The morning I decided to write this post, the sun was streaming in through the beautiful windows of my Manila apartment (or condo as they’re called in the Philippines). I knew I would miss this place intensely, even if the view was only of the neighbouring shopping mall. Depending on the smog level, I could actually see a good distance and I was appreciative that my windows weren’t pressed up hard against some other high-rise building. Every morning the sun would come in at just the right angle to gently wake me up for work…. *sigh… ok, perhaps not quite paradise, but it was certainly pleasant!
If you’ve ever wondered what it cost to live in the centre of the financial district of Manila this is the post for you.
Rent: ₱25,000 per month (10 months) (NPS Realty)
I rented a fully furnished condo on the 25th floor of a building in Legaspi Village, Makati. It was just around the corner from the major mall complex, Greenbelt, and a 20-minute walk to work. My condo was 36 square metres and had a separate ensuite bedroom and kitchen. The building had a gym, sauna and swimming pool, which I wish I’d made more use of.
On the day I moved in I was required to provide 8 post dated cheques in addition to my initial deposit. Fortunately, I had already opened by Bank of the Philippine Islands account and received my chequebook. I’ve never operated in cheques anywhere else in the world.
Deposit: ₱100,000 (2 months + 2 month’s rent in advance)
At the end of the lease, there was a 45-day wait before my deposit was returned. This is to allow for any bills to come in. If you’re leaving the country at the end of your lease consider nominating a friend to collect your deposit. I asked a kiwi friend to pick it up for me and gave him a cut. All the realtors I spoke to were totally inflexible on this topic and I had no choice but to wait the full 45 days.
Power: ₱1,010.83 per month (average) (building admin)
Utility bills were issued in the last week of the month by the condominium administrators. You get three days to pay before receiving a disconnection notice. I always paid my bills a month in advance because I was a fairly predictable user. I should note here that I only used my air-conditioning system for a couple of hours a day. I would recommend using it a lot more than I did.
Water: ₱68.07 per month (average) (building admin)
Same as power.
Trash Collection: n/a
Dumped down a shoot next to the elevator to who knows where!
Housekeeper: ₱700 for one bedroom, on bathroom
I did not have a regular maid service since I lived in a one bedroom place, but I really appreciated the one-off deep clean I did get done. They clean so much better than me!
// Phone & Internet
Phone & Internet: ₱2,300 per month (Globe)
Unlimited internet at a guaranteed speed of 3 mbps… it wasn’t the best value for money and is only marginally faster than my internet in rural Northern Ireland. Still, it was a handy bundle and delivered consistent connection. There were no setup costs, they just billed me part-month. I was able to pay my monthly bill at the Globe store in Greenbelt.
Cable: ₱500 per month (Destiny)
In order to watch endless episodes of The Closer I hooked up the tiny tv to cable. Bills went up to ₱550 while I was there. This bill was paid at a bill pay station in the SM Mall in Makati next to Glorietta.
Groceries & Eating Out: ₱6,000 per month
And I could have eaten A LOT more. Most grocery purchases were made at one of the Rustan’s Supermarkets in my area. Whenever I needed Griffin’s biscuits I would go to Landmark. There are so many places to eat out in Makati, if only I’d had more money…
I walked most places. Now and that I would take a Jeepney (less than ₱9 a ride) or Tricycle Ride – but never on my own. If I needed to go to Immigration in Intramuros or to the airport I would hail a taxi. My transport costs were pennies.
Average Monthly Spend: ₱34,878.90
I lived well outside my means in the Philippines. Earning a local salary, I spent at least 68% of my income on my living costs – sometimes more. Quite telling that those migrants on international wages can really live to a very high standard at a very minimal cost. In the Philippines, the rich are rich and the poor are truly struggling.
Are there any costs of life in the Philippines you’d like me to cover (movies, pints, etc)? Let us know in the comment section.
Last updated: 11 May 2014 -Be aware, these prices are correct as of May 2014 and since they represent my real living cost from May 2013-May 2014, they will not get updated later on. Make sure you check the websites for the companies we used to calculate up to date costs! Exchange rates correct as of 11 May 2014, retrieved from xe.com. There are no affiliate links in this post.