It’s no secret that the Philippines is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Travelers all over the world love to visit the country’s white fine sandy beaches and clear blue seas, its abundant mountainous terrains and pristine hills, its exquisite islands, its scrumptious cuisines, and the people warmly welcoming them to the country. No wonder why many foreigners love not just to see our country but as well as to live here among us. But another reason is that living in the Philippines is so cheap! The list of cheapest cities to live in the Philippines will never go short for sure.
The Cost of Living
On average, the cost of living in the Philippines is 50.65% lower than in the United States. So it’s really no surprise why a lot of foreigners also choose to retire in the Philippines.
The cost of living in the Philippines is generally not too high since it is still a developing country. How you live in this country would really depend on your salary or what kind of a job you have and the choice of what kind of lifestyle you want to have, however, the latter factor really becomes a privilege nowadays in this country. You cannot say the same to our ordinary working-class Filipinos that living in this country is cheap because, for them, it’s really expensive. Their hard-earned money is not enough for them to live comfortably or even be able to provide for the basic necessities of their families. So even though the prices are pretty low here, the salaries are also very low, which makes it almost if not impossible for Filipinos to comfortably cover all their expenses and not worry about tomorrow. What testifies to that is the minimum wage which is only currently around ₱570 per day.
Factors of Affordability in a City
Before we head down to the list of the cheapest cities to live in the Philippines, let us know first what factors or criteria are needed on how living in a city can be said to be cheap.
As mentioned above, your expenses or your cost of living in this country would highly on what kind of lifestyle you want to have and the range of your salary. For instance, a single person has an estimated monthly cost of around ₱26,000, still without rent. So if you are an employee living in Metro Manila, earning only a minimum wage of ₱570 per day or ₱17,100 per month, then the earlier stated estimated monthly cost would not be enough for you to meet at least your basic necessities.
Furthermore, in 2021, it was reported that Manila was recorded as one of the most expensive cities to live in despite having the lowest average salary for the working class compared to its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia according to a study. Specifically, Manila ranks 3rd most expensive city to live in Southeast Asia. I wonder how Manileños would feel about the news that living in the Capital City of the Philippines is costly in reality.
5 Things to Check for the Affordability of Living in a City
So to help you decide on where city to live that is inexpensive, below are some factors to be considered for your cost of living in a city:
It’s no secret that the Philippines has one of the best cuisines in the world. So obviously, Filipinos loved more home-cooked meals than eating out in some restaurants. Aside from our love to cook for our families at home, it is also less expensive than eating out. But don’t be surprised, restaurants in our country also offer not just some great cooking but not as expensive as you would expect. There are a lot of restaurants that you could choose from that offer affordable meals, like in ‘karinderya.’ You will never go broke eating in a ‘karinderya’ every day.
As mentioned above, home-cooked meals are definitely cheaper than eating out. Probably you can save as much as 40 to 50% more than eating outside. Because for instance, if you will cook adobo, the cost would only be minimal as it does not require many ingredients to buy. Plus, adobo could be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days, giving you something to eat for more than one day. You can shop at many supermarkets, but if you really want to maximize your budget, you should go to your local market. Like in Mega Q Market, I highly suggest that you get your fresh produce from this market especially if you’re from Quezon City. They definitely offer less prices for fruits and vegetables than any supermarkets.
Transportation isn’t the strong suit of the Philippines. In this country, it is regardless of your status, whether you’re from the upper-class, middle-class, or the bottom, everyone here gets to experience the horrible traffic everywhere. The terrible traffic here is not just experienced in Metro Manila but as well as to some nearby provinces. Some cheap alternatives for traveling to work or just to get around are the staple jeepneys, buses, and trains. These options could significantly decrease your transportation costs but to warn you, could also be one of the biggest hassles that you could ever experience. But, definitely, transportation here in the Philippines is, in general, very cheap but it comes with a great inconvenience sometimes.
If you will not be mindful of how you consume your electricity, your bills could soar high without you even noticing. Utility costs here are just ridiculously expensive. It can be attributed to the fact that some of our utility providers are controlled by only some big companies, or in short, controlled by a monopoly. So just try to save as much as you can when using your electric appliances and your consumption of water.
Did you know that the Philippines’ capital city, Manila, has the second-highest rent prices, next only to Singapore? Don’t act surprised, it has always been the case in the whole of Metro Manila as well that rent prices are expensive. Maybe you can find a rare apartment that offers an affordable price, but it always comes with a twist, so don’t get deceived. Either the neighborhood is a flood-prone area, not close to any establishment, or too far to the main road, and similar circumstances that come along with cheap rent. Approximately though, the cost of renting a one-bedroom-unit apartment in Metro Manila could range from around ₱10,000 to ₱20,000 depending on the location. But if you’re alone, you could try bed spacing, which could range from around ₱2,500 to ₱5,000 only.
Top 5 Cheapest Cities to Live in The Philippines
So now that we have determined the different deciding factors for your cost of living, it’s now time to identify which are the cheapest cities to live in the Philippines.
1. Quezon City
Surprisingly, yes the most populous city in the country is in for our list of the cheapest city to live in the Philippines. One of the common misconceptions is that living in Quezon City is expensive, but it’s actually one of the more affordable cities to live in, in the capital region. But of course, with the significant land area of Quezon City, you should only look at the parts where the cost of living is affordable. For instance, when you look for a place to rent, go further than the SM North EDSA because plenty of apartments out there are affordable. Plus many public markets around the area offer produce and meat for much less. Despite having modest housing prices, Quezon City is actually an ideal place to live because it’s already a highly urbanized city with all the modern facilities and institutions. If you’re prudent enough, you can live a comfortable life with just ₱22,000 to ₱26,000 in the city.
2. Dasmariñas, Cavite
Considered a “first-class” component city in the province of Cavite, Dasmariñas has definitely outgrown itself from a small, agricultural town to now a booming real estate market. The city is now being hailed as a fast-growing province that embraced industrialization in the country. Furthermore, you can travel from Metro Manila to Cavite in just one hour and thirty minutes! Another reason why being close to Metro Manila is an advantage for the city of Dasmariñas in terms of economic development. The increasing employment opportunities in the city can now be seen in several sectors.
In terms of products and services, prices may be roughly the same as what you would pay living within Metro Manila. But, the main advantage of Cavite over Metro Manila is the affordability of real estate than acquiring one directly from Metro Manila. That’s why Bria Homes saw the potential of Cavite province to be one of the key locations for a mass housing project, making it affordable to everyone.
The main goal of Bria Homes is to help Filipinos achieve their dreams of having their own house and lot, which they can get for as low as P3,034 per month! A one-bedroom apartment in Dasmariñas will only cost you around ₱3,000 to ₱9,000 depending on the location, if in the city center or outside. So Dasmariñas may be the ideal city for you and definitely one of the cheapest cities to live in the Philippines.
3. Iloilo City
Iloilo is another developed city and one of the cheapest cities to live in the Philippines. The city is known for its vibrant business district, it offers a busy port and a thriving BPO industry. Further, it provides a lot of entrepreneurial and employment opportunities in different sectors for everyone, as well as a very affordable living. A lot of the goods and services are significantly cheaper in this city, very suitable for people who want to maximize how far their money goes. A monthly budget of around ₱21,000 to ₱23,000 would be enough for a one-bedroom apartment, food, and even some for leisure. Although far from the National Capital Region, still, a lot of things are happening around Iloilo.
A coastal highly urbanized city in the Davao Region and the largest city in the Philippines in terms of land area, definitely Davao City is on the list of cheapest cities to live in the Philippines. Davao is considered one of the safest cities in the country, you can walk around the city without fearing for your life or for your things being taken away from you.
Davao is also gaining its reputation as the next property investment hub in the country. It has continuously proved itself to be an emerging city in terms of its commercial establishments and real estate market. The growing city in the Mindanao region has a lifestyle of an urbanized city that also offers plenty of top-quality shopping centers. Further, public transport is so efficient in this city that you likely won’t need to drive. In terms of rent price, a one-bedroom apartment will have a starting price of ₱9,000 depending on the location if you want to live outside of the city, to save more, or in the center of Davao City.
5. Bacolod City
Famously known as the City of Smiles, Bacolod, the capital of Negro Occidental is an incredible city if you’re looking for a long-term living. The BPO and information technology (IT) in the city are fast-growing, and business establishments are also continuously growing, making an increase in employment opportunities for the residents of Bacolod.
The price of fruits and vegetables here are very affordable. A one-bedroom apartment in this city will cost you around ₱8,000 to ₱10,000 depending on if you want to live in the city center or out of the city. Further, with just a monthly budget of around ₱20,000 to ₱22,000, a single person can live a comfortable life in this city.
In general, the Philippines has a low cost of living. But this article might help you to find some of the cheapest cities to live in the Philippines and maximize your budget.