Philippines Expat Cost Of Living

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The Philippines is a dream destination for many expats who want to experience a low-cost, exotic lifestyle in Southeast Asia. But what are the true costs associated with living in the country? In this article, we explore the cost of living for expats in the Philippines and how to make the most of your money while still enjoying all that the country has to offer.

For those considering making a move to the Philippines, there are many factors to consider when it comes to budgeting for life in this tropical paradise. From housing costs and transportation expenses to food prices and entertainment options, there are numerous expenses that must be taken into account before deciding on a place to live.

It’s important to understand that not all expats will have the same cost of living experience in the Philippines; it depends greatly on individual needs and preferences. This article will provide an overview of typical costs associated with living in the Philippines so you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s right for you. Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to live comfortably as an expat in this beautiful country!

Definition Of An Expat

What is an expat? An expat is an individual who permanently or temporarily lives in a country that is different from their home country. Expats often travel abroad for work, education, or other personal interests. They must adjust to the language, customs, and culture of their host country.

The cost of living for expats in the Philippines depends on several factors, including lifestyle and location. The type of accommodation chosen as well as the number of people staying in it will affect the total cost of living. Other expenses such as food, transportation costs, and entertainment can also have a significant impact on overall costs. Additionally, taxes may apply differently depending on residence status in the Philippines.

In terms of healthcare costs, some health insurance policies may provide coverage while others may not. Expats should consult with an insurance specialist when making decisions about what kind of coverage they need while living in the Philippines. All these factors should be considered carefully in order to determine the true cost of living for expats in the Philippines.

Overview Of Cost Of Living In The Philippines

Having an understanding of the costs associated with living in the Philippines can help expats plan for their stay. The cost of living varies greatly depending on lifestyle choices and location. Accommodation, transportation, food, and entertainment all play a role in determining the total expense. Additionally, taxes may apply differently depending on residence status. Healthcare costs should also be taken into account when preparing for an expat experience in the Philippines.

Accommodation is one of the most significant factors affecting the cost of living in the Philippines. Expats can choose from a variety of housing options such as apartments, condominiums, and houses. Rental prices vary widely according to location and amenities; however, overall they tend to be more affordable than in many other countries. Transportation costs will depend on how much traveling is required; public transport tends to be inexpensive but taxis or private cars can be costly. Food expenses will vary based on where expats choose to eat and whether they purchase groceries or dine out frequently. Entertainment costs can add up quickly if expats partake in activities such as sightseeing or nightlife; however, there are plenty of free activities that can provide entertainment without breaking the bank.

Expats should also take taxes into consideration when planning their budget for living in the Philippines. Depending on residence status, taxes may apply differently than those found in their home country; it is important to research applicable tax laws before making any decisions about residency status. Healthcare is another factor to consider; some health insurance policies may cover expenses while others do not so it is best to consult with an insurance specialist when making decisions about coverage needs while living abroad.

By taking all these factors into account when calculating the cost of living expenses, expats will have a better idea of what kind of budget they need to set for their stay in the Philippines.


As mentioned, accommodation is one of the most significant factors when considering the cost of living in the Philippines. Expats have a few housing options to consider; apartments, condominiums, and houses are all available depending on lifestyle preferences and budget. Rentals in urban areas tend to be more expensive than those in rural locations; however, overall they are generally more affordable than many other countries.

Transportation expenses will depend largely on how much traveling is required; public transport such as buses, jeepneys and trains can be taken cheaply while taxis or private cars may be more costly. Food expenses vary depending on whether expats opt for groceries or choose to dine out frequently. Entertainment costs can add up quickly if expats partake in activities such as sightseeing or nightlife; however, there are plenty of free activities that can provide entertainment without putting too much strain on a budget.

Taxes should also be taken into account when preparing for an expat experience in the Philippines; depending on residence status, taxes may apply differently than those found in their home country so it is best to research applicable tax laws before making any decisions about residency status. Healthcare costs should also be considered when planning a budget as some health insurance policies may cover expenses while others do not.

Food & Drink

When it comes to food and drink, the Philippines offers expats a wide range of options. Groceries are generally inexpensive and easy to find; however, it is important to remember that prices can vary depending on location and season. Eating out is also an option and there is a wide range of restaurants offering both local and international cuisine. Alcoholic beverages tend to be more expensive than in other parts of the world; however, there are plenty of bars and clubs that offer discounts or happy hours.

The cost of groceries depends mainly on what types of items are being purchased; fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products can all be found at local markets for relatively low prices. Imported items such as canned goods, packaged snacks, or alcohol can be more costly than those found locally. Expats may also find they pay more in tourist areas so shopping around for the best deals is advised.

In terms of entertainment activities, there is no shortage of things to do in the Philippines. Sightseeing trips can be taken for relatively low costs while attending cultural events or going out to nightlife spots will cost more depending on how often expats partake in these activities. Additionally, many services such as gyms or spas provide discounted rates for expats which could help keep costs down while still enjoying some luxuries.


When it comes to transportation in the Philippines, expats have plenty of options. Public transport is generally inexpensive and reliable, with buses and jeepneys being the most popular methods of getting around. Taxis are available in major cities but fares can be more expensive than other forms of transport. For those that plan on staying in the Philippines for an extended period of time, purchasing a car or motorcycle is also an option; however, this will require more upfront costs and additional expenses such as registration fees, taxes, and insurance.

Another convenient way to get around is by using ride-hailing services such as Grab or Angkas. These are relatively inexpensive compared to taxis but may be subject to surge pricing during peak hours or busy periods. Expats should also be aware that some areas may not have access to these services due to certain regulations or restrictions so it’s best to check before relying on them as a regular means of transportation.

Overall, there are plenty of ways for expats to get around the Philippines while still keeping costs low. Utilizing public transport, ride-hailing services or even renting motorbikes can all help keep down expenses while still allowing expats the freedom to explore their new home.


When it comes to healthcare in the Philippines, expats have a variety of options available. Public healthcare is generally affordable and can be accessed through hospitals and clinics around the country. However, the quality of care in public facilities may not always meet international standards and waiting times can be long due to overcrowding.

Private healthcare is also an option for expats who can afford it. Private hospitals and clinics offer higher standards of care but come with a much higher price tag. It’s important to note that some medical treatments may not be covered by insurance so it’s worth checking with your provider before seeking out treatment.

Expats should also consider purchasing health insurance before moving to the Philippines or once they arrive. This will ensure you’re covered for any unexpected medical costs and give you peace of mind knowing that you’re covered in case of an emergency.


Education is another important factor for expats to consider when moving to the Philippines. There are both public and private schools available, with a range of curricula including international options such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. Public schools offer free education but may not always meet international standards, while private schools tend to be more expensive but offer higher quality education.

Expats should also research the language requirements of their chosen school to ensure they are able to communicate effectively and understand the material being taught. While English is widely spoken in the Philippines, it may be necessary for some expats to learn Tagalog or other local languages in order to participate fully in their children’s education.

It’s also worth considering extracurricular activities such as sports or music classes that can help children find something they enjoy and make new friends. Expats should research different programs available in their area and decide which best suits their child’s needs and interests.

Entertainment & Leisure

Entertainment and leisure activities are also important for expats living in the Philippines. There are plenty of opportunities to get out and explore the country, from beach holidays to visits to historical sites. Expats can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and diving, as well as exploring local markets or attending cultural events such as festivals or performances.

Expats should also take advantage of the country’s vibrant nightlife scene. The Philippines has a wide range of bars, clubs, and restaurants serving both local and international cuisine. Music lovers can find plenty of live music venues while those looking for more relaxed nights out can sip cocktails at rooftop bars or soak up some local culture at art galleries or cinemas.

When it comes to entertainment and leisure, the Philippines offers something for everyone – from adventurous outdoor pursuits to laid-back evenings out. Expats living in this vibrant country will never be short of things to do whatever their interests may be.


When it comes to taxation, expats in the Philippines should be aware of the local laws and regulations. It is important for expats to understand what taxes they will have to pay and how much. The Philippine government offers a range of tax incentives for foreign investors, so it is worth researching these before deciding whether or not to move there.

Income tax rates for foreigners are based on their residency status, with those living long-term in the country paying higher taxes than those staying shorter periods. Expats should also be aware that any income earned outside the Philippines may still be subject to taxation by their home country.

Taxes can add up quickly if expats aren’t careful, so they should make sure they understand all their obligations and take advantage of any tax breaks available. Doing this will help them save money in the long run and ensure they don’t get caught out by unexpected bills.

Banking & Money Matters

When it comes to banking and money matters, expats in the Philippines will need to open a local bank account. This is the best way to manage their finances, as it will allow them to access their funds quickly and easily. Expats should be aware that local banking regulations can differ from those in their home country, so they should spend some time researching what’s available before making a decision.

The currency in the Philippines is the Philippine Peso, which can be exchanged for other foreign currencies at banks or foreign exchange offices. It’s also possible for expats to use international credit cards or debit cards while they are there, although they may find that local stores may not accept these types of payment.

Expats should also be aware of any fees associated with banking and money transfers in the Philippines. These fees can vary depending on where they are sending money from and how much they are transferring, so it’s important to research these beforehand. Knowing what costs are involved will help expats make sure their budgeting is accurate and avoid any unexpected financial surprises.

Visas & Permits

When it comes to visas and permits, expats in the Philippines will need to apply for the appropriate visa before travelling. Depending on their nationality and the length of time they wish to stay, different visas may be required. For instance, travelers from certain countries are allowed visa-free access for up to 30 days, while those staying longer must obtain a specific type of visa.

It’s also important for expats to keep track of any paperwork they need to maintain their legal status while in the Philippines. This could include a work permit or long-term residence document, depending on their situation. Expats should familiarize themselves with their visa requirements before arrival so that they can avoid any potential problems down the line.

Finally, expats should also consider what health insurance coverage is available in the country and make sure that it meets their needs. Having adequate insurance is essential for keeping medical costs under control and ensuring that any necessary treatment is covered. It’s wise for expats to research their options thoroughly before deciding on a policy that works for them.

Domestic Helpers & Services

Another important consideration for expats in the Philippines is finding reliable domestic help and services. This can be a great way to take some of the load off, particularly for those with young families or busy work schedules. Hiring a nanny, housekeeper, driver or gardener can help make life much easier and more enjoyable.

When it comes to finding trustworthy staff, there are several avenues available to expats. One option is to recruit through a trusted agency that specializes in supplying domestic helpers and other services. Alternatively, expats may opt to find their own employees either through word of mouth or by searching online. However they choose to go about it, it’s important for expats to conduct background checks and ensure that their staff members have the necessary qualifications and experience for the job.

Expats should also bear in mind that hiring domestic help can add significantly to their monthly budget. They should factor this into their overall cost of living expenses when deciding on a salary package or budgeting for day-to-day household costs. With careful planning and realistic expectations, expats should be able to find suitable help without breaking the bank.

Working Opportunities

For expats who are looking to take up employment in the Philippines, there are plenty of opportunities available. With its expanding economy and foreign investment, the country offers a wide range of job possibilities for those wishing to work abroad.

Expats can find work in many different sectors including hospitality, banking, engineering, IT and telecommunications. Most jobs will require applicants to have some knowledge of the local language, although English is also widely spoken in larger cities like Manila. Another important factor when applying for jobs is having the right qualifications as employers may be reluctant to hire without proof of relevant experience or qualifications.

With the right credentials and an understanding of Filipino culture and customs, expats should find it relatively easy to secure a job in this vibrant country. Even if they don’t have any formal qualifications, there are many freelance and volunteer opportunities that may be available to them. Expats who find suitable employment will not only benefit financially but also gain valuable insights into Filipino life and culture.

Moving To The Philippines

Having established a career in the Philippines, expats may want to take their stay in the country to the next level by moving there. The process of relocating can be daunting but with careful planning and preparation, it can all go relatively smoothly.

The first step is to obtain a visa. The type of visa required will depend on how long an expat plans to stay and the purpose of their visit. Long-term visas are generally easier to obtain for those who have already secured employment in the country or have been offered an internship or volunteer position. It is also possible for students and retirees to apply for visas if they meet certain criteria.

Once a valid visa is obtained, expats will need to consider where they want to live. Popular cities such as Manila, Cebu City and Davao offer great job opportunities as well as numerous leisure activities and attractions. Smaller towns like Boracay, Bohol or Palawan are ideal for those who prefer a more relaxed pace of life away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

No matter what part of the Philippines expats choose as their home, they can rest assured that living costs are relatively low compared to other countries in Southeast Asia. With its plentiful amenities, warm climate and friendly locals, it’s easy to see why so many people choose to call this beautiful country home.

Pros And Cons Of Living In The Philippines

Moving to the Philippines can be a great choice for expats who are looking for an affordable and vibrant lifestyle. With its gorgeous natural scenery, friendly locals, and low cost of living, there are many advantages to living in this beautiful country. However, it is important to be aware of the drawbacks as well.

One of the main pros of living in the Philippines is its affordability. Rent prices are reasonable and groceries are cheap compared to most places in Southeast Asia. Public transportation is also inexpensive, making it easy to get around without breaking the bank. Additionally, taxes are lower than other countries in the region, giving expats more money to enjoy their new home.

On the other hand, expats should take into account some of the cons of living in the Philippines. The healthcare system is not as advanced as that found in other countries and medical costs can be expensive if one has not taken out health insurance prior to arriving. There may also be restrictions on certain activities due to cultural or religious reasons which could make it difficult for some expats who are used to a more liberal lifestyle elsewhere.

Despite these drawbacks, there are many positives associated with life in this tropical paradise that make it worth considering for those looking for an affordable and exciting place to call home. Expats will find that they quickly settle into life here and make friends with ease among the welcoming population.


Living as an expat in the Philippines is a unique experience. Although cost of living is generally lower than in many other countries, it can still be quite high depending on where you live and what lifestyle you enjoy. With the right amount of planning and research, however, expats can find ways to make their stay in the Philippines more affordable while still enjoying all that this beautiful country has to offer.

The pros of living in the Philippines are numerous: the people are friendly and welcoming, the scenery is stunning, there are plenty of job opportunities and activities to take part in, and overall it’s a great place for expats to call home for a short or long period of time. On the downside, certain aspects such as transportation costs can be expensive, and finding quality accommodation at an affordable price may be difficult.

Ultimately though, living in the Philippines as an expat can be both exciting and rewarding. It’s important to do your research beforehand so that you have a better understanding of what you’re getting yourself into and how much it will cost you. If done properly, living in the Philippines as an expat can provide a wonderful opportunity to experience life outside one’s own culture while enjoying all that this amazing country has to offer.

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