CAN A FOREIGNER MAKE A LIVING IN A PROVINCE LIKE LEYTE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

by - 9:58 PM


INTRODUCTION
This can be harder than one would think. Most foreigners think it is about investing some money and you start to make a living. My intention is not to kill a dream but to advise on my personal experience. This article is more aimed at foreigners living in a province.
BUYING LAND IN THE PHILIPPINES
As far as I am aware and have spoken to different attorneys a foreigner cannot own land here. I read on the internet there are ways around this but my but not so on the legal advice I have received.
I am married with a family and the land is in my wife’s name. After 5 years the value of this land (1000 square meters) is 300% higher than what we paid. Land prices go up over time. It is the same the world over.
WORKING IN THE PHILIPPINES
I have never gone into this but as far as I know if you are working for an International Company there are permits required through Immigration. If you are living here and somehow find a job you will have to compete with local labour. The salaries are low from what I have observed and this maybe not is best option.
If find this a bit disheartening! I put my wife’s sister through college in Human Resource Management (HRM). Since graduation she has had a few casual jobs but the salary is only around 250 peso /day. ( I think the low rate is related to training)
 Travel for her is 60 peso/day so when calculated out at 6 days per week we are looking at 4800 peso/ month or $95 US. I just find this hard to believe but it is life here.
SARI SARI STORE
In this village there are a few sari sari stores for selling general items. I actually constructed a nice building at the front of the house facing the main road. This business can make money if run strictly as a business. When family run this business there are give aways and also have to deal with credit. I gave this business two years to work but I eventually just closed it down because it was costing money to run.
Now I do know a Filipino who is the architect who designed our house. He lives in La Paz some 20km away. His wife runs a sari sari store and he informed me he makes an average profit of 20,000 peso a month. He mentioned that this business is run strict with no credit or supplying food and other items to family. So in this instance his family is making approximately $400 US /month.
The building I built still stands and maybe something will come in the future. For instance a hair dresser, internet café (no signal in this barangay). There is allot potential but we will wait and see!
THE BUILDING I BUILT FOR A SARI SARI STORE

MONEY FROM FARMING
We purchased 2 hectares of land before I got sick and this year we did some development. One hectare is for rice and the other for vegetables .fruits etc.
The rice we harvested on the first crop was 57 sacks at 600 peso which is the market value per sack. I may be wrong but I estimate the profit is actually around 400 peso per sack. So let’s say this one hectare of rice will bring 45,000 peso profit a year or an income of 3800 peso /month. Note the calculation is made on two reasonable crops per year. It does not sound much but it is something.
The other hectare was planted with vegetables eg, string beans, orcra and pumpkin. In Robinsons Supermarket you will see the price of green vegetables about 120 peso kg. Locally people will only pay 10 peso a kg. If you take the produce to a market you may get 15 to 20 peso a kg. I have not done the math yet but it is not a great deal of money.
There are a number of coconut trees on the land but the trees are still stressed from typhoon Yolanda so with fruit 4x a year we harvest we only get around 500. The selling price here for one coconut is 10 peso so with the cost of harvest it is a profit of around 3000 peso /year.
So in an estimate these 2 hectares of land brings in 90,000 peso of profit /year or 7500 peso /month. This income is great for local people but I just want foreigners to be aware do not expect to make a fortune or think it will support your desired life style.
RICE JUST AFTER PLANTING 

RAISING PIGS OR BABOY AS THEY ARE CALLED IN THE PHILIPPINES
When I built this house I added a concrete pig pen at the back of the house for 4 pigs. To buy a piglet or small pig costs 2500 peso. Then there are the feeds and as the pig gets bigger they eat more. I have one pig here now for Christmas time around 100kg and the feed is 2kg /day at 30 peso kg. This pig will be bigger at Christmas time and we will cook half and sell the other half.
Normally you will sell the pig “baboy” around 60kg with the cost around 100 peso /kg. I have not done the complete math but looking at only making 1000 peso or so per sold pig. So let’s say we are making around 10,000 peso per annum with four pens.
If you had money to farm pigs on a commercial basis and had good supervision and control then it maybe a possibility.
RAISING PIGS BABOY
ADD IT ALL TOGETHER
The sari sari store sits idle until we can come up with an idea to start some kind of viable business. The small farm is making 90,000 peso per annum and with the pigs another 10,000 annum. So in a good year we are getting an income of 8500 peso a month. This equates to $175 US/month.
PUTTING MONEY EARNED INTO PERSPECTIVE!
In Manila things are more expensive and salaries are higher. In the province like Leyte things are less expensive but salaries are lower. I know one guy who has a university degree in Information Technology and working at a hotel in Tacloban. He has told me his salary is only 300 peso /day and works six days a week. So an estimated salary of 7500 peso a month or $155US. This guy supports a wife and 2 children on this salary.
FINAL  THOUGHTS
It is hard for a foreigner to make a good income in the Philippines especially in the province. Philippine people living here are well aware of this. If it was that easy to start a small business and make allot of money many would be doing it.
I am lucky because I have had the advice of foreign friends living here in the Philippines. These friends have told me about business failures in the transportation industry and farming. One guy had a one hectare fish pond for tilapia (fresh water fish) All was looking good until harvest and he lost money on the venture. 
I see many books advertised for making money and starting a business in the Philippines. I have no doubt there will be success stories but failures will not get the same mention. I have listened to my friend’s advice and trying to find additional ways of making money in the Philippines but with extreme caution.
The country is going in the right direction under the current President. In the Tacloban area you see allot of money being spent on roads and infrastructure. New shopping centres being built and other business buildings. A third MacDonald’s just opened up recently in Palo.  
If a foreigner decides to settle here in a province of the Philippines you will enjoy a great stress free life style with a lower cost of living than you have been used to. Read other stories in this blog and will know what I mean!
If you are thinking of starting a business the best of advice one could give is do your research. Family here may advise with good intentions but dig into all aspects especially the true return you can receive on your investment.
Have a nice day from,
Robbie in and around Tacloban.
Follow me on Twitter @robertmva

More pictures below
PREPARING RICE FIELDS 

RICE PLANT SEEDLINGS


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