Cost of Living in the Philippines? Readers Disclose it all! (Updated 3.17.19)

The inquiries about “How much does it cost to live in the Philippines never end. And the straight answer has become…  

It All Depends!

My wife and I were discussing this topic recently and she brought up a valid argument. If people are moving to the Philippines to lower their cost of living, do they not realize they can do the same thing back home? When I asked her to explain her rationale, she made a simple comparison – “If a guy comes to the Philippines to live, and he is willing to lower his quality of life to live on less money, why doesn’t he just stay in his own country, rent a single-wide mobile home for a few  hundred dollars a month, live simple without all the modern amenities (including air conditioning), and change his diet to rice and fish. It would be the same thing without all the noise!” she says.  And she would be mostly right (except for important things like transportation and insurance). And then you have to ask if you know of anyone willing to live in, say, the southern U.S. during the sultry summer months with only a fan? If not, then why the hell would they want to move to the Philippines and live under these same basic conditions? I didn’t care to extend her argument by saying “It’s the girls, silly!”

There has never been or will there ever be, a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of How much does it cost to live in the Philippines?  Why doesn’t everyone just agree that it can be done on any amount between $500 to $5,000 per month. Period. The interpretation would then rest with the person determining their own needs!

3-story apartment in Calbayog City, Samar

Just the other day, a fellow expat posted a short, one-paragraph description of his living situation and costs (posted below). I immediately thought this is the best answer anyone could give… the individualized “My Scenario!”  Then I thought why not ask current expats to do the same thing, and all the info could be added into a conglomerated post, in a testimonial format. That way a potential expat could browse through the different scenarios and find someone similar to what he perceives his situation to be. From being single to having a girlfriend or a wife and a couple of kids, he could find a similar apartment or house, desirable location, apply those standards-of-living and the associated costs presented by others, that would closely resemble the way he might see himself living. Bed? Or no bed! Fan or no fan? Aircon or no aircon? Fifteen family members or living alone? These would be ready-made scenarios that one could build their own matrix out of, getting them closer to the answer they’ve been searching for.

So if any readers are still with me at this point, and you would like to help out, please submit a written profile of your current living situation so I can aggregate them here into this blog.  NO PERSONAL identifying information is needed, only things like location (city or province), type and size of home or apartment, number in household, types of transportation used, aircons or fans, types of food/diet (eat out or cook at home), and any other typical costs that apply to your standard of living that might help someone understand what their future may or may not hold. Posted below is a great example submitted by fellow expat Ricky S.

Testimonials Wanted!

If you are interested in participating in this helpful project, please submit your written Cost of Living scenarios to this blog at the following email address: livinginthepacific@gmail.com

Remember, no personal identifying information other than first name and city is needed. If you want to submit photos, that is okay. Base currency used should be in USD (or pesos if you use another foreign currency). Results will be posted in this blog (and updated) as testimonials are received and compiled. Thanks in advance for your participation!

Testimonials –

Ricky S. – Ozamiz City, Mindanao

For people who inquire about he cost of living in the Philippines. It depends on so many variables. Variables such as are you single or married, have children or not, where you will reside and what lifestyle do you want or are willing to accept. I will share what my experience is currently. I am married with 3 small children and also have 5 other family members living with us at the moment. We live about 8km from Ozamis City on Mindanao. My electric bill for this month was about $80 and my water, $20. We own our small house which I paid a total of about $2000 back in 2011 for 4 walls standing on soil, spent another $5,000-$6,000 to complete, so I do not have a monthly expense for housing. I do have friends nearby that pay $200 monthly for their rent of a very nice 3 bedroom townhouse. we budget $500 month for food, and its largely Filipino food with American food mix in time to time. We have wi-fi at $60/mo., cell phone at $15/mo. That’s a total of less than $900/mo for the basic, if you consider the rate of rent I mentioned earlier. This rate is specific to this area, and varies greatly across the nation. You first have to figure for yourselves Where you want to live, and what the cost will run you in that specific area. My suggestion is to visit several locations, rent for 3 months or so to determine local cost and if it’s a place you enjoy and can afford. Chances are, you’ll end up in the place your significant other is from. Good luck to you, whomever you are and wherever you may settle. and give yourself at least a year for adjustment. This also varies, but if you can live here and adjust to all the challenges life here brings for a year, you will be fine. Ultimately, you and your partner, are the only ones who can determine where to live, how to live, and if you can live here.

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Chuck C. – Calbayog City, Samar

I sold almost everything and came to live in Calbayog City, Samar.  This is the extreme luxury version of living in the Philippines. We bought almost 2 hectares of land and built a luxury 3,500 sq. ft house for $90,000.  I feed 10 people nightly at my dinner table.  We don’t own a car.  Our electric bill is mitigated with a solar electric system.  We send our daughter to private school and also pay for all public school costs for our Yaya and her 3 siblings, and we give generous support to my wife’s mother, father and grandmother, which of course, is optional.  If you have prescription drugs, the price in PH will be 5-10% of the price in US.  This is our approximate monthly budget (in USD):

Home staples ……..  $333
Food  …………………    500 (10 people)
Electric   …………….     173
Phone  ……………….      67
Cable  ………………..        8
Beer  ………………….      58 (this is way too much, but I like Heineken)
Coffee  ……………….       12
Yaya ………………….    104
School   ………………     38
Kids  ………………….   250 (formula and diapers)
Family Philhealth  …..  7
Dog Food  …………..     48
Misc  ………………….    333
House Maint.   ……      96
Motorbikes (2) Gas     12
Travel   ………………   321
Visa  costs  ………….     19
Family support  …..   417
Fun  ……………………   417

TOTAL                    $3,213

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Jeff M. – Mati City, Mindanao

We live in Mati City, just east of Davao. My lady and I rent in a subdivision with no guards and we have a front yard. Our rent is P5,000 per month for a small cozy and solid home with one aircon in the bedroom.  We pay $40-$60 per month for electric and about $2-3 for  water.  We have cable TV, Globe Wi-Fi modem with extra power because we use google chromecast to stream to the TV including Netflix. We go out to eat couple times a month, and once a week to drink and sing. I own a good new motorbike that I paid off in 1 year. We will open a savings account soon and will be saving for a down-payment on a house in a better division for next year.  We live very comfortably on $1,550 a month.

 

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Sotirios Tsitsios – Bacolad City, Negros

Hi guys I thought I should share my basic expenses since I lived like a Filipino for two years and slowly returned back to the European lifestyle (does not include transportation, clothing, entertainment, etc.)

* Filipino Style –
Cooking with wood/ charcoal eating rice (no potatoes no pasta), fish, chicken (no beef or pork), veggies
Fan – no aircon, groceries from vendors and sari sari.
Rent: P4,000 (studio)
Electric + water: P1,000
Groceries: P8,000 (two people)
Eating out once a month: P1,000
* TOTAL P15,000 ($274 usd)/ month

* Western Style –
Pasta thrice a week, rice twice weekly, legumes and veggies the remaining days, combined with about 16kg per month of chicken, ground beef, pork, fish.
Rent: 2 BR house P7,500
Electric: P2,000 with aircon (8 hrs) and fan (12 hrs).
Water: P500
Cooking on gas stove P200
Groceries: (Robinson’s) P12,000 (western style incl pricey stuff like cheese, yogurt, herbs, cashew nuts, mayo, salad dressings, mustard, etc.
Eating out once a week: P3,000 p/month
* TOTAL P25,200 ($494 usd) p/month

So the range is 14k~24k – I hope that helped some expats.

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Troy G. – San Jose, San Fernando Pampanga.

Costs are for me, wife 2 kids, plus 2 grand kids.  
Costs are converted at P52/1 USD
Rent of temporary apt  $115.00
Electric                                 48.00    Average with aircon in bedroom, used mostly at night, and modern automatic washer.
Water                                   34.00
Water (drinking)               13.00
Internet                                71.00     Best connection available in our area.
Dish TV                                50.00    Bought by loads.
Cell phones                          75.00    2 of the kids and 1 parent
Phil health                           12.00    For 5 of us, Phil health just started covering non Filipino citizens provided you have an ACR card
Food                                  500.00    We/I being American tend to eat mostly American foods, family still prefers mostly Filipino diet
Food                                  240.00    Eating out 2-4 times weekly, lunches and some dinners, taking grand kids out
Entertainment                400.00    Includes cinema at least monthly, strolls to mall, Toms World and Sky Ranch Pampanga for kids
Kids schooling                240.00     Snack allowance for 4 kids, plus school projects
Support                            200.00     My wife is a widow with 4 grown kids, we help our 2 grown daughters families
Gas cooking                       26.00     Average 2 tanks per month
Transportation                 75.00     Mostly trikes, but occasionally jeepneys
Misc                                 200.00     Barangay fiesta, Christenings, weddings, Birthdays etc (Filipinos love to celebrate)
Clothing                          200.00     Growing kids, shoes and clothes wearing out, teenage girls who love Penn Shop and name brands
Total Mo. Budget   $2,234.00

We’re currently building a large new home, in a luxury gated community, with full amenities. We’ll have hot water and aircon throughout the house, with all new furniture, plus expansion of lanai area, new furniture for lanai and master bedroom balcony as well. Plus a brand new car when house is completed. I expect our monthly expenses will be closer to $3,500-$4,000 per month at that time.
 
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Mike Johnson – Albay Camalig, Brgy Salugan 

I live on my Social Security here pretty comfortably. I had a small amount of workman’s comp to start with that I purchased land and built the bigger portion of our house with, about $25K USD.

Monthly Bills:
Food                                        $500
Electric                                         50
Water                                            10
Gas for oven                                30
Internet 20/20mbps                 38
Home Impr./Construction    300
PhilHealth Insurance (free)
Fuel –
   Motorcycle/Generator          25
Entertainment                           50
Misc expenses                         200
Total  (current)               $1,203

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