Long posting again, but I hope this information is helpful. I have noticed that many people ask regularly on this blog how much it costs to move here. Well, we arrived here in mid-April of this year, and, nearly five months in, we are just about done with expenses related to the move. So, I’ll detail how much it cost us to move from the Middle East. Our experience is based on Manila… Your expenses will obviously vary in other parts of the country.
In Abu Dhabi, Rebecca and I had very few belongings… Her furniture, etc. was not worth moving, and I had a furnished executive flat and a small storage room in California, so we really had very little to move. That was the good thing… The bad thing was that we needed to buy nearly everything. We moved from the Middle East using balikbayan boxes. Advantage: Cheap and customs charges no duty. Disadvantage: It’s bloody slow and you need to plan what you may need before they arrive. Cost of 8 super jumbo balikbayan boxes (Size of a “wardrobe” box): Approx 30,000 pesos. Contents were three boxes with clothing, linens, etc., the rest contained things we bought in Abu Dhabi that are much cheaper there, like pots, small appliances, and electronics. We bought our stove, TV, and washing machine in Abu Dhabi… cost: Approx 60,000 pesos, plus 15,000 pesos freight. (I figure we saved around 30,000 pesos doing it this way).
Cost of two tickets, Etihad Airlines, coach, AUH to MNL: 60,000 pesos.
Now, we had to decide where to move. We chose a gated community near UP Diliman in Quezon City. Subdivision is around 20 years old. 5 bedrooms (Though 2 are connected in a loft… made those into an office, and one is a small maid’s room under the stairs that we use for storage), 2 full baths. It is a middle-class Filipino community, mostly doctors (four here) or small business owners with families (I am the only “Kano” here, but, on the plus side, one of the “Wowowee” girls lives a few houses down! Just kidding, Rebecca! A most horrible neighbor. Rent, on 120 sq. meters: 18,000 pesos per month, one year lease, with option to buy at the end of year one. Selling price: 3.5 million pesos. Three months security deposit plus first month rent to move in. (72,000 pesos). Association fees of 2,000 pesos per quarter. We chose this location for one reason: Our neigbor and landlady is a very long-term friend of Becky, and she has been very helpful with this move. Becky is not alone and near friends when I travel. They also watch the house for us. I had the option to buy right away, but I will not buy property sight unseen. The house is cement construction (NOT cinder blocks), with sheet metal roof, a very few wooden interior walls, no insulation and plywood ceilings. Filipino style. Pictures are at the end of the post so you can get an idea of what 18,000 a month buys you in Manila.
Utilities were (First month, including deposits):
Electric (3,000 pesos), Water (200 pesos), Cell Phones (2 cards plus 500 pesos load each: 1,200 pesos), Cable TV (2,000 pesos…deposit plus around 800 per month), Internet from Smart (3,000 pesos… Cost of modem, installation, first month use). We originally opted not to take a landline telephone, but we are adding a line for business from PLDT, so add 2,000 pesos… 3 to 4 month wait right now in Manila).
Now, when you rent in the Philippines, any “improvements” are at your expense. Also, unlike rentals or apartments in the States, you usually need to provide your own appliances. Many of these things I have never had to buy before on any flat. We added: a steel security gate (20,000 pesos), changed locks on EACH inside door (3,000 pesos), installed plumbing fixtures (2,000 pesos, including toilet seats that were NOT included in the unit), bought a refrigerator (25,000 pesos), installed a water heater (6,000 pesos… NOT standard in the RP), 4 window aircon units (average 15,000 each… office, sala, each bedroom…60,000 pesos total), fans (For the rooms without AC, 5,000 pesos), drapery material and hardware (15,000 pesos, but Rebecca made them, so no labor cost), 2 LPG tanks (2,000 pesos with regulators), dishes (3,000 pesos with forks, kitchen knives, rice cooker, etc).
Finally, we had no furniture… Had to buy it for all the rooms. Total cost, mid-level quality, mostly Filipino-made:
one queen-sized bed, one sofa, one love seat, one entertainment center (TV), one dining table with chairs(6 ppl), one double futon, two bookcases (office), two office desks, two office chairs, one coffee table, one end table, two bakers racks, one sewing table with chair…. Total cost 375,000 pesos. Add in bed linens and bathroom linens (4,000 pesos).
So, after all is said and done, here’s what it cost us to move to Manila and maintain a “middle class” lifestyle:
Shipment of boxes 30,000
Appliances plus shipping in AUH 75,000
Air Tickets 60,000
Lease Move-in 72,000
Association fees 2,000
Appliances, fixtures, improvements 141,000
Furniture and linens 379,000
Grand Total 770,400 Pesos or, US$16,748
Was it cheaper than the US? I think so for a comparable standard of living. Particularly rent and the cost of furniture (We didn’t buy that particle board stuff… only wood. Not really much more expensive here for good furniture versus junk). Notice that transportation is missing. I have shopped for a car, but am still deciding. Also missing is household help. Rebecca does not want a maid, at this point in time. Figure 5,000 per month minimum for a maid, plus food and for a driver, figure at least 7,000 per month for a full time driver. If you have a Filipino spouse, you may have relatives willing to assume those roles. Currently, our landlady has four maids, and we occasionally use them at a cost of 200 – 300 pesos per day for help with laundry, etc.