go to my bank and see what options I have in moving money abroad and, what sort of account I will need in the Philippines that will accept money transfer’s from UK.
    60% of my occupational pension will have annual rises in it, but the share dividends can go up or down, also my rental income will diminish with interest rates going up, and sadly the interest rates will only go up as they cannot go lower. But if I sell my house I can increase my share portfolio and get more dividends, and historically UK shares have performed better than the housing market apart from one ten year period, but past performance does not guarantee future performance. If I sell my house then my exit plans will change, but I still have an exit plan. I wish I had a time machine so I can travel into the future and make the right decisions.
    Once I hit 66 then my UK Government pension will kick in giving my income a nice boost, just hope I am fit and healthy enough to enjoy it.
    I am of the view that your budget should give you a life in the Philippines, not a budget just to survive, also the Philippines is an alcoholics wet dream, where its so easy for ex-pats to drown their sorrows.

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  5. G’day Ned and Michell, I plan to retire and move to the Philippines in the near future (less than 2 years) and will have my military pension, veterans pension, income from a rental property and my superannuation, so I will be pretty comfortable without having to spend it all each month. I have a few questions though.
    First question – I’ve tried the internet dating sites but have been burned so often that I have decided to not waste my time with them anymore. I therefore see my only option is to just see who I meet when I get there but I was wondering would the expats and their wives be reliable in advising me against filipinas who are not pure of heart.
    I have had so called mates in Australia who just enjoyed giving me bad advise and then sitting back and enjoying the mayhem their advise caused.
    Next question – I know English is the second common language after Tagalog spoken in the Philippines but when I have visited there in the past I could only see the news spoken in English on cable TV in resorts and it was from overseas and not local Philippines news. Is there a Philippines channel which broadcasts in English? I don’t give a shit about the soap operas and variety shows but I would like to be aware of what is going on in my new home country.
    Another question / suggestion – Because the internet is pretty sketchy in places depending on the time of day or day of the week and is not likely to improve soon and I know TV can be received over satellite can the internet be accessed via satellite in the Philippines?

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      Online dating is a roll of the dice (as ya know). I would wait until you get here, then use the online dating thing as a tool. There is no local Philippines news channel in English. From watching their programs (and having it translated) it doesn’t look like I am missing much – it’s mostly about politicians being accused of corruption and graft. I don’t know about satellite internet in the Philippines – I do know that it is slow and has high lag/latency. If you are near just about any urbany area, you will be able to get decent internet – intermittent at times, but very usable. Hope that helps.

  6. Hi Ned , the expenses obviously vary a lot from place to place and of course Our various lifestyles , I have an apartment in Surigao , its 2 bedrooms ect It was bit dirty when we first saw it but a few tins of paint later and its very nice now , secure ect, it costs me 4,500 pesos per month, I am not a rich man by any standard but i have managed to buy a piece of land and i am planning to build a small house ( small but beautiful lol ) this will save paying rent and I hope therefore to recoup my costs of building in 2/3 years ,,,, wait for it I am still shunting back and forth to England I have not found the courage to uproot and move permanently . Thankyou so much for all your advice .

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      Hi Richard! It’s AMAZING what a coat of paint can do, isn’t it?! Just don’t forget – you provided the money but a Filipino or Filipina actually owns the land. 🙂 Thanks for following our sites!

  7. Couple more questions – Does Dumagete have a blood bank?
    I ask because I have genetic defect called haemachromatosis which means I have too much Iron in my blood and I manage it by giving blood regularly. If I don’t do this my body will store the excess Iron somewhere in my body, in my fathers case it stored it in his cartilage which meant by the time he was 60 he had had both his hips and both his knees replaced and in my cousins case he died of liver failure because his body decided to store the Iron there.
    Does Dumagete have a Ten Pin Bowling Alley?

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      Hi Martin,

      I am not sure if Dumaguete has a blood bank or not. I do know that when certain types of blood are needed, people usually have to scramble around to find it – usually through Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/dumaguetebloodbank

      There is a bowling alley here. We have never been to it, but here is a link to a 2014 update on it. I don’t know if it has since been repaired: https://www.dumagueteinfo.com/board/threads/erco-bowling-and-sports-centre.10208/

      1. Thanks Ned.
        My cousin was living in CDO when he died.
        I suppose if there is no Blood Bank I could just let the hospital take a pint and toss it in the trash every couple of months unless they have a use for a regular supply of B +ve or just hop on the ferry to Cebu City and have a weekend there shopping and socializing every couple of months.
        Never going to catch the Ceres bus again, one trip was enough to decide me against that travel option, the bus may be cheaper but the ferry is more comfortable and a bit quicker.
        Are there any other sporting facilities in Dumagete like Bowling greens for Lawn Bowls, Croquet lawns, Tennis Courts – facilities for old timers to while away the time and stay active in their old age (other than bars)?
        I saw the golf course out near the airport, is it any good and can anyone play on it or is it just for members?
        How much does a round cost and do I need to bring my own clubs or can I hire a set there?

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          I am not sure about the golf course – I have had dinner there, and it looks OK (but I know nothing about golf). There are also tennis courts in town. Teves aquacenter has a beautiful Olympic sized swimming pool for 20 pesos a day. The blood thing is a problem – we just had a subscriber here have a heart attack and he needed O negative for exploratory surgery – he had to ask around until he found a donor. Martin, you might want to join the Living in Cebu forums and ask about the medical questions. http://www.livingincebuforums.com I am pretty sure it is the biggest forum for Philippines expats.

  8. Thanks for your informative website and it was nice to see what you’ve recently spent this past Sept. I will provide some insight of what I’m paying in Calbayog City Samar.

    After 32 months of online chats twice per day using mainly Skype, I finally arrived in late August, 2015 to visit my BFF. We are renting a late model secured two story duplex with master bedroom downstairs plus two bedrooms upstairs with three CRs altogether.

    Monthly Rent PhP 14,000

    Last month Electric PhP 7,032. I run the A/C with the bedroom door open to cool the lower floor. Due to this October bill, I’m trying to open up the windows and doors in the A.M. and then crank on the A/C around 1 or 2 P.M.

    I don’t understand how your two month visa was $60. Here is what I’m paying: The first month was free. Then the next month extension cost PhP ~3,034. They told me that it would cost PhP ~7,000 for a two month extension and PhP ~10,000 for six months. I later went back and bought the six month extension and it cost an additional PhP ~300 for an ID card that I’ve yet to receive. We are going to check into it this coming Mon or Tues.

    Water bill was in the PhP 400 range. I think it was pushing 500.

    DSL 3 mbps with a landline phone is PhP ~1,700. I do not recommend using Globe in Calbayog. We are using West Samar Telecom. We have a decent connection and speed with them. The important thing is when we were chatting on Skype, we hardly ever got disconnected.

    We are having an Engagement Party in late December and then I will be apply for a Fiance Visa and we will get married in the USA.

    Please excuse the “more or less” symbol used as I’ve yet to record the actual numbers on my Excel Budget Forecast.

    I hope my figures helps some of your readers and feel free to email me at your convenience.

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      Thanks for taking the time to add that, Mr. Chili.

      The two month tourist visa extension I just got cost me a total of 2,930 pesos. At present exchange rate, that is $62 USD. When you first get here, you pay a little more for the one month extension then have to pay more for the ACR card. Once you are past that, it only costs about a dollar a day for two month extensions.

  9. Hi, really like your info pages and you tube. I think i too am “lining up my ducks” to make the move, your info has really helped me to get a good idea of the costs etc. Thank you

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