Dumaguete Info Search

Cost of Living in the Philippines

Discussion in 'Expat Section' started by ilovedum, May 14, 2012.

  1. ilovedum

    ilovedum DI Junior Member

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    While this is probably one of the most commonly asked questions on moving to the Philippines it is also one of the easiest to answer. Some of the considerations are:

    How Many: Single, Couple or Family Where: City or Provincial Town

    Aside from influences such as a relationship, job, health needs, interests, etc. your budget is certainly a very important if not the major factor in where and how you live. There are many individuals living on less than $1,000 a month and some I hear living on $500 a month (personally never met anyone here doing this) while others live without any regard for budget. For the purpose of this article I will first focus on the actual expenses and costs people will encounter living in both urban and suburban areas. Second, I conducted a survey of people living in various areas and will show what their actual expenses are as they relayed them to me.

    Whether you are single, a couple or have a family there are basically three types of places expats tend to live. In a major city like Manila, in a Provincial City like Davao or Cebu or a Provincial Town or Small City like Dumaguete, Bacolod or Iloilo. Of course there are some that live in the middle of nowhere and mostly off the grid. We hear about these folks but rarely if ever see them (but they do exist). However, we won’t address that demographic for this study.

    After conducting the survey, I found there was not a tremendous deviation in expenses from one living area to another EXCEPT for Housing Costs and for those with children, a Private School Education.

    Housing Costs was a major expense variable and was especially relevant to those living in a city like Manila where rent can be at least two to three times as much as anywhere else. This impacted overall expenses by $1,000 - $3,000 plus. There are of course many expats that own their own housing so we will show that cost but, we will also show the rent they would be paying in the same building for the benefit of those that won’t be buying and only renting.

    For those families sending their children to International Private Schools in the Manila area would be shocked to learn that tuition averages $10,000 annually and can go up to $20,000 after all fees.


    Housing – This obviously depends on the kind and size of the place you will stay. Following is based on a central location close to Shopping, Schools and Hospitals.

    Place 1BR 2BR Small House (1 - 2 BR) Large House (4 BR)
    Major City $600 - $3,000 $1,000 - $3,000 $1,500 - $3,000 $4,000 - $10,000
    Provincial City $300 - $2,000 $500 - $1,000 $500 - $1,000 $1,000 – $2,000
    Provincial Town $200 average $300 average $400 - $600 $500 - $1,000

    Internet – Most of the providers are fairly competitive in pricing. Generally you will pay more for higher bandwidth but figure on spending for all carriers about $31 for up to 2mbps. $100 for up to 10mbps monthly

    Cable –Like Internet, provider pricing is competitive so for all the channels figure on about $25 monthly. There are specialty packages available that can push the pricing up

    Schools – $100 - $2,000 monthly for a Private School based on ten months when you factor in all fees. Following are Annual Tuitions for Pre-School through High School for some of the Best Schools in the Philippines. Most of these schools are non-sectarian. The Schools in the Provinces tend to be lowest in Tuition and Fees.
    School Location Tuition
    British Manila $6,390 – $16,697
    Chinese Manila $4,852 - $8,994
    Brent Manila $5,651 - $16,297
    Kings Manila $8,603 - $17,573
    Singapore Cebu $1,817 - $3,313
    Ateneo Davao $1,108 - $1,525

    Electricity – is very expensive in the Philippines. The price is a whopping .25 cents per KWh. Depending on residence size, monthly bills can range between $50 for a small apartment to well over $500 and higher for a larger house and that is by not using the Air Con 24/7 but only when at home and in occupied rooms. I made the mistake a little while back of running my air con most of the time (even when we were out) and found our bill was more than twice our $500 monthly house rental cost. Ouch!!!

    Manual Labor – Almost any skilled labor needs you may have (plumbing, electrical & carpentry) will run between $8 - $12 (plus materials) for the job assuming it can be done the same day. Anything longer will require some discussion.

    Help – This also depends on where you live (Major City versus Provincial Town) but will range as follows:

    Helper - $40 - $70
    Yaya (Nanny) - $40 - $85
    Driver - $100 - $300
    Gardener - $50 - $100

    Gasoline - $5.10 a gallon. Fortunately, in the Provincial Cities and Towns the distances are not that great and fuel consumption not that drastic. Remember most Expats are retired and use their vehicles mostly to go shopping, on trips or taking their children to school. Many opt for Public Transportation.

    Public Transportation
    Taxi - .95 Drop and .08 per km
    Jeepney - .19 Drop and .03 per km
    Pedicab - .16 per trip

    Dry Good Shopping – You will find clothing and shoe prices are very reasonable here, but electronics very expensive as most are imported and subject to high customs duties. LCD prices can be more than double than in the U.S.A. Cigarettes and Alcohol are very, very cheap.

    Movies – $2.35 - $3.55 Digital 3D - $6.00 - $7.10 Popcorn - $.95 - $2.13

    Building Construction – When it comes to building your own house figure on between $28sqf (low end) to $60sqf (high end) for construction. Therefore a very high quality 2000 sqf house will cost you about $120,000. These higher end or more expensive houses usually reflect better indoor fixtures and treatments i.e. tiles, cabinetry, lighting, windows, doors, bathroom fixtures, etc.

    Club Membership – Fitness - $20 - $40 Golf - $120

    Restaurant Food – For the most part I find restaurant food to be quite affordable in the Philippines. I know a number of guys that eat out 2-3x daily at good restaurants for less than $15. Most Full Dinners in quality restaurants (regardless of location) will run about $12.00. This includes an appetizer (soup or salad), the main entrée and a Drink. Entrees alone will cost about $5.00 to $8.00. A whole pizza for example is about $5.50. Meat or Chicken Entrée dishes were about the same. Soft Drinks $1.00.

    Sample Restaurant Prices

    Moon Café – Baby Back Ribs - $3.66
    Canvas – Cream Dory – $5.53
    Gustavian – Ceasar Salad – $2.84
    Gustavian – Beef Stroganoff – $7.81
    Pizzeria Michelangelo – Pizza Margarita -$5.90

    Home Food - Much of your expense will revolve around how much imported food you eat. If you sick to local foods it will save lots of money. For example a pound of Sushi quality Sword Fish or White Marlin is only $4.00 a pound. Boneless Chicken is $2.15 a pound. Vegetables are pretty anemic here but are fairly cheap and local fruits are very, very cheap and incredibly delicious. I recommend Mango, Papaya and Banana.

    Here is a sampling of Supermarket item pricing as of 5/12/2012 with the dollar exchange rate of 42.25p/$

    Item Quantity Price
    Apples - Fuji 1 lb. $1.42
    Beef - Ground 1 lb. $2.36
    Beer - Local Can .71
    Beer - Heiniken Bottle $1.37
    Bread - White Loaf $1.32
    Butter 8 oz. $3.26
    Cereal 12 oz. $3.79
    Cheese - Cheddar 8 oz. $4.73
    Cheese - Cream 8 oz. $3.10
    Chicken Boneless 1 lb. $2.15
    Chicken Breast 1 lb. $1.53
    Chicken Thigh 1 lb. $1.42
    Coffee - Folgers Bean 1 lb. $9.46
    Coca Cola 1.5 Quart $1.08
    Cream Cheese 8 oz. $3.10
    Eggs 12 $1.42
    Ice Cream - Local 1.5 Quart $5.08
    Ice Cream - Haagen-Dazs1 Pint $11.33
    Lettuce 1 lb. .95
    Marlin Filet 1 lb. $4.00
    Milk Fresh or Uht 1 Quart $1.60
    Mustard 8 oz. $2.72
    Olive Oil 1 Quart $11.57
    Onion 1 lb. $1.06
    Oranges 1 lb. $1.42
    Peanut Butter 16 oz. $3.78
    Pear 1 lb. $1.42
    Pepsi 1 Quart $1.08
    Pork - Chops 1 lb. $2.13
    Pork - Ground 1 lb. $1.89
    Ragu Spaghetti Sauce 26 oz. $2.17
    Red Grapes 1 lb. $2.83
    Rice 10.5 lb. $4.73
    Rum - 12yr. Old 700 ml. $2.95
    Spaghetti 1 lb. $1.60
    Steak 1 lb. $4.25
    Steak Sauce - A 1 15 oz. $5.72
    Sugar 1 lb. .55
    Swordfish - Filet 1 lb. $4.00
    Tomato 1 lb. .71
    Toothpaste lrge $2.13
    Tuna - Yellowfin Filet 1 lb. $2.60
    Tuna Fish - in Oil 6 oz. .73
    Water 1 Quart .55

    Survey of Actual Expats Living in the Philippines

    Single Man (in Dumaguete)

    Rent – $289 (furnished and includes cable, internet, electricity)
    Food – $402 (eating out 3x day at places like Moon Café)
    Gas – $29 (motorcycle)
    Cell Phone Load – $29
    Entertainment – $118 (your imagination)
    Misc. - $118 (medical, travel, etc.)

    $985 give or take

    Single Woman (in Makati)

    Owned - $165,000 (150 sqf 2 Bedroom Condo in Mid Range Makati Building)
    Condo Fee - $142
    Internet and Phone Landline –$24
    Electricity – $60
    Cable - $24
    Home Food - $237
    Helper - $85
    Transportation – $24
    Entertainment - $36
    Misc - $200 (medical, restaurant, cell, etc.)

    Rent - $700

    $832 (actual out-of-pocket expense give or take)
    $1,532 (with rent expense if no-condo ownership)

    Single Man (in Makati)

    Rent - $800 (Studio)
    Internet – $20
    Cable TV - $20
    Electricity – $100
    Home Food - $100
    Restaurant - $200
    Helper - $50
    Transportation – $100 (if you live near work and walk)
    Entertainment - $300 (dating, theater, events, etc.)
    Misc - $100 (wine, club memberships, etc.)

    $1,790 (actual out-of-pocket expense give or take)

    Couple (in Dumaguete)

    Owned - $142,000 (3500 sqf 5 Bedroom House on 2.5 acre lot)
    Electricity – $50
    Cable – $25
    Internet – $50
    House Food – $300
    Helper Food – $60
    Motorcycle Gas – $40
    His Spending – $200
    Her Spending – $200
    Helper – $40
    Gardener - $70
    Dining Out – $200
    Misc – $400 +/- (shopping, repairs, medical, travel, etc..)

    Rent – $950 (you can also find nice house to rent for less than half)

    $1,635 (actual out-of-pocket expense give or take)
    $2,585 (with rent expense if no-house ownership)

    Family of 4 (in Dumaguete)

    Rent – $473 (furnished 4 bedroom house plus helpers area)
    Electricity – $260
    Cable – $24
    Internet – $47
    House Food – $473
    Helper Food – $118
    Car Gas – $24
    Motorcycle Gas – $14
    Other Transportation – $36
    Daughter Pre-School – $83
    Son College – $76
    Son Spending – $71
    His Spending – $118
    Her Spending – $118
    Helper 1 – $36
    Helper 2 – $36
    Yaya – $47
    Dining Out – $118
    Misc – $237 +/- (laundry, clothing, load, medical, travel, etc..)

    $2,400 give or take

    Family of 3 (in Makati)

    Owned - $426,000 (2850 sqf 3 Bedroom Condo in High End Makati Building)
    Condo Fee - $675
    Electricity – $300
    Cable – $25
    Internet – $50
    House Food – $500
    Helper Food – $150
    Car Gas – $200
    Other Transportation – $30
    Daughter School – $1,150
    Husband Spending – $400
    Wife Spending – $200
    Helper 1 – $70
    Helper 2 – $70
    Driver - $150
    Dining Out – $400
    Misc – $1,500 +/- (clothing, golf club, medical, travel, etc..)

    Rent – $3,500

    $5,870 (actual out-of-pocket expense give or take)
    $8,770 (with rent expense if no-condo ownership)

    As high as the cost of living in parts of Manila (Makati and Fort Bonifacio) as reflected in my example of a family living there, it is still about 1/4 to 1/3 of what the same lifestyle would cost living in a Major U.S.A. City like New York. Still, the costs for a family living in Manila are high and it is important to note that many of the Expats living in Manila are retired executives and those currently working for companies with high net worth or incomes. On the surface it sure seems better to own in Manila (if you can afford it) than rent as renting increases monthly costs dramatically. I will certainly be interested to see what the actual expenses will be for my family once we move there next year. I anticipate (since we will own) that they will fall in the $3,500 - $4,000 range due to the added expense for our daughter’s school and the need for a driver.

    What I am seeing is a dramatic rise of expats making the move to the Provincial cities and towns where costs are more affordable. I would highly recommend this as well.

    In Conclusion: I have no doubts that some of you reading this may have differing experiences with the cost of living here. Of course we all have different priorities in our spending. It would be great if you could share yours as well. My overall conclusion based on my own experiences and with those of people I interviewed is: in the overall scheme of things it is far, far cheaper to live in the Philippines than in the States especially if you take advantage of the labor factor. In the Philippines you can have maids, nannies, chauffeurs, gardeners, masseuses and entertainment for a fraction of the cost in the U.S.A.

    Single Man/Woman - $1,000 - $2,000
    Couple - $1,200 - $3,200
    Family (4) - $2,000 - $10,000

    I hope this article and any follow-up comments will help those of you looking for answers about the cost of living in the Philippines. Thank you
  2. KTM

    KTM DI Senior Member

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    Most people know it's going to be cheaper than their own country, no matter what it costs to live, especially if their own country is 'Western'. Why would anyone come here, except for 'love'?
  3. OnMyWay

    OnMyWay DI Senior Member

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    Now you're onto something!
  4. firefly

    firefly DI Senior Member

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    This article should be taken with the necessary caution.
    For cable (Phil products)i pay 288 pesos/month (3,456 pesos a year) or 6,75 US $ / month compared to 25 in the article.
    And so are more figures in this article
  5. PatO

    PatO DI Forum Luminary Highly Rated Poster Showcase Reviewer Veteran Marines

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    Scorpion's "Lust or Love" playing in the background...
  6. garbonzo

    garbonzo DI Senior Member Veteran Marines

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    PatO...too right...Scorpions..one of the best bands on the planet - ever. Sadly they can't seem to find their way to Australia. It's the only band on my list that I haven't seen - sadly don't think it will ever happen considering they have done their 'last' tour. Def Leppard took a while...but crossed them off a few months ago....and it was worth the wait when they did a fantastic outdoor concert here in Perth. But I will say a good word for the Philippines...we love listening to their stations on the web - and we're both impressed they have the good sense to play a lot of the Scorpions rock icons.
    That said....I think the OP (ilovedum) did a pretty good job with the cost of living post at the top of the thread....better than most others I've seen and much more specific according to Manila vs province vs family circumstances. Well done! I think it will provide a more accurate planning tool than anything I've seen in the last year.....
  7. PatO

    PatO DI Forum Luminary Highly Rated Poster Showcase Reviewer Veteran Marines

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    Zo, your point on ilovedum's detail list should be helpful for folks wondering about the financial impact of moving here might be is a good one. As many members have posted, in addition to looking at the list, they should visit here and stay a while and see if it is a place they can adjust to, prior to a permanent move. As Firefly posted on another thread, many have come and gone.
    Re Scorpion, "Still Loving You" is one of my all time favorites.
  8. firefly

    firefly DI Senior Member

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    That's right Pat.
    Moving to another country is a big step, also to the Philippines.
    Cost of living is different for each individual and has to be experienced for some time to estimate.
    Some things are cheaper than "the West"others are more expensive.
    Building a house can be much cheaper than in other country's, but renting a comfortable house, well maintained by the owner (?) may be more expensive than abroad.
    Some food is cheaper,beef,fish,rice. Other food is more expensive, vegetables (potatoes and carrots) and for breadlovers, margarine, jam cheese, ham milk etc is more expensive than most Western country's
    And yes the sun is free.
  9. Knowdafish

    Knowdafish DI Forum Luminary

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