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- Category: cost of living
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I believe, as I have said in the recent past that the best place to find information on budget is in the archives. Of this List. I can live well on our island at about $900 to $1000 a month. We have cable, hot water, DSL, eat well and have an old car that is paid for. We owe nothing in credit cards and enjoy life here to the fullest. Originally when I got here, the peso traded 50 to a dollar.
Then, the rate went to 56 then down to as low as 40 to a dollar. Prices within the local economy have also increased. Factor lower peso/dollar rations and domestic inflation and we see about 25% or so lose in the USD buying power. Yesterday I got a thousand pesos of diesel fuel for our old car. I waited as the attendant of the station raised the price one peso a liter. That is up about nine cents a gallon by rough count. Someone with a calculator could correct me. But, the price of domestic fuel is increasing often. Poultry and pig feed are also up. Transportation costs are also up. In 2003 it costs me four pesos to take a tricycle or jeepney from my home to the buyan. Now that same ride costs me 10 pesos. Fuel is down from nearly 60 pesos a liter to about 33 pesos a liter on out island South of Luzon.
Tailors charge me more. Repair and replacement of a zipper was about 30 pesos a year ago. Now it is nearly 40 pesos to replace the same zipper. Shoes are about 500 to 700 pesos a pair. I plan to purchase four to six pairs before I return to Houston.
Clothing is still relatively cheap, but I see more ready made and less tailor made than when I first came here 38 years ago. Eggs in the market are 4.5 pesos each, a bit higher than in a supermarket, on sale in Texas. Milk is high and few purchase it on any regular basis. Tomatoes were 30 pesos a kilo or about 60 cents a pound. I saw roma tomatoes for 48 cents a pound in an ad that I used to teach ESL students before I left Texas. Carrots, cabbage and other fresh vegetables are cheap, but by standards here, the local populace has problems putting such fare on their tables. Beans, squash and okra are common and cheap, at least here. I bought roasted and salted peanuts yesterday, 60 pesos for 1/2 kilo. Good pulutan. Labor, for a yard worker or laundry women is about p150 a day. Minimum wages are about p250 to p260 a day, but no one pays anywhere near that amt. Pork now sells at p110 live weight and about p190 dressed. Chicken is about the same. Beef, tough as hell and requiring steel teeth, is available for about p160 a kilo.
Bovine and Carabobo beef are only killed once a week in our area. Correction, we get chicken for p150 as we resell it at the store. Regular price is about 180 a kilo. Chicken in Houston is as low as 48 cents a pound, whole fryer, on sale. I ordered three kilos of ground pork for next Saturday. The (sukie) will also provide three liters of casings at no cost, cleaned of course, [the casings that is]. We will make sausage and then stuff the casings. I make so darn good sausage too. I expect to purchase vegetables at the flea market here on the island every week. We usually purchase charcoal for resale and because we have a car, we do not have to factor in transportation as we were going to the market after all. [Poor business logic, I know!] Overall a tank of gas is about p565. When we came here a few years ago the same tank was pressing 400 pesos a tank. With the current economy, less dollars are coming into the country from abroad. Natives are encouraged to take any job possible regardless of returns on their efforts. Some are not listening and are returning to the islands of paradise and have no plans of returning to overseas employment.
I see various government projects in the works, but far less than in the past. There are a few sewers going in, but not nearly the projects that were in full swing a few years ago. Overall, we got about half a tank of LPG gas yesterday. That will last us about two weeks, [hopefully anyway]. Our gas for cooking may last until we head home. We supplement with some charcoal that we purchased at the chungymarket yesterday. Power is high and we spend about four to five thousand a month. Water is about 350 pesos a month. We have a small ice business and use more than others might. The water is drinkable from the tap, but we still use filtered water for our usual consumption at our table. We spend about 200 a day on food. We could spend less, but it is fiesta and we have relatives coming from the mainland and from abroad. Now let's get to the important things.
Beer is about 19 to 22 pesos a bottle, depending on the type you choose to swill down. Rum is 21 pesos for a 250 cc bottle. Pop cola is seven pesos and coke about 10 pesos a small bottle. Ice is two pesos a block. We sell a lot of ice and have problems keeping up with the supply. We would add a second rifer, but then the supply would be above the need and the price may fall. We pay about $40 for health care, [USA], a month, we are giving up on vonage as the majicjack works so well for us. I am hoping to make a few faxes one way and return before doing away with vonage, but my mind is pretty well set.
Internet is about p1995 on our island, for unlimited use, DSL. We hear it is cheaper on other islands, but we have not gone out to compare prices prices on our island. We get good service and know the tech well. He is a personal friend. We are grateful for our high quality internet, [while the power is on], and we enjoy internet at home. We could use a cafe for much less, but then we would have to factor in the transportation. We own our home. We built the structure for about $7500 about six years ago. Prices are up about 100% since that time.
I expect to add an upper floor and expect to spend about $20,000 to make the necessary additions possible. We raise a lot of our own food when we are in the islands for long periods of time. This trip we will forgo the urge to garden and buy local products. Everything tastes good with enough hot sauce. I do not go out much so eateries are sort of not my thing. A beer in the local haunt is p30.
A nice plate of fried squid is about p70. Bread and (pan de sal) are still cheap. Bacon and ham are high as a kite. We indulge now and then, but not too often because of the cost. We hope that answers your questions. Again, please refer to the archives of this and other sites. We basis our budget this trip at 48 to one. Perhaps it will be a bit better, but for now that is what we have chosen to plan on. We like Rick and others, choose to live on the Philippine Islands not because it is cheap, but because we enjoy the life and lifestyle. I believe there are places in the USA that are almost as cheap. But, here I can get household help assistant with me daily needs. I can get a haircut for p50. I can get my lawn mowed for 50 pesos. I can get a garden tilled very cheap and I can get someone to tend my flock of birds very cheap. The smiles behind the many fences are worth being here. I am accepted and honed because of my old age, wisdom, wrinkles and gray hair. I have the patience of a firecracker, but have learned to accept things are they are. I assist where I can and smile most of the time. Things may not always be right with paradise, but it always paradise.