Can you live in a bungalow, a common style house in a gated subdivision, or do you require a highrise condo? Your choice of housing will be an important first step in determining your cost of living in the Philippines. Once you have settled on the type of residence you will enjoy during your Philippines retirement years, a lifestyle check may be in order. Can you eat a pork chop that is grilled in a local Filipino restaurant and costs about P60 or do you require a pork chop with gravy and mushrooms in a 5 Star Hotel restaurant that costs P300? Food is one of the major expenses of living in the Philippines, same as in any country one chooses to live. The expats who mostly enjoy eating at home instead of taking every meal in a restaurant will have extra money to do other things with. My family and I enjoy a balance concerning our food bill. My wife and I both enjoy cooking at home but we also enjoy going out several times each week to one our favorite restaurants or to try one of the new restaurants the are opening almost every week in Bacolod City.
Many things are cheaper in the Philippines when compared to more developed countries but electricity is not cheaper. If you require using an air conditioner 24/7, you can expect a high electric bill every month. One of the things we did was to buy a large Japanese brand aerodynamic fan and we use it during the daytime hours. We are comfortable and some days, we do not require the use of the fan at all, especially during the cooler months of December-February in our area of the Philippines. We enjoy using the air conditioner during sleeping hours. If you buy a home or build a home, I recommend buying a split type air conditioner with an inverter, as this is a very economic air conditioner. Centralized air conditioning is not popular in the Philippines and it can be expensive to install.
Entertainment can be inexpensive or it can be costly in the Philippines, depending on what you enjoy doing. Beverages cost more in pubs and bars, however, beverages are still affordable if you enjoy going out a few nights a week for a few rounds of drinks. Some of the newly released movies that are shown in other countries are also shown at the same time in cities of the Philippines. The cost of a movie ticket in Bacolod City in the mall cinemas is P100 each. Some of the 3D movies cost P150-P200 but this is still cheaper than going to the cinema in many other countries.
Some of the other daily expenses include buying drinking water. Purified, distilled and alkaline drinking water is easily purchased and delivered in 5 gallon jugs at the cost of about P40. Electric stoves and ovens are not the norm in the Philippines, as most people use LPG and an 11 kg tank is about P800. That cost is less than $20 and one tank should last at least one month or longer, depending on how much you cook at home.
Many people in the Philippines do not have a land line in their home and communication is by cell phone. I have enjoyed not having a home phone bill for the past 4 years! The cell phone is more economical.
Personally, I know the cost of living in the Philippines is based very much on personal lifestyle. I have expat friends who budget less than $1,000 per month for a family of 2 or 3 and they live comfortably. I also have expat friends who budget more than $2,000 per month for only their wife and themselves and they live very well. The other major factor about the cost of living in the Philippines is location. Most everything costs more in the larger cities, such as Manila and Cebu, when compared to a mid-size city or living in the rural countryside.
The overall economic environment in the Philippines offers a great life for less money than many other countries in the world and the positives far outweigh the few negatives for most expats who want to enjoy life in a tropical paradise with very friendly, smiling people.