Living Local Part 2 (Rental Houses)
Inevitably in your lead up to moving / retiring in the Philippines you will make several if not many trips to your new / future home. We usually go every 2 years to the Philippines and spend a extended time there. We typically are in country from 3-5 weeks depending on what we need to accomplish. In our first couple trips over we exclusively stayed in hotels and took public transportation (i.e. taxis) We stayed in hotels that we could find ratings and reviews for online, before we left. These were always nice hotels and we were never disappointed with the accommodations. This was before we had definitely decided that we were going to retire in the Philippines and were treating the trips as vacations and a chance to visit family and have a good time.
After coming home from a Christmas trip over, I was looking at the expenditures from the trip (which I’m sure you can imagine a X-mas trip to relatives) and saw that this trip was far too expensive and that we needed to find solutions to this issue before our next trip over. I believe that our total trip cost that time was somewhere in the range of $15,000 USD. As I thought about what we could do to lower the trip cost, while looking over what we spent, the single largest expenditure were the hotel fees. Now granted we were not staying in local hotels we were staying in western hotels that were very nice. Priced at daily total fees of approximately $100 USD per night, you can see that this cost could be potentially $5,000 USD for a 5 week trip. Besides the cost factor of staying in hotels during our trips, my wife was constantly asking me if I thought that I could “handle” living in the Philippines and would I be able to endure all the “down sides” to life in a 3rd world country.
So with those two factors in my head, I started researching short term rental houses in Davao City (where we plan to retire). I asked the usual expat forums and such but didn’t get any good information. So I dug into the internet and the never ending “non page 1” responses from Google. I found several Davao City rentals ranging from $60 USD to $90 USD per night. Most owners will make a deal if your going to rent for several weeks to months. We made such a deal for a rental house with a pool and a car for about 30 days. I believe that we payed about $45 a night for the house and $15 a day for the car, no driver. So for $60 USD a day we had a 3 bedroom house with pool and a car. Of course there is no room service in this situation and no restaurants on-site, but that’s what it is to live local Although we did have “maid” service while we were there. The house lady came daily and straightened up and mopped floors and such. We gave her a nominal tip on our departure, although I doubt it was required.
Make sure you do your looking and reserving well in advance and you will be able to get a better deal. A owner will be more than overjoyed to have their property rented 6 months to 1 year in advance of your arrival. Most of them will require between 40% and 50% down approximately 7 – 21 days advance of your arrival. You can’t really begrudge them that, it is not like they will be able to rent that property within only days of a cancellation. So for $1,800 dollars we were able to have a rental car and a 3 bedroom rental house with pool for our entire stay, at the same time saving a lot of money on food, solely because we shopped and cooked at our home away from home.
So if you want to save a ton of money on your next trip to the Philippines and find out if you can live local, then lose the hotel and rent a house.