Cost of Living in the Philippines

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Would be Philippine retirees often ask if they can live in the Philippines for $600 per month or $800 or $1000 per month.  The answer to all these is yes.  If you are healthy, can be happy living in a rural area, riding public transport, shopping in the public markets, avoid imported foods and can get along without air conditioning and maybe Internet access (if you’re reading this maybe you can’t), you can live on very little.

Our budget in the Philippines.   The main cost of living questions you need to adjust for are:

  • Prescription drugs and medical care.  A $1,700 per month budget may cover routine medical and dental care for a reasonably healthy couple.  Someone requiring expensive prescription drugs or expensive medical care needs to adjust the budget accordingly.  A reserve account to cover emergency medical expenses is a must.
  • Support you provide to your spouse’s Philippine family — routine and special such as medical emergencies.
  • Family size.
  • Dining out, entertainment
  • Expenses in one’s home country.
  • Immigration fees.
  • Overseas travel.
  • Any installment payments such as for a motor vehicle.

Here’s our expenses for 2012 (in U.S. Dollars) 

(Note that there is no rent included as we own our own home)

Auto 659.52
Bank Charge 15.12
Books, Magazines, Music 488.46
Charity 380.22
Clothing 305.41
Computer 1,518.78
Dining 831.62
Entertainment 85.38
Help to our families 3,951.93
Gifts 112.50
Groceries 4,886.07
House Furnishings 512.59
House Landscaping-Garden 327.00
House, Maintenance 236.33
Household 679.03
Insurance 29.27
Interest Exp 19.00
Labor 483.32
Medical 2,651.42
Misc. 204.10
Photography 33.91
Postage, Shipping 324.18
Tax 102.62
Transportation 181.72
Travel 2,358.52
Utilities 2,169.16

TOTAL EXPENSES $23,547.18 or $1,962 per month on average.

Here’s our expenses for 2008 (in U.S. Dollars)
Auto – fuel and maintenance   449.94
Bank Charges    103.96
Books, Mags, Music, News    229.41
Charity    143.10
Clothing    182.33
Computer Expense    282.27
Dining Out    758.56
Entertainment    10.15
Help to our Families (US and RP)    3,107.81
Gifts    43.17
Groceries    2,886.83
Household    1,100.89
Insurance:    32.49
Investment Exp    48.85
Legal & Immigration    19.47
Total Medical & Dental    1,187.70
Misc    490.78
Photography    597.31
Postage-Shipping    226.37
Recreation    10.81
Rent    6,000.00
Subscriptions    138.00
Taxes:    524.98
Real property Expense    192.72
Transportation    53.75
Travel    359.67
Bottled Water    56.52
Electric    744.39
Propane    28.96
Telephone & DSL    518.11
Utilities – Other    1.59
Total Utilities    1,349.57
House Help  581.87
Expenses – Other    0.25

Total Expenses    $21,113.01


Comments (5) Write a comment

  1. A good comment by Steve

    Submitted on 2013/07/31 at 6:28 am | In reply to Bob and Carol.

    Dear Bob,

    Something does not sound right here. You’re getting $1600 and own your own home and still struggling to get by in the Philippines? Pardon me for saying this but it sounds like you’re giving out too many handouts to your wife’s relatives. Supporting 4 people is already part of your problem. That is enough to support you and your wife and a part-time maid that doesn’t do live in. When you have a live-in maid you’re expected to feed her. Of course I do not know all your financial circumstances to consider your budget such as food cost and medications. Assuming that you and your wife are only living together with nobody else around you would spend about $400 in groceries give or take. Hundred dollars on Aircon running 24 seven. $50 for cable phone and Internet. An average maid will cost in the province less than $50 however the cheaper you pay the maid you face a bigger risk of getting personal belongings missing. If you use public transportation that is rather cheap then you can save on money rather than own a vehicle. You should still have enough money left over to at least go to a moderate restaurant three times a week and still have pocket money left over at the end of the month. If you are renting a place then I could understand your situation. It sounds like you need a little more discipline in your budget and learn to say no to your wife’s relatives. Being married myself to a Filipina can be a very difficult thing to do. I tell my wife okay no problem but when you give them money it will be less for you. She gets the message real quick that if I give to her relatives then she will have less for herself to spend. Remember charity begins at home. Please yourself before you please others. I made it a point to put my foot down right from the beginning that I would not be supporting her family and be a Santa Claus. I will help family members with stuff like dental problems such as a toothache that needs to be pulled and minor emergencies. I make it a point not to accept to be sponsors or accept being a Godfather to new born child from the family. Although it supposed to be an honor it’s a perfect little scam to obligate yourself to provide support. Another problem that many foreigners face when they buy a home is that the place is too big for them to suit their needs as well as maintain the home itself. My wife wanted me to buy a big house. I asked her what the hell for it’s only for the two of us and we can’t have kids anymore. I told her a two-bedroom house would be sufficient because the extra room would be for a live-in maid. I often see foreigners getting a 3 to 5 bedroom houses then marry a Filipina. All of a sudden her relatives want to move in the house then that’s when the problems start. I told my wife from the beginning that I do not need any of her relatives living with us.


  2. What are the current cost for such basic items like shampoo, bars of bath soap, milk, etc., the basics…?



  3. Pingback: Cost of Living in the Philippines | Philippines or Bust

  4. This is an old post, so my reply may never be seen.
    Just thought I would mention that it depends on the city you live in.

    I live in Luzon, Quezon lucena city.
    I live pretty good on 450 dollars a month with a daughter in private school, a nice apartment, and many unneeded luxuries.
    I enjoy a first class gym, and eat out often; as well as enjoy shopping at the local SM malls.

    When I first came here I was making 250 bucks a month and still doing pretty good but that’s about as low as I would be willing to go as an American, or recommend anyone else go for that matter. Then again I’m 31 years old and healthy.

    Naturally the older you are the more you may want or need.
    All I know is that from my experience unless you live in a large city, like Manila, Makati or Cebu 1,500 – 2000 dollars is not really necessary for a decent life style. You won’t live like a king but your better off than the majority of the populace.


    • thanks mate for that honest reply! i had already though so myself that you can live a very decent life with much less.
      honestly, a guy who spends 2.000 USD a month is completely crazy. being ripped off by everyone here. poor guy. but he spoils the prices here.


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