Advice for Expats

Broke? Here’s How Foreigners Make Money in The Philippines

I’d say the lion’s share of people that come to The Philippines already have a source of income, whether it be a pension, a VA Check, SSA/I, or something. That’s why traditionally the Philippines has been known as a retirement destination.

But that’s changing. ;)More and more millennials, like me, decided to spend our young lives exploring rather than in a cubicle so we still need income. If that’s you then read further.

Let me start off by saying that if you’re going to live in Manila the general consensus is that you’ll need to take in about $2000 USD per month. That’s to live in a safe area with amenities that you’re used to back home (such as hot water), going out to eat once a week, and going to the cinema.

In the provinces, you can get by on $1000 or less. I lived on $750 in Bacolod City. If you want to know more about the cost of living in The Philippines you can read about that here.  You can also read some of my hacks to save money in  Manila and in The Philippines.

How to Make Money in The Philippines if You’re a Foreigner

It’s very hard to get a job here and honestly unless you have some highly sought after skill/ability the pay will be so low it won’t be worth your time.  That’s why I did some research and these are my best ways to make money in The Philippines for expats.

  1. Work at a Call Center
  2. Start a business (not recommended)
  3. Teach English online
  4. Become a freelancer

Work at a Call Center

Upsides:

  • Steady Hours
  • You can get a long term visa/work permit
  • Health insurance
  • Meet Employed Filipinos

Downsides:

  • Working nights
  • Abnormal rest days (ex. Monday & Friday)
  • The pay won’t be what you’re used to in the West

If you have the ability to speak another language besides English then it will be relatively easy to get a work permit. I speak Spanish and I was offered a job at a call center earning approximately $1200 USD per month. I’ve heard if you speak Mandarin Chinese that you can earn a lot more than that though. There are many sites you can go to in order to search for jobs in a call center. Jobstreet.com comes to mind as the most prominent.

Start a Business (not recommended)

As I stated in my previous article, Things I Wish I Knew Before I Moved to Manila,  you will undoubtedly be approached by a local asking you to invest in a ‘great business opportunity’.  Or maybe your gf will ask you to start a Sari-Sari (convenience store) with her. It’s easy to be fooled by the relatively low cost of rent, supplies, labor, etc. However, I strongly advise anyone not to start a business unless they’ve lived here at least a year. A lot of guys end up broke after starting a business here. Here’s why you should wait to pull the trigger on a business

  • It takes time to understand the business culture here
  • Dealing with government officials and graft can be a huge headache
  • Most businesses have to be in a local’s name
  • It’s not as easy to fire bad employees as you might think
  • It may be difficult to find good reliable employees
  • Chances are your idea has been tried before (piggeries, restaurants, sari saris)

If you plan to go into BPO (a call center) then you shouldn’t expect to make a profit for at least a year. If you have enough money, $75k usd you can get an investor visa which is a pretty sweet deal. You can read my article on that here.

Start a Blog/Youtube Channel

Upsides:

  • Easy to get started
  • Low cost of entry
  • Can be a lot of fun
  • You might be able to earn a lot of money

Downsides:

  • A ton of competition (there are over 1 billion blogs and thousands of hours of video are uploaded to youtube every minute)
  • Takes a long time to get results
  • Results are not guaranteed

Obviously this is one of the paths I’ve chosen to earn a living but despite what all the gurus you see in the advertisements tell you, it’s not that easy to make a sustainable income with a blog or a youtube channel. When I started blogging and YouTubing I made about $100 my first year–hardly a sustainable income.

That being said if you write/talk about something you’re passionate/interested in then it is a relatively easy to way make money. You just have to put a lot of time, energy, and effort into it. Oh, and don’t expect results for at least 6 months to 1 year.

Teach English Online (highly recommended)

Upsides:

  • Very easy job (you speak English through a video call)
  • Most companies pay in US dollars
  • It’s a lot of fun!!
  • You get to work during the day
  • Set your own hours
  • Earn a lot of money

Downsides:

  • Most companies don’t guarantee hours
  • It can be slow at first, while you’re building your reputation with the client base
  • Some people may not enjoy working with kids
  • Not as easy to get hired as it used to be

It’s difficult to get work in The Philippines but online is a different story. Teaching English online has surpassed blogging as my main source of income. I love teaching anyway and my students seem to like me as well since my current rating is 9.47 out of 10 with iTutor. Right now teaching English online is the hot commodity for making money abroad. The demand is huge and as more Asian families enter the middle class the market for English teachers will only grow bigger and bigger.

Why I Like iTutor The Best

  • They hired me without an interview
  • Most of my students are teenagers or adults
  • No ramp-up period in the beginning (they assign the students to you)
  • You don’t need a TEFL/TESOL to be hired

There are a ton of companies out there to choose from. I personally went with iTutor, reason being is because…well…they hired me. LOL! The most popular ones I keep hearing about are  VIPKid, and PalFish (download the app).  Another thing I like about iTutor is that I don’t have to market myself to students since they assign the students to me. That means I didn’t have a slow period when I first started. They also will hire you without a TEFL so long as you get one within 90 days of being hired.

Requirements to teach English online

  1. Be a native or near-native speaker
  2. Bachelors Degree
  3. TEFL/TESOL Certificate
  4. Good internet connection
  5. Patience

No degree? No problem! There are companies that hire native speakers without a degree. BiboGlobal and NativeCamp come to mind.

Other Online Freelance Work

Teaching English and blogging aren’t the only things you can do online to make money.  If you like to write you can become a freelance writer on iWriter or Fiverr. If you have some sort of useful skill chances are good there’s someone willing to pay for it online.

What’s great about Fiverr is they have categories for almost anything. Seriously, you can find a freelancer to walk your dog or to wake you up in the morning! If you can think of it, it’s probably on Fiverr. You just have to use your imagination and find a way!

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Markis Gardner
Markis Gardner
13 days ago

I tried to get hired on itutor.
But…
1) Every job they offer requires a teaching certificate ( not just TOEFL). I have 16 years of teaching but no teaching certificate. I am currently taking the classes to get one but won’t receive until Feb/March.
2) Their website has a problem. It will accept Manila, Philippines but they want a STATE (required) and nothing shows up on their website, so can’t select anything – so can’t complete the application