Philippines, Thailand, and Bali travel budgets

July 9, 2009 - Filed under Planning, Travel

Friends and family often tell us they’re jealous of our adventures and how lucky we are to be able to afford our nomadic travel lifestyle. We agree. We’re in a very advantageous position, earning an income working online while we travel. But how much is this costing us exactly, and how does the cost of living abroad compare to what we were paying back home in Vancouver, Canada?

You’ll notice that we spent significantly less in the Philippines on a per month basis than anywhere else. I primarily attribute this to being settled in a beach house with a full kitchen for a 4 month stretch and being fairly remote which limited restaurant expenses to local options. This illustrates my previous post about how to keep costs down by traveling slowly and minimizing food expenses. There’s also no international flight costs included in the Philippines expenses. I’m not sure if something like that should be averaged over the whole trip, or attributed to the arrival country. In which case, Hong Kong cost us $3400. :)

What it cost us to live for 6 months in the Philippines:

– 1 month of hotels while we looked for a place $1395
– 1 month in a studio cottage that turned out to be too small $450
– 4 months in a 2 bedroom beach house $3300
– Installation Fee $25
– Monthly Fee (x12 months as we had to pay the full year) $300
– Mikes Dive Certifications (Open Water, Advanced & Nitrox) $1131
– 90 dives throughout the six months between the two of us $3200
Food, Booze & Beer
– For the first month we ate out for all meals $1125
– Apx. weekly grocery bill (x20 weeks) $1300
– Eating out apx 2-3 meals a week (x20 weeks) $1400
Mini Getaways
– Siquijor (3 days) $300
– Boracay (7 days – including flights) $1335
– Moalboal (3 days) $350
– Zamboaguita (3 days) $400
– 1 month 125cc motorcycle rental $145
– Sightseeing Day Trips (x2) $100
TOTAL $16,256

What it cost us to live for 3 months in Thailand:

– 2 months in various hotels, averaging around $40/night $2,416.98
– 1 month in a 1 bedroom apartment in Koh Tao $1,200
– 17 dives x 2 people $1,156
– Various dive gear purchases $220
Food, Booze & Beer
– Eating at restaurants for 3 months. No kitchen stove. $8,177.60
– Flights $493.77
– Ferries $25
– 6 months extended travel insurance (Mike) $221.40
– Computer Equipment $600
– Visas $180
– Massages $250
TOTAL $14,940.75

What it cost us to live for 1 month in Bali:

– 3 weeks in a serviced apartment w/kitchen and 1 week in a hotel $1,716.67
– 3 dives x 2 people $330.99
Food, Booze & Beer
– Eating at restaurants. $1,522.55
– Groceries. $700
– Flights $528.79
– Taxis $115
– Spa Day for one $72
– Visas on arrival $50
– Jewelry Making Course $25
TOTAL $5,061

What it cost us to live for 1 month in Vancouver:

– Kelly’s apartment $1,500
– Mike’s apartment $1,300
– Electricity $50
– Cellphones $250
– Internet/Cable TV $200
Food, Booze & Beer
– Eating at restaurants $2,000
– Groceries $800
– Taxis $100
– Gas (for a motorcycle & scooter) $100
TOTAL $6,300

This is no way accounts for every expense in Vancouver because the situational differences between ‘nesting’ back home and the travel lifestyle don’t allow for the same expenditures. There’s no longer any need to be buying new work clothes, a new tv, kitchen gadgets, or other furnishing luxuries. Which is where much of the remainder of our paychecks usually went. There are obvious economies we could have taken advantage of in Vancouver. We could have moved in together and gotten rid of one apartment. We could have gone out less. We could have minimized expenses. But this is a fairly realistic outline of our recurring monthly costs before and during the trip. Also, I suppose diving expenses aren’t a recurring monthly cost, but it’s a major line item on our budget and to exclude it would paint a significantly cheaper and considerably more boring travel option.

So the question would now be, are we making more or less money working abroad? It’s hard to definitively answer this. Kelly (on advice from her accountant) intentionally worked less during the last quarter since selling her apartment. With the economy as it is, we’ve also seen a reduction in new freelance contracts. Still, business is coming in and we’re covering our monthly expenses. Without the excess expenses of nesting our disposable income ends up in our bank accounts instead of furnishings, but varies greatly depending on if we’re on the move or stationary. Short answer? We’re making less money and our disposable income is less, but by removing nesting costs, the money stays in our pockets. Call it ‘forced savings’. All in all, working online while traveling has been a financially and personally rewarding experience.

Posted by: Shim

3 Comments so far

  1. Murray July 13, 2009 12:05 am

    Nice write up! Very interesting to see the costs involved. Makes me want to hit the road again!

  2. Miss Jane October 19, 2009 1:34 am

    Cool post! Now I know how the success of your travels! :D

  3. Philippines Fan December 1, 2009 12:09 am

    I loved the Philippines when I visited there. This is a great post breaking down the expenses. I didn’t get a chance to live there for an extended period of time as you did, but it is a very insightful post. I have been wanting to go back but haven’t made the time or budget. This is a helpful post, maybe now I will take the plunge and do it!


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