Cost of Living in the Philippines for Professionals

Much of what you read about the cost of living in the Philippines is aimed at the retiree. It is very possible here to maintain a good standard of living in many of the provinces on the equivalent of a pension. Definitely a higher standard than what would be enjoyed back in the US, UK or Australia.

For the working professional that comes to the city on a work assignment the cost of living is not as cheap as what many sources would have you believe. Demand for housing is always higher in commercial cities and the cost increases as a result. The lifestyle preferences of this demographic are also a bit more demanding.    

So the working professional can come to the Philippines fully informed as to what the real cost of living is I have prepared a range of costs for each of the essentials and a few luxuries.

The list is not exhaustive or definitive. You can definitely get away with spending a lot less, or a lot more depending on your lifestyle choices and budget. It will give you a good idea of what a nice and comfortable lifestyle will cost you living in the commercial district of Makati.

Rent

If you would like to live in a comparable two bedroom apartment to what you will find in most western countries then you will be looking at a range of p40,000 to p80,000 depending on the size and age of the apartment.

Generally speaking, if you live in an older building the apartments will be much bigger than something more modern. The prices are comparable due to this trade off. So it depends on personal preference.

To live in one of the more upmarket buildings then a range of p60,000 to p120,000 is more like it. The same trade offs apply and you would expect a few extras thrown in at this price range. These could include a nice view, a great swimming pool and gym, movie rooms, plus a close proximity to large commercial areas.

Expected monthly cost: p60,000

Food

You can get by on p2,000 to p5,000 per week on groceries depending on your appetite and how many mouths you have to feed. This range would apply if you are shopping at the main supermarkets like SM, Rustans and Landmark.

If you were prepared to venture out to the markets then you could pick up everything much cheaper. The fresh produce and seafood would also be of higher quality. If you have house help that assists you with shopping then they may be able to visit the markets on your behalf and get the best prices.

Expected monthly cost: p15,000

Eating Out

You can get a decent meal at a nice restaurant for two at p1,000 to p2,000. This will include a few drinks. Add another p1,000 for a basic bottle of wine. If you are more of a drinker then you can get local beers in a restaurant from p70 to p120 in a bar or restaurant and p150-p300 for imported beer depending on where you go. If you go places targeted at expats then expect the higher range for your drinks.

Breakfast/Brunch on weekends is always a good thing to do around Makati. This will cost you about the same p1,000 to p2,000 for two people with a few coffees thrown in.

If you are more of a delivery and stay at home type person then p1,000, give or take a few hundred pesos, will get you a good feed.

  • Rub Ribs – best sauce in the city and reasonably priced.
  • David’s Tea House – not outstanding Chinese, but is consistent and super fast delivery.
  • Angel’s Pizza – I am yet to find good Pizza anywhere in the Philippines. Anywhere! Angel’s is ok, and good value.

Expected monthly cost: p10,000

House Help

This is an area where you will get what you pay for. It is possible to get extremely cheap help, but if you want someone reliable and trustworthy then you should pay them well if you want to keep them.

If you are after a live in nanny then you may be able to pay a little less as their accommodation and meals are taken care of. For someone living outside then p10,000 to p12,000 would be what you can expect to pay.

For a long time I just had someone come once a week and I would pay between p400 and p700 depending on the tasks they would complete for the day. I ended up having someone permanent for years at p8,000 a month for three days a week of work. This was a good arrangement for both of us, and paid well enough so that the person did not have to get a full time job elsewhere.

As mentioned above, you can go cheaper. But that doesn’t mean that you should. I would not be comfortable having someone working for me and struggling to make ends meet though.

Expected monthly cost: p8,000

Transport

I am not familiar with the cost of owning and running a car in the Philippines. With the price of taxis and Uber being cheap and convenient, I would not think it necessary to get your own car unless you had a family.

Distance travelled will also influence your total budget. On an average p100 fare per day to get to work, and a p150 budget on weekend days for other travel then you would be looking at a range of p2,000 to p3,000 per month.

Expected monthly cost: p2,000

Utilities

Electricity can be a killer in the Philippines. If you are a heavy user of air conditioning like me then you can expect this to be a significant expense. You can cut down by using electric fans if you want to. They don’t cut it for me if I want to get some sleep and feel relaxed at home.

I am certain that apartment buildings that are full of expats have higher rates than those outside the commercial district. I have compared power bills with Filipino colleagues regularly and theirs is always about ¼ of mine.

Expect to pay between p4,000 and p8,000 per month for a two bedroom unit’s monthly electricity.

Cable and internet are quite reasonable. A good mid range service for each will cost you between p1,000 and p1,500 per month for each. There are a number of newer buildings that will have these included in your monthly rent. If you can find one of these then you can save this expense.

Water usage rates are very cheap so I will not include them here.

Expected monthly cost: p10,000

This brings us to a total of p105,000 per month. Depending on whether you like to hang out in shopping malls, or in bars (this makes up most of Makati’s options) then you will have to budget some general spending money on top of this.

If you are going to take advantage of the opportunity to go travelling during your stay in the Philippines then make sure you also account for this in your plans. There are so many great destinations you can visit without spending too much.

With p105k being just $2,162 at the time of writing, a middle management salary equivalent will cover this comfortably. You will have plenty of play money left while still being able to save and invest. With the cost of living in the Philippines still relatively cheap for a comfortable city life you have a great opportunity to have fun and build wealth for yourself at the same time.

If there is anything that I have left out then please ask a question in the comments below. I would be happy to give you an idea of what to expect.

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