Living and working abroad can be an interesting adventure to navigate, and what better place to move to than the Philippines. A unique culture, breathtaking natural places to explore, plenty of things to do and see, a booming economy, and tropical climate are just a few of the reasons why many (particularly from Spain, USA, China, and Malaysia) are diving into the local scene as expats in the Philippines. The country uses The Philippine peso (PHP) as its currency, which equals 0.020 US Dollars (USD) as of 2019-12-06. There are several things to consider when you’re looking to make a living in the Philippines, but first:
What is the average salary in the Philippines? Salaried jobs in this country pay an average of $992.19 a month or $11,906.42 a year, while hourly jobs pay $5.73 an hour. These figures reflect gross salaries, which brings the net pay after-tax to an average of $288.35/month. The highest salaries in the country are found in Quezon City, Manila, Davao, and Kalookan cities respectively.
Finding a job in the Philippines is tough, but even more difficult if you’re a foreigner. You’ll not only deal with strict immigration laws but also face stiff competition from the locals given densely populated cities. Despite the odds, if you have the right skill set and good academic credits to back it up, you can be able to find employment in the Philippines. Start your search ahead of time, and it’s best to find a job before relocating. Having a company in the Philippines sponsor you can make the process of obtaining a work permit much easier. My guide to living and working in the Philippines offers up-to-date information on the country’s economy, the cost of living, job opportunities for foreigners, and everything else you need to know about making money in the Philippines. Without much delay, let’s get into it:
Average Salary in the Philippines
To help you understand salaries in the Philippines even better, here are some common professions together with their average annual salaries in the Philippines:
- Accountant – $7,803
- CAD drafter – $8,945
- Cashier – $6,767
- Chef – $9,691
- CEO – $25,522
- Computer technician – $9,000
- Creative director – $11,950
- Developer/programmer – $10,472
- Engineer – $10,133
- General Manager – $20,908
- HRM – $15,320
- Internal auditor – $11,596
- Nurse – $8,720
- Project manager – $12,858
- Receptionist – $6,370
- Sales representative – $7,272
- Teacher – $8,600
- Travel agent – $9,195
- Waitstaff – $6,587
After studying average salaries by profession, it’s important to note that salaries will also vary by academic credits, professional experience, workplace location, working hours, nature of work, and the industry type, among other things. Salaries of those working in business districts and major cities are relatively higher than those working in second-tier cities. Also, those working in higher-level positions generally enjoy better pay, benefits, and a good working environment. Low-skilled workers, on the other hand, have low pay (usually the minimum wage), little job security, and often work for long hours and/or in dangerous conditions.
Philippines’ economy survived the great recession and is in better condition than most Asian countries. It has since experienced significant growth year after year. The country recently became industrialised with its main economic activity shifting from agriculture to manufacturing and services sectors. Despite having a strong economy, the country continues to face high rates of poverty and national debt. Unemployment is, however, on the decline at 5.40%, which is a good sign for job seekers.
Foreign investors who want to establish themselves in Asia are taking an interest in this country partly due to the low labour costs. The economic boom, together with the presence of international corporations has made the Philippines a popular destination for foreigners looking to work abroad.
How to find a job in the Philippines
When it comes to finding a job in this country, the same strategies you would use to find work in your home country apply here. Some of these tactics include searching for vacancies online, networking, making use of professional connections, using recruitment agencies, as well as asking your current employer who has offices in the Philippines for an inter-company transfer.
Job opportunities for expatriates
More than half of the working population in the Philippines is employed in the services sector. Construction, production, mining, tourism, and agriculture industries also offer most job opportunities for expats. Having said that, the most popular job markets for expatriates in the Philippines are call centres, other business outsourcing units, as well as language teaching (particularly English).
You are free to work in other areas as well, including finance, engineering, HR, sales, IT, customer service, and advertising just to name a few. Just be aware that priority is given to locals over foreigners, unless, of course, they can’t find a suitable local candidate to fill the position or a foreigner has a highly desirable or developed skill.
In addition to having a college degree and relevant work experience, some jobs require licensure to practice. This includes jobs in the medical field, accounting, engineering, and so on. As a foreigner, it’s important to find out licensure requirements, as well as whether the license you already have is applicable in the Philippines.
Philippines Average Household Income
The family income and expenditure survey is a countrywide survey of the Philippines’ households taken every three years. It provides data on all sources of income and the levels of consumption, which, in turn, determines the levels of living, income disparities, and spending patterns among Filipino households. There only exist preliminary results for the 2018 survey; meanwhile, the 2015 survey showed that:
The average annual household income was approximately $5,237.10 while the average annual household expenditure was $4,217.14. This brings the average annual household savings to $1,019.91 in a year.
Households in the National Capital Region recorded the highest average household income at $8,335.91, meanwhile, households in the Davao Region experienced the biggest increased from $3,806.34 in 2012 to $4,846.21 in 2015.
The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality reduced from 0.4605 in 2012 to 0.4439 in 2015, which indicates some improvements in the income distribution among households.
Minimum Wage in the Philippines
Like several other countries, the Philippines have a mandated minimum wage, which employers are required to abide by.
The minimum wage in this country is set at a regional level by regional wages and productivity board. Each board has representatives of the department of labour, employee, and employer. These regional minimum wages are expected to, as adequate as economically possible, maintain the minimum standards of living and ensure workers’ health and general well-being. Several factors go into determining minimum wage in the Philippines, including the cost of living, workers’ needs, the capacity of employees to pay, the existing wage levels, equitable income and wealth distribution, as well as requirements for social and economic development. Whenever any of these conditions change significantly in a particular region, the regional board will investigate facts to find out if a wage order should be issued.
Each of the 16 regions in the Philippines has set different minimum wage levels for different industries. For starters, the minimum wage for the Mindanao Region is at 270 PHP/day for the agricultural sectors and 280PHP/day for the non-agricultural sector. In CAR – Cordillera Administrative Region, the minimum wage is from 300-320 PHP/day. The difference in the minimum wage between these regions is not very large. Learners, disabled workers, and apprentices must be paid no less than 75% of the existing minimum wage.
In addition to minimum wage, workers are entitled to 5 days of paid annual leave, paid public holidays, the thirteenth-month pay, maternity and paternity leave benefits, as well as health and insurance benefits. Philipino employees typically work 8 hours a day and any overtime work should be paid at least an additional 25% of the regular pay. Understanding these labour laws is imperative to know your rights as a foreign worker abroad.
Average Salary in Manila
As the capital city of the Philippines, Manila (the National Capital Region) has become the country’s centre of economic growth and foreign investments. This bustling city has proved welcoming towards foreign workers, with many exciting careers awaiting you if you know where to look.
Salaries in this city typically range from $160.30/month (minimum) to $5,245 per month (maximum), with a median of $1,161 per month. The average pay is $1,184.50 per month or $14,212.81 a year, while the average hourly rate is $6.83. Given that this is the gross pay, the average take-home pay after tax and other compulsory deductions such as health insurance will come down to $391/month. While the average salary is a great guide, it doesn’t reflect what every worker earns in this city. These figures will still vary depending on an individual’s profession, qualifications, company, and industry.
Salaries in Manila may not match what’s offered in Western and European countries, but they are the highest in the country and will afford you a decent lifestyle given the low cost of living.
Manila’s economy and job market
The city’s economy is quite diverse and mainly characterised by the production and trade of many different products such as chemicals, textiles, shoes, and coconut oil. Considered the gateway to Southeast Asia, several multinational corporations, NGOs, and privately owned businesses are based here. The city also houses several financial and commercial centres, including Bonifacio Global City, Ortigas Center, Alabang Business District, Makati Central Business District, Eastwood City and Binondo area (Chinatown), and Rockwell Center. These industries/sectors are the most likely places for expats to find job opportunities.
Cost Of Living in the Philippines
Generally, you’ll find living in the Philippines pretty affordable, especially compared to Western and European countries. Plus, it allows for a wide range of lifestyles. There’s a huge population that leaves on the cheap; they rent cheap accommodation, eat cheap food, and use public transport to get around. An average family with this lifestyle needs at least $168/month to meet their most basic needs. Then there’s the other side where you can spend the same as you were back in your home country but afford a much better lifestyle. An average family with this kind of lifestyle will spend $300/month on basic monthly expenses (excluding rent/mortgage payments). Here’s a breakdown of common household expenses in the Philippines:
There are plenty of options here, depending on your budget. A small apartment will average at $162/month in the city centre and $289/month in the outskirts, while a bigger house (perhaps 3 bedrooms) will average at $325/month and $585/month in the same areas. If you prefer something luxurious on the edge of the beach, you can find a million-dollar house for just $2,000-3,000 per month. Buying is an option but it comes with some restrictions. If you choose to buy on credit, ensure you shop around for the best mortgage deal.
Food prices are unbelievably low. You can save up even more by shopping at the wet markets where the prices are the lowest. When it comes to eating out, you can spend as little or as much as you can afford. Street food is available at considerably low prices, but restaurants can be a bit pricey. Ultimately, the average family will spend $125/month on food.
The Philippines is well-connected by public transport, which includes metros, rails, buses, jeepneys, and taxis. One way tickets start at around $0.20, depending on the distance, while a monthly travel pass average at $9.81. Other average travel costs include:
- Gasoline – $1.01/litre
- Taxi start – $0.78
- Taxi/km – $0.26
- Toyota Corolla (or an equivalent new car) – $22,107
Other basic living expenses, including clothing, household cleaning products, and personal hygiene products are generally cheaper. While these types of expenses vary from one person to the next, the average household should expect to spend $100/month on them.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.