Spending Wisely: Cost of Living in the Philippines

Philipines Road

Philipines RoadNow that you’ve decided that it’s the perfect time to buy and live in a condo in Manila, Philippines, it’s time to determine the actual cost of living in this country, so your expectations are guided. How far will your salary go if you are earning, let’s say, $1,000 (roughly Php50,000, depending on the current trade)? Will you live comfortably or not? Let’s find out.

Housing : 

Options for accommodations abound wherever you are in the country. You may always rent a condo unit, apartment or house. Foreigners are allowed to buy a condo unit for as long as 60% of the units are Filipino-owned. Nevertheless, your choice of housing will depend on several factors such as your length of stay and who you will be with.

Further along, the monthly rental cost will depend not just on the type of housing, but also on its location. A three-bedroom condo unit near or within a business district would cost around Php30,000 ($600) to Php70,000 ($1,400) while the same accommodation located on the outskirts may only cost between Php15,000 ($300) and Php25,000 (($500). That is if you’ll take your family or other loved ones with you.

Rental fees are lower for a one-bedroom unit where you may need to pay Php5,000 ($100) every month. You may even find condo units for rent for less than that amount.

You can rent a unit if you plan to stay in the country for a couple of years. But if your plan is to settle here for good, you might as well buy a condo unit. Again, your choices are endless—studio, loft, one bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom, penthouse, etc. These units are available for Php700,000 ($14,000) on the low end and Php8 million ($160,000) on the high-end categories.

Utilities :

Apparently, the housing costs should not be your greatest concern. What drives the cost of living here in the Philippines higher than what you might expect are the costs of utilities. Did you know that the country has one of the highest electricity rates in the Asian region? Yes, it can become a burden especially if you are big on gadgets.

Living in a studio unit, you may have to pay from Php2,000 ($40) to Php4,000 ($80) on electricity. Add up water and garbage disposal, and you may need to pay up to Php6,000 ($120). Other expenses you can expect are phone and cable charges, which may start from Php500 ($10) monthly. If you are a regular phone user including data usage, you may need to spend up to Php3,000 ($60) every month.


In Manila and elsewhere, it is rather difficult to nail an exact monthly grocery bill. An average grocery bill varies between Php6,000 ($120) to Php10,000 ($200) per month. Definitely, it makes sense to cook you own food rather than buy every meal.

Nonetheless, there are inexpensive restaurants, or what the locals call carinderias (eatery) serving home-cooked meals, that charge for less than Php100 ($2) per meal. International chains like McDonalds and Starbucks also abound especially the metropolis. If you are fond of street food, you’ll find a kiosk in almost every corner of the streets.


Getting around is also cheap. Riding a bus, jeepney, tricycle or taxi is the preferred mode of transportation, although you can always rent a car. The minimum budget for car rental is Php800 ($16) per day. Gasoline costs around Php40 ($.80) per liter.

You only need to pay Php7.00 ($.14) for a short jeepney ride. Tricycles operate within the particular vicinity, and a special trip would cost around Php40.00 ($.80). For longer rides, you must take a bus ride instead of the jeepney to save money. Be reminded that the fares on air-conditioned buses are 10 to 20% more expensive than that of ordinary buses. A cab is your closest ally if you want to be dropped off at the exact location.

For inter-island journeys, it is best to ride a ferryboat. If it’s not possible, ride a plane. Ticket fares are cheap for local travels, although you still need to check for availability. The Philippines is a tropical country, and storm and flood often strike some provinces.

Based on the above, $1,000 is enough to live a comfortable life in the Philippines. The best part, you need not skimp on experiencing a fun and good life because everything seems affordable —from housing to food to transportation!