Author Topic: Cost of living, don't be fooled  (Read 5909 times)

Offline BudM

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Cost of living, don't be fooled
« on: March 21, 2018, 11:34:21 AM »
Too many people listen to the crap about how cheap it is to live here.  Yeah, you can live out in a province away from most everything but in the US, you can get away from the cities and get out in most countrysides and live cheaper too.  Besides a few things like labor, medical, and a little lower on insurances along with a couple or few other things, my everyday living is no cheaper than the city I came from.  When you throw it all together and boil it, the result is damn close to being the same.  Granted, I live in Metro Manila area, and with Manila being the capital of the Philippines  it is a lot cheaper than the capital of the US or any of the large city and metropolitan areas.   But, all this business about how cheap it is would turn out to be just that.  Crap.  And anyone relying on it has no one to blame but themselves if they did not do enough research on it prior to making their jump no matter what motivated them to do it.  They want to blame someone, all they need to do is look in the mirror.
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Offline JoeLP

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2018, 03:10:19 PM »
Too many people listen to the crap about how cheap it is to live here.  Yeah, you can live out in a province away from most everything but in the US, you can get away from the cities and get out in most countrysides and live cheaper too.  Besides a few things like labor, medical, and a little lower on insurances along with a couple or few other things, my everyday living is no cheaper than the city I came from.  When you throw it all together and boil it, the result is damn close to being the same.  Granted, I live in Metro Manila area, and with Manila being the capital of the Philippines  it is a lot cheaper than the capital of the US or any of the large city and metropolitan areas.   But, all this business about how cheap it is would turn out to be just that.  Crap.  And anyone relying on it has no one to blame but themselves if they did not do enough research on it prior to making their jump no matter what motivated them to do it.  They want to blame someone, all they need to do is look in the mirror.

I think you are correct in most cases.  I lived in Grand Rapids, MI before coming over here.  2nd biggest metro area in Michigan behind Detroit.  I enjoyed it.  But having had a taste of the Philippines already, it's where I wanted to go.  I was ready to move and live in Las Pinas and probably would have enjoyed that if that was to be what would have happened.  Had enough finance to afford it and have the extra for emergency.  And as I mentioned in previous posts, at that point in time I never visited the Visayas and had zero intent on living in the Visayas.  Well, met Tina and that all changed.  Did as much research as I could on it.  Having lived in Bataan already I knew a little of the Provincial life but was still close to Manila.
I will say this, I am saving much more money in my bank account now than what I would have ever believed I would be saving at this point in my life.  Catarman is much, much less expensive than the capital area or even Bataan was.  As a diabetic I am safe here as there are multiple pharmacies that carry my needs.  The hospitals are adequate to take care of any issues I might have come across. 
Sure, the net sucks, but that's true across most of the Phils.  I never really sat down and did the math on what it costs here vs. Las Pinas.  I can say with a lot of confidence that my costs here in Catarman, compared to what they were in Orion, Bataan are about 60%.  Granted, there are other factors than just the area so it's not a fair comparison.  As Tina manages the market and gets some of the best deals that can be gotten and saves a lot on our food and all.  But everything else...it's pretty damn cheap here.
I got lucky.  That's what it boils down to.  I was ignorant of the Visayas, just as I am still ignorant of anything in Mindanao or south or west Visayas.  But I'm guessing there are places like Catarman in them also.  I guess it's what you decide you need and desire for a place to live.  I thought I needed to be near Manila.  I was wrong.  Now I'm putting away more into the savings account than what I thought would be possible.    I do know a few foreigners over in East Samar who are paying even less every month for their living than I am.  One being a former corporate worker.  He's loving it.  But that's his cup of Tea.  Where he's living I don't think I could take it for more reasons than just the fact that there is only one pharmacy that carries the needs I have and they don't even have that in stock all the time.  But also he's really in the boondocks, if you will. 
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 09:18:55 PM by JoeLP »
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Offline Lee2

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2018, 03:57:04 PM »
I think it is true for those of us from inexpensive places within the U.S. but for those from parts of Europe, then it can be less expensive to live in the Philippines than back home.

I also find that my wife and I spend as much while living in Cebu, as we do while living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in overall costs, some items are much less expensive in the Philippines and others are much more expensive, so it all balances out.

Rents are less expensive in Cebu but you get what you pay for, a smaller place and often not up to western standards.

Water cost less but I would never drink the tap water, and the filtered water we buy, I would bet the filter company makes way more bottles than they are supposed to make, before changing the filter, since there are few standards here and no one checking up on them.

Next comes cable TV, much less expensive but not much for me to watch and then on top of that, I do not know about all over the Philippines or even all over Cebu but here our cable often goes out during the best part of the show, thus ruining the ending for us, which makes watching much here not worthwhile for me.

Labor related items cost way less here, that is where the savings come in big time, so a taxi only cost around p70 to p120 to most places we go, that is less than the fuel and wear and tear on a vehicle would be for us, so we do not need to own a vehicle here, thus no insurance or maintenance costs for that either.

Property taxes are much less here but with that comes little on services, so poor roads and calls for help to fire or police can take forever to get help and an ambulance might cost us our life, instead of being quick, so with lower taxes comes you get much less, some people do not care, well that is until they might need one of those services, then they will likely care or die and then it will no longer matter.

We pay much less in condo fees monthly here than in our Florida condo but with that comes low upkeep on many items, not so in Florida. Here in the Philippines it seems upkeep is not a priority for many.

So yes it cost less on some items and renting a house would cost much less but it also would likely not be a house up to western standards or even western size.

I am sure others can toss in their thoughts but my thoughts are that the reason most people move to the Philippines is either for the weather or the great partners we can find here. YMMV...
:) Happily married since 1994 & live part of the year in Cebu and the rest in S. Florida.

Offline FastWalk

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2018, 09:47:57 PM »
I will say this, I am saving much more money in my bank account now than what I would have ever believed I would be saving at this point in my life.  Catarman is much, much less expensive than the capital area or even Bataan was.  As a diabetic I am safe here as there are multiple pharmacies that carry my needs.  The hospitals are adequate to take care of any issues I might have come across. 

Congrats.  That is a great situation to be in.

Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Offline FastWalk

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2018, 11:34:27 PM »
Although it does occur it is not as common for a family that does not have at least one member from the Philippines to move here. So cost alone is not enough of a reason but it can have an effect.  Think about it like an indexed fund.  With an indexed fund you will get a little bit of everything so that your cost is stable (maybe).  But if you have a more targeted focus then you might get larger swings in value/results depending on all sort of things that relate to the targeted focus.

When we compare the cost of living from the viewpoint of an index of everything it is likely really close.  Or is it ??  For example try adding a full time maid and driver in any US location to the budget and see how it adds up.

It is a process of determining what things in each location we will need or want,  and then compare the cost.  For me it will be about the same cost either place,  but the distribution of that spending will be on different things.  For example school vs massive property taxes.  In either case if we take all the exact same bundle of items and services and try to buy it in the other place it will be a much different cost.  The cost of a family sized home in the Philippines province city is/was much less than the same in Seattle.  However in a province city in the US I might get something similar for about the same initial capital.

I also believe that a person that is broke in one place will eventually be broke in any place.  There are many lottery winners that end up broke again after having a huge party.  Showing off is expensive in any location.

Another point is that the average (or is it mean..) income in the Philippines is about 25k peso,  and the same in the US is about 4-6k dollars per month.  With the exchange rates it works out to the US person having on average about 10 times more.  Other numbers can be found,  but the general theory is still sound.  In either place there are ppl that are above or below the averages.

If we want to live Exactly like we do in a western place (USA) and cost saving is the only reason to move,  IMHO don't do it.
Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Offline Hestecrefter

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2018, 04:21:21 AM »
Too many people listen to the crap about how cheap it is to live here.

Agreed.  As all who have posted here seem to agree, overall costs are not all that cheap.  It think JoeLP has achieved an enviable position of being able to build up a savings account living in the Phils.  I doubt many can accomplish that.

When I lived in Quezon City in the 1990s, in a house I purchased, we still managed to go through about U.S. $7,000 per month.  Maybe more.  If I ever retire, I probably won't have much more than $6,000 a month coming in, so I won't go back to Metro Manila.  Or Cebu.  I know one guy renting a condo there paying P70,000 a month.  I have been there.  Not much of a place.  I could rent a nicer place in many U.S. cities for a lot less. 

For me, a real detractor to retiring to the Phils is healthcare.  Yes, it's relatively affordable now, but how long will that last?  The Phils is said to be a "developing economy" and is sometimes said to have a bright economic future.  If so, that will only mean that the handful of bargains there now will disappear.  That will probably include the end of low cost healthcare.  If I get there and any of my family needs serious medical treatment, it could run into big bucks. 

On the topic of healthcare, on the Yahoo homepage today was one of the endless writings by "experts" about retirement.  This one was about "4 costly mistakes".  The link below might work:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/4-costly-retirement-mistakes-avoid-100400370.html

Here are a couple of excerpts:

1. Depending too heavily on Social Security

Countless Americans today are woefully behind on retirement savings, with one-third of folks 55 and over having less than $10,000 in their nest eggs. And while some of this boils down to poor money management, it's also a function of our collective overreliance on Social Security.


4. Underestimating the cost of healthcare

While several expenses do have the potential to go down in retirement, healthcare is the one cost that's likely to go up. So how much might healthcare run you? The typical 65-year-old man today who lives an average lifespan will spend $189,687 on medical care in retirement. The typical 65-year-old woman, meanwhile, will spend $214,565. And in case you're wondering, the discrepancy lies in the fact that women tend to live longer. Keep in mind, however, that these numbers don't include the cost of long-term expenditures, like assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
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I have seen dozens of publications like this.  Some speak of how Americans have pitiful retirement savings.  Others address the scary medical costs to be expected.  This article incorporated both.  A bit peculiar.  I do not see how the 2 passages quoted can stand side by side.  One says retirees are near broke.  In the next breath, we are told those (presumably) same retirees will come up with about 400 grand for medical expenses for a couple over 65.  The author writes: The typical 65-year-old man today who lives an average lifespan will spend $189,687 on medical care in retirement. One must assume that the "typical" types do not all have retirement savings of a magnitude that will allow an expense of $400,000 to go unnoticed.  It's perhaps my pea brain that does not permit me to see these two concepts juxtaposed as they are and reconciled. 

Offline Lee2

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2018, 05:14:35 AM »
Expats here can get health insurance coverage for around $1,000 a year, if they do not have preexisting conditions, if they do, then those will not be covered, then when they turn 70 the coverage ends, I write this based on friends who have health insurance, so health insurance is something everyone should look into before moving here and to keep in mind.

I am always amazed how many expats we meet here who do not have health insurance and just say they pay as they go, those who are retired military and are from the U.S. seem to have it a lot better, another thing to keep in mind. One friend had a heart attack years ago, he told me it cost him p1.25 million, then had another issue the next year which basically broke his piggy bank and put him in debt, he now has to work here, to me that is not retirement, it is bad enough having to work back home where we make decent money, to work here is not something I would ever wish to do.
:) Happily married since 1994 & live part of the year in Cebu and the rest in S. Florida.

Offline BudM

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2018, 03:57:19 PM »
Health insurance seems to dictate as to how you do everything in life.  All they want to do is keep slapping you around whenever you try to make decisions about how you are going to make sure you have, what you think, is ample coverage.
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Offline David690

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2018, 06:33:38 PM »
Agreed.  As all who have posted here seem to agree, overall costs are not all that cheap.  It think JoeLP has achieved an enviable position of being able to build up a savings account living in the Phils.  I doubt many can accomplish that.

When I lived in Quezon City in the 1990s, in a house I purchased, we still managed to go through about U.S. $7,000 per month.  Maybe more.  If I ever retire, I probably won't have much more than $6,000 a month coming in, so I won't go back to Metro Manila.  Or Cebu.  I know one guy renting a condo there paying P70,000 a month.  I have been there.  Not much of a place.  I could rent a nicer place in many U.S. cities for a lot less. 


Just want to check I'm reading that right....$7,000 per month in the 1990's in a house that you owned, so no rent.  No idea what the $ exchange rate was back then, but that seems a helluva lot. At todays rate that is more than P365,000 per month, I seriously doubt there are many here with that sort of monthly budget, not me for sure.  We live very well on P80k per month in Davao city.

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Online bigrod

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2018, 07:49:53 PM »
Just want to check I'm reading that right....$7,000 per month in the 1990's in a house that you owned, so no rent.  No idea what the $ exchange rate was back then, but that seems a helluva lot. At todays rate that is more than P365,000 per month, I seriously doubt there are many here with that sort of monthly budget, not me for sure.  We live very well on P80k per month in Davao city.

When I was in Philippines in '88 it was php 20 to $1.

Chuck
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Online bigrod

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2018, 08:02:02 PM »
Since our house(3bdr 2 bath) is paid off are only bills are for our vehicle and the normal utilities.  So the vehicle (next 15 months) plus normal utilities  average about  php 35K(700) a month. 

Chuck
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Offline JoeLP

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2018, 09:24:19 PM »
Since our house(3bdr 2 bath) is paid off are only bills are for our vehicle and the normal utilities.  So the vehicle (next 15 months) plus normal utilities  average about  php 35K(700) a month. 

Chuck
That's the ideal situation.  Sorta where I am now.  Built a house on Tina's family's compound.  So no expense in living local except the utilities.  Even the vehicles we use are paid for.  Granted, we only have bikes.  Tina does NOT like me driving out from Catarman on anything talking about gangs in the mountains that look for foreigners and such.  While I don't feel I'd be in any danger...I believe in the whole happy wife happy life mantra. 
Also, we have land on the shoreline west of Catarman we plan on building on someday and that will add costs when the time comes.  But for now, living very cheap in our own home that is paid off.  I think what we have is hard for a lot of foreigners to come by. 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 05:56:21 AM by JoeLP »
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Offline Art, just a re(tired) Fil-Am

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2018, 11:24:46 PM »
Since our house(3bdr 2 bath) is paid off are only bills are for our vehicle and the normal utilities.  So the vehicle (next 15 months) plus normal utilities  average about  php 35K(700) a month. 

Chuck
We don't have a mortgage or vehicle payments, just two well maintained used vehicles and our monthly utility bills averages around P7,000 with the help of our 3 new inverter A/Cs and double door refrigerator. The only huge monthly expense is our grocery bill of P48,000. My wife buys alot of imported stuff that your average budget minded Filipino would steer away from. We also eat out alot 3 to 4 times a week so my wife isn't a slave in the kitcken on a daily basis. A happy wife, is a happy life.
Luckily we have our TRICARE military health coverage, which the closest hospital is just 1/4 mile away. 75% of our pharmacy meds are reimbursed by TRICARE. I have diabetes type 2 (averages P150,000 a yr spent) and our Mercury Drug store is just across the street from where we live.
We do just fine with what we have.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2018, 11:35:06 PM by Art, just a re(tired) Fil-Am »
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Offline Hestecrefter

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2018, 01:24:45 AM »
Just want to check I'm reading that right....$7,000 per month in the 1990's in a house that you owned, so no rent.  No idea what the $ exchange rate was back then, but that seems a helluva lot. At todays rate that is more than P365,000 per month, I seriously doubt there are many here with that sort of monthly budget, not me for sure.  We live very well on P80k per month in Davao city.

Perhaps I should add that SO was in showbiz and when asked to do a live performance her usual "talent fee" was in the range of P100,000 for a few hours.  Mind you, that was not all gravy.  Out of that usually came her manager's fee, sometimes some costs for a band, dancers, transportation (we always sent 2 of our own cars to her shows anywhere on Luzon).  So that P100,000 could get pruned to P50,000.  If she went to Japan, Dubai, etc., there was generally more profit as the promoters would cover travel, accommodation, meals, etc.  They were usually good sports and covered my costs to go along.

Given the nature of her trade, we tended to live a bit of a different lifestyle.  We usually had 2 or 3 maids living in and a driver and his wife living in.  In fact, looking back, I am probably being conservative in saying our burn rate was about $7,000 a month.  As for the exchange rate, I have not taken time to research historical rates online.  I know that it was about P55 to the US dollar in 2002 when I left the Phils.  But that was something of a high to which it had climbed.

While I think I could get by on less living in the Phils today, I would not expect cheap.  As some here have pointed out, there are many places in the US where one can live for about what it costs to live in the Phils.  My wife and I and our teenager now live on a somewhat remote off the grid location off Canada's west coast.  Not a place like Vancouver, known for being pricey.  We make a trip to town about once a week for groceries and supplies, which involves taking our boat to where we keep a truck, then car ferry for the rest of the trip.  We buy food, gas diesel and propane (gave up having the fuel boat come to our place, as the fuel boat costs are much higher).  There's always some other stuff to buy.  Last week a couple of chains for 2 chainsaws - $60.  Also there always seems to be some electronic device or accessory to buy. Food for the chickens (although they mostly feed themselves in summer).  Food for the cats (either that or accept mice). Oil and filter for the generator or ATV or one of our trucks here.  On and on.  Then breakfast and lunch in town and Chinese takeout to bring home.  I make all purchases with a credit card.  I come home every time with a pocketful of receipts.  It always seems to be about a thousand bucks, every week. 

We do not pay for electricity (solar and wind and a bit of diesel generator time to charge batts now and again), but the system has some costs, albeit less than buying grid power.  We heat and cook with wood for the most part, so some saving there.  But there are cell phones, internet and TV.  Property taxes and insurance.  I have no real idea of what we go through in a month but it must be at least $6,000.  On top of that there are the big expenses such as the cost of replacing a vehicle every once in a long while.  A new outboard for $12,000, new truck tires for $800, etc., etc.  The 2 trucks we keep here get shipped out by barge once a year for routine service.  I don't pay for the . barge (taken out in trade), but the service costs never seem to be under $1,000 apiece, partly because the miles of dirt road here are hard on vehicles and tires.  No one drives with insurance here, so that is not a cost.  We can drink and drive and use our cell phones while driving and there's no one around to tell you you can't.  That's one of the drawing cards to a place like this.  You get left alone.  You can build what you want and no inspector will show up and ask to see your permit or tell you that staircase is not to code.  But that's a digression from talking about cost of living.

So, the way I see it, were we to move to the Phils and maintain the same lifestyle, it would cost every bit as much.  The only diff might be that IF we found someone capable of servicing our motor vehicles, the labor cost might be less.  That's about it.  And, as I have said, if one of us encountered major illness, costs could run into millions of pesos as happened to Lee's friend.

Offline Lee2

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Re: Cost of living, don't be fooled
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2018, 10:36:11 AM »
We don't have a mortgage on our 2 Cebu condo units that we had put together to make an 860 sq foot 2/2, back when we bought them in 2007, long since paid off, so right now cost to live in them is pretty inexpensive, a little under p10,000 a year in taxes for both and under p2,500 a month in condo fees, water usually under p500 a month but electric hits us with a cost of around p13,000 a month on warmer months, I really need to buy inverter type aircons but it just does not pay for us to spend the money until the ones we have crap out and especially at my age. Cable is only p299 a month for basic, full cable is I think p1,200 and internet cost me around p1,500 a month since I found that when buying the monthly prepaid packages for p999 Smart limits the amount I can use but by the day or week, it seems like they only slow me down some and not to the point where it becomes unusable, so I can live with that.

So all in all it is cheaper to live here for those costs, yet just the other day Nila bought a bbq chicken, boy the chickens here are soooooo tiny, anyway it was p255 for that chicken and my guess is that it would be lucky to weigh in at 1lb, back in Florida we buy bbq chickens for $4.99 at Costco or $5.99 at supermarkets and the chickens weigh in at around 4lbs, the weight is right on the package there, so 4 times as much for the same money, a much better value in Florida and we eat a lot of chicken when there.

Guys, how much does a bbq chicken cost where you are?

Also I think I wrote before, some items cost much less here and others cost a lot more, so it becomes a wash of sorts, when all is put into the mix but anyone who thinks they can live much less expensive here than in the U.S., best think again unless they come here from expensive places in the U.S. YMMV and yes it cost less here than in many European countries, so for them the Philippines may reduce their costs a lot.
:) Happily married since 1994 & live part of the year in Cebu and the rest in S. Florida.

 


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