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Cost Of Living In Philippines (2009)

Of course prices have gone up over the last 20 years all over the world, in the Philippines too. But despite the high inflation rate, higher prices are not the reason for the increased cost of living in the Philippines. The true "culprit," if you can call it that is the increased availability of goods and services.

When I was here in Manila in 1990, we did not have a lot of thing to spend money on, not much to buy.

There was no consumer Cable TV;

Electricity was available only a few hours a day in many parts of Manila, only a few hours a week in rural, "provincial." Areas'.

There was no reason to pay for an Internet connection. Providers did not come in until 1992 and then with only 2kpbs if you were lucky. And even then computers did not work with no electricity, the case in Cebu where I moved to get an Internet connection from the only Internet service provider here, the University of San Carlos;

Cell phones were the size of desktop phones, too expensive to be considered consumer items and never seen by most. Even land lines were almost impossible to get. So phone bills of any kind were not an issue;

Even color TV's were rare compared to black and white ones. Most people still used the less expensive radios, when they had electricity.

1Pods. Digital music players were more rare than CD and the CD/DVD players that are everywhere today.

There were no Starbuck's every where like now in the cities, selling three dollar coffee, few McDonald's, no KFC's or not enough to mention. You could buy a pretty good cup of instant coffee with powdered milk, sugar and instant coffee from a makeshift table on the street for about 4US cents. And the clientele was more friendly, there to drink coffee and talk not about the problems of the world, but the weather of the day and their children's progress at school, and of course to get their daily dose of caffeine.

You can find the absence of most of these expensive amenities in the provincial areas even now, though the cell phone has gotten into everywhere, even the outlying islands. The Internet too has made great inroads. And you are hard pressed to get away from cable TV though most Filipinos are happy with their local programming as long as they have Wowowowoeeee! And why not. Who needs to hear about the latest pandemic that will, we pray, never touch these comparatively remote islands.

How much does is cost to live here? It depends on if you live as I lived in 1990 or as I live now. I was just as happy then, and I spend a lot more money now, more "world connected," but less "locally connected." I am not sure I am living the best way even for me and probably will never know because my happiness comes more from within than without. I can trash all the amenities and still have a great time, just a different kind of great time. I just may give it a try. Maybe you might want to try it too.

Don A. Herrington
April, 2009

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