What it cost to live in the Philippines 1 month as early retirees


Last Updated on May 28, 2023 by Ellen

Want to retire early and slow travel the world? Want to live near the ocean in the Philippines instead of commuting in snow? Do you have enough money to drop out and live your travel dreams? This is what it cost to live in the Philippines one month as early retirees. We probably spent way less than what you spend each month in the USA.

Maybe you can use our real-world experience to boost your confidence that you can live outside the USA for less money than you might think. We lived one full calendar month on Cebu Island, and we based ourselves just north of Cebu City in Liloan.

bar graphic that shows housing is the most expensive factor on what it cost to live in the philippines

As the graphic above shows, $2,170 is what it cost to live in the Philippines one month in early retirement. That includes everything — from chicken and veggies to Tedly’s beer and Ellen’s cookies. From doctor visits to blood tests for Ellen’s post-breast cancer checkups.

Budget breakdown: What it cost to live in the Philippines

Let’s take a closer look at the categories:

  • Housing: $566
  • Charity/Gifts: $433
  • Food/Beer: $431
  • Health Care: $327
  • Travel (local, regional): $281
  • Supplies: $82
  • Excursions: $50

Your housing might be lower. We took a week-long side trip to Moalboal, with a stop in Simala, so we double paid one week’s rent. (We previously posted a video tour of our Liloan apartment.)

Your expenses on local and regional travel might be lower. We spent more than usual in this category. Since we were based outside the city, we found it much easier to take Grab once a week during rush hours instead of jeepneys (Grab – like Uber – could be $10; jeepneys less than $1.) Also, one visa renewal fell within this calendar month, and that cost $60 for two people.

We bought a small coffee machine and a fan and some other supplies to increase our comfort level — things we normally do no buy, and things you might not buy.

Our charity and gift category was 20% of our expenses because of the holidays and family birthdays. Your percentage might not be that high.

A pie chart that shows the percentages of what it cost to live in the Philippines one month as early retirees.

The other high category I haven’t mentioned yet is for health care. As a breast cancer warrior, I’ve had to see a doctor twice a year. So I saw an oncologist in early December, and had a blood and hormone tests to check things thoroughly now that I’ve been on tamoxifen for quite some time. (Everything is good!)

Overall, we think $2,170 for two people is terrific – especially when you consider 15 percent went to health care, and 20 percent went to charity and gifts. Indeed, we think this is an excellent outcome for what we received in return: another month with the freedom to spend our time how we wish.

We aren’t commuting for hours, we don’t have to deal with snow, we aren’t trapped in an office, we aren’t faced with the bad news media day in and day out.

So what do you think? Can you do it?

Could you live abroad on $2,100 a month for a couple? Could you do it on less if you’re single? We think if we can do it, you can do it, too.

We hope you might be able to use this as a rough guide to determine how much you might need to live as an early retiree abroad. As far as cost of living goes, the Philippines is a great cost effective choice. That’s why there are so many American expats and retirees there.

And since 2015, we have found there are many other countries that are bargains for Americans: Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Portugal, Morocco, and more.

Thanks for reading “What it cost to live in the Philippines”.

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A Pinterest graphic that shows what it cost to live in the Philippines one month as early retirees.
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3 thoughts on “What it cost to live in the Philippines 1 month as early retirees”

  1. Hello,

    Could you tell me if you were able to connect with any expats in the Liloan area? My parents currently live there and I’d like to help him find some new friends as he doesn’t speak Visayan, etc. Thank you for any info.!

    1. Hi Caroline,
      Yes, we used Airbnb to rent in Liloan and in Moalboal. Our Liloan rental was more than one month so we got a discount. Sometimes owners will give reductions on monthly rent. We double-paid our rent during our five-night stay in Moalboal because it was within our budget.
      Thanks for reading!

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