Manila, one of the most expensive cities in Southeast Asia

The city is second behind wealthy city-state Singapore in terms of the most expensive rental rates in the region  

The cost of food, rent, utilities, transportation and other factors in Manila totals to around PHP50,798 (USD1,055). Source: Aldarinho/Shutterstock

Data from six popular Southeast Asian cities gathered and analysed by iPrice revealed that Manila has the third most expensive cost of living in the region, reported ABS CBN News 

As stated by the firm, the cost of food, rent, utilities, transportation and other factors in Manila totals to around PHP50,798 (USD1,055), which is 168 percent higher than the average net income of about PHP18,900 per month.  

The city just follows affluent city-state Singapore with its cost of living of around PHP119,732, as well as tourist hotspot Bangkok, Thailand of an estimated PHP51,517.  

iPrice said, “The cost of living in Singapore is at least 132 percent higher than the others. However, Bangkok and Manila are neck and neck at the top [with the latter] only one percent lower.”  

On the other hand, there’s a significant difference in overall expenses between Manila and its ASEAN neighbours with a “comparable economic state.” The combined expenses in Manila outstripped Jakarta (PHP41,026), Ho Chi Minh (PHP39,608), and Kuala Lumpur (PHP38,314), by 24 percent, 28 percent, and 33 percent, respectively. 

According to a study from the Borgen Project, iPrice added, “It comes as no surprise that about 35 percent of Metro Manila’s population is reported to live in unstable, badly constructed shelters in the slums, and 11 percent of these reside near railroads or garbage dumps.”  

Research also indicated that rent takes off a big chunk of a Filipino’s financial account, as Manila has one of the most expensive rental rates among the six cities, second after Singapore. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre would cost roughly PHP22,000, 56 percent higher when compared to Kuala Lumpur, the city with the lowest cost of living. 

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“We all know that Singapore is way ahead of its Southeast ASEAN peers, so it’s quite surprising that a developing country’s capital city, which is way behind the aforementioned Lion City in terms of economic development, has the second-highest rent price in the region,” iPrice noted.  

Many Filipinos, especially those in the workforce, choose to share rooms or bed spaces due to the high price of units.

“This gives you an idea of its residents’ quality of life… Perhaps leisure expenses or take-outs are kept to a minimum or aren’t enjoyed at all,” iPrice said.