Why you need $3000 USD per month minimum to retire in the Philippines

In this report, I explain why you need $3000 USD per month minimum to retire in the Philippines. 

You have all seen it.  One of my guest stars will share information about how they are living on $800 or $1000 per month in the Philippines.  Then someone will leave a comment about how you need at least $3000 per month to live in the Philippines.  

Well, I have some bad news for you.  Some of you will in fact need $3000 USD per month to live in the Philippines.  They are not lying to you.  For some of you, that will be true.  Some of you will need even more.  

The difference is all in your thinking.  I am not judging anyone.  I am just saying that how you think determines how much money you need to retire in the Philippines.  There is $1000 per month thinking, $1500 per month thinking, $3000 per month thinking, and $10,000 per month thinking.  

I received a note from a guy once that said he will need at least $10,000 per month to live on Subic Bay in the Philippines.  He would have a big house up on the hill, a cook, a housekeeper, a gardener, and a security guard.  He would have pool parties in his backyard on weekends.    

He would keep a Yacht in the Yacht Harbor in Subic Bay and wine and dine new ladies on his Yacht every week.  He would golf almost every day and eat out in the most expensive restaurants and buy rounds of drinks for everyone in his favorite bars

So, depending on how you think, you can easily see why that $3000 per month may not eleven be enough.  

But talking about the actual minimum costs to live somewhere should at least include some information about the actual minimum costs to live somewhere.  So who would know what the actual minimums are?  Shouldn’t we ask Filipinos this question?   

23.7 percent of the people living in the Philippines, which is 26 million Filipinos, live on less than 12,082 pesos per month for a family of five.  Philippines government.   12,082 pesos translates into about $215 USD dollars per month for a family of 5. 

So I have a question for you.  If there are literally millions of Filipino families that somehow live on $215 per month; would it be totally impossible for a single ex-pat to live on $500 USD per month?  Probably not totally impossible?  Right?  

So, I assert to you that it is indeed at least possible that a single foreign ex-pat could live on $500 per month if they wanted to.  In fact, I have interviewed ex-pats that say they are living on anywhere from $500 per month to $1000 per month in the Philippines.  

In case you are curious, I will put a few links below to those interviews.  These are ex-pats that say they are living on less than $1000 per month in the Philippines.  But keep in mind that the majority of retired ex-pats living in the Philippines are living on more than $1000 per month.  

People Interviewed Living on Less Than $1000 Month

Many of those American ex-pats are relying on social security they get from the USA.  The average social security check in the USA is $1562 per month.  The present minimum social security check in the USA is now $886 per month, but it is very likely to increase again soon.  

Not everyone living in the Philippines has the same cost of living.  And that makes sense.  When we think about our family and friends back home, aren’t they all living on a huge variance in monthly budgets?  So why wouldn’t that also be true in other parts of the world, like the Philippines?  

So the purpose of this video is to help you determine whether or not you are one of those people that really needs at least $3000 per month to live in the Philippines.  I have no problem with people that have more money per month to live on.  In fact, the more you spend in the Philippines, the more you are likely helping the local economy.  So good on you.  

So, why am I bothering to debunk the myth that $3000 is the minimum possible you need to live in the Philippines?  Because there are millions of people around the world that are trying to retire on less than $3000 per month.  Will they read $3000 a month is an actual minimum in the Philippines and then give up on their dreams to live overseas?  I hope not.  

Because not everyone needs $3000 per month.  Plus, I assert that many of you will have a better life in the Philippines on less than $3000 per month than you would have in your home country on less than $3000 per month.  Some of you will not.  But why give up on the possibility of a better life before you even complete your analysis?  

I have been living outside the USA for over 15 years now.  And I know how many ex-pats think about life.  But I will generalize the thinking to the Philippines for now.  There is $1000 per month thinking, $1500 month thinking, and $3000 per month thinking.  

How You Think Determines Your Living Costs

How you think will determine how much money you need to live in the Philippines.  In order to demonstrate how thinking helps you determine your cost of living, I will give you examples of how you could be thinking about each of the following expenses, so you know how much money I suspect you will need in the Philippines.  

Our Home

$3000 Month Thinking: I would need western-style amenities like modern tile floors and countertops with fully screened windows in a secure and safe area of the city.  I need a gated community with 24-hour security and guard at the entrance to the community with similar homes and other ex-pats (or wealthy locals) in the community.  I need at least three bedrooms and two baths with a fully equipped kitchen and a large living area and laundry.  I prefer a secure and shaded place to park my car (or truck) at night.  $1500 Month Thinking:  We will be fine with a one or two-bedroom apartment or condo with one bathroom.  We would also like it to be clean and bright with a western style and feel to it even if not everything is perfectly updated.  We will want to have at least some other ex-pats near us so we have someone to talk to about where to get things in the neighborhood.  $1000 Month Thinking: We will be fine with a one-bedroom apartment with one bathroom.  It should be clean and bright inside but not everything needs to be updated.  It should be in a part of town with nice neighbors and that feels safe to us.   


$3000 Month Thinking: My family needs at least one newer reliable car or truck for daily life in the Philippines.  $1500 Month Thinking:  We will be fine with a clean 3-5-year-old scooter with a couple of helmets.  We will ride that thing everywhere and be careful.  $1000 Month Thinking: We walk or ride bikes mostly as a form of exercise.  We typically ride tricycles taxis and Jeepneys if something is more than 1-2 kilometers away.  We ride buses and Jeepneys between towns.  We also take a tricycle taxi, Grab taxi, or Jeepney when we bring groceries home.  We rent a scooter once a month or so when we want to go on weekend trips to explore multiple places. 


$3000 Month Thinking: We buy our groceries in modern airconditioned one-stop grocery stores with tile floors and shopping carts.  It should have fully stocked shelves full of both local and imported goods from around the world.  We are mostly interested in finding brands from home rather than trying to figure out what locals eat or how to cook the local-style foods at home.  We just feel uncomfortable in the open-air public markets where the food is out in the open and where all the locals shop.  $1500 Month Thinking:  We are comfortable shopping in the open-air public markets where the locals shop.  We try to buy most of our food there whenever we can find it.  But we seem to stop by the ex-pat style supermarkets at least a few times per month to buy things we love that we just can’t seem to find in the public markets.  Some foreign foods we like just don’t seem to show up in the public market.   $1000 Month Thinking: We shop in the open-air public markets and try to stay away from the ex-pat grocery store whenever possible.  The fruits and vegetables seem fresher and the prices are lower in the public market.  Plus, we like saying hello to the people we have gotten to know in the individually owned food stalls in the public market.  We feel like we are supporting local businesses when we buy from them.    


$3000 Month Thinking:  Sure, we cook one or two meals at home per week.  But mostly we prefer going out to eat or having food delivered to us at home from our favorite restaurants in town.  When we go out to eat, we eat mostly in restaurants where all the other ex-pats hang out.  That is where the food is mostly like home.  Plus, they have imported Whiskey and meats, cheeses and wines.  Plus, the place is really clean, air conditioned, and the chefs are often from countries where they know how to cook the foods we love.  We stay away from the local style restaurants because we just don’t know what to eat when we go there.  $1500 Month Thinking: We cook mostly at home.  But we go out to eat three or four times per week.  Maybe twice per week we eat in the ex-pat style restaurants, but mostly we eat in mom-and-pop style restaurants run by families that know how to make great local food.  But we stay away from the restaurants in the outdoor public market.  $1000 Month Thinking: We usually eat at home.  Sure, we go out to eat once or twice per week.  Maybe once every few weeks we eat in the expat-style restaurants.  But when we are not cooking at home, we mostly eat in the mom-and-pop-style restaurants run by families that know how to make great local food. We also sample the food carts in the night markets when we see one that the locals are all lined up to try.  


$3000 Month Thinking: My ex-pat friends and I like to do fun stuff at least a few times per week.  We like to meet at ex-pat bars where many of the local women show up to look for older ex-pats like us.  We almost always go to one of the bars that stocks imported whisky and scotch.  A whisky that would cost you $10 or $12 dollars at home you can get for $5 or $6 here.  We often drink the night away listening to great music we can’t seem to find anywhere else in town.  We usually end up eating some western style bar food before we head home.  Once and a while one of us will buy a round of drinks for our ex-pat friends or a table of beautiful young Filipina women.  It is not unusual for us to meet up at each other’s houses for an after-party.  Once and a while, one of us will hook up with a new woman whether professional or amateur.   $1500 Month Thinking:  The alcohol prices in the Philippines seem rather high for imported liquor.  So if we go out to a bar, restaurant, karaoke venue, live music venue, or other venues that serve alcohol, we generally order local beers which range from about $1.50 to $2.50 in local bars and restaurants.  We often have a beer or two at home before we head out since local beer is only about $1.00 at home.  Karaoke is a great way to get to know your Filipino friends.  Singing is a big part of the Philipino culture.  $1000 Month Thinking:  We love to walk in the early evenings in the Philippines.  Every town seems to have the perfect place to people watch.  Filipinos are very friendly people and it is easy to just strike up a conversation with people as you walk about.  They seem generally interested in foreigners they see in their town.  Often just a smile will get people talking.  Many Filipinos have lived overseas or have family living overseas and that is usually where conversations start.  Ask Filipino friends where locals go to enjoy a cold beer in the evenings.  We do this once or twice per month.  There is usually a venue where you can hear live music or Karaoke and have a few local beers.  Local beers are rather cheap ($1.50) in these sorts of venues.  We also like to invite friends over for dinner and a few drinks to talk the night away.  

I am not judging anyone.  But what you may notice about how people living on more money think in the Philippines … they are spending most of their energy, time, and money trying to recreate their old life in a new country.  

But the truth is.  You will almost never be able to recreate your old life in a new country.  Things are just not ever exactly like they are at home.  So, psychologically, you are telling yourself, every day, that where you are now, is not as good as where you were before.  Which isn’t even true.  If it were true, you would just go home, wouldn’t you?  

What is the Real Secret to Enjoying Your New Life in a New Country

I have a few reports that you should read if you are really trying to embrace and enjoy a new culture overseas.  I will include links to those reports on a webpage.  The link to that webpage will be the first link in the notes below this video.  

Those reports include: 

But the main idea is to live like a Roman when you are in Rome.  Don’t try to recreate your old life when you land in a new country. Instead, become a student of the new world instead of a teacher of your old world.  

Think of yourself as a culture explorer.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t still love some things more about your old world.  It just means you will learn and try new things along the way before you try to get the world around you to conform to your old expectations.   

Thanks for reviewing my report, Why you need $3000 USD per month minimum to retire in the Philippines.  

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This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the Youtube channel for VagabondBuddha.com. Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?