American Living on $511 Month in the Philippines

This report is a recorded phone interview with an American Living on $511 Month in the Philippines. His budget is low for two people because he lives like a local outside the ex-pat areas in one of the provinces.

This American named Randy saw my report about “Why Some Expats Can’t Live on $800 per month in the Philippines,” and agreed with my analysis. He also agreed to be a guest star on my channel. Here is my phone call with Randy about his actual cost of living in the Philippine provinces.

Update: July 30, 2020:  Randy emailed today and asked me to update the table below to show his rent as $53 USD in the below table instead of $120 USD.  I had used $120 because he negotiated his rent 5 years ago but in his email, he said he could get similar cheap rents because he would take it as-is and fix it up.  So I changed the article also.

Here is the monthly budget he discussed in the above video.

Rent $53
Water $6
Electricity $100
Groceries $320
Restaurants $0
Bars $0
Internet $32
Total $511

Both Randy and his girlfriend live on this budget. He did not mention health insurance. Randy has been on social security disability starting at about age 50, he is age 70 now.  He doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.

He has been living in the Philippines continually since 2007 but was here most of the time between 2001 and 2007. He avoids all places that ex-pats are typically drawn to. He has lived on 7 different islands including, Leyte, Samar, Negros, Panay, Bohol, Cebu, and Luzon. He currently lives in Mabalacat, Pampanga going on 5 years now.

His monthly social security is $801. His rent is $53 but would cost about $120 month to rent in his neighborhood today. His water bill is about $6 a month, electric is about $100 per month because he runs his air conditioning 24/7 per day, and his high-speed Internet is $32 month.

His house has two large rooms. Both rooms split about equally are 510 Sq Feet each.

There is a modern grocery store and malls nearby. The social security administration of the USA deposits his monthly check into his American bank and he takes money out as needed at the ATM near his house.

He has super-fast internet with 35 meg up and down that costs $32 USD month.

This is the happiest time of his life as he says in the above video.

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26 thoughts on “American Living on $511 Month in the Philippines”

  1. Hey Robert,
    Thanks for sharing your story. If you would like to be a guest star on
    my channel, please leave a message here:
    Please include the above details in the email so I remember who you are.
    You sound like a great guy!

  2. Hi Adam,
    Both of my banks know I am outside the USA 50+ weeks per year. Both have online web pages where I can register my itinerary
    so their fraud department doesn’t freak out when they see withdrawals from ATMs in foreign countries. Your question seems
    to imply that your bank will not allow you to access your money outside the USA so you have to keep it a secret. Not only do
    all USA banks I know of let you take your money out at ATMs all over the world, but the USA social security office also allows it in
    almost all countries around the world except a few.
    Here is how I handle international banking:
    You should also get a copy of my free eBook here for more pointers:

  3. Im 35 and dont make much money right now at my job. I just started putting money in dividend stocks. Hopefully i can move there a few years before retirement age. Iv been to Manila once for a trip. I plan on making another trip to another area June 2022 if Philippines opens up. My fear is that if i live there, one day ; if my PNC bank finds out they may close my account. Ill be using my brothers U.S. address, but Ill be logging into my PNC account while Im there and transfering money. Im afraid with the algorithms they may see Im logging in abroad. How can I avoid this? U.S. VPN and international plan on my phone maybe? With my Schwab brokerage I will switch it to an international account. Any info or tips are appreciated. Or any banks that dont care if i reside abroad. Thanks .- Adam.

  4. This is how I live on a small island in Samar except we own the house… We package up candy , 20 pieces a bag and xmas morning we pass it out to all the kids . we have 500 bags. I’m an American from the Boston area where it’s a rat race. I travel to the U.S. each year to keep tabs on my adult son. He lives in a modest house near DC for $800,000. That’s what makes him happy.. I moved to Samar in 1997. I’m on ssdi also , MS but it’s very mild. I was in Subic, TDY in 73 , USMC.. From 1975 -1997 I lived the rat race and one day I waved goodbye to Boston.
    I’m 100% happy with no worries .. in the Philippines… You live in a city compared to where I am… best of luck to you

  5. Yes, I think you are right Fernando. Randy doesn’t show up on the government radar since he doesn’t own his house. Many people buy homes in foreign countries and find themselves having to negotiate relationships with government officials and repair people that see them as gold mines. Here are my thoughts on why new people should not buy real estate in foreign countries.

    With respect to giving, there is nothing wrong with that if you have it. Randy gives to his neighborhood as he explains in the video. I find that giving is a role you set up with other people by forming habits. Just don’t set any amounts or patterns that you can’t maintain. How knowledgeable your wife and thus her family are about your capabilities to finance their troubles is just information we don’t need to share with them. We often make the mistake of giving the information during dating and they feel entitled to it thereafter. It is easy to just say you don’t have it, when they don’t know. But once you share the information, then you are required to explain why you can’t give them 5k when you have 50k or whatever? Then every time they need money, you have to explain how that money has to last 10 years until your retirement pay starts. So you become a bank instead of having these uncomfortable discussions constantly with your beautiful new wife and family.

    Information is what puts other people in charge of your life.

    Thanks for sharing some of your pains so other people can try to avoid them. Best, Dan

  6. On our post about the different kinds of (USA) Social Security, there are some comments that may help you. I also received an email from a SS employee that said you can just call or go into your local SS office and they will talk you through how to keep your SS depending on what country you are in. Regarding the ATM cards, I recommend reviewing my video on international banking mistakes I have made. Here are the two videos:

    Best of luck John,
    Dan 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing your data Doug. So what would you say is your average monthly budget once you throw in food? Best, Dan

  8. I honestly love your country Venn. It is easy to talk it up. Randy seems to have retirement figured out pretty well. Thanks for commenting! Dan

  9. Thanks Dan for indirectly promoting my country as place to retire. I am a dual citizen living here in the US today but I am considering retiring in my country in the near future with God’s will. Just like Randy, obviously he’s enjoying the remaining years of his life – and this all that matters to me: go where you find comfort, love, peace and joy minus stresses and worries. I noticed Randy has not spoken of any health issues – and I believe him when he said he’s enjoying life – that means less stress and worries, and therefore, healthy and very capable of espousing love…the very foundation of a healthy life.

  10. I know I’m a little late into this conversation.

    For the curious. It is more than possible to live a happy life here on less than $700/mo.
    My current expenses:
    Rent: 300 (fully furnished and a very nice place. all utils included).
    Water: 10 (drinking water).
    Internet: 6 (city wide wifi) – (it’s literally a vending machine outside of my apt complex).
    Food: I eat out a lot, so it really depends on what you like or want to eat.

  11. A have actually visited the Philippines twice in the past 3 years. I recently got married in Davao.
    While I was there I used my disability money from a US credit union, by using my atm card for expenses
    I’m not that knowledgeable about finances and I have been worried that by staying in the Philippines with my wife for to long ,I would loose my social security disability. And if I loose my atm card ,that would be a big problem.
    I would like to talk to someone about this before I return to the Philippines .
    Is there anyone that could help me with this ?
    Thank you.
    John ,

  12. I am flabbergasted and sceptical on the reality of this budget as most of us will not be able to live on so little even modestly.
    I am married to a Filipina for the past 25 years and been there numerous times.
    Even though we have built a modest house and purchased land that could sustain (feed) us what must be kept into account are:
    Property taxes (Randy probably does not have to pay any).
    Family, and you that may need medical help (Randy girl does not have a family?)
    The occasional extra, government hidden fees.
    Well, I am happy for Randy that He adjusted well on so little, planning on doing soon the same.
    For the first 10 years (or less) I will have no income then retirements will kick in so must plan well to make my saving last and get the farm up and running.

  13. I been here a little over a year and because of Covid I haven’t been able to get up to Manila to get marriage visa! How much is it for marriage visa and I also don’t have any health insurance! Any where I can get answers! I’m living in Olongapo City in Zambales! I’ve been living on close to $1250 but hopefully I can stay especially what is going on in USA!
    Regards Michael

  14. Hi Mike,
    It says above in the article: “He currently lives in Mabalacat, Pampanga going on 5 years now.”
    Thanks for commenting, it helps our business grow.

  15. Where does Randy and Kylie live? I am very interested in retiring to the Phillipines.. Single and retired.
    66yrs old. I am familiar with Philippines. Traveled there, was stationed there in 70’s. I love the people.
    I do not drink, and do not smoke. I will be looking for a lady to care for. Any extra advice is appreciated.
    Sincerely, Mike

  16. Hi Tom,
    $800 a month is less than many people can live on in the Philippines. In order to know if you can accomplish this, you need to do an exploratory visit. But before doing that, I recommend you read and watch all the links on the right side of this webpage ( under the words “WARNING: READ BEFORE YOU RETIRE INTERNATIONALLY”. Those links will help open your eyes to all the difficulties you may face and get your prepared for back-up plans in case things don’t go well for you so you can get home if things don’t work out. For example, one of them will explain that it is not just the monthly requirements that you need to think about, but also the need for additional cash in case of an emergency. read all of that and then let me know if you have any additional questions. Best, Dan

  17. I am a non- drinker, NONE, amd don’t like to be around those that do! Ok, I’m sick of America and wouldvery much like to move to the Filipines…I have several friends that are married to Filipinas and envy their life style, I could go on about that, but my main interest here is : what is the process for an American to move to the Philippines and how to live on 800.00 a month…advice ? Thanks….

  18. Enjoyed listening to your conversation…Interesting that a guy 70 years old living on a fixed income has not accounted for any type of health care….I also realize that alot of Expats put money aside each month for medical emergencies…

  19. Hi maybe you could help me out I’m living in New York now but after watching your video it sounds very interesting I’m tempting maybe you could help me I’m out I could start making plans and what do I need to get there thank you.

  20. Great work Dan!
    Getting accurate answers to the most important questions and summarizing in the notes below. Your followup written detail is important as the audio is not always clear.! Even when sound is good my older ears don’t always comprehend so the written summaries are always welcome.
    Kudos as it IS your consistent, methodical work that motivated Randy to reach out to you. Love your sequence of questions – Randy’s background, his travel timeline, relationship experiences and of course Randy’s candor through it all! I love Randy’s actions with the local monthly parties speak louder than words.
    Thank you for continuing to deliver great information on a silver platter. It’s why I look forward and listen to and like every video you and Qiang share with us. Look forward to meeting you sometime, somewhere in Asia.

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