Living on a $500 salary in the Philippines

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What would you do if your salary suddenly became $500 per month? For many people, this would be a difficult adjustment. However, for someone living in the Philippines, this is a respectable income.

In fact, it’s enough to help maintain a comfortable lifestyle. So why is the cost of living so much lower in the Philippines? Keep reading to find out!

Overall, the cost of living in the Philippines is lower than in many other countries. This is due to a number of factors, including the relatively low cost of food and housing.

In addition, wages in the Philippines are generally lower than in developed countries. However, this does not mean that a person on a $500-per-month salary in the Philippines is living in poverty. On the contrary, they are likely to be able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

The average pay in the Philippines is as follows:

Please be advised that this is the estimated average income in Metro Manila as of 2022; it does not apply to other Philippine regions. The Philippines is a large country with a wide range of incomes. In general, the further away you are from Metro Manila, the lower the cost of living will be.

Roles Monthly Salary (in PHP) Monthly Salary (in USD)
Maintenance and cleaning crew PHP 8,420 $166
Service personnel (driver, cashier) PHP 12,885 $253
Office clerk (entry-level) PHP 15,686 $308
Security guard PHP 17,174 $338
Construction worker PHP 18,824 $370
Teachers PHP 18,998 $373
BPO employees PHP 25,519 $500
Licensed Professionals* PHP 45,423+ $893+

How can you make ends meet on a monthly salary of $500 in the Philippines?

The Philippines, a developing country in Southeast Asia, has one of the lowest living costs among its neighbors.

According to research by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), a family of five requires at least PHP 10,481 (US$210) per month to cover their most basic food and non-food needs.

This suggests that a family of four from the Philippines may live well on US$500 each month.

A Filipino family spends an average of USD 4,150 per year, or USD 345 per month. In comparison, the country’s minimum wage is more than USD 9 per day, or roughly USD 207 every 21-day work month, which is insufficient when compared to the average annual family spending.

However, it should be mentioned that the vast majority of BPO positions pay much above the minimum salary and include benefits such as health insurance and various allowances.

A position in the business pays a good enough starting salary to provide workers peace of mind, enabling them to save money for emergencies and investments, and pursue hobbies and interests.

How does the average Filipino family spend their money?

Food accounts for 42.6 percent of Filipino households’ monthly expenses, 12.20 percent for housing, 8.20 percent for utilities like water and electricity, 6.60 percent for miscellaneous expenses, and 6.60 percent for transportation.

Here’s how a typical family who earns a base wage of US$500 per month or US$6,000 per year spends their money:
Expense % allocation Annual Monthly
Food 42.6 $2,556.00 $213.00
House rent 12.20 $732.00 $61.00
Utilities 8.2 $492.00 $41.00
Miscellaneous 6.6 $396.00 $33.00
Transportation 6.6 $396.00 $33.00
Education 2.6 $156.00 $13.00
Health 2.7 $162.00 $13.50
Other expenses 2.5 $150.00 $12.50
Special occasion 2.8 $168.00 $14.00
Durable equipment 3.5 $210.00 $17.50
Clothing and Footwear 2.5 $150.00 $12.50


In general, the Philippines has a strong feeling of family and community. The number of Philippine holidays, national and local celebrations, and the government-mandated 13th-month bonus (given soon before Christmas) that all employees are entitled to illustrate this.

Children are expected to live with their parents until they marry, and it is not uncommon for multiple generations of a family to share a home.

Most Filipinos are expected to assist support the rest of the family after graduation and care for their parents after they retire.

Poverty is a problem that plagues many countries, the Philippines included

The Philippines has one of the highest rates of poverty in the world, with nearly 10 million families considering themselves poor.

Despite this, Filipino workers work hard to provide their families with essentials and give their siblings the chance to make something better for themselves.

Of course, there are ambitious people in the workforce who want to develop in their jobs and be acknowledged for their abilities and efforts to improve their skills and streamline their procedures.

When they willingly accept the workload that has been assigned to them without complaint or attitude, they are demonstrating this approach. Even if the work is difficult, repetitious, or stressful, they keep their eyes on the prize – and this is true of many outsourced business operations, such as technical or customer support.

In conclusion, The Philippines is a country where $500 per month goes far. The average wage in the Philippines, including outsourced labor for international companies, is only about $400-600 USD per month (depending on your position).

For this reason, many people are willing to work abroad and accept lower wages than they might get at home to maintain their standard of living. $500 per month is also a livable salary in the Philippines for a single person, although it would be a tight budget.

If you are thinking of moving to the Philippines, or are already living here on a $500 per month budget, you can maintain a respectable standard of living if you are careful with your spending.

If you’re looking for a place to retire, the Philippines is definitely a country worth considering. The cost of living is relatively low, and the country is continuing to develop at a rapid pace. If you’re looking for a place to grow your business, the Philippines offers plenty of opportunities as well. 

And if you’re just looking for a place to relax and enjoy life, the Philippines has plenty to offer in that department as well. No matter what your reason for considering the Philippines, there’s no doubt that it’s a country with a lot to offer.