Our January 2016 Philippines Monthly Living Expenses – How Much Does it Cost to Live in the Philippines??

People are always asking how much it costs to live in the Philippines and we are always replying “Well, it depends…..”  Depending on your personal means and disposition, you can basically spend as much or as little as you want.  Want to live in a nipa hut and eat dried fish and rice?  You can get by with that lifestyle for about 250 dollars a month.  Want to rent a high-end condominium in Makati, ride around in a shiny new Fortuner and eat steak every night?  Ya better have ten times that amount.  Bottom line is this:  Yes, you will spend less money in the Philippines, but you will also have a lower standard of living in terms of internet, roads, pollution, electricity, chance of natural disasters, internet shopping, general cleanliness, communicable diseases and the like. 

But for some, the inadequacies we just noted are just part of the unique charm of living out on the edge – for some it’s what makes the Philippines the Philippines.

Michell and I live a pretty simple but comfortable lifestyle:  We have aircon when it’s hot, 16 MB internet (which is fast here), we shopping, eat out a lot, travel, have a decent, mostly drama-free home/neighborhood and aren’t hurting for anything.  We spend so little money here per month that it isn’t even something we think about – she is just as simple as I am and when she does splurge on something, she always gets the best deals. 

But even though we don’t really give expenses much thought, many of our viewers do, so over the past few years we’ve made pains to give you monthly “snapshots” of our living expenses.  We took November and December off (my bank account shows we averaged $1,075 for each month plus the $700 for the sexxay Rouser 200 NS in November) but we put our noses back to the grindstone to track our expenses for the first month of 2016.

So – without any further ado – here it is!


Rent 8,000 / $168
Electricity 2,400 / $49                 Aircon 6-10 hours a day plus gaming/video PC
Gym 950 / $19                               Long term members just got a discount!
Internet 2,00 / $42                       16 MB DL/1 MB UL Sky Broadband
Water 169 / $3.50       
Cable TV 0                                      I download shows and movies.
Groceries 7,400 / $155                  Hypermart, Daro Produce Market
Eating out 9,000 / $189                Harolds, Kamalig, MacDo, Essencia, etc.
Gas Motorcycles   1,200 / $22     Vroom! Vroom!
Visa Fees 2,930 /  $61                   Pay to stay, a dollar a day….
Cigarettes (Yuck!) 1,760 / $36      Yeah, yeah…..
Phones 500 / $11                            SMART Mega250 plan
Laundry 620 / $13
Dry Goods 1,975 / $41                   Sundry items from Unitop, etc.
Unaccounted 1,729 / $36*
Medications 955 / $20


*”Unaccounted” represents the offset between my month start and end banking minus the other expenses.  It’s usually paying the motorcycle attendants, grabbing a soda somewhere or other small things that I don’t record on my phone.

Rouser 200NS with top box
Another excuse to show the rouser…..

Now we have to add 4,500 pesos ($94) to the monthly expenses for the purchase of the custom back rack and top box that I got for the Rouser.

So, now our grand total for January 2016 is at $959.

Now let’s add the months that we have tracked thus far and see what the average is….

July 2014     1,058
Aug 2014     940
Sep 2014     1,160
Oct 2014      1,113
Nov 2014     1,183
Dec 2014      1,198
Jan 2015       1,059
Feb 2015       1,193
Sep 2015        1,083   
Jan 2016         959

10 MONTH TRACKED AVERAGE        $1,028/month

Not too bad…..  That used to be my monthly rent when I lived back in the good old US of A.

Again, if you are going to replicate a Western existence in the Philippines with super high speed internet, backup generators, big SUV, 24-hour air conditioning, imported meats, cheese and the like, you are going to spend more here than you would in the West.  But if you are willing to live a simple – but fulfilling – life comfortably and without all the stressors of Keeping up with the Jones, you might find it just your own little slice of (quasi)paradise.

We hope that this is of some continued help to folks who are wondering how much it costs to live in the Philippines. 

And if you have something to add, please make note of it in the comments section.

Philippines - Filipino currency, Peso bank notes - photo by B.Henry


++Dreaming on white sand beaches, sunny skies and pretty Pinays?  Possessed of a small pension or a portable career that allows you to work anywhere in the world?  Follow our (mis)adventures over at My Philippine Dreams to learn about the positives and the negatives of moving, living, working or studying in the Philippines++


  1. Not much to add this time. You are talking about going back to the states, I’m still a big guy so I had to go first class , so I paid $3200 ish just one way . What do you think round trip will be for you this next?

  2. great post Michell and Ned.

    i am setting a date for stopping smoking.any suggestions?

    also don’t understand about cashing in money, is that in US bank or in Phil?

  3. Hi Ned.
    We’re not living there yet, but we support my wife’s father and Lola, and her sister in Moalboal. Our total is PHP 19219, which equals 600.59 Canadian dollars, @ 32 pesos/ Canadian dollar. It breaks down as follows:
    Rent, 0 we have our own place there
    Electricity, PHP 3000
    Internet, PHP1500
    TV Signal, PHP 499
    Water, PHP 800
    Mineral Water, PHP 1300
    Groceries, PHP 8000
    Gas or cooking PHP 1120
    Helpers, PHP 3000
    We do our own laundry
    We do the Balik Bayan visa when we go there
    We don’t own a vehicle, (yet)
    So, once we are there for an extended amount of time this will go up a bit, it is pretty much the same as yours, but I’m paying in Canadian Dollars 🙁

    1. Thanks much for adding that breakdown, Dan. You are saving quite a lot by not going out to each as much as Michell and I do! 🙂 And don’t worry, the Canadian dollar will eventually recover against the peso!

  4. hi ned &michell. bin 3 times in the philippines, my wife and i will going in may again staying with my familie in san crispin san pablo city laguna. this tripp will included survey of our land and make shure wath wee have is in my wifes name, plus the cost of building our house only one story . my name is helmut my wife jasmin . we love you vidios keep up god bless

  5. Hi Ned and Michell
    Thank you so much for the videos. My question is about round trip tickets. I understand that one is allow a 30 day stay on a u.s. passport and then allowed to extent with two month visas. So, when i first arrive and customs checks to see if i have a return flight, does that flight have to be scheduled to leave within the first 30 days? Or, could it be scheduled to leave 6 months or more latter with the understanding I am going to purchase visas. I am trying to avoid change fees with the airlines.
    Thanks again. Have a great Dumaguete day. Al

    1. It can be six months or more if you want – you just have to show the ongoing or return flight out of the country. If your flight out is a year away, you can actually leave the Philippines to travel SE Asia and use it multiple times to return to the Philippines.

  6. Can you tell me how much baby milk, diapers and basic foods cost for an 18 month old in a rural area, I want to help a friend with her baby, cheers Carol

  7. My question deals with your visa fees. How do you pay those fees? I stay in Manila for 5 months and every 30 or so days I would travel to the immigration office which took an hour due to the horridness traffic. There was always a crowd so you fall in line and wait several hours. I started giving the one in charge 500 PHP which cut my time down considerably. Is there an immigration office in Dumaguete or do you have to travel to another island?

  8. Hi Ned and Michell.
    Great video.
    We arrived in Mabiny about 3 weeks ago.
    Your videos have been a great help to Rowena and myself.
    We would watch your videos from New Zealand before we came here.. Lol
    Thanks for your insights into living in the Philippines.

    Bless you guys
    Danny and Rowena

      1. Thanks Ned / Michelle

        I bought a lot in my GFs name last month in Cebu, yes it had to go in her name, I think I will wait for a while and maybe build a place which in itself is a pretty daunting thought reading through some of the stuff on the internet, but that’s a least 2 years away from now it should give me plenty of time to do a bit more research, thanks and good luck with your wedding plans 🙂

  9. A friend of mine built his own house in the Philippines I think he wouldn’t mind sharing his experience with others. He’s always been helpful to people in Canada.

    1. That’s what the internet is for! He can make a free website with blogger and easily put his experiences up on the world wide web for all to benefit from. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Everything you post on line has help me make my mind up about moving to Dumaguete am in the process of selling everything as soon as I do that am moving and am not coming back to the USA I love your posts and thank you for all your help

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