Manila Ranks Third Highest In Cost Of Living Among ASEAN Capitals

According to US-based consulting firm Mercer, Manila is one of the most expensive places to live in the ASEAN region.

Based on its 2020 Cost of Living Survey, the company found that Manila is the third most expensive Southeast Asian city. However, the country placed 80th in the global rankings.

2020 Cost of Living Survey

Compared to last year, Manila’s rating went up by 29 places from its 2019 ranking of 109th. In 2018, the capital placed 138th out of all the countries surveyed.

According to Mercer, one of the main reasons why Manila—as well as other emerging ASEAN cities—see a rise in the cost of living is the appreciation of the Philippine peso against the US dollar.

In 2019, the average exchange rate for one US dollar was ₱51.79, which is higher compared to the years that preceded it.

“Currency appreciation and price increases for goods and services saw Southeast Asian cities like Manila and Jakarta climb in rankings this year. Manila (80) is up 29 spots from last year, while Jakarta (86) climbed 19 places,” said Mercer in a statement.

Meanwhile, Singapore remains to be the most expensive city in ASEAN and in the world, placing fifth in the global rankings after Hong Kong, Ashgabat, Tokyo, and Zurich. The country is followed by Bangkok in second place, scoring 35th in all the cities surveyed by Mercer.

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Top 10 ASEAN cities with the highest cost of living

Here’s the list of 10 most expensive ASEAN cities to live in:

  1. Singapore (5th globally)
  2. Bangkok (35th globally)
  3. Manila (80th globally)
  4. Yangon (83rd globally)
  5. Jakarta (86th globally)
  6. Phnom Penh (109th globally)
  7. Ho Chi Minh City (111th globally)
  8. Hanoi (116th globally)
  9. Banda Seri Begawan (118th globally)
  10. Kuala Lumpur (144th globally)

Meanwhile, these are the top 10 cities ranked by Mercer as the costliest cities to live in:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Ashgabat
  3. Tokyo
  4. Zurich
  5. Singapore
  6. New York City
  7. Shanghai
  8. Bern
  9. Geneva
  10. Beijing

Out of all the cities mentioned, only seven countries were responsible for the areas with high cost of living. Switzerland is responsible for items on the list: Zurich, Shanghai, and Geneva.

Meanwhile, China’s economically forward cities like Shanghai and Beijing made it to the cut. Half of the cities on list come from Asia.

More expensive = better?

Just how expensive it is to be a resident of Manila?

According to cost of living monitoring platform Numbeo, Manila is on the more affordable side compared to other cities in the world.

Based on their crowdsourced prices of good from their users, Manila ranks 330th out of the 514 cities in the world on their list.

Out of the 514 cities, Manila has a cost of living index of 42.14, which is four times lower than the leading cities such as Zurich, Lugano, Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, and Bern—all within the borders of Switzerland.

Based on their cost of living index, there are other Philippine cities that rank higher than the capital. In fact, out of all the Philippine cities in Numbeo’s rankings, Manila is the most affordable one.

Davao is above Manila at 326 with an index of 42.55, Cebu at 323rd place with a score of 43.26, and Makati leading the pack at 254th with an index of 58.95. Just to give you a perspective, Zurich in Switzerland tops the list with a cost of living score of 132.43.

Since the numbers published by the website are crowdsourced, the prices people send to Numbeo might be too high for your average Juan.

For instance, the platform calculated that it takes ₱95,697.35 for a four-member family to survive in Manila.

However, their numbers are based on a calculation that splurges a bit in terms of non-essential goods. For instance, their month computation entails more than eight meals at a casual restaurant, 24 servings of cappuccino worth ₱132.22, and eight trips to the cinema per month.

In addition, this doesn’t include rent or home repayments yet.

So what does it mean for your everyday Filipino? Overall, the Philippines is still a cheap country to live in. However, this doesn’t mean that we should be already lax when it comes to our daily spending.

Be prudent with your finances and you can brace yourself for any economic hardship that will come your way.