How much do you have to earn to live comfortably in Metro Manila?

May 27, 2019With Love, From Sza

I’m not sure if everyone knew but we recently moved to Cavite 2 years ago due to our need of getting help when Dreu was a newborn. But then due to my proximity to my job, we have to move to somewhere more accessible, hence, Metro Manila. Years ago, when I hear the place METRO MANILA, I’ve always thought life is easier, salary’s much higher and people have access to a whole lot of things that aren’t in my city.

We all have different reasons why we’d choose to move to a new city – maybe you just want a different ambiance or maybe the need for a bigger salary, or whatever your personal reasons are.

But as anywhere you move, you have to consider a lot of things before giving it a go.

Do you have any relatives you could live with, or are you planning on doing it on your own? And if renting, is it fine for you to share space with other people, or are you planning on getting your own apartment? Also, would you work in central business districts like Makati, BGC, Ortigas and Alabang? What type of lifestyle would you live? How much would your pay be and does it include allowances of rent and transporation?

For someone like me who’s from Davao City, it’s hard at first to adjust. If you live in Davao City downtown, you only have to spend 8-10 pesos to go to work/ school and if you have to take the cab, just spare an extra 200 pesos and you’re good. Before, I just have to give myself an extra hour or 30 minutes maybe, to go to work, in a public transpo, without getting late. I was used to that kind of lifestyle. I was used to a very peaceful, smooth and traffic-less city.

But if you plan to move in Manila, you have to consider a lot of things. I will share my budget for every factors you have to consider when moving. Note that this is for a family of 3 and a babysitter. Your needs might be a little lesser or more than mine. But nevertheless, this gives you a glimpse of what you have to earn to survive, with a family here.


Where you would work and where you’d live is very important. People working here in Manila can survive travelling 2-3 hours daily from Cavite, Laguna or Batangas, and going home every single day, in a jam-packed bus where you have to stand all the way. But if you’re like me, who’s not used in doing that, you have to consider moving to a place a lot nearer than where you work. Getting a place in walking distance is your best bet, though you have to note that places near the central business districts are waaaay more expensive than those that are a bit far.

Budget: 5, 000-10, 000/ month


In lieu of proximity, you have to know where to ride if you take the public transpo because having a car might be convenient but traffic is heavy. If it’s easier and faster for you to take the train, do so, because it strays away from traffic. Just note that it’s full during peak hours. Since moving to Paranaque, my cost for transpo is only 30 pesos going to work and vice verse.

Depending on your location, you have a lot of options:

  • Train (MRT/LRT) if accessible
  • Jeep
  • Bus
  • Taxi (careful with this, some will charge you extra)
  • UV Express
  • P2P Busses
  • GRAB (ofc, this is more expensive)
  • WUNDER pool (carpooling which is a little cheaper but availability varies on your location.)

Public Transportation Budget: 60php150php per day ( on the transpo); 4,600 per month


If you live alone, buying food might be your best option as you don’t have to worry on how to cook. You can spare 65-100 pesos per day for viand and maybe get yourself some rice cooker to save money. But, if you have a family, like I do, your best bet is to cook.
Cooking might be more expensive for you if you have to buy your ingredients from the mall. If you live somewhere far from the public market and your only option is to buy at the malls, you have to shell out extra for groceries and food. But if like me whose market is just a tricycle ride away, or if I take the bus from work, my drop off is a market, I can work on 800-1000 per week for 4 people (me + T + Dreu + Babysitter).

FOOD BUDGET: 1000php/week; 4,000php per month


Unless your utilities are included with your monthly rent for your apartment/condo, you need to set aside budget for that. You have to consider your place, is it too hot? You might need an air-cooler or an AC. Is it on the 4th or 5th floor? Then a wall fan may do. It really depends. But then, if you needed an AC and Rice cooker or if you needed a refrigerator, or probably getting an induction cooker, you have to set aside money for that. Plus, of course, don’t forget the water. Well, this one’s a little cheaper tho.



I’m not quite sure if I have to include this but usually, those who asked me about living here in the Metro are either moms or single moms, so I think I can include this. It’s hard to get a sitter for your baby specially if you don’t know anyone here. You can try agencies but they’re too expensive. You can try your luck in Facebook in where I found mine (whom so helpful, I am blessed). For a babysitter, you need 5,000 to 8,000 pesos, depending on the type of helper you need.



Depending on how you do your budget, your allowance can be purely for extras like eating out and unplanned expenses, or it can be your money allocated for work lunch and transpo. Tee and I has allowances included in our budget. This includes our daily transpo to work, lunch money if we don’t have packed lunch, and anything extra. Recently, we are trying to scrimp our allowances because paying off debts are our priority for now. You don’t need a lot for allowance if you don’t eat at fastfood chains. If you do, then you need 150-250 daily just for lunch.

Try setting aside more money for food and pack your lunch instead. It’s cheaper and healthier.

This is what I’ve been doing since I started working. Instead of spending 150 for my food alone, that 150 can be a food for my family for the entire day. Since I don’t spend money for lunch, my allowance is only 2,000php biweekly. This includes transportation and cellphone load.

ALLOWANCE BUDGET 2,000php to 4,000php

Your budget depends on your lifestyle and of course your paycheck. I tried to calculate the expenses I’ve listed above at a minimum and hence concluded that you need to have atleast 25,000php for your expenses alone, not including your debts if you have one (or two or three) and savings.

The mouths you have to feed varies as well. If you’re alone, I heard you can rent a bedspace for 2,500. That’s a really good deal already. If there’s two of you working and you share the expenses with your partner, then that’s amazing, you can have enough to save.

I am blessed to have the two of us working and earning well to finance our family and live in a peaceful condominium community. We have a little extra to save and invest too. So if you’re planning to move in the Metro, it may take time to adjust because you might find everything expensive but you’ll learn the tricks as you go along.

And ofcourse, don’t forget to let me know once you’ve moved, I’ll be more than happy to share more tips with you.


I'd love to hear from you.

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