Cost of Living in the Philippines?

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Phone, Internet, Food – Living Costs in the Philippines

Before their move, expats often don’t know what to expect in terms of the cost of living in the Philippines. We give you an overview of the effect of housing, utilities, transportation, phone and internet, and food items on your living costs in the Philippines.
A telephone and internet connection is essential for most expats. Make sure to compare different providers before you sign up for one of their plans.

Internet: Inexpensive, but Not the Fastest

Easy and reliable access to the internet is absolutely essential for expats, not only to get ahold of all the important information on visa requirements, public transportation, local events, etc., but also to keep in touch with their family at home. It is a benign detail that is often overlooked, but costs for internet and phone connections should be considered when calculating the cost of living in the Philippines.

The good news is that internet access is possible on most islands, either via DSL or as a wireless option through a SIM card. The quality has also improved significantly in recent years. Still, you should make sure that you sign up for at least a 512kbps (or better yet 1Mbps) connection if you want to use internet video chat providers such as Skype, for instance. Moreover, you should ask around to find out which provider offers the best rates and services on your island.

On average, you can expect to pay about 2,000 PHP per month for a 6Mbps connection. Slower internet plans can be purchased for as little as to 1,000 PHP. Providers such as Globe usually offer a combined telephone and internet package. If you thought about having a landline phone connection anyway, this is a great choice. After all, a landline connection alone can already cost you 600 PHP.

Various Mobile Plans Available

Chances are that, even if you get a landline connection with your internet package, you will become an avid mobile phone user. In fact, mobile networks are widely available all over the Philippines and particularly text messages are often used to communicate. If you are not sure whether your mobile phone will work in the Philippines, you can purchase one there before you get a Philippine phone number. The main providers include Globe, Smart, and Sun Cellular. All of them offer prepaid and postpaid contracts, as well as wireless internet options.

You can buy prepaid SIM cards at a very low cost (sometimes you will even get them for free with your new phone) almost everywhere across the country. In addition, you will have to purchase pre-paid “loads” cards, starting at 10 PHP. The cost for each minute of a phone call (about 6.50 PHP) and each text message (about 1 PHP) will then be deducted from your loads. Postpaid plans are an alternative to that and the best choice for those who use their phone regularly. These plans cost upwards of 299 PHP.

Local Produce is the Best Option

Buying groceries and dining at local restaurants can cost you between 5,000 PHP and 8,000 PHP per month, depending on where and what you buy. As we have mentioned in the introduction to this article, some products are simply more expensive than others. This applies particularly to luxury food items such as donuts, chocolate, and peanut butter, but also to potatoes and cow’s milk. Meat lovers will also find that beef is a lot more expensive than fish or other types of meat. To give you an idea, a kilogram of pork would cost you around 190 PHP and a kilogram of chicken amounts to 130 PHP, while a kilogram of beef costs between 200 PHP and 260 PHP.

Imported items cost more, of course, which is why you should make sure to buy local products instead. In some cases, you will find a certain product you know from home under a different name. At the same time, eating at high-class restaurants or places in touristy areas is rather expensive. To give you an example, a burger at the beach in Boracay may cost around 195 PHP, while you would only pay 150 PHP at a local mall located slightly inland.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Jacques Paillard

"All expatriates in my company joined InterNations because it really helped me get accustomed to my new life in Manila. "

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