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Savings and Investment in the Philippines

I received an email today. I will not tell is name or location to keep him anonymous. This man is in his mid 40’s and has lost his job due to the economic crisis and declining job market in the US, just as all over the world.

I tried to reply but for some reason the email did not work, so I hope he sees my answer here.

He is on love with a Filipina and loves diving and wants to move to the here to the Philippines.

In the email he mentioned he has about $80K in savings and has heard of banks giving 20% interest on Time Deposits.

I know the local Banks give about 2% in Time Deposits and I heard of an Insurance Company giving 4%.

There have been comments all over and stories of Rural Banks giving up to 14% interest on savings. I have also heard of Rural Banks closing and people losing all their savings. There is depositor insurance but that only is up to 250,000 Php (about $5,000 USD)

Even though the cost of living here is less and depending on the conditions you wish to live can be as cheap as $1000.00 pesosUSD or as high as you like. There are some here that live for less than that, but I do not know the conditions and habits of these people.

Remember, if you want to see more English speaking TV, CNN, BBC, and ESPN….. You need cable. If you want internet at home you have to pay a provider and then there is the imported foods you want to eat.

You really need to come here and visit. Live closer to how you want to live here and see the costs. Do not stay in a luxury hotel, eat in the high end restaurants that cater to your background and then think, wow, this is great, I will move here.

You also need to keep in mind; a tourist visa is for 59 days, so every 2 months you need to go to Immigration to renew your visa and every 16 months leave the country for at least a day to get a new entry stamp to start the 16 months over again.

Getting a job with decent wages to live like a foreigner here is very difficult and legally with a tourist visa you cannot get a work permit for a position that can be filled by a Filipino.

I know life in your home country can get difficult, but you do have family and friends there. Think about moving half way around the world, in a strange country and customs and not be able to live.

To the man who emailed me, I wish you all the best and feel free to contact me with any other questions. I will try to answer them as best as I can.

26 Responses to “Savings and Investment in the Philippines”

  1. rick b says:

    Hi Bruce, good advice here, careful research is needed before making the leap here things are not as straightforward as it can first appear

  2. Ray says:

    I get a kick out the guys who fall in love online and are ready to move there even though they have never visited. I could never do that.

    • Bruce says:

      I agree. I also think some are foolish that visit once and stays in a hotel and then move here. I visited 3 times. The last 2 I stayed in Elena’s house, road Jeepneys, shopped in the malls, ate in local resturants and even then did not know all there was known once living here. And still learning.

  3. LITO P. says:

    Hi Bruce.

    Yes, I will definitely tell others about your site. And in answer to your question, I live here in Island Lake in Lake County, Illinois. We are west of Waukegan and northwest of Chicago. I find this place beautiful, it looks like a huge golf course with houses and lakes in it and wildlife at your backyard. I was so amazed and surprised to see cute squirrels, raccons, chipmunks, deers, rabbits, wild ducks, wild geese, swans, foxes, opossums (not sure of spelling) in all over the place. You don’t see those anymore in residential areas in the Phils. They will be eaten. He he. But, no ocean, mango and durian.): By the way, your advice was good. It is definitely wise to make few visits and/or stay a little bit longer in Davao before any foreigner decides to stay in Davao or in the Philippines in general. But, I think, if one has a regular income coming in monthly, like for example a pension of $1,000.00 a month, he can live a very decent life in Davao. I know that there are other nice places in the Philippines but to me Davao is the best, at present. We are talking about very good city water system, 911 system (next to US and Canada), DLPC being the most efficient private-owned power co. in the Phil., relatively cleaner than most cities in the Philippines, nice beaches that are just nearby, lots of sunshine, no typhoon, lots of fruits and veggies, and manymore. And oh by the way, speaking of fruits my favorites are mango, banana (Lacatan), and durian. August is the best month for fruits there, they are everywhere and cheaper.

    • Bruce says:

      Where you ive sound like “God’s Country.” I have never lived in a location like that but have visited. I love the more open areas with an abundance of nature. Unfortunately here NPA might be in abundance too.
      All the reasons you mention about Davao is true and one of the reasons so many expats move here. Do not forget it is one of, or the safest city to live too.

  4. LITO P. says:

    Hi again Bruce,

    I think, that somebody who has 80k dollars, he can live well with just the interest of that money there. He just needs to put it in Big Banks there not rural banks for fear of closing. Yes the deposit insurance for now is up to around $5,000.00 but I heard on the news that congress is now working on doubling that amount. And, that is in every bank company so he just have to spread his money in different banks there. And if you have BPI international card, you can withdraw your money in many parts of the world. I was able to use mine here.

  5. Ray says:

    Hi Bruce

    When you stayed in Elena’s house did you get to bathe like a Filipino? Or did she have running water? 🙂

    • Bruce says:

      We had a CR with a flush toilet and a shower. Unfortunately in the mornings the water pressure would be to low to use the shower and since I could not manage rinsing with a pail, Elena would help me shower.

  6. Ray says:

    Hi Bruce

    I think I managed OK with a pail but my sweetheart still insisted on helping me 😀

  7. johnray says:


    There is one way of investing money at 10% per anum. If you are familiar with mutual funds, this type of investment offers more than 10% per anum. It is relatively safe than investing in the stock market.

  8. rick b says:

    Hey Bruce

    when i first came here and experienced the scoop shower i thought this is the real Philippines…not true but its a good introduction by the way i love it now scoop scoop away

    • Bruce says:

      I guess for you being young and adventuresome you enjoy it. For me, without Elena’s help I would still have shampoo in my hair and eyes. I enjoy a shower.
      One thing I thought I would never enjoy would be a cold shower, but with the heat and humidty I like to colder water. Elena though uses the hot water unit.

  9. johnray says:


    There are many good mutual funds found here in the Philippines. It is better that if ever you want to invest why not go where the bank goes and one of the is mutual funds. I know one mutual fund company that allows you to invest at Php. 5, 000.00. There will be no penalty for taking money if you have already invested for more than 3 or 6 monts. I have an account at Prudential Life optima, I started with Php 1, 000.00 since it is the only amount I could muster…per anum intersts range from 10% to as high as 23% depending on the economy. If you want to play it safe you can always invest in mutual funds invests both in stocks and in the government. This isthe link to a company that serves as financial brokers. I am also a member of this company,…. hope it will help.

    • Bruce says:

      Thanks for the information. Even with your low income and trying to keep life going, it is nice your planning for your future.
      I have noticed a lot of Filipinos have the attitude to spend when they have and borrow when needed.
      I tell a lot of Filipinos to take 10% out of their pay and put it somewhere for emergencies.
      Investing is not something I think a lot of people think about here.
      Continue to invest for your future and old age. Yes, we all get old, look at me. When I was your age I never thought I would need it and now I wish I had started at my early ages.

  10. LITO P. says:

    Hi Bruce,

    I just want to point these two things out for you and for other expats who wants to live in the Philippines. I don’t know if you knew them already. 1) For retired americans (I don’t know about other nationalities), if I am not mistaken, you can stay indefinitely in the Philippines if you buy at least, I think, $15,000.00 worth of property. 2) I saw on the news that foreigners can now obtain a permanent legal resident visa in the Philippines with ease if they can employ at least 10 filipinos. I don’t think one needs a huge amount of money to invest in order to employ 10 people there. And besides, I think, domestic help can be one of those employees. Thanks.

    PS. Bruce, I hope you can talk about weddings there too, maybe your wedding. I wanted to write Hon. Cong. Nograles (he is Davaeño and now speaker of the house) about suggesting some refinements to make regarding wedding arrangements there (especially if one of the couple is foreigner) to make it more practical these days. Anyway, that could be a topic later, no hurry. Thanks again.

    • Bruce says:

      You are right, there is the PRRA (Philippine Retirement Resident Act) and there are different amounts based on age and if you have a pension or not. If your married to a Filipina you can just file for a 13A Residence.
      About the Employer Visa, yes, they passed the law, but being a foreigner and open a business is not as easy as it sounds.
      I will write about marrages. It is not that hard. If your an American you need to get an Affidavit from the US Embassy stating your legally able to marry. Then you just go through the papers with the Registrar at City Hall.
      If you’re going to write Hon. Cong. Nograles, you should ask him to make it easier for Foreigners to open businesses and to make it more attractive to Foreign Investors. With the 60% of a Corporation to be owned by a Filipino, why open a big business here. This is one of the reasons, I think; so much is going to China, Thailand, Vietnam and other Asian Countries.
      I understand the Filipino First law but to grow economically and commercially they need to attract more here.

  11. katherine says:

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Glad to hear from you again. I enjoy reading all the comments here regarding this article..haha. You are so smart to learn all these things here in the Philippines. Goog job.

    • Bruce says:

      It is nice to know your name, I felt funny calling you rklive…
      Since I am living here I try to learn what I can, and if important, I try to get it from many sources to make sure.

  12. Matt Niedz says:

    Thanks for your Reply.

    my Email must have been entered incorrectly by you? It is “”

    Leaving next Sunday for my 3rd trip in the last 12 months. We are flying to Boracay for some diving and romance. I think it is best that I continue to visit with longer stays and when I’m ready ………..just do it… you.


    • Bruce says:

      Good for you. Just make sure it is right for both of you.
      Have fun and be safe. If you ever come to Davoa, I would enjoy meeting you. A lot of people like the diving off of Samal.

  13. ken spanskie says:

    hi bruce- enjoyed looking at your blog. the philippines is an interesting- and even enjoyable place. survivial is the challenge. a forum on money and investing is always a help to the poor expat down on his last million or so. i likr your answers and advice and thank you very much for your contribution to our expat group.

    thanks again – ken

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