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How to live in Philippines on a Budget?

If you are planning your retirement in the Philippines then for sure you will wonder how much money to live comfortably in the Philippines.

One thing, it is really hard to tell since it really depends on the individual. Cost of retirement in Philippines by living comfortably varies from one individual to another. What the other consider as living in comfort may not be with another. However let’s look at it in general view and let’s try to investigate on how much money do you neede to live in Philippines a good life.

For an individual perhaps you can live about $500 to $600 a month but if you are a couple perhaps about $800 to $900 a month. Although there are some westerners who live at a $200 to $300 a month. This I say is no comfort at all. This kind of budget entails living in some nipa hut or a two room house eating only native food which consists mostly of rice and vegetables.

If you can stretch your budget for $1,000 to $1,500 then you sure can lead a nice life. With that budget, you can rent a furnished house, eat the foods that you want, have time for some entertainment and even get to travel in other places in the country. You can even afford to hire a maid to take care of chores in the house.

If you want to live a luxurious life and live in style all the time you can achieve this with a budget of around $2,000 a month. You can have a nice house, a car and even several maids to do the work in the house and you can even hire your own driver if you want. This certainly covers everything that you want to buy or need.

So it really depends on what comfort is to you. You alone have to find out how much money do you need to live in Philippines and can tell which of the three you may prefer.

Facts about Cost of Living in the Philippines

Some people might think that living and retiring in Philippines is expensive but it is not. Food is considered cheap there especially if you would convert it to Euro. Most of the time people spend less than 5 Euros when they eat in middle-class restaurants. There are also cheaper food available there that can cost about 1 Euro per meal. Of course if there are cheap meals, there are also expensive food products that can be acquired from different 5 star hotels around the country. Some meals may go over 100 Euros per serving.


One of the reasons why food is cheaper in the country is because it has a bountiful agricultural products all year. It doesn’t matter whether it is rainy or sunny there are always some products that can be bought in markets and different stores all over. Some fruits and vegetables cost less during peak seasons. Some are very cheap and would cost less than 1 Euro per kilogram. Meat usually consist of pork and beef. There are also a lot of chickens being sold there. All eggs in the Philippines are organic.

Clothing and Accessories

With regards to the clothing that can be bought, it can be cheap depending on the type of clothing that you would like to buy. Usually, imported products here cost more than those that can be bought in other countries because of the import and export fee. Sales here are also frequent but not the same with other countries. It is rare when the sale items that are being sold can be bought in small amounts of money. On average, most people spend as much money in the Philippines with other countries.

Housing Costs in the Philippines

Houses are considered very cheap by a lot of foreigners. Of course though this would depend on where the person would like to live. Properties that are located in the city or in more urbanized places are bound to cost more money than the houses in rural areas. There are different pros and cons with living in rural and urban areas. Where you would live would depend on your budget and what you are looking for in a place. Most foreigners opt to find houses near the Southern area of the country because there are less people there. Houses located on the south also cost less than those in the northern area of the country.

Service and Transportation

Even though not everyone own cars, there are public vehicles that can be ridden to go from place to place. People can have the option to ride buses, trains, tricycles, taxis and the famous Philippine transportation – the Jeepney. The fairs used are relatively cheaper than those in other countries. Buses have a minimum fare of 12.50 PhP while Jeepneys can charge a minimum of 8.50 PhP. Do remember that the type of vehicle that you will ride will depend on how far your destination is. If you consider to buy your own car, it will cost pretty much the same as in western countries.

Health care and hospitals here are also cheap. They have government hospitals that charge a very minimal fee. Private hospitals around the islands might cost more than public hospitals but the amenities and the services are better. For emergency situations, it is recommended that patients be placed in private hospitals for better chances of survival.


It is pretty hard for people in this country to look for jobs even though there are a lot of job openings in different fields in the country. In Metro Manila which is considered the most urbanized place in Luzon, there is a high percentage of people who are unemployed. This is sad considering that there are a lot of literate people there.

It would be a good idea to think about doing business in Philippines. There are a lot of successful entrepreneurs and businessmen here. You just have to open the right business at the right time.

Example of Average Living Expenses

The first thing that a person should consider when he is looking for a place to stay is how comfortable he would like to be in the house or in the place. Some of the best places to retire in Philippines are considered cheap by western standards. For instance, some places would require a person to shell out only a little bit more than 100 USD every month. Of course, if a person would like to live better, the price would also go up.

One thing that people from the West find hard to adjust to is the food that they eat. Food in the Philippines is not that cheap especially if you would eat out every time. Typically, an average person would spend about 600 PhP a day just for food. It would be less expensive to have people cook for you. If you could also cook the food yourself then that is recommended as well. Some people have friends from markets and they buy their fresh food there. This will make the cost of the food cheaper than usual.

Another thing that is considered to be one of the main things that should be paid every month is electricity. If a person would get a lot of appliances and gadgets, the fee for electricity would also be higher. Some people have spent over 10,000 PhP a month because of all the electronics that have been used everyday. If you would want to save up on electricity then turn off the gadgets if they are not in use.

A person who is not familiar with the place might find it hard to leave the area if he doesn’t have his own transportation. It’s a good thing that there are a lot of public transformations that can be ridden on by people. The most popular ride there is the Jeepney because it is cheap. If you are not comfortable riding with other people whom you do not know, it would probably be better to ride a tricycle. Tricycles are usually more expensive than Jeepneys but will take you directly to the place you would like to go to.

Some people would always need to have telephones to communicate with the people they love. Since there are a lot of bundle plans now in the Philippines, telephones usually come with internet plans that are cheap by Western standards. If you would like to get an Internet plan with a faster speed that is also possible but it would cost a lot of money.

Unlike in some countries, laundry houses in the Philippines would not require you to do the washing yourself. What you have to do is bundle up all your things and drop them to the nearest laundry shop in your area. After 1-2 days you would be able to get your laundry. Some people have been impressed with how fragrant clothes are after coming from laundry shops. If you are not comfortable bringing your clothes elsewhere, you can buy a washing machine and do the laundry yourself or you can also hire someone else to do it for you. The payment for the person washing the clothes would depend on the load.

If you are a bit apprehensive about drinking water directly from the faucet, there are a lot of water shops around the area as well. If you frequent malls often you might have seen some of the drinking shop franchises there. You can buy water for only about 1.00 USD. Refills are usually even cheaper.

There are some people who are not that comfortable with keeping their trash until the garbage truck comes. Garbage trucks usually come only once or twice a week. If you are not keen on keeping your trash until then, you might want to give out your trash to some kids who are always seeking recyclable things in other people’s trash.

For other expenses, you should consider shelling out money for the following:

  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Vacations
  • Fuel
  • Gas (For cooking)

Remember that the amount of money that people should shell out every month would depend entirely on where the house is located and how big the house is. Usually though a person can live comfortably for about 1,000 USD every month. This would depend on how a person would like to live. Some people here would like to live as cheaply as possible while others are living their dream of being in the Philippines. Knowing how much money do you need to live in Philippines – you can live like a king here and retiring well on a poor man’s budget.

Leave a Reply

  1. patrick boyle

    awesume article!! i really like it. i hav visited the philippines three times and i am now the lucky husband of a beautiful filipina! i have 15 yrs before i am able to retire. what should i do now? buy land for a house in the future? please help..thank you! also– we are able to visit the philippines every other year.

    1. John Listing Owner

      Hi Patrick, thanks a lot for your comment, welcome aboard. Indeed Philippines is a nice place and one of the best places to retire. However, to answer your question isn’t easy. It’s depending on each ones personal situation. In general it’s a great idea to by land and build own house. Howver, by law, foreigners do not have the right to own land in the Philippines. Only a Filipino can own land. Read more about in this article. If you have kids together with your Philippine wife, in any case you should do. If you do not have kids and there is no plan to get kids in future you should contact a lawyer in Philippines before you decide to buy land.