What kind of lifestyle will $5000.USD/mo. afford in the Philippines?

Just trying to learn cost of living standards in real terms verses the western countries.  I see some of these costs (real estate, domestic help, etc...) online. What about utility costs, health insurance, medical care, automobile expenses, taxes, vistas, etc...?  I would appreciate any assistance.  Referrals to books, web sites, blogs or direct answers to any of these expenses. 

Thank you very much.....................

I donŽt know about Philipines, but in Mexico.. wow!! You could live so great!! Please visit [moderated: off topic]

For example, you can live in Bohol, where we live, very well for 500 to 700 USD a month.  That includes rent and util. 

Write me for more info.  And we have a 6 year son.


And we did live in Mexico, I like here better-Bohol.

We have lived others places in the Philippines, Cebu, Manila, Negros Oriental. So far we like Bohol the best.



Hi there,

You've got an interesting question and I will be glad to answer them accordingly. $5000 a month in the Philippines means that you can afford to have a nice/comfortable house in a good neighborhood with your own maid, driver, your preferred car, and can simply enjoy your life by going from one island to another and do what you love to do best.

If you use your money wisely, you can invest part of it, and get your monthly income or quarterly income that gives you a higher rate of return and can live on the earnings and still keep your principal money. You can even start buying your own house and lot and get a good deals. In some instances, there is no downpayment and 0 interest for a number of years.
Electricity c an be expensive if you use the aircon 24/7. This is why we intend to build retirement homes in areas where even if we install airconditioning units, you will probably hardly use it. We've been here for more than a month now and are still in the process of looking and researching around for the right locations to build the retirement and wellness communities for retired Americans. I will send you some of the areas we have already chosen and will send the rest later on. Let me know which area you will be interested in and we can arrange a package tour for you to see all the places in our list. It's great to retire here in the Philippines if you are in the right location and be able to do what you love to do.

Questions that I want to ask you if you don't mind. If you were to retire here, would you prefer to live by the beach, by the mountains or
higher elevated areas where the climate is constantly cool,
by the city where the action is, or
by the beach area, but your house can be built on a higher elevated area that has cooler climate, with golf course, boating, fishing, sailing, diving, tennis and basketball court, swimming pool.
Would you prefer to live close by to a major hospital?
Would you prefer to live right outside the metro area?
Would you prefer to have opportunities to travel from one location to another and find a place to settle down?
Would you prefer to live with other Americans?

I would appreciate you answering these questions to help us make sure that whatever we build, we will meet the needs of the retired Americans.


foods and medicinal care are gernerally low in price here in the philippines.
i pay for the chiropractor just 8.-USD per session. that is a real professional one. not just massage.
the food here in sipalay, mainly fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, will cost less than 30.-USD a week for the whole family

$5k is almost a quarter million pesos. with that amount you will enjoy comfortable living in first class subdivisions/condominiums in the cities and you can live like the lord of the land in provinces. just be careful which part of the archipelago you choose.  again, it depends on location.

food is cheap. electricity will still be cheap if you have that money. so is water.

again you can employ servants and personal driver with your money.

good luck. :)

Alot of very good advice about being carefull and I must agree. If you rent some places you can spend up to 180,000 plus on rent instead buy a house or lease it at a cheaper price. you can get very good deals and live the lifestyle that many are talking about but you have to be carefull.

Seriously, you can live like a king....First thing first is to know which part of the country you wish to live in. If you are a lover of nature Bohol, Cebu and Tagaytay will be good options. However if you are more of a city person, you love night life you should consider looking into places like Makati area and or FORT Bonifacio. I suggest contacting a real-estate person to take care of your housing needs.

Buying a house when you have finally decided to stay here for good is the best thing to be done to get rid of monthly rentals. It would also give you peace of mind if you invest some of your money in a business venture (if you don't want to manage it, you can always hire someone).

Most important thing is to finding and knowing the right people
I guess by being here at expat-blog you are on the right track...




5K a month in the Philippines specially if you decided to live in the province in any province, you will live like a king really!!

Hail to the king!!!!!!!!!!!!


even 500 you can easily live comfortable..Dont be showy in the phil, no flashy gold, be humble there.
   I married a filipina, and we have 6 propertys there, but still live in florida..
   Be smart, wise with money.. Bank alot, but sure get yourself a decent car or van to travel(black out tint will help people from spotting that your a foreigner).
   There are many things to do, but even with 1k you will have enough money to spend and enjoy life there..
   If you have extra cash, lets say you live on 1250 a month, and have an extra 3750 to bank, and you want to have a business, whether it is a small eatery, internet business, or resort built for foreigners, you can easily afford to have this within a years time, granted 3750 for a year saved for investment opportunity.
   I was a consultant for 3 fortune 500 companys in the last 25 yrs, still working for the 3rd, but can help with ideas or concerns on what may fly there or may flop. My wife is very knowledgable also since she is from there, and is very up on the new and coming trends.
    Philippines is growing fast, I used to compare it to the 1970s USA, slow and relaxed, but now it seems to be soaring into the 90's and beyond in city areas, but rural areas are still slow paced and relaxed..
    hope this helps, and if you have any questions, ask away. I am new here as well, and am looking forward to hearing what others have to say here, and what plans others have for the phil.

Generally, with that amount,a 3member family can already live comfortably in the Phils,although it will also depend on the life style and the location. 

Bohol is a nice place but Dumaguete City is also a nice place to stay,a small city but has the also the beaches,mountains,  lakes as well as the presence of modern facilities,institutions i.e.hospitals and schools - Silliman University.There are also many foreign nationals living in this place.
  To travel from Dumaguete to Cebu (or Bacolod or Iloilo)is fast & easy and there are several options  it could be air,land and sea travel. For land trip, one can also bring their car and take the roll on roll off barge for a 30 min. to cross to Cebu. One can also take the fastcraft or the  boat direct to Cebu City.

Those are just some of the reasons why it is nice to live somewhere near Dumaguete City.

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to me that is way tooooo much money. I spent for my 5 AG propertys all together less than 1.5M, and have in excess to 85,000 sq meters including a 3 bedroom 1 bath house in bacolod... if this is a quick sale or rush sale as you say, the price should be 1/3rd of what you are asking... I have relatives in dumagutete near siliman, and yes, it is full of foreigners and is upcoming, but that price is tooo pricy..

just my opinion ....

Re: the price, it's different when you see the place,when you will be there, you might even say,  it's worth more than the price!

The owner really likes the place ( they don't live there, it's a reserve property and don't want to sell this)  but his  father is at the ICU for several weeks already...he is forced to dispose this.

If only I have the money for this, I will really buy this property, at the same time i could also help their father in the hospital.

Those are just some of the reasons why it is nice to live somewhere near Dumaguete City. The 461 sqm.lot for Sale (P1.2M only)

phils VAservices

For this price, this a good buy 2603 pesos per sqm. however like myself before I buy, I need to see the place.

My opinion.


Thanks for all the great information on the cost of living in the Philippines.

I recently had a short vacation in Philippines last June 18 to July 9th 2010 to attend our family reunion in Malabon, Metro Manila.  We also had a fantastic tour up north in Bolinao Pangasinan for three days, overnight stay in Corregidor and South, we went down to Coron Palawan for three days two nights staying in an (expat) Austrian lodging house.  I really had such a wonderful time I literally fell in love with the Philippines.  The people, the places, the food, the tour activities the costs so affordable (specially if your money is in Dollars).  After spending 18 years abroad, it opened my eyes how beautiful my country is! But now Im back here in the UAE and I dearly missed the Philippines. I will definitely come back next June with a longer vacation of two months.  May I advice Expats to visit first the Philippines and get the feel of the places and the people and you yourself will find out what a $5,000 (around 230,000 Pesos) is worth.  Then maybe decide?

you would do well

Whatever your budget, I would set aside money in my budget for unexpected expenses. Expenses such as medical or currency devaluation or her families needs/wants.

You could go thru $5,000 easily in Manila. Maybe even Cebu. If, included with your other expenses you and your wife make large monthly payments on a house and car..( high interest rates in the Philippines ) Of coarse that would be high end housing, aircon-24/7, entertainment and American/Euro-foods and goodies.....

$5000 a month  wow   u will live like a king    me  my self  wen  i live there  me and my wife will  start a small eatery  and just live simple life  wow  $5000 a month  you will live  extremely  well  life  believe  me mate   wow  my  god  wow   o  bi the way  when i  say a simple life  4  my self  i  do meen simple

you can have a rent to own condo somewhere in the fort and makati area.a nice parking lot and a good car as well..a very good life indeed!
the average filipino can earn as much as 1000 USD that is a life well live already!

My 2 cents. I see you are from Little Rock, AR. I grew up in Hot Springs so know something of your background.

If your used to a somewhat upper middle class Little Rock (aka bill and hillary) lifestyle, then $5k actually is not a whole lot to live off of. If you are looking for a 3-4 bedroom condo in Makati, you could spend about Php 150k per month (US$3400). So on the low side, php 90k (US$2k). So that would take up half your $$$. Food is cheap, but if you want western food, then expect to pay a bit more. Also, utilities are about the same as the US given you will need the a/c on a lot. (At least I do). Then, if you plan to retire there, will need a car, so that takes quite a bit of income. Lastly, travelling back to the US is expensive so budget about $3k per person for 1 trip back a year.

Also, owning property is not that easy. A foreigner can only buy condos (no landed property). And a condo in Makati comes tagged with assoc dues, parking fees, etc. These add up.

Do you budgeting carefully and have realistic expectations. I have lived in a lot of different places. Although you can live cheaply, I find it may not be realistic. You wont be eating at food courts and taking jeepneys on a regular basis. There are a few other blogs on americans who have moved to PI, would suggest asking them on what there lifestyles are like and how much they budget.

Good luck.

Wow,,, I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad I live on negros then. I paid 8k usa for 11 acre coco-banana plantation along main river, 1500.00 for 3/4 acre beach lot, 1k for 2 acre coco farm along main river, 8k for mango farm, and 9k for 3bedroom 1 bath house in decent subdiv in Bacolod.
   I am still in the states, but like usa, I stay away from the big citys whenever possible to enjoy my money as it goes alot further than dallas, jax, that I lived in to make my money. Now as we plan to go back, ALL is paid for, we are shipping a few boxes by Umac, but plan to live simply, and get a vehicle also once there. My wife is pinay, which helped alot.
   Anyway, on my 2 cents, if someone wants to live in makati spending more than 2k usa for a condo can have it. I love paying 25 bucks a YEAR for my property tax on the house, and lower on all the ag lots. I can not complain except that I didnt bank more money while younger..
  Thanks for reading,, could write more but dinner awaits !

Medusa - thats great for you that you found a place. I to have my retirement home and will hopefully have it paid off.

But everyone has there own expectations. I am replying to his requirements. Single, white male, 47, never married wanting to be close to other expats, cultural centers, nightlife, security, medical, etc.  Where else in the PI is there other than Makati?  Myself, if I am s single guy, I would go stir crazy in a country lifestyle. If you have a Pinay wife, then everything changes as you have her and her family as support.

Anyway, his post was made in March so not even sure he is still interested in PI.

Myself, I will be moving to Makati in Jan, so am trolling these blogs trying to get all the info I can.


American or other you can't own property here. You can lease, as long as your wife is Filipino or you have a Filipino partner who will account for 60 per cent of the investment. There are limits to your property you can lease, purchase, depending on your spouse, if she or he is a Filipino. An expat or any foreigner can own a condo, but it has to be an approved property where you become a partner with the condo association. There is lots of help here to get you there, but a lot of hoops you have to jump through. The people can be amazingly wonderful, but being surrounded by happy, extremely poor and needy people can be disparaging, but if you have a big heart and want to do some good, then your money will go a long way and you will enjoy sharing your life with grateful people who will work tirelessly to make your dreams come true. Some will try to become a part of your dream and even take a bit more than they deserve, but who can blame a downtrodden poor Filipino for trying. There are some druggies over here who rob and steal and can be troublesome, but if you find the right people you can avoid that element and have a pretty good time. I haven't got near 5000 bucks a month. But if I did, it would make a difference for me as my wife's family is quite wealthy, which doesn't help me at all, as I need to live in their wealthy areas and keep up with the Jones to make my wife comfortable. I can't keep up. I would rather get a simple place near the beach and do some simple traveling and surf and take pictures, write, play music etc.., but I will figure something out. There are good days and bad days. Surrounded by poor people who would really like to trade places with you and who come to depend on your every move is almost perverse, but then again, as I said, if you have a heart and you know how to share without going broke you can really enjoy the people here as they are very catholic and happy with their lives whether they live in a hut or work in the fields. Although when an expat comes around the lucky guy or gal who works for you will become a dedicated and helpful soul who depends on you for everything and will do just about anything to keep it that way. It's a sad situation for such a glorious people. The Japs and other colonial cultures, Chinese, Spanish capitalized off of the good nature and trusting souls who they ultimately destroyed. Oh, did I forget the Americans took as many natural resources before they left after the war, but left a legacy of education which may just bring the Filipino back from the destruction they experienced during WWII. Hate the Japs, sorry. My opinion and I won't change until they change. They still use the uneven balance of trade to give themselves an advantage. Never play fair and would enslave their own, which they have really. The Chinese worry me as well. They are quite close to the PHilippines and woujldn't mind taking it for themselves. Dangerous and powerful. Never know what is going to happen in Korea, then this whole area will become embroiled in another war. The US is here though. Fighting terrorism down in Mindinao.

Before you come here you better check out the realities of retirement visas which can save you thousands in moving costs if you get them squared away before you get here.

Culture shock? Get ready. But, all in all I've met some great people and the incompetence of some of the domestic help is easy to put up with because they do everything with such compassion and sincerity. They will break your microwave or 110 appliance by plugging it into a 220 socket as easy as pie. All of your appliances will be gone before you know it. You need to train your help. Take the time to share you knowledge and experience with power tools etc... but when you come across a well trained or experienced mechanic, stand back and marvel as they can tie a car back together with leather, wire, screws and bend a few other parts and your car will run. Always buy new if you can, or be ready to pay whatever it takes to get that used vehicle back into shape. Hopefully it's not a total loss.

Love yah

Well it seems that with 2500 US dollars you would really be living like a king. I'm researching a lot about RP and people say that with 1000 US dollars you are already having luxuries a lot of fun!

I think that we need to have more information about costs, everything for every lifestyle intended so the ones who are making plans to go can prepare the finances accordingly.

I'd appreciate if someone could give more examples. Thanks!

Earning $ 5,000 USD in the Philippines?

Wow! You could live in that paradise like a "KING"

* You can travel around the island (think of 7100 islands with different taste ans different attractions)

* Its not expensive to travel in the Philippines. Air Tickets to cross another island will range from $ 20 Bux - 55 Bux)

* You could have your nice car if you love to drive or you can use public transport a plus points to know the life in the Philippines

* You could have your maid

* You can do everything you want except doing against the law or else you would be repatriated and ban from entering back

I'm planing to retire in Bacolod city philippines in 5 years.  My wife is from bacolod.  We will be 60 years old in five years.  our pension will be around $82,000 per year.  We are planning to buy a house and a car cash.  Included in our plan is to help the people by creating some kind of educational grand for a college education. My question is: Will I be able to live a nice lifestyle and at the same time help others with $82,000?

That's 6800 monthly. Reading the comments here it seems a great amount to live like a rock star.

I'm assuming this is after taxes from a retirement account such as a Roth IRA for example, $5 grand/ month. That's a lot of money, even by the average American retirement income.

I'll give an example for the US such as living in Orlando,FL near Disney World. Real estate prices have dropped dramatically in recent years that one can purchase a 3 bdrm/2ba town home or condo for $85,000. With 20% down payment that's about $1000/month, and you still have $4 grand in your pocket. The standard of living in Fl is much lower than other parts of the US, on top of that the healthcare facilities is much better in this area and you have sunshine almost all year round.

Now back to topic, for example if you lived in the Philippines  such as in Makati or Ft.Bonifacio area, you won't get a 3bdrm/2ba for $85 grand. But, if you're single or married with no kids you can get a luxury studio for $60 grand or luxury 1bdrm for $120 grand in the areas mention above. Or if you choose to rent in these luxury condo's,  you can get a furnished studio for around $500-600/month furnished or 1 bdrm for $700-1000/month. Usually these condo's are well furnished, so all you have to do is  just bring your suitcase.
I'll give an example from my experience. I'm a young single guy and enjoyed my time in Makati.
From experience 2 yrs ago, here's what I spent monthly in terms of dollars so you get an idea:

I bought my own condo though. Luxury furnished studio condo in Salcedo Village Makati. The going rate in the bldng for a furnished studio is around $500/month.

Food (ate out all the time, a lot of times with a friend in decent restaurants, sometimes 5 star hotels in the area such as Mandarin Oriental)      $500/month.

Electricity (mind you my AC was always on when home) $60-80/monthly.

Water $8-10/month
Cable with HBO $17/month
No internet but if connected $50 month
No landline but with cell phone $60-70 month. Calls made it expensive, hated texting.
No health club membership but condo had gym and large pool
Daily cab rides $2-4/day
Laundry service in bldng $10/week

All in all it was less than $1500/month even if I added internet service. So for less than $1500/month I lived a comfortable life style. Well, what I'm getting at is $5000/month in the Philippines is lot of money to retire on, even in Makati, the Philippines most expensive place to live in.

I hope this helps and gives you an idea. What I recommend is for you to visit the place. I didn't factor in Health insurance, I had my own, but it is relatively cheap compared to the US out of pocket health insurance.

as you have already been advised you can live very comfortable in pinoy land for a lot less - you do not need that kind of money every month you could not spend it - i have a nice bungalow which costs me $70.00 per month - i have no maid or driver as i have my own car (local car) - you will have to be careful of scammers (girls and her family)- they use all kinds of shit to get money out of you - one story was an American married a local girl (big mistake)she said her husband died - short story he took her and her pinoy child on and had two others with her (she married him) the ex-husband was dead!!!!!

Oh no he wasn't he lived around the corner for 5 years until he went around to complain about the lack of money coming his way!! (moderated: offensive term)

good luck and never carry big money with you - you become a target
if you want a big house make sure you have good security - I can give you loads of information if you need it - just reply



Its a matter of how you spend your money.

If you have 2 BR apartment in big US cities, the rent usually from $1500 a month. Honestly, if you live in places like Makati, where you live just like what you are used to, the answer to your question is, you will live comfortably. But even in the US - having that, you will live comfortably too unless you are drowning in debt.

Makati rental for 2 BR good condo starts from Php 70 - 80K. That's an equivalent of almost $2K. Unless you know how to cook, well world class restaurant arent cheap either. And if you go out every night, its going to cost you too.

Overall, you can live in the province like a "king" as what they say but note that the water and electricity supply is not as continuous like in Makati. But you can resolve that if you will have your own water supply and solar panels.

Most expats that live in Makati, considered living like a king, is because, the accommodation is supplied by the company they work for. The company pays 1 year rent in advance + deposit.

And if you dont live in Makati, then you have to provide your own "security guard" or live in a gated community... as usual.. you need $$$ for that.

So there you go..that's more realistic answer to your question.

Are you for real ?
5000 USD a month You could cruise all over S.E.A. a month here a month there as the mood takes you and live like a king.

Thats a big money,you can even live luxuriously in Makati for that kind of amount.But then if you are retired,then my advice is be wise,spend you money wisely and don't get fooled by some of the Filipino people here..

Can someone define what is living like a king? I know monarchs have a mansion, yacht, rolls Royce, shopping at Saks. Based on my computation, 5k doesn't even afford renting a mansion, or even renting a 3br serviced condo

Sorry to blunt but I don't see the logic of exaggeration

Female expat - Good response. People are always trying to convince others that living in RP is all lying on beaches sipping mai tais.  And money will pour in from your Internet ventures. If so, why does > 10% of population leave their country to find a living.

$5k cover my expenses in Makati but in a reasonable manner but that is my choice. Its all based on your expectations.

EG, I have been looking for a nice place to live for my family - safety and convenience being a major consideration. A small 3 br in the Fort will start in low p100k (Boni ridge, bellagio) or go over p220 (PPT, Essensa). A reasonable p150 will get you 1 Mck.  Rockwell Hidalgo P is about p150k. A decent small suv (ford escape) is about p1 million as I cant rely on taxis or public transport.  Food is about same as US. Elect is higher and you need it more often for a/c. For my family, cant really cut much else out. After a few years here, I prob will know how better to live here, but as a newbie, dont have as many options.

So lving in Makati is not cheap compared to other major metro cities in SEA. Living in the provinces and being retired with a local wife, yes you could live a lot cheaper.

female_expat wrote:

Can someone define what is living like a king? I know monarchs have a mansion, yacht, rolls Royce, shopping at Saks. Based on my computation, 5k doesn't even afford renting a mansion, or even renting a 3br serviced condo

Sorry to blunt but I don't see the logic of exaggeration

Its not an exaggeration, however For those that don't understand English very well !! "To live like a King" is ONLY a saying, which indicates that you can live comfortably. It does not mean Live like a King Lives.
If you took the trouble to research on the internet you would find this defination
live like a king
to live in a very comfortable way with all the luxuries you want.

I have all the luxuries I want or need HENCE I live like a king in Tagaytay which is more expensive than Metro Manila due to it being considered 2nd summer capital after Baguio and a Tourist area. My wife is Filipina and we don't spend 2000 USD/month which includes some family support but doesn't include rent because we have our own home.

dhnindc wrote:

Female expat - Good response. People are always trying to convince others that living in RP is all lying on beaches sipping mai tais.  And money will pour in from your Internet ventures. If so, why does > 10% of population leave their country to find a living.

Its not about the cost of living, its about the Income.

Most expat Filipino's and there are a lot here in the UAE can earn significantly more as expats than they can in the Phils and want a better life than they can afford locally.

Filipino OCWs work hard and send most of their money back to the Phils for their Families otherwise the families would not survive.

There are a LOT of very poor people in the Phils that can and do live on less than 5000 Peso/mth thats equivalent to 125 USD/mth

Another point is the Phils is not a wellfare state and there are no handouts...... Even for emergency medical requirements.

Its not about the cost of living, its about the Income.

Most expat Filipino's and there are a lot here in the UAE can earn significantly more as expats than they can in the Phils and want a better life than they can afford locally.

Filipino OCWs work hard and send most of their money back to the Phils for their Families otherwise the families would not survive.

There are a LOT of very poor people in the Phils that can and do live on less than 5000 Peso/mth thats equivalent to 125 USD/mth



Your comment doesn't really address the question of crazyaboutabroad.

I wouldn't expect an expat to live like a local and survive on $125 a month, or live in a tiny shack or live in a slum. 

It is a known fact that majority of Filipinos go overseas in search for $$$ but it is also a known fact that not everyone made it.

Anyone who is not a citizen of that country is expected not to be a burden from the host government.

Advanced countries have the infrastructure and law enforcement whilst the poor countries do not have the resources to even feed their hungry let alone build infrastructure.

There are always wealthy people everywhere even to the most remote part of East Timor. Its the private firms who build infrasture for the wealthy to enjoy and in return pass that cost to consumers who can afford.

In the Philippines, Makati and majority areas of development, was built by the Ayala Corporation, a family owned business. From providing water, electricity, sewage (if any)...you name it..the Ayalas built it to have a part of the country that has amenities equivalent to advanced countries. Because its the private firms who build the infrasture/amenities, you dont expect such business to operate without profit. Hence the wealthy Filipinos or the expat spend significantly higher than living in advanced countries.

Its a  choice for the individual expat to pay less but do not expect that you get the same amenities if you like to live lower standard..and definitely its not like living like a king.

As for your family who live less than $5k a month..well even I can live less than $100 a month. I can camp in the mountains and be minimalist but it doesn't mean that I can do it forever :)