Why is Everything More Expensive in the Philippines!

“Hot! Whoa it’s too hot!” — Was the first thing I said when I landed in Manila.


The only excusable reason for heat is, if you’re in a beach.


I was having a blast in California. It’s still winter, and my body was in hibernation mode. Yep, hibernation mode. It means, you don’t want to, but your body forces you to sleep 10-12 hours a night. Then wake up for a few hours, then sleep again.

 For future reference: I did NOT SAY that California is the coldest place on Earth. I just said that I’m enjoying a 45-60 degree Fahrenheit winter temp. Don’t misinterpret please :P


That’s why having a job in winter sucks. There’s nothing more you’d like to do than to stay in bed. But you have to force yourself to go to work! Or else your cranky boss might shout again.

Because your boss is in hibernation mode too. Everybody is. That’s why your boss is cranky. He wants to sleep some more too.

How great winter is!


And now… I’m in NAIA. I landed in terminal one (crowded airport). And I need to transfer to terminal 3, but the taxi driver is trying to scam me. So I got instead into a long line for the free shuttle to NAIA 3.

So now, I’m waiting in a long ass line outside the airport for a shuttle that never seems to show up. An hour passed, scorching heat came in (I can’t believe I actually brought a jacket), and I felt like I was gonna die.

Actually, my body felt like it was gonna die. My body was in panic.

If my body could talk, he’d say something like this:

What the hell happened!?! Why is it so hot! It was winter a couple of hours ago! What the hell happened!?! Where the hell did HE take us to now?!? Are we back in the Philippines!?! Doesn’t he know the we, his body, hate the Philippines!?!

Is he off to the Philippines to score some cheap hookers again?!? That damn pig!!


And here’s what I’d say back to my body:

First off, my beloved body… I don’t score hookers. Ever. (My wife will probably read this article)

Secondly, yes, we’re back on the Philippines. So sorry, but I need a vacation. I promise, we’ll be back in winterland by the end of the week.


(But shhh, I’m actually gonna to be here for a month :) )


I finally settled home. Actually, I was still suffering from heat shock. But yeah, I have to survive somehow… (ice cold beer… give it to me!)


My first night in PH, I swear to God, if it wasn’t for the AC, I would’ve gotten heat stroke.


The next day, all the chocolates in my balikbayan box have been harvested by creatures. Some of them I don’t even know. Some random strangers visited me, pretended we knew each other and took some chocolates home. Leeches, I call them. But what the hell, I knew what I was going in for.


I slept off jet lag for a few days, and my body seemed to have adjusted a bit. Grocery time! We went to a bunch of malls (to meet friends), and I was shocked! Everything was so damn expensive!

I compared grocery prices here and grocery prices in California, it’s a lot more expensive in Manila! Now who the hell started the rumor that everything is cheaper in the Philippines? It’s a lie.

So then, naturally, we started scavenging the cheaper markets. The chinese stores, wet markets, etc. Yep, it’s still expensive. Unless, you live in Beverly Hills — Manila is freaking expensive!


So we scurried some more. We decided to visit our relatives in the Visayas. Small towns, everything should be cheaper, right? Right?!?

Nope! Still too freaking expensive!

We checked out the cheapest grocery stores. Yep, I convert prices. Expensive.


But how the hell can that be? Aren’t we supposed to be P42.45 cheaper? When I left California, everybody was scared about how gas prices might go up to $5 per gallon. (It was $3.89 when I left)

Guess what? At 58-62 pesos per liter here, we’re already $5.65 per gallon! If the U.S. raised gas prices to $5.65 per gallon — there’d be a national riot over there!


So how the hell have we been living at $5.65 per gallon all these years? Did I get my math right? I think I did. It’d be embarrassing if I got it wrong. But I’m pretty sure I got it right.

Seriously, how’d we survive at that freaking expensive gas price?

Electricity is more expensive, food, soap, toothpaste — virtually, all grocery goods are more expensive. And I’m here living in a little town in Visayas (off to Boracay soon! Weee!) In Manila, prices would even be more ‘deathly.’

Appliances, electronics, cars are hell of a lot more expensive. Sheesh! If you had 5 grand, you can buy a nice conditioned sports car in the US. But P200,000+ here in the PH would get you a used taxi. :)


I’m cheap. I scoured the whole town. To the cheapest corners. Sure, you can find dirt cheap goods, but to the extent of dirt poor quality too. I bought scissors for 30 pesos, and it broke the next day.

The only thing I noticed cheap here is labor, dogs, rent and salary.

Dentist was cheap (and that counts as labor). Help was cheap. I bought my cousin a beautiful shih Tzu pup, and it was cheap. And by God, at staggering “everything prices,” salary is cheap!

Who knows, you might earn a lot, but you are few. To keep up with expensive Philippine prices, people need more money.


I’ve imagined over and over again how I’m gonna retire in PH. I used to think everything was cheaper, the cost of living is cheaper. But to the jerk who said “the cost of living is cheaper in the PH” is a… jerk.


Now holy hell, where do I retire?


Still doubt me?

  • Compare Walmart prices to cheap grocery prices in the PH.
  • Or compare Fry’s prices to electronic and appliances prices here.
  • Compare Asian markets over there to wet markets here.

Still won’t take my word for it?

  • For $3+, you’d have a one whole monster sized chicken. For a 100+ pesos, you’d have a tiny, malnutrition-ed chicken.

Oh yeah, corned beef is cheaper here in the PH.

Let’s play a game. Let’s think of things that are cheaper here in the PH and list them in the comments section. :)



About Dave

You've been had. You've been blind. You've been asleep. You've been bound. You are a prisoner. Now wake up! Smell freedom! Engulf yourself in the beauty of nature! Be free! For the first time, stop listening to others and DO WHAT YOU WANT! Be free, my friend. Soar and be free.

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Related posts:

  1. Philippines; Forget Me, Not!
  • Archie de Lara

    I agree. One thousand pesos won’t be enough for a day to live in the Philippines….

    • Jisfgiraji

      In the last 4 years a small big mac meal in macdonalds have gone up by 40% The philippines is not cheap anymore! Only unskilled labor is cheap. The problem in the philippines is a lack of competition in every single industry, and it will sooner or later bring the country to its knees. So sad coz the philipino poeple is in general great and the country beautifull. I know what I am talking about. I have lived there for about 10 years

  • Catheevangelista

    I agree! I’m a Filipino and it’s expensive back home if you’re going to compare prices from the US. But there’s no place like home….. I miss our beaches there, way much better than South Padre island!

  • W.Aquino

    I visit the Philippines once or twice a year from the US. Almost everything is cheaper there, especially food and rent which are the basics of life. You complain so much probably because you have a low paying job in California, e.g. minimum wage. Stop whining and get a life.

    • Dave

      hmm… now you got me curious. Why do you go back to the PH once or twice a year?

      Be honest now. Tell me if im wrong. I dont know you, but i can tell you spent a lot of time in your education. nothing wrong with that. you applied with the mid 2000-ish teacher recruitment to weschester NY. again, nothing wrong with that. Good pay, good benefits.

      But one cruicial point. life passed by you. you forgot to start a family. you can never have a vacation twice a year to the PH if you have kids. There’s just isnt enough time.

      You’re lonely. You have no family. That’s why you go to the PH every year.

      Then again, I may be wrong.

    • Roger

      almost everything? and why are you getting personal and questioning Dave’s job and his salary? He isnt whining he is doing some comparisons and i think he is right. Just compare the salaries in US and in Philippines and then compare the prices. Not all but majority of groceries are definitely more expensive. You get no vegetables below $1/kilo some are as high as $2-$3. You need atleast 100000 to have a decent life in Philippines ( couple with 2 kids going to private school, home mortgage, maid etc.). 100000 PHP is $2500 now you calculate yourself what you can do with $2500.

  • ludicrous

    yes your math is way out, which renders this whole article useless since ur walking around making incorrect conversions. you said that gas was 58 a galon and us dollar is pesos so try dividing 58 by 42 and you will have ur us dollar equivalent per gallon in the phils. really pathetic how personal you got to the first post, with this attitude, hmmm lets just say when u point the finger there are 3 pointing back. cheers. and yep phils has gone up in price inthe last 5 years, but to suggest it being as expensive as the west is a ludicrous.

    • Dave

      P62+++ per liter in western visayas (cities near boracay), around P60 in cebu, and P58 per liter in manila.

      multply that by 3.8 and you get the gallon price.

      you are currently paying $5.2 per gallon n manila and $5.6 per gallon in the visayas.

      kinda ironic since i was just from the gas station (literally) like 5 minutes ago. $3.65 per gallon here in Nevada! Cheap! yay!

      and check your meat/grocery prices (fcking expensive). I’ll say it again, food and gas is fcking expensive in the philippines!!

      • Dave

        I forgot —- it’s 58 to 62 pesos per liter, dimwit. try multiplying that by 3.8 and you get the gallon price. you’re currently paying 220 to 235 pesos per gallon!

        divide that by 42, how much you get? fcking expensive, that’s what

  • Vin

    I think some of the reasons why everything is expensive in the Philippines has to do with greed and inefficiencies. For electronics the importer/distributor wants to make xxx percentage from their investments and pass it on to the retailers which in turn pass it on to the consumers. With rent skyrocketing due to developments like SM, Robinsons, etc., retailers have to demand more margins thus setting the suggested retail price at a ridiculous level. What’s funny is that people still buy them. The only time it will reach a reasonable level is when people stop buying. For food and groceries it has something to do with portions. The bigger the portion the cheaper it becomes as you save on packaging. This is where cash flow comes in. Typical Filipinos cannot afford bulk size so they buy small ones instead where the cost in mostly on packaging driving up the prices. For food if it’s imported you have to add the cost of freight, cold storage, spoilage etc. If it’s local you have to account for the inefficient transportation, high fuel prices, inadequate storage facilities, etc. of the distribution system. Factor that with the unsubsidized raw materials that most western nation gets and voila! You have the true cost of food that went through the value chain of inefficiencies. As for cars, the reason why it is expensive here is because of the duties, excise taxes and VAT. Those 3 alone can raise the price by 80%. Then you have to add the importer and dealer margins. It’s sad because the Filipinos have to work thrice as hard just to enjoy what most western nation take for granted.

  • Ran Bruce

    I have lived in the Philippines for 2 years in the Visayas. Dave is right. Rent and labor are cheap. We have a nice house, 3 bdrm, in nice subdivision, for $350 a month. Groceries are a lot more expensive unless you want to live on rice and dried fish. Utilities are very expensive. To live with the air con on which is the only way to survive this humidity is $300 a month and they have brownouts all the time. Water is expensive considering what crappy quality it is so you have to pay for bottled water. Gas is about the same if you use diesel. It’s certainly not the cheap place to live that I thought it was. And the climate is hot and humid ALL the time. 85 degrees and 85% humidity. Get used to carrying a sweat rag. We are going back to California. Overall I don’t like it here. Everything is corrupt, chaotic, poorly organized, poorly made, dirty, polluted and poverty stricken.

  • StunzX

    Yeah all the stuff in our country is fucking expensive. I work in the middle east & I compare the imported stuff like noodles from the philippines & other southeast asian noodles, our noodles was 2 times expensive than them. And then I also check the filipino restaurant in middle east like jollibee was 2 -3 times expensive than other southeast asian restaurant. Lately I ordered timex watches in amazon.com & it cost only $28 per watch & I checked the price in the philippines it was 2 times higher even the Timex watches was made in the Philippines!! WTF happened in our country!! Most business man their are greedy & the Government don’t control the prices because they have commission from the business man too!!!!

  • Jessica

    Dave is right. Philippine is very expensive. I went there a couple of months ago for 2 weeks only and spent $2,500 just for pocket money (not including airline). And that’s on a budget already. No eating out and no shopping. $100 dollar won’t even fill a basket and that’s not even included meats.

  • Rogerr Ramjett

    this guy Dave is spot on…I started going on surfing trips to the
    P.I. in 1988 and it WAS cheap back then. Even when it was only 24 pesos to the dollar. you got lots of bang for the buck….. By the early 2000s it became waaay overpriced and much more violent overall, esp against “foreigners”…NOW– VIETNAM is where you get lots more for your cash…kind of like the P.I. was waaay back then….