The Cost of Living in the Philippines

The Cost of Living in the Philippines

In terms of population, the Philippines appears to be a very popular destination for foreigners and visitors in general, especially with its beaches that give a picturesque view of the surrounding tropical islands. Being aware of how much you will have to spend while staying there is crucial whether you go to study abroad, work remotely or even relocate due to job change. This article will compare Manila against Cebu as well as other major cities by breaking down their costs alongside those found in Europe and United States.

Overall Affordability

The good thing about living in the Philippines is that it allows for an affordable way of life without much strain on your pocket. Below are some reasons why individuals want to settle down permanently or temporarily in this South Eastern country:

  • Low Cost of Living: Generally daily needs such as housing can be acquired at lower prices compared to most Western countries.
  • Friendliness: Filipinos are known worldwide because they treat strangers like family members whom they have not met before thus creating a hospitable environment around them which can make any visitor feel welcome.
  • Economic Stability: Many people believe that when economies stabilize there tends also follow suit stability within society itself so; therefore if one has enough skills then he/she may find good opportunities there during such periods too since Philippine economy keeps growing steadily each year which creates conducive atmosphere for business persons who know what they need do succeed in their ventures otherwise they would fail drastically.

However, it should be noted that while cost remains one factor among many others considered by individuals before choosing where exactly within Philippines they would like stay for longer term basis depending on personal circumstances including preference lifestyle, etcetera.

Cost of Living Comparison

A detailed comparison between the Philippines and the United States illustrates the differences in living costs.

Cost of living category

Rent (one-bedroom apartment)

Groceries (per month)

Transportation (monthly pass)

Healthcare insurance (per month)

Exchange rate

Philippines (PHP)

15000-30000 (= 261-533 USD)

8000 (= 139 USD)

85 (= 1.48 USD)

300 (= 5.22 USD)


United States (USD)

1000-1500 (= 57453-86180 PHP)

300-400 (=17236-22981 PHP)

100-150 (=5745-8618 PHP)

100-200 (=5745-11490 PHP)


As indicated, the cost of living is generally lower in the Philippines, although salaries are also relatively lower. However, the lower cost of living ensures that expats can maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

Cost Breakdown

Let’s delve into the specifics of the major expenses you can expect while living in the Philippines:


Housing remains one of the most significant costs, but even in upscale neighborhoods of Manila, rental prices are still more affordable than in Western cities. However, prices do vary widely depending on the region.

  • Manila: The capital has the highest costs, with one-bedroom apartments in business districts like Makati and Bonifacio Global City ranging from PHP 15,000 to PHP 30,000 per month. Larger apartments can cost up to PHP 70,000.
  • Cebu and Davao: Rent in Cebu, the Queen City of the South, averages between PHP 10,000 and PHP 20,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Davao is more affordable, with rentals ranging from PHP 7,000 to PHP 15,000.
  • Utilities: Utilities, including electricity, water, and waste disposal, cost around PHP 3,000-6,000 per month on average.


Whether or not you choose to cook your meals at home or eat out significantly affects how much you will spend on food. Local markets sell fresh produce for cheap, but imported goods are more expensive. It is inexpensive to eat at a restaurant in the area, though going some place international or high end can be quite costly.

  • Groceries: Monthly grocery costs for a single person hover around PHP 8,000-10,000 if purchasing a mix of local and imported products.
  • Restaurants: Meals at mid-range restaurants can cost PHP 500-700 per person, while dining at upscale establishments may reach PHP 2,000 per person.


Public transportation in Philippines is famous for being cheap. Local transport options such as Jeepneys with their colorful appearance and Tricycles are unique and complement the rail systems alongside buses. MRT and LRT light rail networks in Manila, though crowded, remain the most used means of transport.

  • Jeepney: The fare starts at around PHP 15 per trip. (0.26 USD)
  • MRT/LRT (Manila): A monthly pass costs approximately PHP 2,500 (43 USD), while a single trip fare varies between PHP 15-28. (0.26 to 0,49 USD).
  • Taxis/Grab: Taxi fares are relatively cheap, starting from PHP 40 (0.70 USD), while the ride-hailing app Grab offers rides starting from PHP 80. (1.39 USD)


Healthcare in the Philippines is a mix of public and private services, with public hospitals operating under the PhilHealth insurance system. Expats usually prefer private hospitals, which offer higher standards of care.

  • Public Healthcare: PhilHealth premiums are generally affordable, with annual fees up to PHP 3,600 for residents.
  • Private Health Insurance: Private plans provide comprehensive coverage and range from PHP 5,000-15,000 per month, based on age, coverage, and individual needs. Know more about Foyer Global Health private health plans here.


In Philippines, education is considered as the thing that encompasses all the private and public schools, where it is free for all the residents. Global curricula are included in many international schools which are recognized by different nations but they charge high fees mostly preferred by foreigners living abroad. Universities provide a variety of programs at affordable prices.

  • International Schools: Tuition fees range between PHP 100,000 and PHP 200,000 per year, depending on the institution. (1740 to 3481 USD)
  • University: For a single semester, tuition fees at private universities vary from PHP 10,000 to PHP 50,000. (174 to 870 USD)

Additional expenses for students include:

  • Accommodation: University dormitories often charge around PHP 5,000 per month (87 USD), but off-campus housing costs may exceed PHP 10,000 (174 USD).
  • Living Expenses: Students should budget PHP 1,500-3,000 (26 to 52 USD) per month for books and daily expenses.
  • Health Insurance: Students need mandatory health coverage, adding a monthly cost of PHP 5,000-10,000. (87 to 174 USD)

Additional Considerations

When assessing the cost of living in the Philippines, keep these factors in mind:

  • Lifestyle Choices: Living frugally in a modest apartment and eating local food can save significant costs, while upscale options remain available for those willing to spend more.
  • Currency Fluctuations: The Philippine peso (PHP) fluctuates against the USD, impacting the local purchasing power of expatriates. Staying informed of exchange rates is advisable.
  • Visas and Immigration: Depending on your visa type, certain requirements or fees may apply for long-term residency.

In spite of challenges, the Philippines is an affordable country with beautiful sceneries and warm welcome. Our travel tips give you a chance to know more about different cultures and places that make this country a great place to visit or live in.