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Cost Of Living In Island of Marinduque (2014)

We have a home in the Province and Island of Marinduque, home is paid for, built on land my wife owned for  $15,000 in 2002 and the home would cost double or more to build today.  The home is 128 square meters, two baths, three bedrooms, sala and dining room.  We have almost as much space outside under verandas as we do inside. There is an outside dirty kitchen and laundry area.  We pay 2,000 PHP  a year in TAXES and between 500 to 1,000 PHP a month in maintenance.  We have been living here on and off since 2003.

POWER:  We have A/C wall units in all the rooms.  We run the a/c at night during most of the year.  We heat water with coils in both bathrooms, and have several security lights outside.  Our costs are a bit under 5,000 PHP a month.
 
GAS: We use gas for cooking and use about one tank every six weeks.  The gas is about 800 PHP a tank.  We have a two burner stove inside, and we occasionally cook with charcoal outside.  We tried rice hull stoves and they were messy and too much work.  We also bake on occasion and have a small oven in the dirty kitchen, the oven uses a tank of gas every few months. We can buy bread as cheap as we can bake it.  We do bake our own specialty items and do some canning, and we make some jelly on our own.
 
WATER:  We have three adults, and a child.  We also have several helpers that come and go, and all shower about once a day.  We no longer have the large gardens that we once had.  Our water bill is about 350 PHP a month.  Bottled water is about 65 PHP for six liters and we use about a bottle a day for the baby and the three adult family members.  We would estimate the garden would take another 150 PHP or more a month.  Water is on from 4:30 AM to 7 PM and is drinkable from the tap and used for coffee and cooking.
 
COMMUNICATIONS:  We have in home internet, 1,850 PHP a month.  We have a local land line that we rarely use and that is  580 PHP a month.  TV cable with 45 to 50 channels is about 300 PHP, we have vonage, about $30, but the businesses take care of that charge.  We have a back up magic jack at about  $ 20 a year.  We do not use internet cafes but do have cell phones.  We spend about  500 PHP a month on cell phone loads.  Cell phones are from  650 PHP up.  We usually get a sim and add that to our local stateside cell phones.  We each have a cell phone.  I rarely use mine, the houseboy/nephew and my wife do a lot of texting.  I use vonage for the business so have both vonage and magic jack.  I also have skype which is almost free for those I call or  skype with.  We also have face time and use that, free of charge, over our own wifi.
 
CLOTHING: We bring most of our clothing with us from the USA when we come.  The baby has diapers and we ship them in by BBB. We occasionally purchase a tee shirt when we go somewhere special, about 50 to 200 PHP.  We get the baby sleeveless tee shirts for about  30 PHP.  Laundry is done by hand or by a washer.  We use the washer to spin the clothing dry.  The clothing is line dried.  We spend about $ 20 or so on soap each month.  We change clothing several times a day.  Standard dress is a diaper, short and tee for the baby.  I wear briefs, tees and shorts, the wife will wear a dress, or shorts and a blouse.  We dress up for company, parties, and church.

Most of the time, I do not wear socks, and my standard footware is shower shoe type slippers or Sanuk sandals.  We got a set of sandals in Manila for  500 PHP.  Shower shoes are about  150 to 200 PHP and two pair will last me well over a year.  I often give my old shoes or slippers away after a year or more and get new ones.  Slippers and be repaired for  15 to 25 PHP.
 
HELPERS:  We pay our nephew about  4, 000 PHP a month.  He stays here year around and is chief cook, bottle washer, procurement officer, body guard and security guard.  He often travels with us on short trips.  The other helpers are paid in food and a place to stay.  We often give them  20 to 50 PHP for odd jobs.  They sleep on a veranda and some work off the premises.  One works full time, eats his own meals, cooks for himself and just stays here at night.
 
GROCERIES:  We spend about  400 to 2, 000 PHP depending on the day and what we are needing.  I would think that about  20,000 PHP would cover the four of us for a whole month.  The baby still drinks milk and that is  70 PHP a container, or about a liter.  It is billed as fresh milk but is actually UHL-long life.  We eat a lot of rice, fish and seafood.  We have pork about three times a week and beef is available on Sunday.  We often freeze fresh meat for use later in the week.  Other than tomato sauce, we eat fresh vegetables and fruit in season, for the most part.  We rarely have canned or preserved fruits or vegetables.  We do love pasta so we often purchase local tomato sauce, about  70 PHP a container. 
 
BARS: Zero, too old, and the baby is too young.
 
ENTERTAINMENT and EATING OUT: We do go on short trips.  We spend for the local transportation using a door to door van or take the local bus. Bus is cheap, maybe 800 PHP each way, pre adult, child is free. Door  to door is 8,000 PHP from the island to Manila, regardless of the number of passengers.  The driver takes care of ferry fees and gas.  The trip lasts about 11 to 12 hours from pick up to drop off.  We feel the door  to door is the way to go, but local buses are far cheaper.  We eat out once a week or so, and that is about 2,000 PHP or so, [we often take the unpaid helpers with us].  Eating out is a special treat here, but in Manila we can eat out for just about what it would cost to cook our own meals.  We eat out more often in Manila, the cost is still very reasonable in Manila.  In Marinduque there are not many places to eat out, so we cook our own most of the time.  Special trips can be expensive and we travel as our soul sports our spirit.  We can travel by plane from Manila to Cebu, one way for about  3, 500 to  4, 000 PHP .  For us, the plane beats boat travel.  Travel from MDQ to Manila by JAC Liner is about  750 to 800 PHP , one way.  Travel time is about 10 to 12 hours.  We no longer have air service from the island to Manila. 
 
CAR:  We drive a car provided by our niece.  She has the car and can not drive.  We provide gas and maintenance.  We spend about 1,000 PHP every three weeks on diesel fuel, and maintain the tires and change oil as it is needed.  Oil changes are cheap and tires are expensive.  We spend far less with this arrangement than with purchasing a car.  In Manila we use a taxi and pay about  100 to 200 PHP depending on the distance.  I drive in the province but have given up driving in Manila.  A trip by bus from Olongapo to Manila is cheap as well, so there is no real need for us to drive. 
 
TAXI: above
 
TRAVEL: We spend about $1300 for a flight from Houston, to Japan and on to Manila, round trip.  We have a trip of from 12 to 12 1/2 hours, straight shot, from Houston to Japan, no stops.  Well worth the extra cost of going a cheaper route from Houston, to the west coast, then on to Asia.  Our trip from Japan to Manila is about 4 1/3 hours, with a two to two and a half hour layover.  Total travel time from Texas to Manila is about 19 hours including stop overs.  The baby travels a lot cheaper and the fare is round trip.  I have short term medical issues that I am dealing with and we travel about twice a year.  I am retired military and use that insurance.  I have not used Tri-Care in the Philippines and thus far I have not needed to, my health is well enough to provide me to travel ad lib and stay healthy.
 
MEDICAL:  My wife and I are both medically trained.  She nor I use the local medical facilities.  Medical here is cheap.  Just yesterday a cousin came by with high blood pressure and high blood sugar.  Her meds every day are about 150 PHP . 

The visit to a doctor is cheap,  100 PHP or so.  My nephew is 40+  and does not have Phil Health but we are thinking of having him get Phil Health just in case.  I understand Phil Health would run him about 100 to 150 PHP a month.  I get military meds from my retired health care plan and spend about $3.35 a month on meds.  Most of my meds are generic and free of charge.  I pay for one name brand medication at  $10 for a 90 day supply.  I spend about $5 a month for asprin, folic acid, fiber and vitamins.  I try to exercise by walking most of the places I go in the local area.  I pay $140 every three months for retired military medical care.  I expect that figure to go much higher in the next few months with the inflow of Ovomit Care.  I have medicare but do not use the program.  I also have use of the VA but have chosen to stick with the military medical system instead of use either medicare or the VA. 
 
MISC:  I have tried to provide insight and understanding in my comments above.  I live a simple life, a hybrid life, here in the islands.  I believe I have covered most costs above.  We give about $500 a month to various charities and support four seminary students at $200 a month.  We provide volunteer assistance through out the province by doing eye glass exams, blood pressure screening, glucose and oxygen screenings, and set up for medical and surgical missions. 

I have decent income that comes from four stateside pensions.  My wife has a retired check as well.  I have some business income and we also run a few internet businesses which we plan to sell soon.  We want to travel in our golden years and not be tied down any longer.
 
FINAL:  I am 65, my wife of 37 years is a Filipina and is 62.  I am retired from the Military and the VA, as well as SS and private industry.  I am told I look far younger than 65.  I still have my hair color and my hair is as thick now as it was 40 years ago.  I am active and still work part time when I am stateside.  I am a retired undertaker and businessman and my wife is a retired nurse.  She also works part time when we are stateside.  We both have a lot of volunteer activities when we are here or in the USA.  Our costs may be somewhat different in the RP as we live on an island where most things need to be brought in.  For me, life is far less stressful here than in the USA.  Between family, volunteer work and church, my days are filled and life is beautiful, beautiful on either side of the pond.
 
TOTAL:  We are hard pressed to come up with a bottom line but we do know that we could live well on our island for about  $1000 to $1200 a month.  We could do with far less and spend perhaps $600 or so a month.  We could do away with the internet, cable, land line and the number of cell phones and save quite a bit.  We could eat more local food.  I just finished a full course breakfast, coco, coffee, milk for the baby, omlets, rice cakes, sumin, bibinka, pandesal, steamed fish and bacon.  Lunch will also be a full course spread.  We eat well and the local kids that stay on the property and are not paid, eat the left overs.  We travel a great deal.  We do so as the baby will soon be in school and we will be tied down. 

Manila is far more expensive than life in the province.  I can do without a car and do well without a car in Manila.  Local travel by bus and rented van is very cheap.  The comfort level increases with the cost.  How much can your back and butt handle?  I have had four hand and seven back surgeries.  I prefer comfort. My wife, I and our two year old grandson are reasonably healthy.  Except for a short term medical issue, I would be staying in the islands or overseas somewhere, full time.  I never thought I would be raising children at 65 but  I find I am not the only grandparent who is raising a grandchild, or two or three in some cases.  My stress level is far less in the Philippines and my costs are about half of what they are in the USA.  I think having less stress will allow me to have many more golden years.  Here in the Philippines I have someone to help me with nearly everything I need.  In the USA this help would be cost prohibitive.  Gone are the days of cheap cheap cheap.  I remember getting  56.15 PHP to a US$. 

We got 45.15 PHP this week.  Gone are the days of  60 to 80 PHP chicken and pork.  We pay far more now.  The price of vegetables are higher as well.  We pick some of our fruit and buy some.  Still we eat far cheaper than in the USA.  I also get more exercise in the islands of paradise then in the Lone Star State.  I would like to live here full time as old people are treated with far more respect in the Philippines than in the USA.  I joke, I have had the best of both worlds, growing up in a culture where youth and beauty are prized and now living where old age, wrinkles and gray hair are looked upon with favor. 
 
 
Blessings, peace and joy,
JJ

 

 

 

 

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