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Tigbauan Real Estate, Tigbauan property and Tigbauan retirement.  We’ve learned a whole new meaning for “small town” and “rural”.

Looks like Vermont!

The lot we bought is not far from the Tigbauan, Iloilo village center, maybe about 1.5 km.  It’s walking distance to the market and the ocean.  The road we are on is short but really rough, almost impassible after heavy rains.     The road peters out beyond our property, but dozens more families live nearby, often without road access  We see the families walking out though the fields, fresh-scrubbed and neatly dressed as Filipinos almost always are, even if they live in a native-style house with no running water.  Perhaps they’re going to the market in Tigbauan or they might even be riding a jeepney to the big malls in Iloilo City.  Some might be going to work or to school, hoping for a nursing  or merchant marine job overseas  We just never see cars on our road or on the municipal road it connects to.  They’re filled with people walking.  On a school day, you’ll see school kids everywhere, lining every road to and from the many schools.  They’re adorable in their uniforms, but by the hundreds and thousands — laughing, smiling well-behaved.

Our neighbor’s SUV

So, I’m slowly adjusting to a new meaning for rural.  My kids grew up in small towns in Upstate New York.  Perhaps we liked Tigbauan because it reminded us of home –  a pretty small town, a stone church, a cluster of old buildings downtown surrounded by farming countryside.  While Tigbauan looks a little like Westport, New York there’s one big difference.  My kids went to the only K-12 school there was.  The total K-12 student population was about 300.  Tigbauan, with about 50% less land area has eight high schools, five primary schools and sixteen elementary schools.  The population of Tigbauan is over 50,000.  Westport NY has a population of 1362.  So, Tigbauan may have reminded us of home but it’s not.  Perhaps this is emblematic of the foreigner’s experience of the Philippines.  We see big shopping malls filled with the usual chains, we see Pizza Hut and MacDonalds and theaters showing Hollywood blockbusters, people speaking English and we feel right at home — but we’re not at home.

Property Taxes — a welcome contrast.  When we lived on a farm in Upstate New York, our local real estate taxes were about $4,000 per year.  The annual property taxes of our Tigbauan property are about $100.  Low property taxes are a big benefit to life in the Philippines.

Carabao (water buffalo) “helps” our surveyor…..

Foreigners can mostly shield themselves from the foreignness, the good and the bad, by living in a Western-style house in an upscale subdivision and hanging out at the big malls.  That’s not going to be possible in Tigbauan.  The only shopping is in the public market.  It’s open every day, but market day is Sunday and on Sunday it’s packed with shoppers and vendors, many of which come in from remote farms to sell their farm products.  The older ladies like to smoke cigars which they roll of locally grown tobacco.  There’s a tobacco section, in fact just about everything is sold there.  But this is not a farmer’s market that’s a colorful adjunct to regular shopping.  It’s the only shopping there is.  If you’ve ever wished the mall and supermarkets would go away and things could be like in the old days, this is it — the near-medieval market!  I don’t want to overdo the image of hardship.  Much of what’s on sale is wonderfully fresh and inexpensive; tropical fruits especially mangos, papaya, jackfruit, bananas.  Fresh vegetables — eggplant, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, peppers, green beans, okra, squash, onions, garlic, tomatoes.

June, 2009. Carol holds our first harvest from our now fenced lot. We also have an inexhaustible supply of kang kong which has spread over the lot.

The rice fields around us are mostly owed by a big landowner.  We have seen a tractor adapted for work in wet, muddy rice fields.  We have seen walk-behind tractors, similar to roto-tillers.  But mostly we see Filipinos in conical straw hats, plowing with carabao – water buffalo, planting rice by hand,  just like one of those grainy old movies about China.  One of reasons we bought the particular plot of land we bought is because wireless Internet access was available.  We’ll build our house, sit on our porch surfing, watching the carabao plowing the rice fields around us.  We’ll walk to that public market to shop.  For sure, it’s going to be a seismic change.  Stay tuned!

Read all about our Philippine House building Project at /building-our-philippine-house-index/

Comments (11) Write a comment

  1. I am Chinese-American and plan to to live in iloilo for a few years, and interested to lease small house lot ( less than 100 square meters ), hope could get information from you.


    • David,

      Real estate shopping (buy or lease) is something that really has to be done on the ground here. You make look at some of the subdivisions with such small lots and see if any are for lease.



  2. Back home after a wonderful time in IloIlo City. I got married, looked at property, but have no idea what a hector is in relationship to an acre. If someone can help me out I would appreciate it. How many acres in a hector. My Fillipino wife doesn’t know either. She has property on an Island so we could build there in the future.



    Well, that is a successful trip! Congratulations. One hectare is about 2.5 acres. An acre is about 4,000 square meters. Our lot is 1,500 square meters or a little less than .4 acre. Compared to rural areas in the U.S. land prices can seem very high. Our undeveloped small (small by U.S. standards, but by Philippine) lot on a poorly maintained rural road cost almost $50,000. Then there was the cost of fencing, filling and house building. There are a couple of ways around this. Most buy a much smaller lot. A 400 square meter lot would only cost about $12,000 and would have ample space for a house and garden. It would also cost less to fill and fence. Another good possibility is to build your house on leased land. That way, as a foreigner, you can own your house and pay less for it.

    Best wishes,

    Bob and Carol


  3. Musta Bob and Carol, Hi i have looked through your step by step building a traditional bamboo home which i loved, I have recently married again after my wife of 16 yrs died april 2009 who was filipina ,my beautiful wife now is also filipina from tibiao, antigue we had a gorgeous baby daughter born on july 6th 2012 ,I am still in the long tedious process trying to get her passports ,we take one step forward and two steps back but i understand it is the filipina way the govenment departments work ,touch wood my wife will get the passports in janurary 2013 then i will go there to process the immergration papers then Emelie god willing will be here in australia around july ,i lost alot of money trying to build food business in manila so called friends that i trusted cheated me, stole from me which hurt but was a big eye opener and have learnt from this,thus the reason i was looking at bamboo homes as i have not the money to spend,we will use it as a holiday home and loved the information you supplied, how far are yu from antique my wife is from the mountain area as you know just a very simple life which is ok with me as im not marerial listic im sorry Bob and Carol for talking to much again thank yu i enjoyed the step by step building of the bamboo house take care and godbless.


  4. Aloha Bob & Carol

    Aloha from Hawaii…. My name is Kevin and I just want to thank You both for sharing your life experience there in Iloilo and just reading has made me that the more wiser as to go about pursuing retirement in the Philippines.
    I married a Filipina and Just adore her and will till my dying day. We plan to retire there, the problem is that i find land there to be very expensive.
    Like you folks i love to live in the rural area and maybe have a bit of land maybe an 1/2 hector or so…any advice in this area…Thank You so very much again!!
    If You folks are ever in Hawaii Please Please let me know as Myself and Elsa would just love to show both of you the sights of Hawaii.



    • Kevin,

      Thanks for the kind words and the Hawaii invitation! Yes, we paid $45,000US for 4/10 acre. Expensive! Much cheaper land is available but you’ll have to be a a rural farming or forest area far from the city. Just check on title (costs more), availability of electricty, cell phone signal, internet availability, legal access to a public road etc. I feel sure you could find something to suit you. Just take your time.



    • Yes, this can be a problem. If your property is in a subdivision, the subdivision management and security MAY keep squatters out. They don’t want the subdivision turn into a squatter area before they sell all the lots. Fencing helps. Another possibility is putting up some sort of native house and having a relative live there. In that case have a written agreement so the relative does not establish a claim.


  5. Pingback: Building our Philippine House – Index at goILOILO.com

  6. diovee_m
    Submitted on 2010/01/05 at 3:25pm
    i live in Villa Sto. Domingo Subdivision Tigbauan, Iloilo. It really is a nice place where you can enjoy everything . It is near the beach, the market, the town plaza, church and basically is not heavily populated yet. You can plan how to build your dream house with its cozy and breezy feelings to greet you every morning. Good choice for those who wants to maintain the atmosphere of privacy right at their doorstep. A place where you can truly call a home.


  7. Thanks so much for your over kind words. Just email me if you’re in the area and perhaps we have lunch somewhere –maybe in our newly finished bahay kubo!

    Bob Hammerslag


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