Can a Foreigner Live in the Philippines For $600 USD per Month?
You can live on whatever amount of money you like in the Philippines.
That is the simple answer to a simple question.
An Average Filipino lives on a lot less than that, so YES, it CAN be done.
An Average Filipino House however is not the same as an Average Western style house.
The average Filipino wage in 2012 was 19,583 pesos per month. That is USD 435 or A$593 per month.
The average Filipino has a very small Electricity bill. No Fridge/Freezer, No Air Con, No Hot Water, etc., means not much Electricity used.
If you want to live like an Average Filipino, then there is no reason why you can’t.
But, if you want to live like a Westerner, living in a modern property, shopping at the normal shopping centres, eating western food, then you may need a higher budget.
Those Filipinos that live a good life in the Philippines earn substantially MORE than US$600 per month though.
I have spoken to a few who have incomes between 200,000 and 400,000 per month. (That’s between US$4,500 and US$9,000 per month) They have western style houses, good cars, maids and drivers etc., and regularly shop at the Philippine branches of Marks and Spencer, Prada, Louis Vuitton etc. I was surprised to see that there are 24 branches of Marks and Spencer throughout the major centres of the Philippines.
Philippine Top 500 Earners in 2013
The average annual tax paid by the top 500 Individual taxpayers in 2013 was: PHP 13,604,666 according to the Philippines Tax Records.
The top rate of Personal Income Tax is 32% in the Philippines, so the Average Gross Salary, calculated from that average tax paid, would be about: PHP 42,514,581 which works out at about US$78,000 per month.
The breakdown for each group of 100 was:
|Estimated Annual Income for Top Tax payers in 2013|
|PHP 92,989,965||$ 2,066,444||Est Average Annual Income for top 100 earners in 2013|
|PHP 41,431,627||$ 920,703||Est Average Annual Income for 2nd Top 100 earners in 2013|
|PHP 31,569,034||$ 701,534||Est Average Annual Income for 3rd Top 100 earners in 2013|
|PHP 25,244,850||$ 560,997||Est Average Annual Income for 4th Top 100 earners in 2013|
|PHP 21,337,428||$ 474,165||Est Average Annual Income for 5th Top 100 earners in 2013|
|PHP 42,514,581||$ 944,768||Est Average Annual Income for ALL Top 500 earners in 2013|
These figures have been estimated based on 32% tax rate, and are very rough estimations
So, Can a Foreigner Live in the Philippines For $600 USD per Month?
YES, but you will be closer to the bottom level of Filipino spending , so a much lower Standard of Living when compared to the better off Filipinos
My Personal Experiences
When I first came to the Philippines, I had read that I could live well on $600 per month. I was also told that with $2,000 per month I could live like a King.
I do get by on US$1,500 (A$2,000) per month. But to live like I used to in Australia, I have calculated that I would need closer to US$3,000 (A$4,000) per month.
When I mention this to some others, they tell me to move to a province, get cheaper accommodation, stop eating in western style restaurants, etc., and live more like a local so that I can live better on less money.
The logic in that escapes me. I want to live a decent life, and understand I have to pay for that.
Most Filipinos also want to live a decent life, and would do anything to get a Visa out of their country, OR have a nice high income in the Philippines so they can live better.