Save Money With These Manila Life Hacks

Are you new to Manila? Maybe you’re just thinking about moving there? It’s always exciting to be in a new place with new faces to look at. But living in Manila can often be daunting and not to mention more expensive than many expats might imagine. That’s why I’ve devised these tips & tricks to save time and money when living in Metro Manila.

Living in Manila Hacks

Want to visit the Philippines but don’t like to pay high prices for the flight? There are several flight search engines you can use to save money. is my favorite as they always have the promo rates and best deals on Cebu Pacific. They offer the most flexibility with dates and have a contract with Cebu Pacific to offer exclusive rates. The trick to getting cheap tickets is to plan ahead.

Reconsider Living in BGC or Makati

Many expats in Manila tend to gravitate towards these two areas of the city and it makes sense because BGC (Bonifacio Global City) and upper Makati are trendy upscale areas of the city. The problem is they’re both very expensive–some of the most expensive parts of the entire country to live in fact.

According to rents for a decent apartment in BGC typically range from $680-$2,000 per month! Just to put that into perspective, in Dallas Texas I paid $475 a month for a one-bedroom apartment with a walk-in closet. I couldn’t imagine paying $2000 in rent to live in a 3rd world country. Oh and expect to be solicited by a plethora of scam artist local real estate agents promising the best deals on a condo (apartments) if you ever ask for apartment finding advice in an expat forum.

That’s why unless your job is paying your rent I suggest avoiding these areas. There are other very nice areas like Ortigas or Las Pinas that are still near the business centers.  You can also consider living outside the metro. I pay just $70 for a studio in Cavite Province (just south of Manila).

It’s quieter, less polluted, and there’s plenty of transportation into the city. If you want to find an honest local to help you try Manila Foreigners Club on Facebook. Another great option is Laguna Province which is also just south of Manila. This is an even better option than where I live because there’s a brand new expressway that will take you straight into the heart of Metro Manila.

Save Money on Great Phones

One of the perks of living in Asia is super cheap technology–at least when it comes to cell phones. The Philippines’ close proximity to China ensures the best deals possible on cell phones. If you want a nice cellphone but don’t want to go to the poorhouse to get one then try Xiaomi (pronounced ʃaʊˌmi) or Oppo phones.

These Chinese brands are up n coming and can hold their own against any Samsung or even the iPhone. Oh, and did I mention they cost about one half to one-quarter of the price? I love Oppos for their cameras but if you want a great phone that’s the whole package but half the price then try Xiaomi. You can buy Xiaomi through

Save Loads With This Hack

Did you know you get a discount when you buy more than 500php (10usd) worth of cell phone load credits from SM Malls? Many of you already knew that but did you know you can save 5% on all loads for Smart, Globe, TM, and Sun if you use Lazada’s Top Up service. \

Oh and there’s no minimum amount to get the discount. With Lazada, I save money on loads which means I can buy less of them. I always buy my loads through them and have saved hundreds, if not thousands, of pesos this way. You can even send loads to someone in the Philippines from overseas.

Stop Paying to Get Your Own Money

Whenever I withdraw money from the bank I had to pay 250php (5usd) to the local bank plus an international transfer fee to my own bank. All in all, it was costing me about $8 each time I used a local ATM to withdraw my own money! That’s when I discovered Charles Schwab International Checking. It’s a checking account you can get that reimburses all ATM and foreign transaction/currency fees. It’s simple you open the account, they send you an ATM card and that’s it. There are no fees or minimums to open and use the account under normal usage

NEW!! Use this link plus enter referral code REFER6PMB4ZGR and get $100 USD when fund your new Charles Schwab account.  Say goodbye to ATM Fees! 

Save on Money Transfers

Transferwise the cheapest money transfer service around. You can save a ton when transferring money to your lover! They offer low fees plus they give you the real exchange rate instead of the crappy retail rate. Check exchange rates.

Related: Here’s Why Expats Love Transferwise

Save 50% On Things You Do Every Day

Get huge savings on everything from ice skating at the mall,  bowling, your favorite restaurants, museums, and almost anything you can think of with MetroDeal. This is the best site to get coupons and deals in the Metro Manila area and beyond. 

Save Time & Money on Meeting People

Are you looking for a woman to love you forever? Tired of all the scammers or girls that don’t really know what they want? Then try Christian Filipina. They offer personalized matching services that are second to none. A real human will match you with who is best for you and they have a great way to weed out people who aren’t serious.

Tired of getting ripped off by bar girls? Filipino Cupid is the world’s largest Filipino dating site with over 3.5 million members. You can meet Filipinas in the privacy of your own home. Like ladyboys? You can meet them on Filipino Cupid as well. No one has to know. 😉 

Related: Here’s What to Expect When Dating a Filipina

Want to bring your girl (or guy) back to America? FilipinoVisa service can save you time and costly mistakes when it comes to getting her visa to America. 

Say Goodbye to Taxis

No more getting ripped off by unscrupulous taxi drivers thanks to the Grab App. It’s Asia’s version of Uber. You simply download the app and use it to hail a driver. No more haggling over the price or going through every traffic loop in town to increase the fare on the meter. Oh, and did I mention you can use the app for food delivery and now to make payments?

Travel for Free…Well Almost

Sometimes companies will offer free trips as a promotional tool. Tourradar is one of those companies. Every month they have a contest to win a free trip for 2 to select locations! That includes room, board, and a tour guide! Some of the destinations have included Madrid Spain, Buenos Aires Argentina, and Palawan Island! See about this month’s contest.

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4 years ago

How do I subscribe to this blog?

German Sanchez
German Sanchez
1 year ago

Hi can you tell more about living in Manila and how a Condo goes for not to expansive ,my email is . Thanks

German Sanchez
German Sanchez
1 year ago

Hi Cam , i am a former US Marine would like some info on a Condo not expansive in and around Manila . Thanks Cam