The cost of living in the Philippines is rising, and expenses aren't as cheap as new arrivals may expect. Nevertheless, most expats find living in the Philippines relatively affordable, especially compared to some Southeast Asian countries.

According to Mercer’s 2022 Cost of Living Survey, Manila ranked 122nd out of the 227 cities surveyed. The capital city’s cost of living has recently eased, which has seen it move down from 80th in the 2020 survey, making it more affordable than Lisbon and Buenos Aires.

Within the Philippines, the cost of living depends on where expats choose to live. Overall, Manila is the most expensive area, with Cebu trailing closely behind. The outlying islands and rural provinces are much more affordable.


Cost of accommodation in the Philippines

Accommodation will likely be an expat’s biggest monthly expense in the Philippines. Rental prices vary considerably; generally, the closer to tourist areas and city centres, the more a tenant will pay. Prospective house hunters should know that many landlords prefer renting to foreigners and may charge higher rental fees.

Utilities such as water and electricity are often additional costs for tenants. Other monthly payments include internet, telephone line, cable television and air conditioning maintenance. Note that electricity is expensive in the Philippines, and these costs will rise during the intense summer months, when air conditioning use typically increases. Moreover, many homes do not have central air conditioning, so expats may need to pay out of pocket to install it.

Fortunately, expats moving to the Philippines as part of an international relocation usually have their housing expenses covered by their company. Expats in the Philippines may also be able to afford household help such as nannies, drivers, gardeners and domestic cleaners.


Cost of food in the Philippines

The cost of food in the Philippines is lower than what many expats may expect. Cheap fresh produce is readily available at local markets and street vendors, but imported Western foods and international brands in supermarkets are expensive.

Food in restaurants is affordable, and many expats will find that they can eat out regularly. Cigarettes and alcohol are also inexpensive.


Cost of schooling and education in the Philippines

Families moving to the Philippines with children will find the cost of school and education to be the other big expense for expats after accommodation. Most expats in the Philippines send their children to international schools, which generally come at a hefty price.


Cost of transport in the Philippines

Public transport in the Philippines is fairly cheap. While using a taxi regularly can become expensive, local jeepneys and buses are the more economical options.

Expats looking to buy a car in the Philippines will find that the cost in the country is pricier than in their home countries; this is due to high import duties. Many expats hire a driver, and companies often provide them for their senior executives working in the Philippines, so expats should consider this during their contract negotiations.


Cost of living in the Philippines chart

Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider, and the table below is based on average prices for Manila in September 2022.

Accommodation

One-bedroom apartment in city centre 

PHP 32,100

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre 

PHP 102,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

PHP 15,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

PHP 38,200

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

PHP 96

Milk (1 litre) 

PHP 91

Rice (1kg) 

PHP 50

Loaf of white bread 

PHP 69

Chicken breasts (1kg) 

PHP 240

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) 

PHP 140

Eating out

Big Mac meal 

PHP 200

Coca-Cola (330ml) 

PHP 53

Cappuccino 

PHP 162

Bottle of local beer (500ml) 

PHP 68

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant 

PHP 1,500

Utilities/Household (monthly)

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) 

PHP 8.33

Internet (10 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)

PHP 2,164

Basic utilities (electricity, water) 

PHP 5,512

Transport

Taxi rate/km 

PHP 13.50

City-centre bus fare 

PHP 30

Petrol (per litre) 

PHP 78

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