Living Like a Local: Save Money as an Expat in the Philippines

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Living in paradise is an experience like no other, even for those trying to save money as an expat in the Philippines. From the stunning beaches to the vibrant culture, there’s no shortage of reasons why so many foreigners choose to make the Philippines their home. The locals are known for their warm hospitality, and it’s not uncommon to be greeted with a friendly smile or invited to a meal. The country is a melting pot of cultures, with influences from Spain, China, and the United States, creating a unique blend that is unlike anywhere else in the world.

However, living in the Philippines can also come with its challenges, especially when you are trying to save money as an expat in the Philippines. For many expats, sticking to a budget is crucial, and finding ways to keep costs low without sacrificing quality of life is essential. Fortunately, there are practical tips and strategies that can help you navigate the cost of living in the Philippines.


As an expat in the Philippines, finding affordable housing can be a daunting task. The high cost of rent is one of the biggest expenses that can eat into your budget. However, with some flexibility and willingness to compromise, you can find a place that suits your needs without breaking the bank.

The first thing to keep in mind is that you may need to adjust your expectations when it comes to the size, location, and amenities of your living space. While it may be tempting to look for a modern, spacious apartment in the heart of the city, such places can be prohibitively expensive for many expats. Instead, consider living in less desirable areas, such as those that are farther from the city center or located in less trendy neighborhoods.

Another option is to consider renting a room in a shared house or apartment. This can be a great way to save money on rent and utilities while still having your own private space. Websites like Airbnb and Facebook Marketplace can be good resources for finding shared housing options that fit your budget.

If you’re willing to live outside of the main city centers, you may also find that suburban areas or smaller towns offer lower rent prices and a more relaxed pace of life. Keep in mind that transportation costs and access to certain amenities may be more limited in these areas, so consider your needs carefully before making a decision.

Ultimately, finding affordable housing in the Philippines requires a willingness to be flexible and to compromise on certain things. By exploring different options and being open to new experiences, you can find a place that fits your budget and allows you to enjoy your life as an expat in this beautiful country.


Let’s talk about one of my favorite topics: food. As an expat in the Philippines, eating can be a major expense. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be! I’m here to give you some tips on how to save money while still enjoying some delicious grub.

First off, let’s talk about Western-style diets. Sure, they’re familiar and comfortable, but they can also be pretty pricey. Instead, why not take a leap and try some local cuisine? Not only will it be easier on your wallet, but it’ll also give you a chance to experience the amazing flavors of the Philippines.

Now, let’s get into specifics. Street food, my friends. It’s cheap, it’s tasty, and it’s everywhere. You can find vendors selling everything from grilled meat skewers to fresh fruit shakes. Trust me, you won’t regret trying some of these delicious street eats.

And when you need to do some grocery shopping, skip the big supermarkets and head to the local markets. Not only will you find fresh produce at a lower cost, but you’ll also be supporting local businesses. Plus, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

When it comes to eating out, local restaurants are the way to go. Many offer set menus or “combo meals” that can be a great value. Plus, you’ll get to try some unique dishes that you won’t find at any international chains.

And if you’re feeling like splurging on a fancy meal, consider doing so for lunch instead of dinner. Many restaurants offer cheaper lunch specials that are still satisfying and filling.

So my friends, there you have it. Embrace the local cuisine, hit up the street vendors and markets, and opt for local restaurants. Your wallet (and your taste buds) will thank you.


Now let’s talk about entertainment in the Philippines. There’s no denying that entertainment can put a strain on our wallets. But did you know that there are still plenty of ways to have fun without breaking the bank? Let’s explore some of these options.

First off, you can’t beat the natural beauty of the Philippines. From the gorgeous beaches to the breathtaking mountains, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities that won’t cost you a fortune. Take a hike, go for a swim, or simply relax on the beach. You’ll be able to soak in the beauty of this country without spending a lot of money.

If you’re more into indoor activities, consider visiting local museums or art galleries. Many of these institutions offer free admission or have special discounts for students or seniors. You can learn about the rich history and culture of the Philippines while keeping your wallet happy.

Another option is to take up a new hobby or skill that doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment. For example, learning to cook local dishes can be a fun and practical way to pass the time. You can even attend local cooking classes to hone your skills and meet new people.

No matter what your interests are, there’s always a low-cost way to have fun in the Philippines. So don’t be afraid to get out there and explore!


Ah, transportation in the Philippines. It can be a bit of a tricky situation, especially if you’re new to the country. Taxis and ride-sharing services can add up quickly, leaving you feeling like you’re hemorrhaging money just trying to get around. But fear not, dear traveler, for there are cheaper options available!

One of the most common modes of public transportation in the Philippines is the jeepney. These colorful, open-air vehicles are a staple of Filipino life, and they can take you just about anywhere. They can be a bit cramped and uncomfortable at times, but they’re also incredibly cheap, and you can save money as an expat in the Philippines.  Just make sure you know the route you’re taking, as jeepneys don’t always have clear signage or announcements.

Tricycles are another popular mode of transportation in the Philippines. These are basically motorcycles with sidecars, and they’re great for short trips around town. They’re also a bit cheaper than taxis, and you can often negotiate the price with the driver.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could even consider renting a motorbike or scooter. This can be a cost-effective way to get around, especially if you live in a smaller town or suburban area. Just make sure you have a valid driver’s license and wear a helmet!

of course, no matter what mode of transportation you choose, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings. But with a little bit of street smarts and a willingness to embrace the local way of life, getting around in the Philippines doesn’t have to break the bank.

Think Like a Local to Save Money as an Expat in the Philippines

The Philippines is a country that offers a plethora of opportunities to save money as an expat. To do so, one must think like a local and embrace the culture fully. There are several ways to cut costs and live comfortably without sacrificing the quality of life. Let’s delve into some tips on how to adopt a local mindset and save some money in the process.

Firstly, one of the most significant expenses for expats is housing. To think like a local, one must be willing to live in less desirable areas or opt for smaller living spaces. This not only reduces the rental cost but also offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local community. Another way to save on rent is by sharing a house or an apartment with other people. Websites like Airbnb and Facebook Marketplace can help one find shared accommodation at affordable rates.

Next, food is a major expense for expats, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of sticking to expensive Western-style diets, it is beneficial to embrace the local cuisine. Filipino street food is a tasty and affordable option and can be found in abundance. Local markets also offer fresh produce at much lower prices than supermarkets. To save even more, one can bargain with vendors who tend to hike up prices for foreigners.

Entertainment and activities can also be enjoyed on a budget. The Philippines is home to breathtaking natural beauty and outdoor activities that come at little to no cost. Hiking, swimming, and lounging at the beach are excellent examples of free entertainment. Visiting local museums or art galleries, which often offer free admission or discounts for students and seniors, is another way to explore the culture without spending too much. Taking up a new hobby or skill that doesn’t require expensive equipment is another practical option.

Transportation costs can be a significant expense for expats, but there are cost-effective ways to get around. Public transportation, such as jeepneys and tricycles, are much cheaper than taxis or ride-sharing services. Buying or renting a motorbike or scooter can also be an affordable way to get around, especially in smaller towns or suburban areas.

Lastly, it’s essential to note that the cost of living in the Philippines varies depending on the location. Touristy areas like Manila, Cebu, and Boracay tend to have higher prices for housing, food, and activities. By embracing a local mindset and living in less touristy areas, such as the provinces or smaller cities, you can save money as an expat in the Philippines.

In conclusion, thinking like a local in the Philippines is an excellent way for expats to save money and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. It requires an open mind, a willingness to immerse oneself in the local culture, and a willingness to adjust one’s lifestyle. By embracing affordable food options, free entertainment, cost-effective transportation, and living in less touristy areas, expats can save a significant amount of money. Adopting a local mindset not only reduces costs but also offers an opportunity to experience the country more authentically.

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