You don’t need to be a millionaire or have a trust fund if you want to live abroad. In this video, I explain the cost of living in the Philippines and the kind of budget you need to live comfortably here.
Hey there, kids. In this video I want to talk a bit more about the cost of living here in the Philippines and how you can manage it. And if you watched my video last week on airfare, a lot of people seem to think the idea of living abroad, or even just visiting abroad, a lot of Americans anyways just think it’s absolutely impossible to do; you need lots of money or whatever. And I want to say no, you don’t need a lot of money, particularly in a place like the Philippines.
The Philippines is not a third world country, let’s get that out of the way. It’s a second world country. There’s obviously a lot of poverty here, but there’s a lot more wealth than there would be in a place like, say, Somalia, okay. And there’s a very vibrant middle class and a vibrant upper class here.
So, the Philippines is very, very doable on an American salary. Now, excuse me there. Basically, I would estimate you would need maybe a maximum of $1,200 a month to live in the Philippines. If you can make $1,200 a month or if you have access to $1,200 a month, you can live pretty easily here. And I’m not talking like some sort of hand-to-mouth existence. You can have a pretty good deal of luxuries, okay.
And the main reason you can hack it with that much is because the cost of living here is obviously a lot lower than the U.S. The exchange rate is very favorable. Right now the exchange rate is 23 Philippine pesos to one dollar, so your money goes a lot further here. The cost of living is obviously much, much cheaper. And I want to talk about the main expenses that you would incur here in the Philippines.
Number one, the flight over here, that’s probably what you’re going to be ending up spending the most amount of your money. Like I said, if you watch my previous video, there’s a link to it in the description, on how to save money on airfare, you can save a good deal of money getting here and back. I paid about a thousand dollars for the one-way flight here from Chicago to Davao City, and I’m paying about 750 to fly back to the U.S. next month, because I got the tickets well in advance.
I used the website Skyscanner, which again, watch the video, I explain more about how to save money on airfare there, too. That’s a pretty good deal, particularly considering that most—it’s a long haul distance, you know, but flights, that would cover that.
Lodging and housing is also relatively inexpensive. It depends on how many luxuries you want. Now, to give you an example. I’m recording this in Davao City. I am living in an apartment that costs me about $500 a month plus utilities. Now, this apartment is on the fourth floor of the building; it’s got all the amenities you could want. It’s got a fridge, it’s got appliances, a stove, the facilities have a gym and a pool; it’s very nice. It’s got a guard, so it’s very safe.
The only thing it doesn’t have is wireless Internet. Instead, I get Internet through one of these things. It’s basically like—they call it a stick here. It’s basically like one of these MeFi wireless 4G modems you get from Verizon or AT&T or whatever. But that cost me about $23 a month for about a month’s worth of bandwidth. So, that’s still pretty cheap.
You don’t have to spend $500 a month. If you want to forego the pool, the gym, there are a lot of cheaper places you can get that are perfectly safe. For example, here in the Philippines anyway, there’s a little something that’s called an apartelle. Sort of a lodging option that’s unique to the Philippines. It’s something that’s a bit between—it’s a type of lodging that’s between an apartment and a hotel. You get some of the amenities of a hotel such as, say, maid service, but you can stay in one of these places for a long time and it’s not that expensive.
There’s one particular one that’s recommended on Roosh V Forum, and other places in this part of the Internet, in Davao City called Jun ‘n Dell Apartelle. There’s a link to it in the description. I’ve seen their facilities; they’re very nice. I very nearly ended up staying before I found this apartment instead, so. You can see what an apartelle is like just by looking at that website.
And like I said, if you’re willing to cut corners on some things you can live here pretty cheaply. And you don’t really have to worry about safety. I mean, obviously, depending on where you are, depending on what city you want to go in, you want to make sure that—you want to do some research before and make sure the neighborhood where you’re staying is safe, but beyond that you’re really not going to run into any issues.
Food. Depending on your tastes, you can either spend a lot of money or you can spend very little money. Now, the staple of my diet is pretty much tuna paella. You can buy it in cans, it’s manufactured by Century Tuna, and it’s—I happen to love tuna. It’s absolutely delicious. Tuna, rice, peas, all the essentials for a healthy diet. I eat it for lunch just about every day. It’s, like I said, 30 pesos a can, so that’s what, maybe, maybe about five bucks a week.
I eat a lot of probiotic yogurt, that’s very cheap here. You can get, I forget the specific brand of it, but it’s something like 50 pesos for four cups. So a week’s worth of those is pretty cheap too. Soda is pretty cheap, coffee is pretty cheap, beer is really cheap. Like this here is Colt .45. Now, this beer sucks, don’t drink this beer, but this cost me about 35 Pesos a can.
The two staple beer brands here in the Philippines are Red Horse and San Miguel. Both of those go for about 30 Pesos a can; those are way better. Red Horse has a much higher potency in terms of alcohol content; I think it’s 6.9 percent alcohol. San Miguel’s only five percent. Personally, I prefer the taste of San Miguel but Red Horse is better if you want to get drunk, so.
You might get a little bit of a markup when you actually go out to bars at night, but even so you probably won’t be paying more than a buck per can. And you don’t have to worry about girls either, because, surprisingly, Filipinos actually don’t drink a lot. They love to party, they love karaoke parties, they love to enjoy themselves, but they actually don’t drink a whole lot. If you go to a bar with a girl or whatever, or if you pick up a girl at a bar, she probably won’t have more than maybe one or two drinks.
Also, I don’t recommend getting smashed at bars for the simple reason that, number one, it makes you into a target; and, number two, it makes you look bad. More or less, foreign men in the Philippines have a reputation for being drunks. And if you try and work against that stereotype by being more sober, you’ll have an advantage when it comes to picking up women.
Now, transportation in the cities, you’ll usually do that through taxis. Taxis are very, very cheap. I don’t think I’ve spent more than three dollars a day in transportation, at least here in Davao City. Now, you can eliminate transportation costs in many ways by picking an apartment or hotel room that happens to be in the city center.
If you’re down where the action is, you won’t be paying more than maybe a buck or two per day on taxis. So you don’t want to be out in the suburbs even if it’s cheaper. You will save yourself a lot of headaches by just getting a place that happens to be near the city center in a safe area.
There are also other transportation options in the city. Like here in Davao, there’s something called a jeepney, which is basically sort of like a miniature bus. They ride on routes on the major roads. Public transportation, it’s about maybe eight pesos per ride, I think. It’s eight pesos per four blocks, and then an additional two pesos per each block, if I recall correctly. It’s even cheaper than the taxis.
I personally don’t like them for the simple reason that, number one, you can get pickpocketed on them; and, number two, there’s no air conditioning and it’s really, really hot here. But the jeepneys are an option if you want to save even more money.
So, basically, and the last area I’d like to get to is nightlife. Nightlife is, again, fairly cheap. Everything, all the prices here are designed to be affordable for the average Filipino. So if you are coming here on an American salary, you will have a huge advantage. Like I said, beer is cheap, cover charges are rare, but when you do run into it, cover charges are going to be cheap, maybe about 50 pesos or so. Like I said, you don’t have to buy drinks for girls because, you know, they don’t drink a lot. So, you can live very cheaply here.
There’s a regional variance when it comes to the specific cost of living in each city. Like I said, here in Davao, you can get by on maybe 800 to a thousand dollars a month. Davao is not really that popular with tourists, because the idiots at the State Department are warning people to stay away from the island of Mindanao because you might get shot by the Islamic extremists, even though the Islamic extremists are on the whole freaking other side of the island, and Davao is one of the safest cities in the freaking world. But I’m going to write about that one of these days.
But Davao is fairly cheap. There are even cheaper places that get even less tourist traffic, such as Cagayan de Oro; maybe about $600 or more up there. And even cheaper if you want to go into some of the more out-of-the-way cities, such as Iligan City or General Santos or whatever.
Now, the big cities like Manila and Cebu are going to cost a lot more. That’s just going to be the case. Any country with big cities that draw a lot of tourist traffic and a lot of immigration from the provinces, they’re going to be more expensive. New York City’s always going to be really more expensive than upstate New York. California’s going to be more expensive than Nevada. Living in Seattle’s going to be more expensive than living in Spokane, you get the idea.
So, but even still, the prices are still very affordable for a Westerner, and the cost of living in Manila is cheaper than the cheapest places in the United States. So, basically, like I said, you really don’t need a lot of money to live here.
Now, the one thing I would recommend before you come to the Philippines is that you need to have either a location independent job or source of income, or a huge pile of savings. And preferably, even if you do have that location independent job, you should have some savings anyway, because the Philippines does not have a lot of job opportunities for foreigners.
Now, one of the big advantages of, say, Thailand or Cambodia or whatever, these countries for foreigners, there are a lot of job opportunities when it comes to teaching English. Because most people there don’t speak English, obviously, and they want to get ahead. So, Thailand, China, if you’re hard up for work you can become an English teacher and make some money that way.
But in the Philippines you can’t do that because everyone here already speaks English. English is one of the country’s two official languages. It’s the preferred language that the government uses. Learning it is mandatory in schools. So it’s a good thing because there’s really not much of a communication gap.
Any Filipino you meet off the street will be able to talk to you. They might not be able to understand your slang precisely, but they can understand what you’re saying and you can understand them. But at the same time, it closes you off from what is one of the easiest ways abroad to make money, which is teaching English.
So you want to have some kind of income to sustain you here, obviously, or a huge pile of savings that can sustain you for the time that you have to be in the Philippines. Because if you run into a jam, there really aren’t that many economic opportunities here.
so hopefully this video will help you out. I mean, this is just a basic overview. There are some websites out there that you can use to learn more specific information. Aaron Clarey talked about this in one of his recent videos; I have a link to it in the description. One of the big resources I happen to like is Numbeo’s Cost of Living Map, which compares the cost of living in a bunch of cities across the globe to the cost of living of New York City, which has an index of 100.
New York City is 100. Chicago, I think, is 78. Seattle I think is, I don’t know, 90. And I think on that same map, Manila is 47. So, Manila, that would basically mean Manila is 47 percent as expensive as New York City. I’m just shooting from the hip here. The numbers could have changed in that time; the cost of living, according to Numbeo’s index, according to the price of food, lodging, whatever.
I have some other links in the description that should help you out, being able to determine the cost of living in specific areas in the Philippines as well as specific areas in other parts of the globe. Like I said, you really don’t need a lot of money to make it here. Whatever you think you need, you don’t need a pile of money to go exploring abroad. You just need some money, some source of income, and a sense of adventure, and if you’ve got those things, then let the adventures begin.
Illegitimi non carborundum, don’t let the bastards grind you down. I’m Matt Forney and I am out.
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