modern city with tall buildings on river bay

Study shows Manila among most expensive cities to live in Southeast Asia

Study shows Manila among most expensive cities to live in Southeast Asia
(Image: Unsplash/Wander Fleur)

This, despite the sprawling scenes of poverty amidst the country’s capital.

If you think it’s easy to make it in Manila, think again. In a study released on Tuesday by information aggregator iPrice, the capital city of Manila has the third most expensive cost of living in the Southeast Asian region, posting the average monthly cost of living for a resident at P50,798.

The average falls behind Bangkok’s, which clocks in at P51,517. Singapore’s developed nation registered the most expensive cost of living, with residents needing an average of P119,732 per month to live. Manila’s average cost of living also surpassed those of its ASEAN neighbors with a “comparable economic state,” namely Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (P38,314), Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (P39,608), and Jakarta, Indonesia (P41,026). 

In coming up with its figures, the Malaysia-based firm took into account the cost of rent, food, transportation, and utilities, among other regular expenses, for a single person across the nations of the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore. It gathered its data from Numeo’s crowd-sourced cost-of-living database. 

(Image: iPrice)

If you disregard rent, Manila’s average cost of living is brought down to P28,800. But that’s still steep, considering that Manila has the lowest average monthly salary. According to the study, Manila’s average cost of living is 168% higher than its average salary, which only comes out at P18,900 a month.

“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,” iPrice says.

Meanwhile, Manila has the second-highest rent prices among the six key cities, only lagging behind Singapore. Its average rental rate of P34,087.17 for a one-bedroom in the city center beats out Kuala Lumpur’s by 56%, Jakarta’s by 41%, Ho Chi Minh’s by 31%, and Jakarta’s by 9%. And that’s considering that Thailand’s capital is a Southeast Asian tourist hotspot. 

“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 speculated.

“This leaves you wondering what other things Manila residents need to bear with given the high costs and low wages. Perhaps leisure expenses or take-outs are kept to a minimum or aren’t enjoyed at all,” it added.

“This, along with Manila having the second-worst traffic in the world, gives you an idea of its residents’ quality of life.”


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