Cost of Living in the Philippines: A Complete Guide

cost of living in the philippines

Every one of us has wondered at some point, “what am I doing with my life?” At these times it’s only natural to think about making some radical changes. For some, thoughts have gone a little further. If you are seriously thinking about spending some time in the Philippines, this guide is here to help. 

The Philippines is a fantastic spot to pack your bags and head to for the trip of a lifetime, what with its pristine white beaches, lush jungle, large city cafes, and the greatest part of all… the low cost of living.

We are all aware that there is a great deal of planning that must go into relocating your life in this way. To save you time, we have done all the legwork for you. In this article we hope you will learn all you need to know about the Philippines, including where to live, obtaining a visa, enrolling in school, and, most importantly, how much money you’ll need to get by.

When Should You Consider Relocating to the Philippines?

The Philippines is a country known for its beautiful blue skies, thousands of enchanting islands, and warm and welcoming people. It has a tropical environment and is not yet swamped with tourists, making it a dream destination for many people. Major cities in the Philippines can be found inland, away from the coast. Since the advent of a more stable internet, many nomadic workers have found it attractive to permanently establish themselves in a city. The cost of living is inexpensive, there are few language obstacles, and there is a healthy balance between work and leisure. Since the majority of Filipinos are also proficient in English, travelling around and integrating into society is a breeze.

The Philippines is a great place for digital nomads to set up shop because it does not have a thriving economy or a large number of available jobs. The country’s immigration policies are among the most accommodating in the world, making it a leading contender for offshore startups. The infrastructure is inferior to that of developed nations. We’ll go over this in greater detail below, but for now, know that your access to reliable internet and power sources may be a major factor in whether or not your relocation is feasible. 

The Cost of Living in the Philippines

This is a summary of some major costs:

  • The cost of living in the Philippines can range from $600 to $2,000 per month, but a frugal traveller can get by on $1000 to $1400 per month.
  • The Philippines boasts magnificent countryside, jungles, Mountains, Surfing, safaris, beaches, and more, plus it is 8 times cheaper than New York City, United States. In The Philippines, you can do or see just about anything.  It is possible to live comfortably on less than $1,500 per month, and even less than $600 per month if you are willing to make some serious sacrifices, as we shall explain further on in this article. Depending on how much money you have to spend each month and how you spend it, your options for housing, food, and transportation in the Philippines will be different.
  • For the same quality of life that $9,500.00 would buy in New York City, you would require roughly $2,000 (110,980.00 PHP) in the Philippines.
  • The Philippines have a significantly cheaper cost of living than the United States, by an average of 81%.
  • Rent in the Philippines is, on average, 81% cheaper than in New York City.
  • Depending on your financial situation and how much you spend each month, the fees could be anywhere from $600 to $2,000 or more.
  • Depending on your region and income, a monthly food and grocery budget of $200-$400 is reasonable.
  • An average monthly budget for a household of four is $2000.
  • The typical monthly budget for a single person is between $800 and $1500.
  • Budget between $100 and $200 each month for travel expenses.
  • If you want to live like a local in the Philippines, you should budget at least $300 per month. Life in the Philippines will cost ex-pats and digital nomads an extra $1000 to $1500 a month to maintain their current standard of living.
  • One great way to cut costs in the Philippines is to sample the delicious regional cuisine. If you’re going to be residing in The Philippines, you should make an effort to shop at local markets and grocery stores. That’s a fantastic way to cut costs.

The Philippine Rental Market

The cost of lodging is universal, eating up a disproportionate share of vacation funds wherever you go. While prices here will almost always be lower than at home, they may be more than in other Southeast Asian nations. If you are on a strict budget, saving money on where you stay is a top priority. Rent in the trendy neighbourhood of Makati, for instance, will run you about $700.00 USD per month, but the cost of a private room in a shared house will be more than half that amount. Cebu City is a great option if you value alone living because it is both a smaller city and close to some beautiful beaches.

There are other factors to think about. When you move, will you be bringing anyone with you, such as a spouse or kids? Will you accept living with complete strangers? This will provide you with an accurate picture of your financial situation and the choices you might need to make. You can figure out where you want to make your permanent home by splitting your initial stay between several different cities. Get a sense for the city and its offerings by staying in a budget hostel or b&b in the Philippines. If you’re having trouble finding a place to stay in the Philippines on Airbnb, you might want to try looking on Facebook instead.

Price range: $300 for a private room in Makati; $700 for a private apartment in Manila; $1,000 for a private villa in El Nido

Transport Costs In the Philippines 

Not being able to easily get around is a major drawback of living in the Philippines. Even though they have buses that can take you practically anywhere in the cities, the traffic is terrible. If you aren’t efficient with your time, a journey that should take 15 minutes could take you two hours. In order to avoid the congestion of major cities, many people choose to concentrate their lives in a tiny radius. There are a couple of ways to get around if you really have to. Make sure the meter isn’t running in a white taxi cab before getting in to prevent being overcharged.

Hailing a motorbike taxi or one of the iconic tricycles is the best way to navigate busy streets. You can save a lot of money compared to taking a taxi while still arriving at your location quickly.

There is only one railroad in the Philippines, however, it consists of three lines and covers 77 kilometres. If you need to go in and out of Manila, this is a wonderful option, albeit lines can get very long during rush hour. The cost of a monthly Metro pass is $40, while a taxi ride from the Manila airport into the city centre is $4, and renting a scooter for the day costs $6.

Food and beverages 

Food prices are just as surprising. In order to save money on food, you should shop in “wet markets,” where most Filipinos do. Most of the finest deals can be found here, however, be aware that the cleanliness may not be up to Western standards. If you eat just regional foods, you can keep your monthly food budget around $100 (plenty of rice, pork, and fish). It might cost more than $10,000 a year to eat well in the city.

Here is an image of the Filipino dish balut. After being boiled, balut can be eaten right out of the shell. It is a common and inexpensive street food in the Philippines. For example, if your daily food budget is $10, you can afford to eat at McDonald’s for all three meals of the day (if you wish). Local eateries aren’t exactly inexpensive, but you can have an appetizer for $3, a main course for $5, and a chilled bottle of beer for less than $2. In the metropolis, a month’s worth of food can cost anything from $200 to $300.

There are health risks associated with ingesting tap water in the Philippines. The natives may be drinking from the tap, but you shouldn’t follow their example. It’s filthy and probably will make you sick. You should either invest in a water filter or learn how to properly boil water if you don’t have access to clean water. There is no shortage of bars or booze stores in the Philippines. Alcohol is sure to be drank at every party, whether it’s a birthday, a promotion, or just a day at the beach. Gin production in the Philippines is massive, making it the largest gin market in the world.

In the Philippines, a bottle of alcohol costs around the same as other consumer goods. Most of the most popular alcoholic drinks cost approximately $1, with speciality cocktails costing around $5. 

Education costs in Philippines 

Inadequate financing and supplies have led to subpar results in the Philippines’ public school system. They use the American curriculum and English as their primary language. Even if you are able to communicate, you may find that your level of education is lower than you are accustomed to. Quite a few international parents are considering alternatives for their children. There are several private schools in the country, but enrollment is competitive and class sizes are tiny. Families in the area with sufficient disposable income to send their children to private schools are their primary target market.

International school is the most popular choice for foreigners. In Manila, you can choose from a few different institutions that offer programs in either the American, British, or Chinese educational systems. Your child will have an easier time adjusting to life in a foreign nation because the curriculum and school calendar will be similar to those back home. In addition to being the most costly option, applying to an international school typically necessitates an in-person interview. I think it’s important to start communicating with educational institutions as soon as feasible.

Homeschooling is an option if you wish to move your family to a remote island and raise your children away from the madding crowd. In recent years, an increasing number of foreign families have opted for this lifestyle, spawning homeschooling communities in tourist hotspots. Many schools provide day tours if you’re still weighing your child’s educational options. You should give your children some time to get to know the school and decide which setting will be most beneficial for them. International school tuition and fees in the Philippines range from $12,000 to $18,000 per year.

Visas to the Philippines.

The Philippines has an easy entry procedure. Visa-exempt nationals should merely show proof of an onward or return flight within 30 days, in addition to having a confirmed hotel reservation. You can then determine if the Philippines is the right place for you to settle down permanently and, if so, where you’d like to call home. Foreigners who seek to prolong their stay in the Philippines can choose from a number of different visa options. Many digital nomads who plan to stay longer than 30 days do so by applying for an extension of their visa at the airport’s immigration desk. Unless you want to make a second journey to the airport, you’ll need to pay $60 as soon as you land. The long-term stay visa is the best choice if you are concerned about expenditures and don’t know how long you will be staying. You can stay in the nation for six months without having to pay another $200 for a renewal visa.

Banking in the Philippines

Multiple financial institutions are available to Filipinos. Many of the world’s most recognizable financial institutions have branches in the country. Earnings from anywhere in the world can be placed, withdrawn, and sent to another account with no effort. You could also be able to create an account at a local institution like the Philippine National Bank, Metrobank, or the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

A deposit, government-issued photo identification, and proof that you will be staying in the country for longer than 59 days are all required to open an account. Different financial institutions have varying criteria. Even if you can’t decide if you need a Philippine bank account or not, you shouldn’t let that stop you from getting one. You can visit any of the several international banks and branches located across the islands to use your home bank’s services. Efforts are being undertaken to increase the nationwide adoption of debit and credit cards in the wake of the pandemic. However, you may find a range of travel banking cards, and the vast majority of them let you withdraw a certain amount of money from ATMs every day without any fees. The monthly withdrawal limit for the Transferwise, Revolut, and Monzo cards is around $600, and there are no monthly spending limits.

Taxes in the Philippines

The Philippines has a progressive tax system that applies to everyone who files. Those who have spent more than 180 days in the Philippines are considered residents and are subject to a tax rate that factors in both their domestic and international income. A non-resident of the Philippines will still be taxed according to the same scale, but solely on their Philippine-earned income.

In order to ensure that you are paying the appropriate amount of tax and are in compliance with local regulations, it is recommended that you speak with a tax expert. The tax filing rules of both countries where you have residency should be investigated if you have dual residency.

Prices of medical treatment in the Philippines

Everyone in the Philippines gets free and unrestricted access to high-quality medical care, with no out-of-pocket costs. Significant advancements have been made in medical care throughout the course of the last quarter of a century. Getting to a hospital that has trained professionals on staff shouldn’t be too tough if you’re in a location where one is available. The significant majority of the medical staff at this facility hold postgraduate degrees, many of which were gained from highly regarded educational institutions, and are also fluent in English.

In spite of the existence of a large number of hospitals, the majority of them are privately owned and operated. This means that uninsured people who walk into a hospital unannounced for treatment may be subject to excessive prices and lengthy wait times. Private healthcare that is available at reasonable prices is a significant advantage in comparison to that of the West. The annual cost of coverage for many policies that ensure prompt medical attention at any hospital can be had for less than fifty dollars.

People from all over the world are travelling to the Philippines to receive medical treatment. The quality of medical care in the Philippines is comparable to that which is offered in the United States, yet it only costs one-tenth as much. The Philippines is home to a large number of high-quality medical facilities that are available at affordable prices. With a good number of medical professionals have received their education from some of the best hospitals in the world, including those in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia. You should do some research to find out which hospitals in the Philippines are considered the finest at treating patients from other countries.

From what we can determine, SafetyWing is the international health insurance choice that offers the widest range of coverage at prices that are affordable. We make a payment toward our travel insurance on the first of every month to ensure that we are covered no matter where our travels may take us. Everything is taken care of in terms of one’s health and attending to their medical needs.

If you intend to work and live in the Philippines as a digital nomad or as an expat, you really should have one. When we go to other countries, insurance ensures that we have access to quality medical care and gives you peace of mind. 

Utilities (MONTHLY)

The prices of utilities in the Philippines are significantly more than what anyone ought to be required to pay. Lighting, charging electronics, television, and hot water are all included in the around $100 monthly fee for utilities in a studio apartment that is 85 square meters in size. The amount of your monthly water bill will be approximately $5 on average. The cost of water is very reasonable, ranging from $3 to $15 on a monthly basis on average. The majority of the expense is typically accounted for by the cost of utilities such as internet and electricity. The price of electricity can vary widely depending on a number of factors. Prices begin at $25 per month and go up to more than $200 per month. The intricacy provided by the many factors that determine the final bill makes it infamously difficult to estimate the cost of one’s utility bills.

No matter what, the cheapest apartment you can find in this location will cost you at least $85 per month to rent. It’s possible that getting online will set you back anywhere from 599 to 2500 pesos, or even more than that. The average monthly cost for internet service is approximately $30. (or 1500 pesos). It is possible to spend as much as $630 every single month on things like mobile phone fees and utility bills combined. This, of course, takes into account the most up-to-date figures and prices that are accessible. There is a chance that the actual prices you incur will differ from the estimates given to you because of factors such as the nature of the service you require and your location.


Cinemas, theatres, and other entertainment venues abound in Philippine urban areas, and a ticket to a movie in a cinema will cost you about $5. Like in much of the world, spending money on physical activities is on the rise. A membership to a health club or gym can set you back about $34 per month.


Cities like Manila are filled to the brim with enormous shopping complexes just waiting to be explored. You can do a lot of shopping there for relatively little money. Levi’s pants, for instance, cost about $40, while a pair of running shoes from Nike or another major brand will set you back about $70. Shirts and summer skirts, which are lighter, cost about $25.


Sure, eating out is more expensive than making your own food at home, but Filipino cuisine is delicious and surprisingly affordable. There are many pricey fine dining establishments, but you can also get a decent meal for two at a moderately priced restaurant for under twenty-two dollars.


Home cooking is definitely 40-50% less expensive than eating out. You can indulge at Robinsons or any of the various supermarkets if you have $500 every month. There are also sari-sari stores (variety stores) in the area where you may buy things in smaller packaging, as well as little bakeries selling affordable bread. 

How Much Does It Cost To Do Laundry In The Philippines? 

Laundry expenses are one area of spending that often gets overlooked. Laundry service for ex-pats can be outsourced for a relatively low cost in many circumstances.

One may find a variety of laundry services that will wash, iron, and fold a small laundry bag for less than $15 in the most significant cities in the Philippines. Yet, the expense of a suit and matching accessories can quickly escalate.


Many visitors from other countries may view the pricing at hotels and shops in the Philippines as reasonable when compared to their home countries. However, this is so because these businesses strictly cater to Western customers. Most Filipinos probably can’t afford them. However, a wide range of alternatives will be available to you. Rates start at PHP 500 ($10) per night. Hotels like the BADLADZ Beach & Dive Resort may be found for as little as $39 to $76 per night (PHP1900 to PHP3600). Hotel rooms, meals, and shopping trips at chain malls like Ayala and SM are all also very reasonable alternatives. 

Hidden Cost of Living in the Philippines

Though most costs in the Philippines can be anticipated, you will also want to be prepared for any emergencies that may arise. Let’s talk about how to handle the unexpected in the best way possible.

Moving to a country with a cheaper cost of living will cut monthly outlays. There is no need for us to cut back on our extracurricular activities now that you are lowering your monthly rent payment. To guarantee your financial stability, it’s a good idea to set away money in a savings account for emergencies. If you have immediate family that needs you to return home, you may have to spend a lot of money on a flight. It’s much more so if your own country is on another continent. Having a savings account set aside for a plane ticket home can help relieve some of the stress.

Ideally, your emergency fund should cover at least two plane tickets back home and three months’ worth of rent.

The average salary in the Philippines 

The average salary a Filipino may expect to make varies widely depending on factors including the type of work they do, their level of experience, and their education. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the average monthly salary in the Philippines was close to $700 USD as of January 2019. (PSA). There is a significant disparity between the average pay in Manila and the rest of the Philippines. Between Php 40,000 to Php 45,000 is a reasonable estimate for the median salary in the NCR.

The Philippines has a number of high-paying businesses, including information technology (IT), banking, and healthcare, although entering these fields typically requires extensive training and education. For instance, a software engineer’s monthly compensation in the IT sector typically falls in the region of Php 70,000 to Php 100,000. Conversely, minimum wage employees receive between Php 365 and Php 410 per day, or Php 9,000 and Php 10,000 per month.

The median wage in the Philippines is highly influenced by an employee’s degree of education. As a general rule, a bachelor’s degree is correlated with a higher wage than a high school diploma or less. Earning a master’s degree or above typically results in a salary boost. One of the most important factors in establishing a salary in the Philippines is one’s level of experience. Wages at the entry-level are typically lower than those at higher levels for the same employer.

We hope this guide to the cost of living in the Philippines has answered all the questions you might have. We wish you the best of luck in your travels. 

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