Whatever the nay-sayers may tell you, it is possible. So, I’ll show you how, and also describe how $20 dollars a day can see you live like a king.
First you’ve got to decide where to live.
Keep in mind your limitations, from healthcare to transportation, etc. In the west you probably have access to buses or trains and other forms of transportation. Other options exist in the Philippines, of course, but if you live on a limited budget you might want to be careful with what you’re spending, 10 and 20 pesos a trip will add up at the end of the month.
Living in a Philippine city can cost you a bit of money – rooms and small apartments are in great demand. I would suggest you find a room for 5,000 pesos a month ($105) or less which is very comfortable, not luxurious of course, but good enough.
I’ve never spent more than 8,000 pesos for a place to live in my entire time in this country, and I can tell you there are bargains galore out there. I tell many that if they are just looking for a place with a bed, a bathroom and a place to put a chest of drawers etc, then for sure you can find a room in the 3,000-peso range. Just one building away from me there are four apartments, large, clean, newly built and renting at 3,500 pesos a month, so let’s use that as an example.
3,500 pesos is $85 at today’s exchange rates. Electric and water for that room should be about 1,000 pesos a month, about $25. So, that takes care of your living arrangements for $110.00.
Now that we’ve taken care of shelter, the next most important thing is food. I personally eat at many canandarias around where I live, finding the perfect one which serves food that is not too salty or too fatty.
The place that I just moved to has a perfect place which serves food that is outstanding, although I will say it is a bit more expensive than others. Today I ate there twice and spent 175 pesos after having a nice fish soup that was as good as they come. On a normal day I will spend only 100 pesos – so let’s use that as an example – $3 dollars a day or $90-100 dollars a month.
Keep in mind that eating out at the right place is often cheaper than eating at home in the Philippines.
Fridges cost, and burn electric, likewise stoves burn gas. This is a major added cost. Also, they make it harder to move when you grow tired of the place you are living in or just fancy moving on. I will admit I have a toaster and that’s one of my favorite things – wheat toast, pineapple jam and a little peanut butter to carry around in my baggage – and the toaster is lightweight, fits in my one bag and cost just 300 pesos new ($7.50).
Another expense which can add up is transportation – though jeepney and bus travel is cheap it can add up if you move around the city or province on a daily or weekly basis. Let’s say you spend 30 pesos a day on jeep or bus travel, that’s equivalent to about 75 cents a day, or let’s use $25 a month as a maximum.
So up until this point you have $110 for shelter, $100 for food and $25 for transportation making a total of $235. At this point we still have $65 spare from our $10 a day goal. So let’s add some beer, a couple of nights out and you’ve reached your target of $300 a month. You could alternatively add another 100 pesos a day to your food budget and come to the same $300 a month expense total.
Things that will mess up this low-budget lifestyle are your visa obligations every six months and other expenses like doctors, exploring the country and having a girlfriend.
If you’re really lucky you’ll find a nice lady with a job who would love to live with you and help out.
Using my $10 a day example is a perfect reality trip for those who want to come to the Philippines and live on $20 a day. That doubles everything above, could you imagine that?
So, $600 a month is about the rate of minimal Social Security in the US. If you can live in the US on that kind of money, you might want to borrow $1,000 from your brother, mother or friend and head out to the Philippines. Pack those bags, sell the dog, give away those unneeded things laying and get to the nearest airport. Once you land and settle in, you’ll be kicking yourself for taking so long to get here.