How much money do I need to live a comfortable life in the Philippines? This is probably the most frequently asked question on any website or forum about retiring to the Philippines. The simple truth is that this depends on you!
If you are used to spending $3,000 per month in your home country, chances are that you will also be spending $3,000 in the Philippines. If you live on $500 per month in your home country, you will also be able to live on that same amount in the Philippines.
You will carefully need to consider:
a) where you will live. Living expenses differ greatly per location! A major city (e.g. Manila) will be more expensive than a provincial city (e.g. Davao). The cheapest place to live will be a provincial town (e.g. Dumaguete, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa).
b) what is a comfortable life style for you. Some wish to dine out every day, live in a luxurious house, have the aircon on full blast 24/7, have a car; these folks will of course pay more than a person that buys his groceries from the local wet market, cooks him/herself, takes a jeepney to travel around, lives in modest but decent accommodation and hardly ever eats out.
What is cheap in the Philippines?
Accommodation. This obviously depends on the size and location but, outside Manila, it is still possible to pick up a modest but decent rental for 10,000 pesos per month
Food/groceries. But only if you buy from the (wet) markets and stick to local brands/produce. If you stick to “western” food, expect to pay more. You will find that some “western” products in the supermarkets are even more expensive than back home!
Transportation. Tricycles, jeepneys and taxis are a cheap mode of transportation. To buy and run a car on the other hand is expensive!
Clothes. As in any Asian country, clothes are usually much cheaper than in your home country.
Manual labour and Helpers. This is cheap in the Philippines; much cheaper than back home!
What is expensive in the Philippines?
Electricity. With around 10 pesos per Kwh, the Philippines has the most expensive electricity in the whole of Asia. Whilst prices vary locally, it is safe to say that electricity does not come cheap. Will you need aircon? Do you need a dish washer and dryer? Running these appliances will certainly come at a price!
Cars. Cars are expensive in the Philippines. Also bear in mind that it’ll be difficult to find spare parts for a brand new model. This perhaps also explains why people in the Philippines prefer second-hand cars, which can be just as expensive as a brand new one. Petrol is not cheap either in the Philippines. Especially if you are on a budget, you will seriously need to consider whether or not you need a car. It’s much cheaper to use a jeepney to get around!
Western food. Since this needs to be imported, expect to pay more. Sometimes even more than back home!
Electrical applicances. T.V.s, computers; expect to pay more than back home!
So tell me how much I need per month!
You’ve probably read the websites that say that you can live like a king in the Philippines on $500. Others say that you need $1,000. Again others say that you need $1,500 and so on. Again, the only correct answer to this question is that this simply depends on what you need, and what you find to be a comfortable life-style. Yes, there are folks that live on $500. There are also folks that live on $3,000 per month. Only you yourself can determine how much money you will need when you make the big move.
To give you some idea of the prices in the Philippines (in pesos per month):
Rent in a major city for a 2 bed-room house: 40,000 – 130,000
Rent in a provincial town for a 2 bed-room house: 15,000 – 25,000
Internet: prices vary and are competitive. Expect to spend around 1,500
Cable: prices vary but are competitive. Expect to pay around 1,100
Electricity: this depends on usage (see above). Expect to pay anywhere between 2,000 to 20,000 (apartment with few appliances vs. house with aircon and many appliances)
Food/Groceries for a couple: 10,000 to 20,000
In our opinion, but this is highly subjective, you would need $1,000 USD a month to lead a comfortable life in the Philippines. This will get you a decent rental, will allow you to eat well, and will also enable you to go on the occasional trip around the Philippines to enjoy all that this beautiful country has to offer.
The best way to get a feel for what the prices in the Philippines are like is to check with Filipino family and friends, and to check the internet!
You can get a feel for housing and other prices by checking the following websites:
Sulit. From houses, cars, appliances to pets, you can find it on this website.
Adpost. From houses, cars, appliances to pets, you can find it on this website.
SM. (SM SuperMalls)
Robinsons. Robinsons department store.
Ace. Ace Hardware Store.