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This post was published to I LIVE IN PHILIPPINES At 12:37: 07 AM 10/22/2009



To live in the Philippines, which budget?

It is a subject which we regularly tackle between ''expats'', we also make comparisons with other countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

It is not a fixed amount, each one among us has his own budget which depends on several factors such as: size of the family, house or apartment, place of residence, life style, employees, vehicles, and… incomes.

With very little difference we arrived at the following conclusion: it is completely possible to live correctly in the Philippines with a monthly budget of 750/800 USD (550 to 600 €). Some make it with less.

1,000/1,200 € per month and you live like a king. (Budget calculated for a couple)


It is very easy to rent on the whole country and there is a broad choice and a great availability of houses, apartments and bungalows. Count between 110 and 230 € for a housing of 60 to 90 sq/m including 2 or 3 bedrooms, living room, dining room , kitchen, 2 CR. Often a quarter for the employees, a car pot (S), a ''dirty kitchen''. Bath-tubs are not very common and the gardens are generally tiny.

Some recent examples of hiring prices

North of Manila (20 km from the center), in Valenzuela City, prices range from 90 to 200 €. Tony, an American guy spends 110 € with a three bedrooms and two bathrooms house.

Dasmarinas, about 30 km in the South of Manila, with 2 bedrooms and 2 showers plus tennis and swimming pool (in collective), 100€. The same apartment in Manila, Sampaloc, 140€.

Area of Cebu, in the center of the country, 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, large garden, marble, with 2 rooms for the employees, luxury, 180 €.

Residential district in the center of Davao (Mindanao), 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, quarters for the employees, 270 €.

Other examples: 180 m2 apartment at the top of a tower in Makati 1.350 €, 400 m2 in the center of Davao, village deprived with safety, 450 €. (very expensive).

Three years ago, I rented a new villa, 4 bedrooms, 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms, dining room, 3 showers rooms, balcony of approximately 30 m2 and terrace, plus penthouse, 2 parts with kitchen and CR, 100 m2 of terrace, the whole for 140 €.

In a forthcoming post, I shall return on renting or buying in the Philippines. Traps to be avoided, rent, buy or build.


The price of one kWh is, on Luzon, of 8.5 Pesos. 1/8 of Euro. Refrigerators, oven, washing machine, iron, ventilators (3), 2 TV + additional, computer, some other trifles of which the air-conditioner with limited use and our monthly bill is around 2.500 to 3.000 Pesos, less than 45 €. The price of one kWh is slightly higher in the Visayas, center of the country, and in Mindanao, the large island of the South.


In Ternate we have running water coming from the close city of Maragondon. But generally each house is equipped with an individual well with hand pump (in the event of interruption of current), and electric pump with tank for the daily use. We also have an electric pump and in my opinion, there is no significant difference on the level of the price, between the two systems.

Count 10 € per month.

Drinking water

Better is worth not to venture with drinking the water of the well or the city. We have laid out, for a few years, of stations of water purification which deliver to residence. Cans of approximately 20 liters to 0.6 € per can. Count at least 3 liters of drinking water per day and per person. For a couple 180 liters, count 6 to 10 € per month. Mineral water in plastic bottle is also available.


Standard dressing for the men shorts and a tee-shirt may be a short-sleeved shirt and a pair of rubber shoes. A cap and sunglasses outside if you are going outside. For the women idem, the tee-shirt could be replaced by a shirt maker or blouse and the short by a Jean or similar. In the event of exit downtown, trousers and shirt without tie, generally no jacket. Shorts from 50 to 150 Pesos, tee-shirts from 60 to 150 Pesos, rubber shoes from 150 to500 (in Philippines Pesos, 1€ = 70 Pesos) and a short-sleeved shirt 250 to 400 in Pesos. Count 25 to 30 € for the clothing station.

Products of hygiene and maintenance

Shampoo, soaps, talc, toothpaste, creams, scouring powders, etc.

The gas bottle of 11kg is to 9 €, the liter of gasoline between 0.7 and 0.75 €.


To make its races and shopping no difficulty. Even in the least small village there is a `' sari-sari'', one can even say that a house on ten is a `' sari-sari''. The sari-sari it is a kind of small grocery. A few square meters where the basic ones can be found, often in amount of the size of a sample. Soap, shampoo, sugar coffee and milk, small cans, eggs, pastes, oil, vinegar, sauce soya (`' toyo''), matches, candles, batteries , drinks, sometimes bottom-of-the-range alcohols and always, local cigarettes as well as many cheap delicacies.

Use the sari-sari in breakdown service. The prices are in general 15 to 20% higher, but the sari-sari is quite practical when a trifle was forgotten and moreover drinks are fresh.

Each city, even the smallest, has its market, open 7/7 with its market day; Friday for Ternate, Saturday for Maragondon and Sunday for Naic. Use the market for, fruits and vegetables, meat and fish. Some examples of price per kilo. At the local market the chicken is 140/150 P, the pig 170 P, the ox 200/220 P. Warning they cannot cut out the meat, you must be able to recognize the pieces, cut out yourself, finally clear up because all the pieces are at the same price. Some sausages and sections of ham under plastic packing and that is all. No rabbit, duck, calf or sheep. Only local products can be found in the market.

Fruits and vegetables, price for one kilo in Pesos: mangos 35/80, pineapples 30/40, papaws 20/40, lawyers 30/40, ramboutans 50/60, bananas 25/50, tangerines 45/50, vegetables. : Carrots 40/60, potatoes 35/50, cabbages 35/40, tomatoes 30/50, onions 40/60, broccoli cauliflower 60/80, lettuce 80. Fish P/Kg. : Bangus (milk fish) 80/100, Tilapia (fish of breeding) 60/80, Tuna from 120 and up to 200 for yellow fin tuna.


One mini-market in Ternate, three in Maragondon and may be ten within Naic area. Surfaces from 200 up to 500 sq/m, no fruits or vegetables nor of meat, except frozen products. Much more choice than in the sari-sari with many imported products. For example yesterday we bought products of l'Oreal, Mozzarella and Roma cheese ( 236 P the 200 gr. of Mozzarella), as well as mustard, jam and milk of New Zealand in Tetra-pack in a mini-market named Villa-Mart.

Shopping centers

A very fast increasing sector. Each large provincial town has at least one of them, they are perhaps about thirty on Manila only. As in our shopping centers, one can find absolutely every thing there. Furniture, electric household, appliances, cars, cinemas, restaurants, clothing… as well as hypermarkets of the style ''Carrefour or Auchan''. Take your ''caddy'' and make your market: butter and cheese ''President'', fruits and vegetables, cut out meats and fish in the small boats, you can find practically everything. 

The shopping center of Mandaluyong (SM), was no so long time ago the 2sd. greatest shopping center in the world. True vessel of 600 meters length on 8 levels and more than 40 restaurants.

For a more complete range of French cheeses and pork-butchery suppliers, I can give you some good addresses in Manila.

Each shopping center has at least one bakery/pastry making of French inspiration. For example the ''Delifrance'' chain is found in all Super Malls of Manila. The ''rod'' is perhaps not as crusty as in Paris, but the savor of the bread is completely acceptable.

For the food budget, account 10.000/12.000 Pesos (180 €).

Some prices for 1 kg or 1 liter (in Pesos): rice 35 P, flour 38 P, oil 55 P, spaghetti 68 P, dried milk 280 P, and sweeten 34/36. Instant coffee Nescafe classic, 250 gr. 180 P.

Domestic employees: cleaning lady, driver, caretaker.

The wages in Philippines are very low. For a cleaning lady which also will prepare the meals, will wash and iron, if required to deal with the children, it is necessary to count from 2.000 to 3.000 Pesos + food. A driver from 5.000 to 7.500 Pesos. For a Caretaker, I really do not know, but this must be about the wages of a driver. My opinion, treat well your employees and they will return it to you.


It is not absolutely necessary to possess your own vehicle, at least at the beginning of a stay. There is a whole series of practical and economic means of transport like the `' three-wheeled'', the `' jeepney'' and buses available for all the possible and conceivable destinations.

The tricycle it is actually a motor cycle of low power, equipped with a side car combination. To use for short distances, 7 Pesos should be counted for a way inside the city and from 50 to 70 pesos for a way of ten kilometers. The jeepney in the beginning it is a jeep of the American army with a lengthened frame, transformed in a kind of minibus for a capacity from fifteen to twenty passengers. Prices charged slightly lower than those of the buses. Bus with air-conditioning charge 1.5 peso per km.

Let us count 20 € for the transport station.

If you have a vehicle of the kind of Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic or City, Mitsubishi Lancer, which are the most spread marks and models, you can budget for between 2.500 and 3.500 P. The cost of labor is ridiculous and the parts available on the whole of the territory.

Leisure, distractions

Beach (or mountain), sea and sun, it is free! Perhaps some beers or fruit juices, to enjoy under a `' kobo'' by contemplating the sea, will cost you a few tens of Pesos.

Beer of very good quality from 15 to 20 P the bottle of 33cl by case of 24, sold from 25 to 35 P in a bar. Red Horse, strong beer about 52 P the liter. One liter of Tanduay rum, 5 years of age, less than 100 pesos, the bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label from 800 to 850 P, the liter of gins GB 150/160 P.

Some restaurants, to change horizon, local or international food, the prices are ridiculous and the food is excellent. It is necessary to count approximately 150 to 250 P per capita and a maximum of 500 P for a feast. A few tens of pesos only if you make the choice of Fast-food and they are plethora in Philippines. MacDonald, KFC, Pizza-Hutt, Greenwich, Windy' S, Jolibee, etc .

Perhaps also some cinemas, but with the cable priced 500 P, the almost free satellite, the DVD and Internet at 1,000 …

Golf, water skiing, fishing, diving, sailing and a multitude of activities at prices defying any competition.

Let us count 50 € for leisure and distractions.


The whole of the territory is now covered by the cellular system of telephony (portable). Three companies divide the market, Globe, Smart and Sun. With my opinion, Smart is the best choice. The local text is charged 1P, 15 P for the international , 5 to 7 Pesos for a local call and 25 to 30 P with international (one minute).

Concerning the access to Internet, it improves every day. Wifi is now available in the shopping centers, hotels and restaurants, module of access for the laptop signals, packages for the private individuals.

Personally I use the three companies, Smart, Globe and Sun for cellular telephony and Smart Bro for the Internet.

My connection Internet costs me 1.000 Pesos per month and I obtain a speed (download) from 90 to 120 KBp. Warning during the Weekend my speed can go down to 15/20 KBp/s.

Estimate of the post '' communication'', 2.000 pesos/month.

We calculated broad and we arrive at a budget of about 650 €.

Can you live in France or in a western country on such a budget? Including the hiring of your residence?

What do you wait to join us?

More information, contact me or to leave a comment.


1 $ (USD) = 48 Philippines Pesos (P.)

1 € (Euro) = 70 Philippines Pesos (P.)

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