AFP 35: Life In The Philippines

Justin Cooke January 10, 2013

What’s life REALLY like as an expat living in the Philippines?  This is a question we got from a listener a couple of weeks ago and we realized we’d never really gone into depth about what it’s like here.  Did you have visions of us sipping tropical drinks on the beach while we run Flippa auctions and build sites?  Maybe you thought we were huddled in the corner of a Nipa hut, dodging the raindrops from the leaky roof and wolfing down some dog BBQ?

So What is Life in the Philippines Like?

It’s interesting to hear some of the myths and distortions about life here and we thought we’d dispel some of those in the podcast.  It’s a fantastic place, but it definitely has some disadvantages that we’ll cover as well.

Check out this week’s episode here:

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Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • Cost Of Living
  • Grapes are gold but mangos aplenty!
  • Living Conditions
  • Pockets of luxury Attitudes Towards Expats
  • The VIP treatment Cultural Differences
  • False sense of familiarity Business In The Philippines
  • DMV on steroids

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What did you think about this episode?  Is the Philippines a place you’d like to visit/live or did we scare you away?  Let us know in the comments below or feel free to say hi on Twitter!  You can also use Speakpipe to leave us a message below!  (Don’t worry…you can stop and start over if it doesn’t come out right the first time!)


  • dennis says:

    Perhaps interesting to share living costs here in Thailand:

    Small room in ugly building where Thai people live 75 euro/month all incl.
    1 Room condo at somewhat decent place 250 euro/month all incl.
    House with 3 bedrooms and private swimming pool 800 euro/month
    Decent guesthouse with wifi / airco etc 1 room 300-500 euro/month all incl.

    Thai people have to live from about 6000-8000 baht/month, that is like 150-200 euro, often the ones with worse jobs like working at a bar and not getting customers, they make like 3000 baht + 1000 baht tips and live with 2-3 people in such cheap room to survive.

    Eating costs:

    – Eating from cars attached to a motorbike, about 50 Baht/person
    – Eating at cheap Thai restaurant, about 150-200 Baht/person
    – Eating in Europe/Thai restaurants about 400-500 Baht/person (1 drink included)

    So as you see you can live here for 75 euro + 30 days * 50 baht = 1500 baht = 40 euro, so in total 115 euro/month, like many Thai people have to, so yeah it can be insane cheap but do you want such living, I don’t think so.

    The cheapest way to live here for me would be around 1000 euro/month and I could go out once a week in a limited way.

    Now how much did I spend the last 2 months? 5000 euro/month.


    Hotel 1000 baht
    Breakfast 2 people 500 baht
    Dining 2 people 1000 baht
    Daily expenses like shampoo/cigs/condoms lol 500 baht
    Going to the beach/sauna or watch a movie 500 baht (2 people)
    Tip for the boy or girl 1000-2000 baht (shorttime or longtime)
    Going for a drink at night, pay barfine 1000 baht
    Going to a club/karaoke/go-go/cabaret bar or just chill at a bar 2000 baht (mostly 2 bottles of whiskey)

    Total expenses: 7000-8000 baht or in other words 175-200 euro.

    2 bottles of Whiskey really? Are you such an alcoholic, well when you go out you get to meet the friends of your temp. boy/girlfriend so before you know it you sit there with 8 people drinking so 2 bottles is not that much then.

    Now I decided to slow down a bit so new break down of costs:

    – Guesthouse 600 baht/day
    – Breakfast 50 baht at food car (like chicken with sticky rise)
    – Daytime expenses, almost zero, back to work but let’s say 200 baht
    – Dining, average 300 baht/day (sometimes foodcar, or cheap restaurant, sometimes dining with two)
    – Going for a drink at night 800 baht

    Total about 2000 Baht or 50 euro/day so yeah for 1500/month euro you can live a decent live here, and if you want to pick something up once a week you should add another 500 euro/month if you want to take care good of your “date” instead of paying the minimum 25 euro tip + 7,50 euro barfine and picking them up late at night and taking them back to your room right away instead of going out dining and making a bit of party. I don’t like the cheap way.

  • dennis says:

    I’m in Thailand now for 2 months so far and also thought about working on the beach with a cocktail next to me but that just doesn’t work out, sure I sit outside sometimes but often the sun is disturbing when working. In the shadow is nice but often it’s too hot, better sit in my room with the airco on!

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Totally agreed, Dennis.

      I’m actually outside right now at a coffee shop in the Philippines, but there’s good cloud cover and it’s not too hot, thankfully…hehe.

  • Simon Pilkington says:

    Great episode guys, I’ve never been to the Philippines and this makes relating to my oDesk contractors a little easier – thanks 🙂

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Great to hear that, Simon!

      The more you learn about the people working for you (via oDesk, directly, etc.) the better you can fit them into your business, your biz culture, etc.

  • John Conor says:

    Great news… Nice enjoyable moments been shared

  • just discovered your site because i’m in the philippines and looking to find some good full time content creators for my adsense sites + some adventure and experience of living outside the USA. i will be down in davao for a while. would love to connect with you guys about this and get to know you. seems like we have lots in common 🙂

  • Dan says:

    Awesome episode !

  • Hey guys ,

    It was fan and interesting.
    If we totally screw things here I will have to relocate . For the time being it seems we juuuuust bailed out in the last minute, but you never know . It’s good to have choices . 🙂
    Be healthy and smile .

  • There are so many parallels to life in Istanbul. If you don’t get used to the slowness of things like getting Internet installed then you will go CRAZY! Sometimes you just have to laugh and be a bit more patient 🙂

  • Ha!

    Really-really fun podcast, guys. Laughed the whole way through 😀

  • quiro says:

    wow! you guys mentioned some good points about the PH. i am a filipino and i hear you on matters like red tape, bureaucracy, and “more fun in the PH stuff” lol The good thing I really appreciate here is that you can indeed do a lot of things (or have others do it for you) for a very small amount of money.

  • Dr. Niche says:

    J & J,

    This podcast was fun and really cracked me up in places. I’ve mentioned before my wife is from Mindanao, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the Philippines. The over staffing of labor is so true. It bugs the sh*t out of me when you go into a department store and the sales lady is one step behind you the entire time like a shadow. I always tell them to go stand over there and if I need you I’m gonna wave you over…lol. Also, when you have a social gathering like going to the pool or something, all the relatives and every last neighbor shows up. Over Christmas, my wife and I met up with her family at the local pool, and when we arrived the person taking the entrance fee said I needed to pay for 35 people that were already swimming. Another time we went to a zip line up in the mountains and we had about 20 people in this tiny little multicab vehicle. I kept telling my wife, were gonna break down, this vehicle can’t climb the side of a mountain with 20 people on board. Sure enough, we broke down. But…everything considered, the Philippines truly is an amazingly fun place, and the people are kind and gentle. By the way, how did the raffle for the Christmas charity project work out?


    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Rod!

      I hear you about the sales ladies following you around, lol. They’re trying to be helpful but it can definitely seem like a bit much! You’re right about groups of family/friends too. Filipinos seem to be at their best when they’re surrounded by friends/family and there’s lots of laughter, fun, etc.

      We haven’t done the raffle yet…we’ll probably announce on the next post, though! 🙂 Project went FANTASTIC…we’re working on another cool video for fun, heh.

  • Although you didn’t mention me, it was a decent podcast. 4 out of 5 stars, you gotta plug my steez in order to get that 5th star. 😉

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