What is the cost of living in Philippines is one of the most popular questions all expats who live here get asked. It is also one of the hardest questions to answer because truthfully it is based on one own personal life style not the lifestyle of somebody else. What may be good for me may not be good for you and what is not good for me may be good for you. If one were to look at YouTube and do a search for the cost of living in Philippines or even the cost of living in the Philippines tons of videos would appear. Some would boast that they are living on less than 500 usd while others will say you can not do it for less than one thousand usd and still others will push the minimum far above the one thousand mark. Just to be clear there is a difference between living in the Philippines and retiring in the Philippines. If I am retiring in the Philippines then I get a pension or social security, a monthly allotment of money but if I am living in Philippines then I am dependent on what I earn for that month which may affect my budget depending on having extra money or having below my monthly average.
Here is my suggestion for figuring out just what your cost of living in Philippines. Watch a few of the budget videos on YouTube then get out a piece of paper and make a line in the middle of it. On one side write can not live without and on the other side can live without, from this you can list the things you can live with out and things you can not live without. To help you get started, on the side of the paper listing things you can not live without you must list food, rent, water, electric. You have to eat now whether you like to cook your meals at home or you are someone who likes to go out and eat prepared foods will dictate who much money you need to set aside for food. You must purchase water as most expats purchased filtered water and do not drink out of the tap because it will upset your stomach. Shelter is another must have, you need a place to sleep and a place to put your stuff. How much you will pay for rent is based on personal preferences such as living space, where you are located and your level of comfort. Some expats don’t use air con and just sleep with a fan, while others, like me need air con at night, now naturally those who just need a fan have a lower electric bill than those who run aircon. For me having lived in Chicago, the first year was hard adjusting to the tropical heat and humidity but after a year I soon adapted but even then I still long for air conditioning or air con as they call it here. Electricity here is unreliable and is the high price in all of Asia so be prepared for paying more for less, if you know what I mean. Since you watched a few Philippine cost of living videos, you know that it cost more to live in Manila than it does in the province so adjust your budget accordingly and be sure to over estimate the costs, better to be safe than sorry.
Now we get to the thing you can possibility live without, such as a car, do you need a car in the Philippines? This luxury has it’s plus and minuses. You can go without a car and take jeepneys and taxis but you will need to budget for that, plus there is the disadvantage of relying on them to get you around. We bought a small pickup what is called a multi cab here and the cost was around 140K pesos, now this was rebuilt not brand new. Here is a shot of our mulitcab.
Some expats want to try to copy the life style they had in their home country and in a sense this can be done, but it will be done at a far larger expense than they think. A new car in the Philippines cost are higher than buying a car in your home country and don’t even think about shipping your car over here, many have tried and failed and lost money in the process.
Now some expats plan on retiring in the Philippines and begin to look for a home and lot to purchase. Bear in mind, foreigners can not own land here, so the title will have to be put in your Filipino wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend and with that comes the lost of ability to control that asset. Some expat have done fine with this concept ( so far me included) while others have lost everything they owned so bear in mind it is definitely a gamble. Check out my video as I discuss some of the things you will need to think about as your prepare your cost of living in Philippines budget.