There are a lot of reasons to visit the Philippines.
It could be the hundreds of majestic beaches that surround the country. It could be the colorful festivals from different provinces.
It could be the fun, generous, and hospitable locals wherever you visit. Or, it could be the cheap and inexpensive cost of living, even when you stay in its biggest cities.
Any foreigner who has visited the Philippines would swear by this–the Philippines is one of the cheapest countries to live in. It’s got the cheapest accommodations, cheapest foods, cheapest cars, and cheapest liquor.
That’s why a lot of foreigners decide to stay in the Philippines, whether it’s to retire or for a vacation. Whatever your reason may be to visit the country, you’ll surely find its inexpensive living costs a delight and a reason to come back again and again.
In this article, we’ll tackle the cost of living in the Philippines and some tips to save money while in the country.
City living vs Provincial living
The Philippines is a developing country, and you’ll notice how there are a lot of cities amidst small towns and provinces. You might also notice the difference in price ranges when you’re in the city compared to when you’re in the province. To wit, city living is usually more expensive than provincial living. This is reflected in wages, lodgings, gas prices, and even basic utilities.
Condominiums, Apartments, and Hotels
As per Philippine Law, foreigners are prohibited to own land in the Philippines. Not to worry, though! Foreigners can still purchase condominium units, and townhouses, or rent apartments and other lodgings.
Cost in big cities (BGC, Metro Manila, QC, Angeles)
Bedroom condominium units in the city cost around Php 19,500.00 ($353.00) per month, while 3-bedroom units usually cost Php 44,000 ($796.39). Apartment units, on the other hand, tend to cost less than condominium units.
Cost in provinces (Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal)
Bedroom condominium units outside the city usually cost around Php 10,500.00 ($181.09), while 3-bedroom units cost around Php 22,500.00 ($407.46).
If you’re planning to go on a staycation at a hotel, you’ll find loads of luxury hotels around the country’s biggest cities. To wit, mid-range hotels cost around Php 7,000.00 ($126.73) per night, while luxury hotels usually charge Php 15,000.00 ($271.57) per night. Costs may differ, depending on location, the room you’ll be staying in, and other factors.
Fast Food and Restaurants
Let’s be honest–who doesn’t love eating? I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t enjoy food adventures or hanging out with friends (with the company of food, of course!).
What’s even better is that food in the Philippines is generally cheaper than anywhere else. Yes, including internationally known fast food chains.
For starters, a regular budget meal from McDonald’s costs Php 167.00 ($3.02), while a regular Whopper meal from Burger King costs Php 189.00 ($3.42). The cost of combo meals from other fast food chains falls in the same range as the ones mentioned above.
On the other hand, a meal for two from a mid-range restaurant usually costs around Php 1500.00 ($27.16). For high-end restaurants, a single dish may range from Php 600.00 ($10.86) to Php 1000.00 ($18.11).
If you’re someone who loves going out and getting beer with your friends or just someone who loves having their wine bar stocked, you’ll love being in the Philippines a little more! A mid-range bottle of wine costs Php 715.00 ($12.94), while a glass of cocktail is priced at around Php 320.00 ($5.79).
If you’re planning to shop for clothes in the Philippines, you’re in luck! Fashion brands are about $5.00 to $10.00 cheaper in the country than in other places.
For starters, a pair of Levi jeans cost around Php 2,000.00 ($36.21) to Php 4,000.00 ($72.42), and a pair of shoes from Nike costs around Php 4,000.00 ($72.42), while a dress from Zara costs around Php 2,945.00 ($53.32).
If you want to save money, there are a lot of local brands you might want to try. You can also get very cheap, but quality clothes from thrift shops and tiangge/bazaar shops.
There are a lot of internet service providers internet users can choose from. Some providers offer unlimited internet access, while some offer cable TV on top of their monthly plans. The average monthly cost for internet plans is around Php 2,500.00 or $45.25.
Water and Electricity
An average utility bill in the Philippines cost around Php 3,500.00 ($63.35) to Php 5,000.00 ($90.51), depending on how often you use your appliances.
Just like any other item in this article, groceries are also a whole lot cheaper in the Philippines than in the UK or the US. To create a more solid comparison, a carton of milk costs around Php 89.00 ($1.61), a kilo of pork meat costs around Php 380.00 ($6.88), while a 1.5L bottle of soda costs Php 72.00 ($1.30). Fruits and vegetables are also cheaper in the Philippines, especially if you buy them from local markets and not from big supermarkets.
As of writing, the current minimum jeepney fare in the Philippines is Php 11.00 for the first 4km. Students, senior citizens, and PWDs are entitled to a 20% discount.
The base fare for ordinary provincial buses is Php 11.00 and Php 13.00 (for air-conditioned buses). The base fare for city buses costs around Php 13.00 to Php 15.00 for the first 4km.
The average flag-down rates for tricycles are around Php 15.00 to Php 25.00, depending on where you are and how many passengers will ride the tricycle. Some places charge more than some provinces, so make sure to ask the locals first before riding a tricycle.
Taxi cabs are available in almost any city in the Philippines. Flag-down prices, however, depending on where you are. For starters, there is a Php 40.00 flag-down rate for taxi cabs roaming around Metro Manila. For places outside NCR, the flag-down rate is Php 35.00.
There are transportation applications commuters can use when they don’t feel like using public transportation. Grab has a base fare of Php 40.00 to Php 60.00, depending on what type of car you’ve booked. Commuters can also hire motorcycles through applications like Angkas and Joyride.
Tips to Save Money
Buy in bulk.
When buying groceries, choose to buy in bulk. Not only will it help you save money, but it’s also more sustainable for the environment! If you’re also planning to buy fruits and vegetables, opt to buy them from local farmers. They’re cheaper, fresher, and help you directly contribute to their livelihoods.
Walk, not ride.
With the rising gas prices around the world, it’s no surprise that public transportations tend to charge higher as well. If your destination is within walking distance, you may opt to walk instead. However, if you’re in a non-walkable city, you might also consider getting a bicycle. It’s cheaper, (sometimes) faster, and more environmentally friendly.
Live like a local.
There is nothing more expensive than living like a tourist on vacation. In fact, you are prone to spending three times more than when you try to live like a resident! If you tend to live lavishly, you might want to perhaps try living like a local. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also learn more about the culture of the Philippines!
The Philippines is undeniably one of the cheapest places to live in. In fact, according to statistics, the cost of living in the Philippines is 43% cheaper than in the USA.
If you put it all into consideration, living with a $1000.00 (or Php 55,000.00) budget is already more than enough to help you live comfortably and lavishly.
Whether you’re a retiree or just someone who wants to stay in the Philippines for a few months, you’ll definitely enjoy the beautiful beaches, great mountain views, fast-paced cities, and cheap cost of living.
Kat is a writer, traveler, and a foodie. If she’s not cramming her finals, you can find her reading the latest contemporary romance novels, binge-watching some doctor show on Netflix, or planning her itinerary for her next hypothetical trip with her friends.