cost to live in the Philippines

This topic is for 'specifics first hand' not guesses from short-timers.

... I would like people to give honest and 'well educated and personally experienced' Facts as to the cost to live in various Provinces and Cities      These should include specific 'examples' with accurate numbers, locations or details with the financial numbers or costs. 

... this is NOT a topic for 'guesses and estimates'.     It is for Accurate First Hand actual numbers and examples ONLY.   

......................... let me begin with an introduction:

As some may have discovered, there are primarily distinct levels of living for Filipinos; the 'upper classes' who live in opolance of 10M Peso homes, own 2+ cars.   Then the middle-working-classes who have nice cars and homes but are in business or tech areas.  And then there are the masses, who have old vehicles or none at all and who live in very basic homes or units.

WHAT is the cost for someone coming to live in the Philippines...and... what are Your Choices?

1.  If you have never 'lived' in a developing nation before; it is unlikely you would accept 'living within local common means'; unless you can greatly humble your self and your expectations.  More accurately, it is not a question of 'health or safety' but of 'standard of living' comforts.

30,000 to 48,000 a month rent, gets you a high-rise Condo. 

For example, in Upper Carmen in CDO, 35,000 gives a 1br, 1 bath, kitchenette, good hot water shower, aircon in 2 rooms, presentable living room, parking space and tiny balcony.  Laundry still must be taken downstairs for a 'fee' of about 150-210 pesos per 'load' washed, dried and folded for you.  (don't expect starched shirts).   You pay water, electricity and gas.   Limited prox. to any 'variety' of shopping, so items purchased will cost you 70% above elsewhere in the city.

Disadvantages:  1.  you'll rub with the native snobs, and never be accepted by most of them.
                             2.  you'll be spending 3x more than you need to, to live safe with aircon.  A lose of roughly including more expensive utilities, rent and food/hygienic; 240,000 pesos a year above 'sensible locations'.  This equates to 2.4 million pesos or $ 46, 828.00 USD over-payment in 10 years.   Keep in mind, this same unit would 'sell' at about 4.4M pesos.  So in 10 years you've so overpaid for living in a semi-plush environment that you've 'lost or blown' 1/2 the price to own the place.
                             3.  You will never understand Filipino cultures, peoples or conditions.  And, you will rob yourself of some of the best life long friendships (without paying for it).
                             4. Depending on location, Community Rules may thwart your own way of living preferences.   

Advantages:    1.  you can find other expats and blow your life hanging out with them.  Enjoy clubs and a little 'tailored' outtings.
                      2.  you get to live as nice as you did in your home-country, maybe a little better. 
                      3.  you get to show friends photos of 'your proud home' ... fully furnished splendor.
                      4.  buildings/communities at this price often have pools, basketball etc.

2.  Now let's look at a similar Living Situation in the 10,000 to 18,000 pesos a month range:

First, it may be a 'gated' building right in the mix of local streets inner-city.   The building may look nice, and be patroled by security 24/7, but will be on a street that is 'clearly' middle and lower average economic classes of filipinos.

Example:  for 18,000 pesos there is a apartment home available right now, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, living room, modest kitchen, stairs, balcony.   It is 'partly furnished' with 2 beds, a table and chair set.   Air Conditioning (referred as Aircon by Filipinos) are in 2 bedrooms only.  The house is on a common street, but a gated building community and at the 'edge' of the main city.   You pay water and electricity.

This specific property is clearly 'more roomy'.  but keep in mind MOST bedrooms are between 10x10 ft or roughly 8-13sm.  Seldom will you find a bedroom in the opulant 15x15sf size. you are 'getting humbled to live closely near natives'.   This is where your humility and 'good humor' go the distance.   Complain less, be satisfied with what IS.

Disadvantages:     1.  As this one, water pressure can be a 'situation' occassionally.   I recommend you 'flush the toilet, run the shower and faucet' when you tour a place. 
                      2.  as with most non-snob and non-hotel apartment buildings.... power outages do occur.  This can often be for just a few minutes once every few days, to the occassional outage for hours.  this is NOT so often or such a huge 'ding' to your life.   Expensive condos, like most hotels, have generators that kick in.   For this example and like ones...  no.   just wait for power to be restored.
      3.  you will step outside your gate, and pluck yourself in the middle of common Filipino society.  With the challenging traffic (look both ways, and learn how to cross safely from locals).  Here..... I implore you to be 'Very patient, VERY VERY polite'.   don't shove, bump into people or force filipinos to step around you.... YOU are the visitor, not them...this is their home.... be a good diplomate as I am... gladly step aside and let them go by first.   NEVER fail to be kind.   ... (yes, snob expats who never associate closely with locals don't need this.... but you miss out on so much GOOD)
      4.  You are now living comfortably, safely.  But you will have to 'walk or travel' for things. 

Advantages:    1.  You have the chance to get to know 'the people' and their lives as you live it yourself.
      2.  this is where you may find 'great people NOT after a buck'.   They work VERY hard for what they earn.  You will understand their hospitals, fire departments, police, policies and practices.
     3.  from some churches to other situations, you will find opportunities to make 'friendships' with people and families.   Remember, family is better for most Filipinos than the USA...
     4.  you should be able to enjoy living at that 1000 USD a month range.

3.  The third example is only for people who are HUMBLE and Confident to live 'like locals'.   So what I'm going to share gives actual numbers and examples.

....  consider an apartment, small but partly furnished, in the 4,000 to 10,000 a month range.   

Example:  a current unit has 1br, 1 bath with cold shower, partly furnished with aircon in 1 room and a little kitchen with a frig.   This 5,000 a month unit available now requires 1st and last month rent.  It has steps, a gate.  The outside is 'plain and not fancy' to look at.  It is secure and located well within the city center in a non-flood area.   Water flow/pressure is good.   You pay water and electricity.

To compare with the first 2 examples:
Example 1:  35,000 a month, newly developed condo community with pool, etc. (you should own a car)  VERY limited access to shopping within walking distance 'variety'.   Pay more for all you buy.

Example 2:  18,000 a month, building in city center right next to common buildings (average or poor looking), gated and private/secure.   (no need for car...walk or jeepney everywhere)  Access to multiple shops and mini or large shopping centers.

This Example 3:  5,000 a month, building city center with gate.  Small furnished, but modest.  Often a unbecoming looking bulding outside, but clean and bug free inside.  Walking distance of just 5-10 minutes to many mini-markets, etc.

... with this 3rd example... I want to address 'COST FOR FOOD'.

Qualification:   Food safety is 'nearly the same' for poor tiny family eatery, as it is the fancy western upscale to content.   Often you pay for 'presentation and environment' for the same food a family living on 200USD a month eat!!!    I give 'first hand truth' in these regards:

We'll center on 'eating out'  (though cooking at home reduces costs by over 70%)

3 real-life examples:

FANCY:   the western and snob-hill type of USA or EU or upscale looking restaurant or Hotel facility.

MIDDLE:  the Filipino middle-class comfortable sit down or 'fast food western' restaurants.

GOOD:  the lowest costs, healthy food establishments, often 'tiny shops'.

Breakfast:   Drinking anything is a cost factor.   Having taken pre-med clinical nutrition, I offer breakfasts in 'similar carbs and nutritional' equating:

FANCY:  Cost from 180 to 350 pesos:   western style full breakfast, sometimes with coffee or juice.

MIDDLE:  110-180 pesos:  a porage, egg, meat with drink breakfast

GOOD:  2+30+28 = 60 pesos:  a fresh baked item, rice/meat dish, OJ   

..... summary: eat with locals in tiny family shops for 60...  same safe food and nutritional overall.
...  savings:  200 to 500% or .....   roughly:
       per month for breakfast:   
      FANCY:  7500 (250 ave daily)     MIDDLE:  4500 (150 ave daily)  vs.....   GOOD: 1800 (60 ave daily)

To me, ...  1800 pesos for 'good healthy breakfasts' that will carry me for 5 hours.. and pocketing the other 5,000+ pesos each month... is good living and good sense!  (this savings just for breakfast is similar to rent!)

... the numbers for lunch are similar.   As many people 'don't eat much breakfast'...   the lunch numbers are 'nearly identical' to eating out for breakfast.


As in multiple cultures dinner is 'key' for conversing with friends, and is often a 'longer meal time' together....   these estimates are based on actual numbers-specifics:

Meat, Vegetable, Grain-product, drink, fruit:    In truth, plan on 300 to 550 for a upscale full courses meal on average.

In the 350 to 450 range with a nice desert and sides.

Specific example:    chicken and vegetable sides with rice or noodles;  35 pesos  (actual price)
buy or order drink of juice, soda, bottled water or coffee.... 13-30 pesos depending on which.

While you do pay electricity or gas (gas cooking is faster and cheaper than electricity)....

The 'food stuffs' are far cheaper than eating out.   

RICE:   you can buy local or imported for just 28 to 53 per unit volume; high grade.
NOODLES:  depending on type, local produced best, safe and cost is very favorable.
VEGIES:   Street markets, but there are 'specifically set-aside' large buildings with a full compliment of these.. at a fraction of EU/US prices.  Fresh daily.
FRUIT:  Common to Asian fruits, Oranges, Apples, Bananas rule the street markets.   Great pricing.
Condiments:  this is where you 'find great buys' by shopping with the locals (in THIER stores) and NOT in the upscale malls or snob-markets.  Savings up to 240% at local family stores.
OIL:  of course healthy..  so depends on where.

...  all of this reflects a key truth...   be local, make 'healthy friendships'.... and stay OUT of the bars!

There ARE great filipino families who are great great friends, without a cent exchanged between you.  YES, it is a desperately poor nation, where USA corporations just won't come..they prefer to build thier factories in China, and more currently in Viet Nam.   

BUT.. I have seen smiles, heard laughter, and seen the most lovely husband-wife greetings and good-byes on the street....  of peoples living on 200 USD or so a month.....  and it is overall healthy, safe, and mostly 'debt free' which 90% of American's can't say... and their homes...  steel reinformced strong concrete ones.


this IS a issue... and I have 'first hand experience'.    I will 'add to this topic' actual numbers when I get them...

but... i lived in Asia 11 years in 90-100 temps F.     And, i found a smart and 'nice to look at' way to reduce electrical costs monthly for cooling:

Foam:   flex rubbery foam for floor (covered with linoleum over it) and 1in thick stiff foam tall sections for the walls.   (again, covered for appearance). 

My friends (expats) were spending, actual example, over 18 times more on electric cooling than I was in Guangzhou.

...when I find this product, and install it.... I will give 'actual numbers' per square meter... how to install, how to decorate.... and exact costs.... to 'foam' your bedroom.

as the bedroom is the key 'cooling room'...   

......   again... for your city in the Philippines... please give 'real life actual numbers accurately' for your examples on living costs per condo/apartment-flat/house rental, food, etc.

Thank you and GOD bless you with His health and prosperity as your souls prosper!


im an agent and living in the PH..

condo cost for rent for a studio unit in Makati around 25k for a 30 sqm unit..
and you can live here for 30k a month if your not spending much.. means you just eat at a usual store for masses like 60 pesos to 100 pesos per meal. or you just buy your own food and cook.. then you just ride a public transport like a jeepney.. for a first 4 kilometer youl be charge 8 pesos and suceeding km i think is 150 ... for a taxi it will cost you much...  about laundry.. just wash your own clothes using an automatic washing machine.. then i can give you some recommendation on where to hang out with less expenses... GOOd luck and Godbless


Very well said!

I am a new 67 year old man that has lived on Kauai, Hawaii since 1974. I recall being humbled very quickly and was raised to be respectful and try to keep my mouth closed because if I did not stay quiet sometimes my mouth would get in a place where my feet could not get me out of!

I was married to a local Filipino woman who was 19 and born and raised on Kauai. We had two children both grown and half caucasion and Filipino and GOD graced them both with their Momthers features and my big mouth. They live on Kauai and so do my grandchildren. Their Mother and I divorced 10 years ago and I am retired on USD Social Security. I can barely make it on that income there but 1,775.0 0 USD here has a bit more buying power. I do not drink or behave as a young surfer building contractor anymore. I have found a local Pinay loving woman aged 42 that lives and works in Cebu City. I am blessed. I love the people or the locals on Kauai, Hawaii, well most of them. I am realizing the culture is similar with Hawaii Filipino and Phillipine people, but if I am unassumming, polite, live and let live , and not talk to others appearing like an expecting arrogany Americano I most likely will enjoy my life here in Cebu City. If I remain teachable it forces me to listen, meaning I should not talk to much and it will keep my ego small (EGO a smart fellow taught me it means edging God out). On a funny note as a home builder I lived with my local Filipino wife and my mixed beautiful children at a golf resort,,,kinda uppity up if you will, ...well all the kids olayed at our house and the snobs , some of them, looked down theor snouts, but our family had fun and the children had a greatb time living there. I really enjoyed your suggestions and hopefully I can write and maybe ask for your input.

Warmest aloha!

Bob Bentley
Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
soon tolive after April 1, 2019 Cebu City!

Hi Bob,  Welcome on board  :)

This topic is a bit old, but thank you for this introduction.

Should you want some interaction, here is the direct link to the Cebu forum : you are most welcome to participate on recent threads.

All the best, :cheers:

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