One of the big reasons expats love the Philippines is the low cost of living. In fact, I speak from experience when I say I feel rich living there. But how much does it take to actually be “rich” in the Philippines? And would you be rich there?
A monthly income over 100,000 PHP (~$1,800 USD) is considered “rich” by many Filipinos. That said, officially speaking you’re not “rich” until you exceed 219,140 PHP (~$3,950 USD) in monthly income. In terms of wealth, you’d need 2.9M PHP in assets (a bit under $60,000 USD) to be in the top 1% of Filipinos.
Below, I’ll explain those numbers more, and I’ll share more reference points to help you understand what is rich in the Philippines. We’ll look at average salaries, cost of living, and much more!
Converting PHP to USD
First, let’s quickly cover this—just in case you’re not familiar with Philippine pesos (PHP) yet. How much are they really worth?
Basically, 50 PHP is roughly $1 USD. As of mid-2023, the actual number is closer to 55 PHP per dollar, but that’s a lot harder to calculate in your head. So we’ll go with 50.
Using this rough estimate, you can get a sense for how much PHP is worth:
- 20 PHP = ~$0.40 USD
- 50 PHP = ~$1 USD
- 100 PHP = ~$2 USD
- 500 PHP = ~$10 USD
- 1,000 PHP = ~$20 USD
- 5,000 PHP = ~$100 USD
- 10,000 PHP = ~$200 USD
- 50,000 PHP = ~$1,000 USD
- 100,000 PHP = ~$2,000 USD
- 200,000 PHP = ~$4,000 USD
Now, let’s move onto discussing how much is actually “a lot of money” in the Philippines.
What is Wealthy in the Philippines?
When discussing what’s “rich” in the Philippines, we need to discuss both wealth and income. Let’s cover wealth first.
According to the Intelligence Lab at Knight Frank, having ~2.9 million PHP (a bit under $60,000 USD) worth of assets makes you part of the wealthiest 1% in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, to be part of the wealthiest 0.1% in the Philippines, you would need roughly 10 million PHP or ~$200,000 USD. So, roughly only 1 in 1,000 Filipinos has over $200,000 USD in assets. (source)
By these measurements, the Philippines is one of the poorer countries in the world. In fact, the only country lower on Knight Frank’s list is Kenya, which only requires ~$20,000 USD to be in the top 1%.
Just for context, the average annual salary in the U.S. is $60,575. So, just one year of average earnings in the U.S. would already put you in the top 1% in the Philippines (if you could save everything).
What Is a Good Salary in the Philippines?
Most Filipinos say you can support a family on 30,000 PHP (~$600 USD) per month. Meanwhile, 50,000 PHP (~$1,000 USD) puts you solidly in the middle class, 100,000 PHP puts you in the range of dentists and lawyers, and around 200,000 PHP per month is definitely “rich.”
I’ve got a whole bunch of income stats to share with you. But first, let’s look at the lower end of things. As of 2023, the minimum wage in the Philippines is 610 PHP per day, or about $11 USD per day.
So, working every day for minimum wage, you’d earn ~$330 USD per month in the Philippines. And indeed, some lower-income jobs in the Philippines do report average incomes in that range:
- Mechanic: 16,100 PHP per month (~$290 USD)
- Call Center Representative: 16,300 per month (~$295 USD)
- Cashier: 17,000 PHP per month (~$310 USD)
- Secretary: 19,100 PHP per month (~$340 USD)
But what about the higher-income jobs in the Philippines? Here are some average reported figures:
- Attorney: 82,200 PHP (~$1,480 USD)
- CEO: 96,400 PHP (~$1,740 USD)
- Dentist: 98,200 PHP (~$1,770 USD)
Aside from these specific salary averages, we can also look at official “income classes” as defined in the Philippines.
What Is “Upper Class” in the Philippines?
The Philippine Institute of Development Studies actually defines official “classes” in the Philippines, based on monthly income. As of 2022, these are the following:
- Poor: Less than 10,957 PHP (~$200 USD)
- Low income (but not poor): 10,957 to 21,194 PHP (~$200 to $380 USD)
- Lower middle class: 21,194 to 43,828 PHP (~$380 to $790 USD)
- Middle class: 43,828 to 76,669 PHP (~$790 to $1,380 USD)
- Upper middle income: 76,669 to 131,484 PHP (~$1,380 to $2,370 USD)
- High income (but not rich): 131,484 to 219,140 PHP (~$2,370 to $3,950 USD)
- Rich: 219,140 PHP or more (~$3,950+ USD)
So, based on these numbers, you could say that $3,950 per month makes you officially “rich” in the Philippines.
Since “rich” is also a comparative thing, let’s also look at some salary percentiles in the Philippines. As of 2023, Salary Explorer reports the following about Filipino salaries:
- The top 50% earn 41,200 PHP or more per month (~$740 USD).
- The top 25% earn 62,500 PHP or more per month (~$1,130 USD).
- The top 15% earn 70,300 PHP or more per month (~$1,270 USD).
- The top 5% earn 89,900 PHP or more per month (~$1,620 USD).
- “Almost everyone” earns 199,000 PHP or less per month (~$3,580 USD).
So again, it looks like around 200k PHP per month, or a little under $4,000 USD per month, is roughly “rich” in the Philippines.
Aside from official stats and government guidelines, we can also look at what Filipino people have actually said about this topic. Let’s cover that next.
What Filipinos Say Is “Rich”
In a Filipina Pea street interview video, five random Filipinos were asked what counts as “rich” in the Philippines:
- Two people said 50k PHP per month is rich (~$1,000 USD).
- Two people said 100k PHP per month is rich (~$2,000 USD).
- One person said 150k PHP per month is rich (~$3,000 USD).
In a Gio in the Philippines video, Gio’s Filipino fiancé also said 100k PHP per month is rich in the Philippines (~$2,000 USD).
Two women in the Filipina Pea video were also asked how much it takes to provide well for a family in the Philippines. One said 30k PHP per month (~$600 USD), while the other said 30k to 50k per month (~$600 to $1,000 USD).
So, these estimates are a little lower than the stats above. According to these answers, 30k PHP (~$600) per month can already support a family, but 100k PHP (~$2,000) per month is considered “rich” by many.
Cost of Living in the Philippines
Of course, the low income levels in the Philippines also correlate to a low cost of living. And for many aspiring expats, this is one of the main appeals of the Philippines.
So, how does the Philippines compare to other countries’ costs? The table below shows the “cost of living with rent” of the Philippines compared to other countries:
|Country||How the Philippines Compares|
|United States||The Philippines is ~163% cheaper.|
|Australia||The Philippines is ~150% cheaper.|
|Canada||The Philippines is ~123% cheaper.|
|United Kingdom||The Philippines is ~107% cheaper.|
|South Korea||The Philippines is ~92% cheaper.|
|Japan||The Philippines is ~59% cheaper.|
|China||The Philippines is ~15% cheaper.|
|Thailand||The Philippines is ~13% cheaper.|
|Vietnam||The Philippines is roughly equal.|
|Indonesia||The Philippines is 12% more expensive.|
|Colombia||The Philippines is 21% more expensive.|
|India||The Philippines is 37% more expensive.|
But of course, the specific area will also impact your costs a lot. Living in the countryside (the province) is much, much cheaper than living in the nicest parts of Metro Manila, for example.
Assuming you’re accustomed to life in America or another highly developed country, you’d probably want at least $1,000 USD per month to live in the Philippines. Of course, you can live on less, but you may not enjoy it.
And if you’re trying to live in the more expensive cities like BGC in Manila, you should have at least $2,000 USD per month to live a pretty good lifestyle.
And how much does it cost to “live like a king” in the Philippines? I’d say $3,000+ USD in the cheaper places, and $4,000+ in the more expensive cities (like BGC and Makati).
As covered in the statistics above, $4,000 USD is rich in the Philippines by multiple different measurements. So, you’ll likely feel like a baller with that income, even in more expensive places like BGC.
What It Takes to Be “Rich” in Different Asian Countries
Read my other guides to what counts as “rich” in Asia—complete with salary data, net worth statistics and more: