Living in the Philippines

When I moved here to live in the Philippines I knew it would be different than the US. I had visited here before and was familiar with how much more laid back the culture is here. Asians are some of the most patient people in the world. There is not much thought put into the future. They for the most part live in the here and now. The exception would be the rich business types or politicians as they have to be more conscious of the future because their jobs or livelihood depends on it.

One of the issues that was difficult for me to cope with was “Filipino Time”. The majority of people here live by that standard. Let me explain as simple as I can. When a relative tells you they are on the way to your house. (You know they are only 15-20 minutes away) It really means that they could arrive in 1-3 hours. If they tell you they will be there in an hour it really means sometime that day. Usually 3-4 hours. If they say they will be there today then it means they may come today but probably tomorrow. You get the point right. When you come here to visit or live make sure you bring as much patience as you can carry with you.

Cost of living here.

The cost of you living here in the Philippines really depends on your western standards and if can you do without some of them. When it comes to housing the cost is much lower. You can buy a 1000 sq. ft. house with a 1/2 acre of land for roughly $60000 USD. This also depends on where you want to live and can be much lower if you choose to live farther from the cities and not in a subdivision. The prices for housing gets higher the closer you are to the bigger cities just like in the US. We live about 6 miles from a small city in one of the nicer subdivisions. They put a lot of infrastructure here to make sure it doesn’t flood and made the roads wider than most subdivisions and we have 24hr armed security guards. Therefore we paid a premium price for our land and have a smaller house with property to expand and double the size of our house in the future. I really like it here because of the good neighbors and quiet atmosphere.

The food

The cost of food here will also depend on if you can adjust to eating Filipino foods or will you demand the same foods you are used to back home. The first time I came here to visit I took my wifes family out to dinner with us. There were 7 of us total. After dinner and her dad and I had a couple beers the grand total for dinner was 700 pesos. Just a little more than $15 USD. We ate at a barbecue place that the portions were not large and they did not serve vegetables with the dinner but this was the place they liked to go so it was fine for me. There are plenty of other restaurants that serve very good Chinese and other ethnic foods at a good price also and serve lots of vegetables too. The price range for these are a little more but still substantially less than in western restaurants. For example when my wife and I went to celebrate our anniversary at a place called Ocean City I had a quarter chicken with chop suey dinner and my wife ate stuffed squid and one of her Filipino dishes she loves plus we both had desert. We also had roughly 5 or 6 mixed drinks each and the total bill was less than 2000 pesos. (About $40 USD) This same dinner in the US would have cost more than $100 USD. It was also the weekend and they had a live band that played most of the night.  We had a great time.

When it comes to buying and cooking your own food the costs get even cheaper. The fruits and vegetables abound here being we are in a tropical climate. Its true they are sometimes smaller because most farmers use older farming techniques and you may have to look closer for bugs because most farmers cant afford to use the pesticides. Some do so its still a good idea to wash everything you buy. There is a noticeable difference in the look of the vegetables here. I dont recommend you buy from a local grocery store for the simple fact that these stores buy their vegetables at the same place you or I can get them. The farmers markets. These places are easy to find. The only thing to keep in mind is to get there early in the morning when the morning delivery comes in. The vegetables are harvested that morning and could not be any fresher.