Making Money on Samal Island{7}

Bamboo hut

I expect that by the time we are able to move to Samal Island that I will be retired and we will be living mostly off my retirement income. I’ve often thought that it would be nice to move there earlier, but what I do for income? I’ve also given thought as to what I and my asawa will do, as in will I just be retired or have a small business.

Most expat-erts that I have had the pleasure of getting advice from, either directly or from their website, have emphatically recommended that one should start some kind of online venture. That could be one of a variety of things, but the point is to do it online. Physical jobs working in the Philippines for an employer is not advised due to a number of valid reasons. A few of those being:

  1. Extremely low pay
  2. Foreigners not employable
  3. Too old to be employable

Having your own business seems to be the best chance of making a go if it, if you aren’t going to take the advice of the expat-erts to make money online. Of course there are legal issues to maneuver that I’m not well versed in. Suffice to say, it’s likely you will need to have the business in your spouse’s name. Business licenses, permits, etc. are also obstacles that must be dealt with. I’m not going to get into that here.

What can I do?

My thoughts have gone from the possible to the improbable, but that’s what ideas are for, right? As with everything, there is a cost involved starting a business. Some more than others.


The tried and true restaurant, or restro bar. Many have tried, some have succeeded and most have failed. That’s true here as well. I have about 15 years experience in restaurant work, and I was very profitable. I’ve got an idea of how to make this work with the unique clientele of the island, but I think it would be a lot of work with little return.


It would take quite a few bucks to get this going AND you would have lots of competition. If you had the resources and had a good set up, I feel it would be pretty easy to make this succesful. Over half of the current Samal Island resorts don’t even have websites. Good luck making a reservation online and/or getting any information. Email – what’s that all about? This alone would almost insure success.

Travel Agent

Anki Bisaya Phrasebook Flashcards

Actually this would be more of a online service, with some leg work being done locally. It might be difficult to get any resorts to work with you, but that might not really matter. As I said, you can charge for your service in the fact that you can offer advice and reservations, because you respond.

Real Estate Agent

As I understand it, it’s not easy to become a real estate agent even if you are a citizen. I’m not even sure you could if you aren’t a citizen, but if you could it could be a big benefit to those looking for land there. Especially if you have a great website AND answer email (notice a trend?). To make this work you would need establish some good relationships with the resort developments and individual land owners.

English Teacher

A number of people have looked into this possibility. I don’t know that I have any real desire or the patience to do this. It seems that if you were good at it, and didn’t charge too much, you might build up a decent amount of students. More advanced would be to open a more formal school. Might be a good idea for just a little bit of extra income.

Convenience/Specialty Store

This seems to me to be something that is more plausible than some of the others. The number of stores on Samal Island is limited. Getting anything but basic items probably requires a trio to Davao. That’s OK if you live there, but what about the tourists? It might take a little bit of research to determine what kind of specialty items to feature, but I think there is a place for this.


Lots of possibilities here, but I particularly have interest in coconut and ginger. The export market seems to be open for certain products from within these items. There would be a large learning curve for me. It’s intriguing though.

I guess one could go on and on. It’s probable that I’ll do none of these, but it’s fun to contemplate.