Guest Post: You Can Live Well Here For Just $10/Day

Tyler Durden's picture

From Tim Staermose of The Sovereign Man


You can live well here for just $10/day

I first started coming regularly to Daet, in the Bicol region of the Philippines, more than 13-years ago.

It’s a sleepy, quiet, relaxed place without the bustle of Quezon or Manila… perfect for people looking to live an easy, simple life. Despite the bucolic setting, though, the telecom infrastructure is pretty stellar.

At my wife’s hotel last week, I was able to utilize a mobile broadband connection, which cost me the equivalent of $0.25 an hour, to sit and do what I do every day no matter where I am in the world– monitor and trade the Australian stock and options markets.

I even sent out a trading alert to my 4th Pillar subscribers from here when another great opportunity to make some safe money in the Aussie market became available.

I should also mention that Daet is incredibly cheap.

Wages for unskilled workers are about $4.65 per DAY.  If you buy food from the local markets or vendors and prepare it yourself, you can have quite a decent meal of fresh local fish, rice, and vegetables for less than $1 per person.

If you have a place to stay, even adding in a few luxuries (beer is about 50c a bottle, for example), you could live well here on $10 a day.

Down the road from my wife’s small hotel is a vacant beach lot for sale.  It’s priced at about $35,000, and the owners have spent a considerable amount of money improving it with access ramps and other structures leading down to the water.

The land is already planted with some crops, and there are ponds suitable for fish farming. Of course, construction costs here are quite cheap by western standards, and you could build a nice three-bedroom home for around $60,000.

In total, that’s less than $100,000 for a spacious beachfront home in a quiet, clean, pristinely beautiful place where living costs will only run $10/day.

IMG 0154 1024x768 You can live well here on just $10/day

One thing to keep in mind is that this is largely a cash market; there has been no rampant bubble created by teaser loans and negative real interest rates. Hence, prices haven’t moved much.

I believe it was Milton Friedman who said, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.”  From what I’ve observed around the world in property markets, I couldn’t agree more.

Property markets that are based on high leverage and cheap money are the quickest to rise and fall. Where property markets are based on cash transactions, though, prices tend to remain reasonable.

If you’re looking for great value, I’d put that among the key criteria in your search.  Assuming you have cash, seek out places where the real estate market is largely cash-based.  Daet is just one example of a cash market where there are some real bargains available– both in terms of property and living costs.

In the Philippines, the catch is that only Filipino citizens can buy land outright. A non-citizen may own only a 40% interest in real property.  So if you were interested, you’d need a Filipino proxy, or a carefully structured corporate vehicle through which to purchase land here.

I’ll have much more to tell you about the Philippines, my adopted home country, in future letters… including how I don’t have to pay taxes!

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Cognitive Dissonance's picture


Global warming or not, world wide sea levels do seem to be rising. Let's just hope the land rises as well.

Popo's picture

Tim is full of it when he says he "doesn't have to pay taxes".

Unless of course, he's not an American citizen.  But as an American, you're on the hook no matter where you go.  

(I live in Asia,  and I still have to pay US taxes.  ...I wish it weren't the case... But even if you give up your US citizenship -- YOU'RE STILL ON THE HOOK FOR 10 YEARS!   Go figure that one out...  )


Update:  Why is this getting junked?  It's completely true.  

clymer's picture

because you are not suppose to complain about these taxes. It's [un]American

66Sexy's picture

Aside from the occasional beheading or kiddnapping of american tourists, im sure its lovely.

CrazyCooter's picture

Anytime you read a post like this that doesn't clearly address the reality of the legal and political systems which govern said real estate, one should run, not walk, to the nearest exit.

Richard Maybury's "Whatever Happened to Justice?" is a easy to read guide for picking a nation with "good" legal/political frameworks. I would never consider any foreign entity that didn't score highly based on the criteria RM put forth.



Ahmeexnal's picture

"good" legal/political in...Norway?

Terminus C's picture

That was obviously a foreign attack conducted by a local agent.  You will find no place without crime.

Arthor Bearing's picture

Why obviously? Other than because it confirms your beliefs

TheMerryPrankster's picture

obvious because - humans committ crimes, hence anywhere humans live there will be crimes.

no crimes = no humans


AnAnonymous's picture

That was obviously a foreign attack conducted by a local agent.

It would exatons of US propaganda to start paying back the US debt. How cheap. The obviously comes here and not elsewhere as you wish to make believe.

damage's picture

In the Phillipines... all porno is illegal... and they can put you in jail for trying to import dildos.

AnAnonymous's picture

That was obviously a foreign attack conducted by a local agent.

It would exatons of US propaganda to start paying back the US debt. How cheap. The obviously comes here and not elsewhere as you wish to make believe.

AnAnonymous's picture

That was obviously a foreign attack conducted by a local agent.

It would exatons of US propaganda to start paying back the US debt. How cheap. The obviously comes here and not elsewhere as you wish to make believe.

Spitzer's picture

Just find a sexy tight Asian wife. Make sure she is no more then 15 years younger then you or you will be in for a screwing.

malikai's picture

Have you ever lived overseas and encountered your average american tourist? It's surprising more aren't kidnapped and beheaded. When you 'move' to a foreign land, you learn to blend in. It's a bit different.

toady's picture

Anybody over 5'6" that doesn't have black hair will never 'blend in' in an asian country.

At 6'6" with light brown hair it was like a circus wherever I went for the whole two years I was over there.

You can stay home, or just try to ignore it when you go out, but its always there.

I was single at the time, so it worked for me.

malikai's picture

I get people staring at me all the time when I'm in China. Just get used to it. I've had people come up to me wanting to take pictures with me. Some of them even giving me their young kids to take a photo with. Blows my mind when it happens. I figure I could retire there and just be a paid prop for people wanting to get a photo with roundeye.

contagiousNY's picture

Same here. On a NYC cruise from SSSeaport (almost completely asian) the chinese all wanted to take pics with my school kids on a field trip. I didnt feel rude saying no.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Here is the reality of these live cheap in Philippines or Thailand or Panama or Ecuador articles that are all over the web for "RETIREMENT".

1) You have to jump through hoops to get a visa for anything past 90 days.  This usually involved tying up money that you may or may not ever get returned.  Or you marry a local.  Or if you don't marry a local and are under 50 years old, You Can't Do It.  Visa issues vary from country to country, but almost ALL articles like this have a guy talking from some special circumstance that he has that got him past the visa issue.

2) For some UNKNOWN reason, guys who present their cost of living budgets for these places leave out health care insurance.  It certainly costs less there, but it's not zero and they leave it out.  That $300 / month quote doesn't have health insurance in it.  If he has a local wife, he may have access to the barebones, basic citizen's health plan, but it won't cover 15 zillion things he will need someday.

3) Crime?  Beheadings?  Philippines has them only down south.  It's not everywhere.  Don't dismiss this stuff because of crime.

4) You can't work.  The visa you get will not let you work.  If you ignore it and presume they'll never know, it's not a fine.  It's jail.  Rather a lot of talk is starting about even "working online" being prohibited, or if not prohibited, taxed locally.  The US expat tax exemption of 90K or whatever it is, shields you from the US for EARNED income, but not from any local attempts to get money.

5) This all being said, the expat approach can work for many.  It's cheaper, if you can qualify.  But it's not free.

Zymurguy's picture

Wait a minute Crash'

Are you telling me that I can't simply slip across the border there, secretly get a job and automatically get free healthcare, food subsidies, free education, scholarships for advanced education, social security?  You mean they would jail me and kick me out if they caught me?  Oh, the nerve!  They must be racists!!! (sarc' off)

A Nanny Moose's picture

I see what you did thar!


Fred C Dobbs's picture

The visa game in the Philippines is not difficult.

Cathartes Aura's picture

Or you marry a local

endlessly amusing when guys suggest marrying a "local" (often "Asian") woman to gain access to "cheap living" - when those same guys will piss 'n' moan about gold-digger women who "only marry them for their riches."

malikai's picture

I'm married to a local from China who is the exact opposite as you describe. Not everyone has that experience.

Cathartes Aura's picture

oh, I agree malikai - I have friends who are married to Asian women, quite happily so - my post was merely pointing to an oft-made statement on these threads about women marrying solely to extract the poster's wealth, it was not directed to anyone who actually marries for reasons other than a means to an end.

fishface's picture




he doesn't have a car either, the car alone would cost 300$ a month

workwise he trades, most likely in OZ so by doing this no prob for the visa

in some countries it doesn't need a big investment if you start a business

buy a cafe and you're in

Magnum's picture

Good post Crash.  It seems you are talking about Thailand regarding visa issues, as I know it's very difficult even if you are married to a local--you can not get residency permit.  But are you familiar with Philippines?

ExtinctSpecies's picture

Visa requirements and/or rates seem to change almost yearly in the Philippines.  Special retirement reidency visas require proof of retirement income and a dollar investment ($10,000 or more depending on age and income stream).  My understanding is that the application will cost $1,000+ counting the red tape; background check, physical, bribes...  

A tourist visa can be renewed every two months with total costs that will run abour $500 a year.  Current limit on routine tourist visa renewals is 12 months and then a couple more times with some added red tape.  Then you have to leave the country before you can restart the process.  Costs for tourist visas has doubled in the last 2 years.  (Warning:  I am no expert on this and do not try to keep up with the changes or specifics.  I let a travel agency manage my visa renewals and let them inform me of any rule or rate changes.  I verify those with other expats.)

Agree on the Crash compliment.  Good post.  Even in backwoods Bicol $10 a day not counting lodging would mean your life was pretty much food, drink, flip flops and internet. Housing there I'm sure is incredibly cheap ($100 a month for a decent western world style place?) but electricity if running air con even just at night to sleep will probably run close to another $100.  And periods without electricity will be a common occurance (without a generator). Broadband is expensive too.  I pay $45 a month for speeds that are embarrassing to descibe as broadband. 

Crash - Also right on the medical and fishface on the car.  However, most Filipinos don't have cars so there are cheap transportation options.  Unless one does extensive local travel or regular long distance local travel a car really isn't necessary.  I've lived in the Philippines for 5 years without transporatation and only on rare occasion do I have a situation where I wished I had a car.  Low end medical care is very cheap.  I buy a million dollar medical insurance policy that runs me about $1,000 a year.  Australians and most Europeans have a big advantage over US citizens as they can head home for none emergency health care.  Still, good emergency medical care can run into some serious money in the Philippines.  And lots of places will just leave you on the table to bleed out or whatever if you can't pay.

I doubt I could live out in the provinces somewhere without going bonkers but for someone who can do that the Philippines can be very inexpensive.  I like to eat out, go out with friends and have a good time, go to the movies, replace my worn out clothing...  I spend about $1,000 a month (actually more but I left out the blood sucking of my girlfriend's family).

Blotsky's picture

Yeah... Because Amerika doesnt know anything of kidnapping or murder...

Taint Boil's picture

I live in Michigan but I do have a house in Mexico. I hear you … I can get buy pretty cheap, about a $100 week if I really wanted to. No property taxes (very little) No air conditioning needed, no heat needed, no insulation in the construction, no insulated glass, no insulated doors. Everything is available local. Don’t need a car – I can go to the “big city” for 90 cents. Everyone is poor but you know what – they’re HAPPY. Wish I had the guts to just go for it. I could still work there for a US company ………. But that is another story, one day maybe.


Labor is cheap, I had a crew of 4-5 guys working (not hard mind you) for about $450 -$500 a week. Paid for the house as you go down there, I have no mortgage. Acapulco is 6 hours away and Veracruz is about 5 hours the other way.

Yeah, yeah all the stories you hear about the violence are exaggerated and only at the border towns – well I haven’t seen anything (knock on wood).


To Blotsky:

Is that your name? Well it is my name too and people know I come here to ZH. Gives me the creeps that you are using my name and I don't like it. Is it possible that you could change it? It would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance. TaintBoil at G mail dot com.



sun tzu's picture

Check out the murder rates of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, right across the border from each other. 

European American's picture

I would think that if enough people simply stopped paying taxes, we might witness change we can believe in. I wonder how many here at ZH opted out of that annual, fear motivated tradition and I wonder how many monkeys it would take for the wheels to stop turning. I bailed out years ago with no ill effects. Couldn't imagine giving my hard earned dollars to a corrupt system. Seemed logical and rational at the time. 

BigJim's picture

So, how are you finding federal prison time?

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Remember what the dormouse said.  Keep your head!

'My wife was among those killed, as well as two sisters, three lawyers and several local journalists. They were all beheaded,' he said yesterday.

Fred C Dobbs's picture

That was in western Mindanao in 2009. 

hedgeless_horseman's picture

And they are still dead? 

So much for transitory Islamic militants.

Fred C Dobbs's picture

I've been to Mindanao twice and I am still alive.  I know several other people that weren't murdered too.  And if I am correct the people killed in that post were all Filipinos and it was over local politics. 

TheMerryPrankster's picture

I hope to  retire to  a cave with a nice pure underground aquifier and a little shack on the surface. Low low taxes and year round air condtioning. sometimes it is best to shelter in place, the devil you know and all that.

Why go looking for trouble half a world a way when i can certainly let it find me without having to lift a finger?


Baptiste Say's picture

You want to see sheer tyranny from law enforecement look no further:


(FALSE WARRANT) Columbia Mo SWAT Raid 2/11/2010. Cops Shoot Pets With Children Present


Tucson SWAT Shot U.S. Marine Over 60 Times in Front of Family (20 SECONDS AFTER THEY KNOCK ON THE DOOR)


SWAT team shoots dead a man who confronted them with a golf club



I could post dozens of videos like this but it makes me feel sick to the stomach to see people murdered in their own homes, I will post a map that shows the prevalence of these botched SWAT raids though, thousands per years:


Let us also remember there is 2,245,000 prisoners in the USA, even as far back as 1999 1,000,000 of these were non violent 'offenders'.


If you're worried about being locked up in poor conditions have no fear in the Philippines, hell you can probably bribe your way out of even serious crime there. Living in the USA is where you've gotta have fear.

Azannoth's picture

I think they did away with the 10 year wait, try to reasearch this again, ofc you'll wait a good few years for all the paperwork anyway

fishface's picture

Update:  Why is this getting junked?  It's completely true.



bbbut it sounds so unbelievable



Things that go bump's picture

If you work for an American company, I suppose they take deductions from your paycheck.  Otherwise, why do you pay?  How is this enforced?  Are they threatening to take away your birthday or something?  Do they hold your firstborn hostage?  Are they going to throw your aged parents in the gulag?  

FeralSerf's picture

They send you a bill. If you don't pay, it's reflected in your credit rating.   If you have any assets left in the US they take them.  They might hassle you if you change planes in the US.  I doubt they collect 100 cents on the dollar on these debts.

Popo's picture

It actually depends on where and how you work.

If you do business internationally, or with US companies -- as most expats still do, btw despite living abroad -- the companies you invoice will declare their payments to you to the IRS.  Then, you're on the hook. 

Likewise, many countries share tax information now.  The days of anonymity while living abroad are drawing to an end.

And -- All US citizens have to file every year.  If you don't, you're inviting an audit.  

And of course -- that carries with it the threats of fines and imprisonment.

So... no they don't take your first born son.  But they do take a pound of flesh.

Popo's picture

Well.. there's the threat of imprisonment.

Abitdodgie's picture

I don't agree with you on the fact that you have to pay taxes , because taxes are volentery , I live in Amerika and i pay no taxes ,property, federal, state etc all you have to do is challenge them and be a Sovereign , not a 14 amendment or federal citizen

laomei's picture

Here's a fun way to do it.. for example... China.  

Marry a local, have clients wire directly to her account if you want... even better yet setup a local company in, say, Hong Kong (also not in your name).  Money comes in (probably not taxable where you live) and not in your name as far as the IRS knows, HK doesnt tax it, and China doesn't tax it either. IRS doesnt know shit unless you are dumb enough to tell them about your proxy account.  Pass just enough through the us to avoid any questions.  Another fun fact is that non-resident aliens do not have to pay taxes on us markets as long as they provide a wben-8.  At least over here in China, there are no capital gains taxes for individuals, period.


The IRS knows about around 40k a year of my stuff and personal income taxes here are really not all that bad.  I'm married, house, wife, nice car... nothing all that crazy.  Some local investments which cover all monthly living expenses which means 100% of everything I earn goes into the bank.  No property taxes or other bullshit either.  As far as China cares, what I am doing is 100% legal, and as that is where I live that's all that matters.  Enjoy your depression i guess... the smart ones jumped ship years ago.