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  • Writer's pictureJoe Gilbert

In For A Million And Committed! Important Information Mixed With A Bit Of Site Seeing.

Updated: Mar 3, 2023



1,000,000 pesos deep in my new life and set for years of low budget high value adventure! Although living well does not cost a lot, there is substantial investment required if you plan to move to the Philippines and avail yourself of all the beauty here. If we want to remain relevant and healthy, we need a mission that will keep us engaged, fit and mobile. Yes, failing to plan is planning to fail!


Today I’ll share the reason for my housing choice, my 12 month plan, how I obtained health insurance, my daily routine, and my monthly and daily budget.


My initial expenses were quite large and better seen as investments. I'm not just in the most expensive place in the Philippines to live; I'm in the one city where I can work my plan and start 2024 where I chose.


Why I chose BGC Manila.

I’m able to establish my health insurance, figure out the visa processes, obtain a Philippine driver's license, establish a banking relationship, purchase transportation, purchase needed home goods & groceries, have access to virtually unlimited choices in restaurants and have it all within walking distance or a short “Grab” ride away.


Moving to a new country without a plan is fraught with risk. We can’t eliminate risk; however, must set our own sail and when the winds change, we adjust the set of our sail and tac up wind if needed continue toward our chosen destination!

My plan is to be completely settled and have all of the aforementioned objectives met within 60 days. After those tasks are completed, I’ll be free to spend the next ten months exploring and deciding where to permanently call home. Having everything close to home and my own transportation allows me to make exploratory trips (like this one today) I expect to have found the place I will call home before my lease expires mid-January 2024.


We have two destinations planed for today and a budget of only $20.00 US. Will we make it under budget?


Speaking of today, we are headed back to Tagaytay. This is a popular destination for Filipinos, and it's easy to see why. With its cool climate, breathtaking views of Taal Lake, and lush greenery, Tagaytay has some special magic that keeps people coming back time and time again.


The weather is mild most of the year, with temperatures averaging around 17-25°C / 63-77°F. Rainy season starts as early as June and can last up to October, so it's best to check the forecast before heading out if you're planning a visit.


Our first destination (Starbucks Downhill) is a perfect place to take a break and breathe in the fresh air. As we stroll across the parking lot you can see the view and get some understanding of the attraction here.

Looking back at the Building and considering the view it’s hard to explain why Starbucks Downhill isn’t on any of the lists I’ve found of the most beautiful Starbucks in the world. Goes to show that the worldly reviewers aren’t so worldly.

Inside the tall windows and light wood construction make for a very relaxing atmosphere. The top floor with an outside seating area affords a stunning view of the Taal Volcano and the lake.

After spending a whopping 200 pesos ($3.60 US) and enjoying an ice latte, it’s time to leave and head for our second destination for the day, Picnic Grove.

On the short drive over I’ll give you what little history I know of the place. During the presidencies of Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961) and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1965), Picnic Grove was developed on a 13 hectare sight as Tagaytay sought to promote a new image as the top tourist city; however, Picnic Grove was soon abandoned and fell into disrepair.


During the 1970’s families from Manila began building homes in the area and Picnic Grove was cleaned–up and refurbished. Today Picnic Grove provides visitors with an unforgettable picnic experience amidst its lush greenery, rolling hills and breathtaking views.


At the entrance you stop and receive your assessment. Entrance fee for one adult is 75 pesos ($1.36 US) and parking is free for motorcycles. After you park you need to make your way to the cashier and pay. Without your receipt, they won’t let you out of the park. Don’t loses it!!


The picnic area is equipped with several picnic tables and gazebos for small groups or romantic couples.

There are also picnic huts which can accommodate larger groups and a large picnic pavilion is also available for rent, complete with tables and chairs and a stage for music and entertainment. You will also find a coffee shop, restaurants, plenty of souvenirs for sale, a zip line, and a trail to explore.

The many smiling faces and children's laughter is maybe the best part of it all!


Today’s trip was quite satisfying and my total cost was $17.66 US.

Day Trip Costs:

Starbucks: 200 pesos ($3.60 US)

Picnic Grove: 75 pesos ($1.36 US)

Fuel: 700 pesos ($12.66)

Total: 975 pesos ($17.66 US)


Back to some helpful information.


Health insurance:

We are betting that we will need it and they’re betting we won’t.


I did a substantial amount of research and even considered keeping my current policy as it provides coverage world wide. My research always brought me back to the same person, Michael Onstad at Pacific Cross. Michael setup a video chat with me three months before I departed the US and after chatting with him, I made the decision give Michael my business. His reputation is stellar and he does not sugar coat anything.

His office is extremely responsive and if not for the incredible efficiency of his assistant (Miles) my application would have taken forever. Because I had a few pre-existing conditions I had to submit several additional questionnaires. Every email was confirmed as received within a very short time and left me with no doubt that they were true professionals. I also needed current lab work and a physical to submit with my application.


Again, Being in BGC made it easy as I simply walked over to St. Lukes, selected what I wanted done (from a wellness menu) and boom…within a week my wellness check, lab results and follow-up with the physician was complete. I will put his information on the website for you so there is no need to try and memorize this stuff.

My Daily Routine:

It’s important to maintain discipline and continue to do the small things that may even seem trivial. Every discipline affects the others. Making my bed and shaving are two non-negotiable tasks that start my day off with purpose. Along with morning coffee, I allocate 30 minutes to read and 30 minutes of language practice. (Tagalog). Any extra time is a bonus.

Although this is a tropical climate, after showering I put on a collared shirt and well cared for shoes. On occasion I will wear a collared shirt with shorts and tennis shoes if I plan on walking to Market Market or farther.


I then review my list prepared at least the day prior and arrange the order of tasks depending on how I feel that day.


My list includes riding my bicycle for exercise at least three times per week. The bike, computer, Helmet, shoes, jersey and shorts came in at $3,600.00 US and is part of my initial investment in my healthy future here.


After knocking out my bike ride or morning disciplines if not riding that day, I walk across town to a coffee shop to work on things like this and do a lot of exploring with my camera in hand learning the area.


By the time I return to the condo I’ve hopefully completed my list and begin planning my next day and prepare dinner. The rest of my afternoon / evening is spent curiously searching YouTube or reading

On my exploration travel days, other than shaving and making my bed, all bets are off.


Monthly Expenses:

Rent: 35,000 pesos $634.00 US

Electricity: 5400 pesos $97.80 US

Wifi: 1699 pesos $30.77 US

Water: 500 pesos $9.06 US

Philippine Phone: 300 pesos $5.43 US

T-Mobil US phone: $65.00 US

Visa Fees $60.00 US

Groceries: 6000 pesos $108.67 US

Pacific Cross: $250.00 US

Weekly spending Allowance (5000 pesos)

X 4.3 weeks/month: 21,500 pesos $389.40 US

Total $1650 US


Daily Budget:

5000 pesos / 7: 714 pesos $12.93 US


Average Daily Spending:

Coffee (Twice) 450 pesos $8.15 US

Average Daily Surplus: 265 Pesos $4.80 US

Average Weekly Surplus: 1,855 pesos $33.60 US

Average Monthly Surplus: 7,977 pesos $144.48 US

That's about it folks, my daily surplus funds my exploration.


Links I referred to in the video


St. Lukes Medical Wellness Center:

https://www.stlukes.com.ph/health-specialties-and-services/institutes-departments-centers-and-services/wellness-center


Michael Onstad Pacific Cross Insurance:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/974207416765198/


Until next time,


Joey out!








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1 Comment


Gary Carter
Gary Carter
Mar 02, 2023

Joey, you are rocking it my friend, again thank you for allowing us to follow along on your adventures, the information you post are real eye openers, I wonder why we are all doing the same old routine in our lives today, and are we just afraid to take risk or grow our horizons, You have made me look outside my own box and take some risk when I travel abroad. I am now planning a vacation to a country i’d like to live in during the winter months, and get me out of my comfort zone and really start enjoy life as we want. Keep the great articles coming and we miss you my friend OABAAABA

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