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Unlock the Secrets to Thriving in the City: A Guide to the Cost of Living in Manila!

Unlock the Secrets to Thriving in the City: A Guide to the Cost of Living in Manila!


Manila, the heart of the Philippines, where the hustle is real and the spirit of ‘Bayanihan’ is alive. It’s a city that’s as diverse as the ‘halo-halo’ we all love on a hot day. But let’s cut to the chase, you’re here to find out about the cost of living in this vibrant city, right?

Well, you’re in for a treat! The cost of living in Manila is as varied as our ‘sari-sari’ stores. You can live like a king or opt for a more modest lifestyle, it’s all up to you. Whether you’re eyeing a posh condo in Makati or a humble abode in a quieter neighborhood, we’ve got you covered.

So, ready to dive in? Tara na!” We’re about to embark on a journey to uncover the real cost of living in Manila. Hold on to your jeepney seats, it’s going to be an exciting ride!

Factors Affecting Cost of Living

Lifestyle Choices

First things first, let’s talk about lifestyle. Are you the type who enjoys a night out at a fancy restaurant, or are you more of a ‘tapsilog’ at the local ‘carinderia’ kind of person? Your lifestyle choices play a huge role in your cost of living.

If you’re the type who enjoys the finer things in life, like dining at high-end restaurants, shopping at luxury boutiques, or sipping on overpriced coffee, then be prepared to shell out more. But if you’re more of a simple ‘Juan’, happy with local eateries, thrift shopping, and a good old cup of ‘kapeng barako’, then your expenses will be significantly less.

Area of Residence

Next up, let’s talk about location, location, location. In Manila, where you choose to live can significantly impact your cost of living. The city is a patchwork of different neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and price tag.

If you choose to live in upscale neighborhoods like Makati or Bonifacio Global City, expect to pay a premium for that privilege. But if you’re okay with living in more modest areas like Quezon City or Pasig, you can save a lot on rent.

Remember, in Manila, the closer you are to the city center, the higher the cost. But hey, who needs a fancy address when you’ve got the whole city at your doorstep?

Read next: 8 Most In Demand Jobs in the Philippines

Type of Accommodation

Lastly, let’s talk about your home sweet home. Are you dreaming of a high-rise condo with a view of the Manila skyline, or are you content with a simple apartment or boarding house?

The type of accommodation you choose can significantly affect your monthly expenses. A luxury condo in a prime location will cost you a pretty penny, but a modest apartment or boarding house in a less central area can be much more affordable.

So, whether you’re a high-flying executive looking for a swanky pad, or a budget-conscious individual happy with simpler digs, Manila has something for everyone. Just remember, as we say in the Philippines, “Sa hinaba-haba ng prusisyon, sa simbahan rin ang tuloy.” (No matter how long the procession, it still ends up at the church.) In other words, no matter where you choose to live, it’s the journey that counts, not the destination.

Living in Manila on Different Budgets

Basic Lifestyle

cost of living in manila - basic

Estimated Budget

Let’s start with the basics. If you’re living a simple lifestyle, your monthly budget could be around $500 (roughly 25,000 PHP). Yes, you read that right. It’s possible to live in Manila on a budget that would barely cover rent in some other cities!

Living Conditions and Choices

Living on a basic budget means making smart choices. You might opt for a small apartment or a shared room in a boarding house. You’ll likely be eating at local ‘carinderias’ where you can get a hearty meal for less than $2. And forget about taxis or Grab – you’ll be getting around like a true local on jeepneys and tricycles.

Examples and References

Don’t just take my word for it. Check out this video on YouTube where a local shows how he lives in Manila on a $500 budget. Or this Quora post where people share their experiences of living in the Philippines on a tight budget. It’s all about living like a local and embracing the ‘diskarte’ lifestyle!

Comfortable Lifestyle

cost of living in manila - comfortably

Estimated Budget

If you’re looking for a bit more comfort, you’ll need a higher budget. For a comfortable lifestyle in Manila, you’re looking at a monthly budget of around $1,000 to $1,500.

Living Conditions and Choices

With this budget, you can afford to live in a nicer apartment, dine at mid-range restaurants, and even splurge on a Grab ride or two. You’ll have more room in your budget for leisure activities, too, like going to the movies or hitting the gym.

Examples and References

For more information, check out this guide by Nomadic Fire. It gives a detailed breakdown of what you can expect to spend on a comfortable lifestyle in Manila.

Luxurious Lifestyle

cost of living in manila - luxury

Estimated Budget

If you’re all about the high life, then you’ll need a budget to match. For a luxurious lifestyle in Manila, you’re looking at a monthly budget of around $3,000.

Living Conditions and Choices

With this kind of budget, the city is your oyster. You can rent a high-end condo, dine at the best restaurants, and enjoy all the leisure activities Manila has to offer. You can even hire a driver to avoid dealing with Manila’s infamous traffic!

Examples and References

Again, Nomadic Fire has a great guide on living luxuriously in Manila. It’s a great resource if you’re planning on living the high life in the city.

So there you have it – whether you’re on a tight budget or ready to splurge, there’s a lifestyle for you in Manila. As we say in the Philippines, “Kung gusto, may paraan. Kung ayaw, may dahilan.” (If there’s a will, there’s a way. If there’s none, there’s an excuse.) So, what’s it going to be?

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Average Rental Prices for 1 Bedroom Apartments in Manila

In the City Center

Now, if you’re thinking of living right in the heart of the city, where the action never stops, then you’re looking at an average rental price of around 30,534.44₱ ($564) per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Yes, it’s a bit pricier, but hey, you’re paying for the convenience of being close to everything – the malls, the offices, the nightlife. It’s like having the entire city right at your doorstep!

Outside the City Center

But if you’re okay with a bit of a commute and prefer a quieter neighborhood, then you can find a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center for an average of 15,000₱ ($277) per month. It’s a great option if you’re looking to save money or if you prefer a more laid-back lifestyle. Plus, you get to explore the different neighborhoods and discover hidden gems that you won’t find in the city center.

Factors Affecting Rental Prices

Of course, these are just averages. The actual cost of renting an apartment in Manila can be higher or lower depending on several factors. The neighborhood, the condition of the apartment, the amenities provided – all of these can affect the rental price.

For example, an apartment in a newly built condominium with a swimming pool and a gym will cost more than an older apartment in a building without these amenities. Similarly, an apartment in a neighborhood known for its safety and accessibility will be pricier than one in a less desirable area.

So, when choosing an apartment, it’s important to consider not just the rental price, but also the value you’re getting for your money. “Hindi lahat ng kumikinang ay ginto.” (Not everything that glitters is gold.) So, make sure to do your research and choose wisely!

Breakdown of Cost of Living in Manila

cost of living - grocery

Food and Groceries

  • Average Daily Cost: Food is life, as we say here in Manila. On average, you might spend around ₱1,027 ($20) per day on food. But remember, this can vary greatly depending on whether you’re cooking at home, eating out, or indulging in the occasional street food treat.
  • Cost of Meals at Restaurants: If you’re dining out, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant might cost around ₱250 ($5). But if you’re feeling fancy and opt for a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant, you’re looking at around ₱1,600 ($31).
  • Cost of Basic Groceries: As for groceries, a loaf of fresh white bread might cost you around ₱36.80 ($0.72), a dozen eggs around ₱105.90 ($2.07), and a liter of milk around ₱91.52 ($1.79).

Rent and Utilities

  • Average Rent for Different Types of Accommodations: We’ve already covered this, but to recap, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is approximately ₱30,534.44 ($564) per month, while outside the city center, it’s around ₱15,000 ($277) per month.
  • Utility Costs: For utilities like electricity, water, and gas, you’re looking at around ₱4,000 ($78) per month.


  • Public Transportation Costs: Getting around Manila is an adventure in itself. The cost of a monthly public transportation ticket is ₱689 ($13.50).
  • Other Transportation Options and Costs: If you’re taking a jeepney, the basic fare is ₱8 ($0.16) for the first four kilometers, with an additional ₱1.50 ($0.03) for every extra kilometer.


  • Cost of Movie Tickets: For those movie nights, a ticket will cost you around $5.
  • Cost of Concerts and Live Performances: If you’re into concerts and live theater performances, prices usually start at around $5.
  • Cost of Drinks at Bars and Clubs: And for those nights out, a drink at a high-end bar or club will cost you around $5-$10.

Bawat butil ng bigas, mahalaga. So, make sure to budget wisely and enjoy everything this vibrant city has to offer!

Read next: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW): Step-by-Step Process

Ideal Budget for a Basic Lifestyle for a Local Filipino

Estimated Monthly Budget

If you’re a local Filipino living a basic lifestyle in Manila, you’re probably looking at an average monthly budget of around $500 (₱25,000). Yes, it’s possible! With a bit of ‘diskarte’ and a lot of budgeting, you can make it work.

Living Conditions and Choices

Living on this budget would mean making some smart choices. You’d likely be living in a more affordable area, perhaps sharing a room in a boarding house or renting a small apartment. You’d be eating at local ‘carinderias’ or cooking your own meals at home.

Transportation would be via jeepneys, tricycles, or the LRT/MRT. And for entertainment, you’d be enjoying the many free or low-cost activities Manila has to offer, like visiting Rizal Park or exploring the local markets.

Remember, living a basic lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life. Ang buhay ay hindi measured sa dami ng hawak mong pera, kundi sa dami ng masasayang alaala.” (Life is not measured by the amount of money you have, but by the number of happy memories.) So, even on a basic budget, you can create a life full of rich experiences in Manila.

Ideal Budget for a Comfortable Lifestyle in Manila

Estimated Monthly Budget

For a more comfortable lifestyle in Manila, you’re looking at an average monthly budget of around $1,000 to $1,500. This budget allows for a bit more wiggle room and the ability to enjoy some of the finer things in life.

Living Conditions and Choices

With this budget, you can afford to live in a nicer apartment, perhaps even in one of the city’s more upscale neighborhoods. You’ll have the flexibility to eat out at mid-range restaurants more often, and you might even have a bit left over for a gym membership or a Netflix subscription.

Transportation would still likely be a mix of public options and the occasional taxi or Grab ride. And for entertainment, you’d have the budget to enjoy things like movies, concerts, and nights out with friends.

Remember, a comfortable lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to spend all your money. “Ang pera, parang buhay, hindi mo madadala sa hukay.” (Money, like life, you can’t take it to the grave.) So, make sure to spend wisely and enjoy the comforts that your budget allows, but also save for the future. After all, life in Manila is about more than just the here and now. It’s about building a life that you can be proud of.


So, we’ve taken quite a journey, haven’t we? We’ve explored the cost of living in Manila from all angles – from the basic lifestyle to the luxurious, from city center living to the outskirts, from food and rent to transportation and entertainment. We’ve seen that the cost of living in Manila can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle choices, the area of residence, and the type of accommodation.

Living in Manila as a single person is like riding a jeepney – it’s a unique experience filled with ups and downs, twists and turns. It can be as affordable or as expensive as you make it, with options for every budget.

But no matter what your budget is, remember that the true value of living in Manila isn’t just about the cost. It’s about the experiences, the people, the culture, the ‘diskarte’, and the ‘Bayanihan’ spirit. It’s about the late-night ‘balut’ runs, the ‘sari-sari’ store hangouts, the ‘fiestas’, and the ‘karaoke’ sessions.

So, whether you’re living on a shoestring budget or living it up in a luxury condo, remember to enjoy every moment. After all, ang buhay ay parang gulong, minsan nasa ibabaw, minsan nasa ilalim. So, enjoy the ride and make the most of your life in Manila!

And with that, I say, “Hanggang sa muli!” Keep living the good life in Manila, my friends!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much does it cost to live comfortably in Manila?
A: To live comfortably in Manila, you would need an estimated monthly budget of around $1,000 to $1,500. This budget allows for a comfortable lifestyle, which includes living in a nicer area, dining at mid-range restaurants, and having access to leisure activities.

Q: How much does it cost to live in Manila per month?
A: The cost of living in Manila per month can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle and the area where you live. On average, a single person might spend around $500 for a basic lifestyle, while a more comfortable lifestyle might require a budget of $1,000 to $1,500 per month. A luxurious lifestyle would require an even higher budget.

Q: Can you live on $500 a month in the Philippines?
A: Yes, it is possible to live on $500 a month in the Philippines, particularly in Manila. This would require a basic lifestyle and careful budgeting. You would likely need to live in a more affordable area, eat at local eateries, and use public transportation.

Q: Is $1000 a month enough to live in the Philippines?
A: Yes, $1000 a month is enough to live comfortably in the Philippines, especially in Manila. This budget allows for a comfortable lifestyle, which includes living in a nicer area, dining at mid-range restaurants, and having access to leisure activities. However, the cost of living can vary depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

Additional Resources:

  1. Numbeo
  2. Expatistan
  3. Living Cost

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