I just returned this week from a several week visit to Florida, USA, to lend family support to a very ill relative, and I have a very fresh perspective about life in the USA, as opposed to life in the Philippines. It is fabulous being back in Sweet Home Philippines!
For those who say they can live as cheaply in the USA as in the Philippines, this certainly isn't true anywhere in the Sunshine State. I was in rural NE Florida and the cost of living there is three times more as it is in the Bacolod Area and I can only imagine how expensive it is in such Florida cities as Miami, Orlando and Tampa!
The cheapest rental in NE Florida is $400 per month and that is for a studio or, if you are lucky, for a 1 BR apartment. In Bacolod City, you can rent a townhouse for less than $200 per month and you can rent an 80 sq m home in a gated subdivision for only $125 per month. It doesn't get any better than that does it?
We pay $300 annually in Bacolod for full coverage newer car insurance, including 24/7 road service, yet the cheapest car insurance in NE Florida is $700 annually. My brother, in that area, pays $105 per month for satellite TV but I only pay $14 per month for Dream Satellite. Verizon Jet Pack Internet is $75 per month, yet I only pay $22 per month for Globe internet service, which is unlimited. To get unlimited Verizon Jet Pack Internet, it is $100 per month!
Does retiring to the Philippines sound more attractive to you?
Almost everyone has a home phone in Florida but in our area of the Philippines, this expensive land line is not required due to the inexpensive cost of new cell phones and the “pay as you use” system in the Philippines, which does not require a monthly bill or a contract. You just saved another $61 per month by living in the Philippines and not requiring a land line!
Depending on which county you own your home in NE Florida, the quarterly property tax can be as much as $400! We pay $67 annually for our property tax in Bacolod City for our house and lot, located in a nice gated subdivision. Our farmhouse is built on agriculture land and the property tax does not cost us one penny! There isn't property tax on a house built on agriculture land. We pay $46 annually in property taxes for our two rice farms!
In comparison, electricity can be more expensive in the Philippines, however, there are legal ways to cut the cost. One way is buying a split type air con with an inverter, which is what we have in both our homes. On average, we use our air con 15 hours everyday when at home the full day. Our electric bill is consistently $51 per month and has been for all of 2014. We have 3 laptops, a TV, DVD player, security lights at night, an electric fan we use daily, a toaster oven and several other appliances, which we use on a regular basis.
Food is an international language! I do not personally know one person who does not enjoy eating. Everyday, we enjoy eating the food we like and we can afford it. If we lived in Florida, unless we had a lot more money coming in every month, this would not happen! We could not afford it. Every Sunday, 4 of us dine out in a nice restaurant and I rarely spend more than $20 total and this includes a few beers, soft drinks and/or iced tea. While I was in Florida, it was not uncommon to spend $14-$20 for a decent meal and this did not include beer. I did not find one restaurant in NE Florida that did not have their beer priced $4-$5 each bottle or draft mug! In Bacolod, I do not pay more than $1.25 for San Miguel Beer in any of the nice restaurants that we frequent. When we dine out in a restaurant, I am not referring to native Filipino food but we order dishes such as baby back ribs, 1/2 fried chicken, pork chops, local steak, grilled blue marlin or tangigue fish, other sea food and such dishes. We are not talking pancit canton or fried rice here! That would even be much cheaper than $20 for 4 diners!
There is never a valid answer to the frequently asked question, “How much money do I need to live in the Philippines?” It depends on your lifestyle and where you life in the Philippines. However, I can assure you that you can get more bang from your bucks while retiring to the Philippines and living here full time!
I live in the Philippines and it is my sweet home. I hope to see you here one day!