Cost of Living in the Philippines

by Jose Marc Castro on August 10, 2009

costoflivingPHILIPPINESThe Philippines has a very low cost of living. The peso has significantly lost much of its value since the Asian Financial Crisis but over the past few years the country is getting back on its feet. The Philippine economy ranks 47th worldwide with a total GDP of over 120 billion euros. Expatriates will find living in the country very cheap compared to the United Kingdom.

The unemployment rate is not tremendously high but poverty may have been rampant due to overpopulation. The Philippines is the 12th most populous country globally with over 88 million people. Some individuals live on 2 euros daily so if immigrants are used to earning 2,000 euros every month, they will be able to afford a semi-luxurious quality of life.

The Philippine economy is a free market and most of its foreign earnings rely on remittances from overseas Filipino workers that comprises over 10% of the total population. The country was dubbed as a newly industrialized country and is a member of the APEC, IMF and other financial institutions. In recent years, the economy has been growing steadily at a rate of 7% each year. The government is actually looking for more foreign investors to bring in pounds, euros and dollars. Most foreign businesses cover trade, agriculture and telecommunications.

Food and Drinks Costs in the Philippines

Food and drinks are very cheap in the Philippines. A regular individual spends around 200 euros every month. One can eat in middle class restaurants every day since each meal would roughly cost 3 to 4 euros. There is also more expensive food in hotels and fine restaurants that can reach up to 150 euros for a meal and accomodations.

Basically, Filipinos prefer buying raw goods like meat, fish, eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables at the local market to save more. The key is finding the best places to purchase these products from the myriad of stores available in cities and places throughout the archipelago. Another aspect of your groceries should be the purchase of bottled water as part of your grocery list.

The Philippines’ agricultural products are bountiful all-year round especially in surrounding provinces and the southern regions. Food in the capital city, Manila can cost twice as much compared to buying in other growing cities like Cebu and Davao.

Usual meat products in the country are pork and beef. Poultry and eggs are also staple food sources. The Philippines has several varieties of fruits and vegetables like mango, papaya, cabbage, eggplant, durian and beans which are sold at less than one Euro per kilo. Fish products like tuna and marlin are abundant in the southern island of Mindanao. The country also manufactures drinks like goat milk and fruit juices.

Clothing and Accessories Costs in the Philippines

Buying clothes in the Philippines can be considerably cheap. There are several types of textiles sold in all surrounding provinces that can cost only a fraction of the price compared to buying in Manila. Most expatriates travel down south when looking for exotic clothes like batik and tribal accessories since these are much cheaper.

On the average, Filipinos spend around 100 euros every month on clothes. Cars and electronics cost the same as in Europe and most brands are imported from Japan, the United States and China. The influx of china-made products has also caused locally made wares to decrease in price. The quality of these products is not as good but nevertheless very affordable. If looking for designer brands, expatriates can venture into Manila since there are several malls and shopping centers housing popular names from Europe and the US.

Housing Costs in the Philippines

Housing in the Philippines is very cheap but expatriates may have to change their citizenship or be married to a Filipino citizen before being allowed to own land. The high population count in Manila makes the city very expensive and congested to live in, so the options can be the other highly urbanized cities in the country, such as Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.

There are over 10 million residents in Manila alone. It will be ideal to rent a condominium units that are plenty in the downtown districts or a two-bedroom apartment. Rental rates are around 200 to 300 euros every month for an excellent quality and spacious condominium. Living in smaller houses and apartments can cost around 100 euros.

Some expatriates enjoy the southern regions of the Philippines since these are less populous and the place is more conducive for starting a family or retiring. The provinces are usually the spots where expatriates are eyeing on to buy property.

Some foreign investors with agricultural businesses live on the southern islands which relatively cost less than 100 euros for renting a house or apartment. There are also places where low class citizens are advised to live by the government. National housing authorities exist in most regions of the country to provide suitable living conditions for those with lower income.

Services Costs in the Philippines

Public hospitals are mainly subsidized by the government. The country currently has a lot of working hands in the health care sector so service and quality of care is excellent. There are also private institutions which are more expensive but render state-of-the-art approach and equipment. Medical tourism has been one of the recent projects that the Philippines wants to develop in the near future.

Transportation in the major cities is convenient and cheap. In Manila, there are buses, trains, taxis and MRT which can quickly take people around. Going around town will cost around 5 to 10 euros at most. Traveling to the southern regions can be done by airplane or boat. The Philippines has very modern airports and comfortable naval vessels which travel to and from different islands everyday.

Employment Costs in the Philippines

The Philippines is currently battling high unemployment rate at 7.3% overall, concentrated mainly in Metro Manila. There are several willing workers but job opportunities have not been that much despite the fact that the country ranks among the highest in the world in terms of literacy rate. At present, the country continues to control its population as well as send workers abroad to help the Philippine economy.

Expatriates can successfully find jobs in smaller cities or run businesses instead of being employed. Small businesses can do very well in provinces. In Manila, expatriates can still find employment considering that they have the right knowledge and skills on the fields in demand at the moment such as business, marketing, computer technology and engineering.


{ 204 comments… read them below or add one }

jmdj June 17, 2011 at 2:06 am

OUCH, some comments about my country hits the spot. I lived here all my life in Metro Manila. Yes, thieves, swindlers exist in the cities. When I was in school I lost my cellphone to a swindler, and I was also almost mugged. I learned my lesson. Almost everyone or one of their family members in the city has experienced being robbed/swindled at least once. This teaches you to be street smart. Here are some techniques. Ever since then, I have never been robbed.
#1 Walk fast – a thief would think twice robbing an athletic person. Believe me when I say this works!
#2 Wear average clothes – a thief is only interested in rich people, if you just wear shorts and sandals, no jewelries, they'd think you are not worth it
#3 Avoid shady places – This is basic but foreigners fail to heed this, since they like going to bars, etc. But if you are retired and with a wife, just avoid these places and you'll be fine. Ask your wife or girlfriend on which places to avoid (i.e. Quiapo, baclaran). In Metro Manila, Makati is generally safe, a lot of foreigners go there especially the bars but quite expensive.
#4 Dont put your wallet at your back pocket. – I dont know why foreigners put it there, its basically saying, "hey, steal me"

For swindlers and other stuff:
#1 A deal that is too good to be true isnt true! <– as it says. Research, research, research.
#2 Women scammers – there are few girls here that milk foreigners dry. Just look at how they dress, typical filipina dress up with not too revealing clothes, a scammer normally wear revealing clothes and sticks her body to you. They are actually like prostitutes, so basically you are "buying their love". There are a lot of good women out there, my advice is go to the provinces. Based on the girls I see with foreigners, those are your type anyways. Pure-blooded filipina, tanned, innocent, young, obedient. They are average to us but beautiful to you.. Kinda weird for me on why you guys prefer them over mestisas. You can easily woe them since most women like caucasians.
#3 Dealing with the family – Yup, sometimes your wife/girlfriend's family can scam you. They will ask money for business yet fail to invest it in business and buy others. However, it is the culture for the guy to provide to the girl and her family especially if you work abroad or a foreigner. If you are average, $200-$300 is fine. Wealthy $400-500. During meals they expect you to pay for it all. Sucks, but it doesnt only apply to foreigners, it also applies to filipinos working abroad.
#4 Dealing with filipino mentality, Im poor, you are rich, my life sucks, yours is great, help us. Avoid these people, if you cant confront them with it. They will be hurt at first but think of a way to say it in a nice way. I dont get my people why they think this way. I think its shameful, but I cant judge them because I earn a lot more than the average filipino.
#5 Budgetting money. $1000 is enough to have an average life with a woman. $2000, quite lavish, u can have a maid and a driver, have a house, and still have extra. Cities are much more expensive than provinces. Davao is nice, clean, and cheaper than Manila, doesnt have much thieves either.

Anyways, I hope this helps. My boss is an American, and I taught him how to avoid bad places in the metro. He is a good friend.

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Charlie Isda July 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

My asawa (wife) and I have lived in the Dumaguete area for a little over a year and i really can't see how one could live on $1,000.00 a month. And certainly not lavish with a maid and driver.
Other than that you gave some pretty good information.
I think that donation amount to the family is too high if at all. I give more than i should but i am cutting them back. I am retired on a small pension and do not see why I should give away what I worked very hard for, for over 53 years. Now 67 years old. I am not stingy as i have given them a lot in the past 5 years. But welfare does not work in any country. What is their incentive to work if we continue to hand them money for doing nothing ?
Just my point of view. Also, not every foreigner is rich.

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joe December 3, 2013 at 6:47 am

Pensions in western countries is like welfare to filipinos who can work as hard or harder than you and never get a pension. You “earned” that pension only because you lived and worked in a 1st world country who provided that for you. Also, living in 1st world countries provided you with education and job opportunities that are not available for those living in a 3rd world country.
Countries that have welfare are also the countries where working people can actually get a pensions along with things like a 401k plans and social security.
Stop thinking you are better than people in 3rd world countries when you didn’t have to earn your money there like the locals have to. You retired in a 3rd world country because you didn’t earn enough to stay comfortably in your own country. If those filipinos had been born in a 1st world country, they would probably be retired with more money than you have to comfortably retire in a 1st world country instead of running away to a 3rd world country to stretch your dollars.
How do you feel about westerners who say those who retire on small pensions were too lazy to work hard enough be well off or rich in their own countries?

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Janie June 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Can I make live on a set US Dollar income of $1, 100.00 Month in the Philippines. Any advise you have would be so appreciated.. My paternal parent before death was Filipino, and my Maternal roots, Native American.. but I am a US citizen

Salamat

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Charlie Isda July 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm

You will not live well. Survive is about it.

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Tom March 13, 2012 at 3:13 am

That's USD not PHP. We live rather rich on $200 a month for a family of 5.

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Haliya September 6, 2011 at 5:19 am

We are five in the household (2 are working, 1 works as a freelancer and has no stable income) and our family income totals 32k/month or $712/month, say a dollar is equivalent to 45 pesos) I live in the Metro (Quezon City) where cost of living is relatively higher vs. the countryside. $712 for a household of 5 is just enough to make ends meet. Go figure :)

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Janie June 17, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Can I make live on a set US Dollar income of $1, 100.00 Month in the Philippines. Any advise you have would be so appreciated.. My paternal parent before death was Filipino, and my Maternal roots, Native American.. but I am a US citizen

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bob June 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm

i am earning 1.5 million indian rupees(almost same PH) and planning to re locate to , in india got a lavish life style and great savings, will that be possible over there in manila, how much i should demand over my indian salary to save 50% of my income and live lavishly.

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Will August 17, 2011 at 1:34 am

If a UK citizen marries a Filipina and moves to Cebu will they be accepted by the ex-pat community? I have heard that the ex-pats may look down on such a couple.

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Elise September 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I don’t really see much of an ex-pat “community” in Cebu. Most ex-pats are don’t really flock together, not in the city, at least. I can’t say for the ones in rural areas, the mountain expats, who I’ve heard are have more bonding. But again, the city people are fast and snobby, so they don’t really go around meeting for tea. They basically don’t care much if you marry a Filipina or whatever it is you do in life.

This is quite different from Dumaguete City(an island to the left of Cebu) as i have observed, has a more close-knit ex-pat community, which meet together every morning for coffee or every evening for beer.

Filipinos, however, tend to look down on Filipinas dating/marrying foreigners. If you walk around together in public, people will stare at you and 90% of the time will be thinking: “Oh look. Another gold digger sucking the life out of that bald, fat, old foreigner.”. Honestly, I can’t blame them for thinking that. It’s not really a thought that’s just made up. It’s backed by a notorious history of gold digging of modern Filipinas.

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shanel December 30, 2011 at 8:05 pm

i am a 28-year old filipina. i was a teacher at an international when i met my 27-year old european husband who is a physician. he was on a medical mission in the philippines by the time that we've met. the people in the rural & urban areas stared at us but i didn't feel the discomfort of being with him. instead, i've heard a lot of adoration from us. well, maybe u are pointing out the women who have married to the foreigners wherein they're a decade or even decades older than them.

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Kory January 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Even when I lived there I looked down on the younger girls with older foreigners. Everyone knows who they are. At least my wife and I are similarly aged. Only had one problem with someone saying something, we both confronted that person and asked where their parents were. We explained our status to his parents (we are both professionals, I'm an engineer and my wife is a high school teacher) and asked them how they could raise such a child (walang galang) and we never had a problem from that kid since. Most other adults didn't see us that way because we never underdressed and looked respectable. Plus neither of us is fat, bald, and old compared to the other. But when we would see those folks we have to admit that we looked down upon them as well. We worked hard and attended good universities to get where we are in life. My wife was a teacher and had finished college before we even met and she attended one of the best universities in the Philippines. I attended one of the best universities here in the US. If you don't dress or act like scum then you will be treated with respect. Granted everyone in the community knew us as well…

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Nabin Bhattarai September 8, 2011 at 9:04 am

What could be an average expenditure for a single person if I live in an appartment sharing with three or four persons in Cebu city?/

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Ratz September 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Hi all,

Iam an indian and got job offer in manila. I will get 50000 p/month. Will this amount is affordable to stay in metro manila ??
Also i’m an vegeterian.. what abt room rent and other stufss??
plz help me out guys..

Thnx
Ratz

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Queen October 3, 2011 at 4:16 am

no1 talks abut education.. ..m from NIGERIA but live in INDIA and planing 2 to do my university in Phil but i wanna kno abut universities… if i ave 2 apply in a govt university for economic law .. do i ave 2 wrte SAT exam?? or i jus nid my grade 12 exam?? also as a non-citizen who age is 18, is it possible for me 2 work with student Visa.. if not wad visa do i nid??? also staying in a single pg for gals is it expensive??
… I RILLI do nid help…. ”

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jack October 3, 2011 at 8:48 am

i want to know why most girls i meet on the net, i send money to then ask more money for stupid things.. eg i send her $400 a month and im ok with that but when i ask if she has applied for her phil passport her answer was can u send me money for passport application. why cant she pay for it from the money i already send, why cant they invest in a passport but rather ask me to send money for that aswell?

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pinoy October 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm

i think you are just being used. don't believe with these parasites

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Junior November 28, 2011 at 9:59 am

a respectable person won't be asking you for money….you are probably being scammed

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Roky January 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Yes, this is so true. The ones that truly love you would rather sell their personal materials for money rather than ask you for money. I had a hell of a time getting my girlfriend back then to take the money. After we were married it was a different story, however, she didn't complain and I didn't have to beg, but she still let me know where every centavo went and was very frugal. Find a Western girl that will do that…

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shanel December 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm

the phil passport cost less than 25 US dollars. you're being scammed. be careful in dealing with girls on the internet

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adrian December 20, 2011 at 5:00 am

i want to move to davao, i plan to marry a girl from there. i would like to start a lawn care business there, is there a market for such a venture

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Joanna January 25, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Not much since gardeners can be hired here for the minimum wage of around Php350. If you're really good, you can open a landscaping business which is very profitable here but you'll have to be familiar with local flora. You may want to know that you'll have lot of very good competition as most landscapers here are done by professional companies that hire landscape engineers.

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Tom March 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm

According to this calculation of "cheap" living in the Philippines, it costs 4 times more to live here than in the USA! lol

Most people live on about 10% the suggested figures here….

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Camaleto June 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Hello There, Im Mexican and I got a Job in Manila, I would like to know if 2500 usd per month would be enough for living there in a very nice and well located apartment.

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rosario July 17, 2012 at 1:51 am

2,500 usd per month is too much per month. i have 1 kid and pregnant now and have a maid, i spend 900 dollars a month.

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Rich Gill July 26, 2012 at 3:37 am

To live well in the Philippines it's best to have a regular income from outside the country or be making money over the internet – not too difficult if you look in the right places
Aussie

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david August 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Hi I’m in Scotland and I’ve met an amazing and yes younger Philippine woman, in fact i must admit I’m deeply in love~ she is very warm, genuine and I want to share whatever I have here. She is currently applying for a visitor visa and says the UK border agency stipulate at least £2000 per month to support herself, being honest that is an extravagant amount depending on the area you live in here and i will ensure she is always cared for, safe and of course provided for . This must place a terrible stress upon her I want to ask does any one know what is required re what she has to have in her own bank account to prove she can provide here for her
I have ample funds to care and see she never wants in any way in fact the distance is hurtful not being together
I’d appreciate any advice any one can offer and as soon as possible as i want to meet and propose to her. I accept she supports her family is what is more than happens here in the UK . thanks I appreciate any info and will I need to apply for a visa as she is applying for a visitor visa over there i miss her so much if you can reply thank you any help to allow us to be together would be amazing

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Lesley May 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Hi David, in case your fiancee is not there yet with you as long as you can provide proof of financial support for her i.e. your bank statement and/or savings, you won't have any problem. And also, proof that your relationship is genuine. Best of luck.

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Tejp August 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I have a job offer in Manila where I will earn just above 100.000 peso per month.
I don't want to spend more then 20.000 peso on accomodation, but still want to have a kitchen, is this possible? If I spend 20k on accomodation, will I even need to care about money (like thinkingin "Nah, I can't do that, to expencive") with 80k a month?

Also, I will have one friend from my country there who have a family kind of, but he is the only one I know, will it be hard to live alone in a city like Manila, nothing to do and so forth. Reading here it seems the only thing you can do is go shopping, drinking or tend to a family basically.

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norway September 26, 2012 at 5:47 am

to all foreiners that wantto marry filipina prepare your self for a huge circle of family .. thats how filipino values thier family .they care as long as they can do things to them and help them.to all who wants to live in philippines its best eperience you can have its poor country but with full of love . its not the reason of everything its the reason of how comfortable you are to live thier and that time u can tell how ws the living in philippines .

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Anthony November 3, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I am an American living in the USA and I want to marry a filipina living in Dipolog City. My question, what is the cost of living like in Dipolog? I've been trying to research it but I can not get any accurate information. Also will it be costly to move her here with me?

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Lesley May 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Southern part of the Philippines is known to be quite dangerous for foreigners as Muslim rebels resides there. Just to caution you on your safety. Don't get carried away in isolated areas. I would have guess it would be the same as any other provinces/countryside places, not too expensive. I have not been to that part of Philippines yet but I have relatives who lives in Davao City. Manila is a different story as that's where the 'money' is.

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Theo November 23, 2012 at 4:09 am

What is the cost for good chicken wieners per 900 gram package?

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United May 14, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I've to shift Manila with my family (me, spouce and 2 kids). How much monthly salary shoud I have to live a comfortable life there? Both kids are school going, class 1st and 3rd. Please help with your valuable sugestions

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Jon June 23, 2013 at 6:49 am

United, $400 is enough in your situation.

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