Cost of living in the Philippines: Your guide


The Philippines is the 13th most-populated country on Earth. Millions of tourists and expats arrive there each year, hoping to get a glimpse of some unique biodiversity. If it’s beaches, mountains, rainforests or islands you’re after, the Philippines is your spot. Also, it’s a true melting pot. Over 125 individual languages are spoken within Filipino borders.

Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving to the Philippines for good, you’ll want to plan your budget. Here’s what you need to know about costs and finances while you’re there.

How expensive is the Philippines in comparison to other countries?

In general, you’ll find life in the Philippines is pretty affordable. Upon your arrival, you’ll want to exchange money from your home country into the local currency. But be careful - banks and money exchange services rarely offer fair exchange rates. To get the real exchange rate - the same one that you’d see on Google - think about using Wise to get your money into the Philippines without hidden fees and unexpected charges. When in doubt, you can always find the exact worth of your money by using an online currency converter before you get to exchanging your cash anyhow.

Money in the Philippines is called the Philippine peso (symbolised by ₱ or by Philippine currency code ‘PHP’). For comparison, as of summer 2017, you’ll find the PHP is worth, on average:

CurrencyPhilippine peso value
Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Meal for 2 (mid range restaurant)Transportation (monthly pass)
Quezon City₱12,000₱650₱400
London, UK₱112,000₱4,000₱8,700
New York City, USA₱165,000₱4,000₱6,100
Berlin, Germany₱45,000₱2,400₱4,800
Sydney, Australia₱110,000₱3,500₱6,500

What are the most expensive major cities?

Here are the top five most expensive cities to live in in the Philippines:

  • Manila
  • Cebu City
  • Quezon City
  • Davao City
  • Cayagan de Oro

What are general living expenses like in the Philippines?

Total living expenses in ManilaAverage cost
1 person, per month₱30,000
1 person, per year₱360,000
student, per month₱20,000
3 person family, per month₱80,000
3 person family, per year₱960,000
Total living expenses in Cebu CityAverage cost
1 person, per month₱25,000
1 person, per year₱300,000
student, per month₱18,000
3 person family, per month₱60,000
3 person family, per year₱720,000

What are the average salaries in the Philippines?

Quality of life in the Philippines is highly influenced by your income. A salaried job will allow you to live closer to the city centre, resulting in access to amenities and a better commute to work. In many parts of the Philippines, areas outside the city tend to be difficult to navigate and inconvenient. The good news is that, as an expat, you’ll find even the expensive city prices in the Philippines will likely be cheap in comparison to your home country.

Here are the average salaries of some common jobs in the Philippines:

Salary averages for ManilaAverage salary
financial analyst₱360,000
graphic designer₱300,000
mobile developer₱450,000
product manager₱600,000
software engineer₱500,000
web developer₱418,000
Salary averages for Cebu CityAverage salary
financial analyst₱300,000
graphic designer₱250,000
mobile developer₱380,000
product manager₱500,000
software engineer₱480,000
web developer₱404,000

How expensive is housing and accommodation in the Philippines?

Rent in the Philippines ranges from very cheap to moderate, depending on whether you choose to live with flatmates and how close you are to the waterfront or the city centre. Here’s an average monthly cost of rent in some of the Philippines’ most populated cities:

Renting in ManilaAverage monthly cost
large apartment₱50,000
medium apartment₱27,000
small apartment₱23,000
student dorm room₱18,000
Renting in Cebu CityAverage monthly cost
large apartment₱36,700
medium apartment₱22,225
small apartment₱19,800
student dorm room₱16,000
Renting in Quezon CityAverage monthly cost
large apartment₱20,500
medium apartment₱17,200
small apartment₱14,000
student dorm room₱11,000

What about healthcare and dental costs in the Philippines?

The Philippines has a mixed public-private system to ensure that healthcare isn’t too expensive no matter your economic circumstances. Filipino citizens have free healthcare under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth)

Here’s a summary of some estimated healthcare costs:

Healthcare serviceAverage cost to you
monthly health insurance for 1 person₱2,500
labor and delivery (no insurance)₱50,000+
family doctor check-up (no insurance)₱500
dental cleaning (no insurance)₱700

How much are travel and transportation costs in the Philippines?

The Philippines has many mountainous and beachy areas. Unlike a European country, cities are spread out and not well-connected by public transportation. That said, in larger cities like Manila, people do take the bus and ride bicycles frequently in order to get around. One highway, the Pan-Philippine Highway, connects several islands and hubs around the country.

Here are some average travel costs for the Philippines:

Transportation and vehicle prices for the PhilippinesAverage cost
gasoline (1 litre / 0.25 gallon)₱38.75
monthly bus/transport pass₱500
bus ticket, single use₱8
taxi tariff, 30 minutes₱75
train trip, single ticket cross country₱45
Toyota Corolla, new₱965,000
VW Golf, new₱1,000,000

How much does education cost?

Public schools in the Philippines are government-funded and free to attend. However, most expats send their children to private or international schools, where the quality of education is higher. Due to the large expat population, there are several international schools in the Philippines. International schools tend to incorporate the curriculum of their home country. Fees can range from minimal to quite expensive.

Here are cost estimates for school in the Philippines:

School in the PhilippinesAverage Yearly Cost
preschool / kindergarten₱0
private school for lower grades₱30,000 per year
Ateneo de Manila University tuition₱90,000 per semester
Ateneo de Naga University tuition₱50,000 to 70,000 per year

It will take time to adjust to life in the Philippines, but having a handle on your budget can help you ease the transition. Whatever you choose to do, know that many expats have been in your situation. The resources are there for you, and hopefully this guide has helped you find them.

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