It’s been quite a while since I have published an article on the cost of living in the Philippines. I’m sure this lease many readers, but to a lot of you out there this is always an ongoing top issue.
Recently I came across and excellent article by another expat, also living in the Manila area, with up-to-date cost of living figures.
I recommend you go and read the whole article, it’s quite informative and illuminating. Living in the Philippines – Cost of living
Where’s the Beef?
But here’s the “meat” of the article with my comments, clarifications and random thoughts:
To be real, your living expenses will depend on your tastes and your tastes will change this list, but it can be a good base point for those who need a cheapest scenario.
This is the best part of the whole list. I continually get queries from people centered around the idea that there is some sort of standard “cost of living” for the Philippines. News flash. There is not, especially for foreigners.
I’ve mentioned this before and it certainly bears repeating … I could take any say three readers, desperately seeking an answer regarding the “Cost of Living” question, place them in three identical rental houses right on my own street, and record all their expenses. At the end of a month or two I absolutely guarantee that each of them would have spent significantly different amounts, and the amount my wife and I were spending would also be different as well.
How much you will spend depends way more upon YOU than it does upon any mythical “cost of living” statistic.
Things Don’t Change Here As Fast As You Think
Years ago I published some articles regarding living in the Philippines on $770 USD per month. (you certainly can if you want to). Today I often get comments from people basically asking me to update the article because the “costs are so out of date”.
Funny thing is, those costs are not so out of date at all. Here are some current costs,as reported by an “independent third party” expat living in the Manila Metro area. Please note his current bottom line:
- Apartment – 10,000 to 15,000php (Manila is expensive to rent in)
- Family allowance – 3,000.00php (It’s a Pinoy practice to help your family when needed.)
- Groceries – 5,000php
- Internet – 1,500php (needed for my work)
- Electric- 1,300php
- Water – 120php
- Transportation – 3,000php
- Misc Visa, etc. – 2,500php
The grand total of this figure is 31,420php or $735.15USD.
In 2013, $770 USD/Month is Still Possible
See what I mean? Nearly 8 years after the “Live on $770 USD per month” articles which many people feel are worthless today because they are too “outdated”, here’s another expat/Phil/Am couple living on actually less than $770 USD per month.
A few comments on the quoted figures here.
Rents in my area (Marilao, Bulacan, a few miles north of the Metro Manila border, are less than inside the city. P7,000 was what I was paying when I first moved here, 7 years ago. A few weeks ago a neighbor rented a three-bedroom, one bath home nearby while he had his souse across the street from me rebuilt … needed to move out for the extensive work being done refurbishing and rebuilding his current home. The rent? P7,000, same as it was 8 years ago in this area.
As an expat, and with a dual citizen wife who has live din the UD for years, and thus has a lot of “US Tastes”, I’d say we pay closer to P8000 or P9000 for food per month. It’s not an exact science, because we buy from several different supermarkets, from the local wet market and from several “ambulant vendors” (peddlers with push carts) who come by regularly. I don’t have a bookkeeper on staff to total up the expenses.
We have two 1 horsepower air conditioners and one of them is running, on average, 24 hours a day .. the bedroom air conditioner at night, the computer room air con during the day. Our e3lectric bill averages much closer to P4300 than P1300. But electric costs vary greatly from house to hose depending mainly upon air conditioner use.
We have two expenses for water. Our regular household supply for things like bathroom use, clothes washing and such comes from our home owner’s association’s own deep water well and water main system. This typically runs P700 or so per month. For drinking, making coffee and such.
We use 5 gallon jugs of filtered ware from a local supplier … P25 per jug, delivered. About 10 jugs per month, so our water here in Marilao is a good few pesos more per month than our sample above.
However, again, water costs will vary widely depending on where you live, who the supplier is, how many mouths doing the drinking and what you decide to buy.
We have a car (which is absolutely not necessary, but we bought it and drive it b preference. I probably average P3000 a month when you add fuel, maintenance costs, car washes, tolls and such. Certainly more if we go on trips often, virtually nothing if the car just sits.
Using tricycles and jeepneys, we would have to go to the store and such a LOT of times per to come up with P3,000 a month … again, transportation is very dependent on where you live and what your travel patterns are.
So, Live In The Philippines On $770 USD Per Month?
For me, in my circumstances and with my life style? Probably not. Probably closer to $1200 USD per month. But could my wife and I live here, right outside Metro Manila for $770 USD per month? Absolutely, even at 2013 prices. Cost of living can always be cheaper here in the Philippines than in the USA … as long as you are willing to make it so.
I’ve said often and will say it again, “Cost of Living” in the Philippines is the least of your worries regarding the possibility of living here successfully. You can live very cheaply, if that is what you want.