Cost of Living In The Philippines

So what is the cost of living in the Philippines?  The question I get most often is something like “I make less than $1000USD per month.  Is that enough to live comfortably in the Philippines?”  I wish I could answer that question for you but I can’t.  Not in a word.  I can help you though.

Yes, it is enough to live here on $1000 a month.  Comfortably live in the Philippines for $1000 a month! Its up to your definition of comfortable.  I know people that do it for half that.

Expats Living In The Philippinens

Some Expats that Live in Cebu

Their idea of comfortable is different from my own though.  I couldn’t do it.  I could live here on less than I live on in the USA though.  That’s the number one reason I’m here.

Most Filipino earn less than $1000 dollars a month.  Most make much less.  Perhaps that’s why the kids are often asking me to give them one million dollars.  :)

Now I’m living on a good deal more than $1000 a month.  Some things I gave up include a car, centralized hot water (hot water at all for a while), Nestle’s Quick, American cable TV (can get it over the net for about $250 a month), and central air conditioning.  That’s only a few.  There are others.  No Walmart, no going to the pharmacy at 3am.  If you don’t live in a large city, forget going to the theater on a whim.  I have to ride a bus 80 miles to get there.  I have to go that far for a cigar but wow, the cigar I get is awesome!  If you live in Cebu City, you will do without less but you’ll pay more for everything.

The question I get most often is something like “I make less than $1000USD per month. Is that enough to live comfortably in the Philippines?”

Some of things you give up will be a little difficult at first.  I suggest you look around though and see how much the Filipino needs to live on.  Do you really need all these things?  No, you don’t and will likely miss them much less within three months.

I can’t imagine finding a retired military man finding it hard to get by with little income.  At least my perception of them.  It sure beats being shot at in some desert.

You need to come visit before you abandon everything from home.  You need an exit plan.  If you hate it, can you get out?  You need to have the means to go back to your home country.  If you don’t have the means, have a backup plan so that you can obtain those funds.  That is cut back on your cost of living so that You’ll have the funds within say 30 days.   You can usually get back to the West Coast of the USA for less than $600.

I could live here on less than I live on in the USA though.

When I came, I had a return ticket but it was refundable.  So I canceled and got my refund.  For many visitors, you’ll need an onward ticket when you arrive.  You can get one to Thailand if you need too save money.

Generally,  it will cost more to live in Luzon, the main island and less to live in Mindanao.  Please keep in mind, I said generally.  I write about Cebu because that is what I know.  You’ll have a more Americanized lifestyle in many parts of Luzon.  You’ll have a more Filipino lifestyle in Cebu and even more so, in Mindanao.

Living In Cebu:  Example Cost

There are so many factors, other than cost, that will determine if you can be comfortable in the Philippines.  You’re going to have to come and see of yourself.  I’ll list some of my expenses and compare them to what they were in the USA.  That will help you:

Item Philippines USA Notes
Housing $280.00 $1100 My home here is much bigger than in USA.
Electricity $200 $200 Cost has been rising lately. They say per Kwh it is more here. I am not going to take the time to figure that out. I will be cool. Pay it and move on.
Medication $200 $1500 Brands name medications are about the same price. Sometimes a little more.  Sometimes I can’t get them at all and had to use a generic they had here instead. For most meds, you don’t need to see the doctor for an Rx.
Night Out $20 $200 $20 if I take friends AND go to the disco.  $5.oo Just my girl and I.
Bus Trip To Cebu $2.50 n/a
Hotel Room in Cebu $15.00 n/a
Two Live In Maids $70.00 forget about it!  Will cost more in Cebu City and a lot more in Manila. Twice as much in Cebu City too.

It is important to remember, the value of you dollar will fluctuate.  I’ve seen it as low as 39P to $1 ($39 to 1Peso) and that made things very tight for me.  I’ve seen it as high as 50P to $1 ($50 to 1P thanks Kevin) since I’ve been here.  I was able to take more trips around the country when it was there.

Learn More About The Cost Of Living In The Philippines

I write quite a lot about the cost of living in my eBook The Basic Expat Training Manual. It includes my actual budget and a lot more.

I hope this provides a little assistance with understanding what it cost to live here.  Some apprehension about moving here is normal.  For most people, it stops them from actually coming.

One thing I’m certain of, the cost of living in the Philippines can and should be much less than that of living in the West.

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Filed under: Expat Finances

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