Makati Metro Manila Philippines Retire Early Report

This is my Makati Metro Manila Philippines Retire Early Report.

This is Dan of Vagabond Awake. I don’t buy round-trip tickets. I move forward exploring the world looking for the best places to retire early for cheap in paradise. I do not maintain an empty bed anywhere in the world. Subscribe to get the biggest bang for your buck in the world.

After traveling for 15 years now to 67 countries, I was surprised by how many great places there are in the world. The other surprise was how cheap it can be to slow travel the world 365 days of the year. I could keep traveling if I wanted to.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make living internationally is to fall in love with the first retire cheap in paradise location you visit. It is better to “date” several countries before settling down. Watch my video of the Top 10 Mistakes International Retirees Make so you can avoid all of the mistakes.

Cost of Living in Makati Metro Manila Philippines

Here is my estimated cost of living if Qiang and I were to live in Makati Metro Manila in the Philippines. You won’t know your cost to live here until you come here and do an exploratory visit to determine what kind of life you want here and what it would cost.

Makati is a bit too expensive for my taste because I would want to live on less money. But I am reporting on the cost of living here because some people would like to live here. Normally we report on cities with lower living costs and closer to nature, like in the provinces.

Rents: To rent a furnished 1 bedroom apartment, you will have to pay around $300 to $700 per month for an apartment. I will use $400 per month for rent because I would not need a completely westernized apartment. If you want a western-style apartment with more space, you could easily pay a few hundred more dollars depending on how much space you wanted and amenities. I also provide a link to my report about how to find perfect apartments around the world.

Utilities: Makati is at sea level so most of you will want air conditioning. I estimate my electric bill would average around $60 to $100 per month which includes water and gas.

Groceries: Based on our time here and the money we spent on groceries, we estimate about $350 USD per month on groceries for two people.

Restaurants: If we went out to eat twice per week, once for date night and once for a lunch somewhere, we would spend about $35 per week or $140 per month in restaurants for the two of us. We would eat mostly in family-owned local restaurants rather than the expensive ex-pat or tourist-style restaurants. Definitely try some of our local-style restaurants below before you decide you must pay ex-pat prices.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to recharge prepaid service is about $20 USD per month. My android phone will act as a hotspot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house together.

Laundry: We could send our laundry out once per week to wash, dry, and fold, so about $15 per month.

Water: We would spend about $15 per month on bottled water.

Internet: The Internet will be about $50 per month depending on how fast you need your service.

Transportation: Everything you would want in Makati Metro Manila is fairly walkable. We would not need a car. So we would pay about $50 per month in transportation since we would ride our bikes and local buses mostly, and take a Grab Taxi here and there to get groceries home.

Alcohol (Optional): Local beers are about $1.00 USD in stores in Makati. If you watch and buy in bulk on sale you may save a little. But in bars and restaurants, beers run about $1.20 to $1.50 USD. So for two people, we estimate about $120 USD per month for alcohol since we would drink more at home.

Entertainment (Optional): We would budget about $200 per month for entertainment for the two of us.


Expense (USD)



















Recurring Total




Alcohol (Optional)


Optional Total




Entertainment (Optional)


Optional Total


The above cost of living is for 2 people but is just an estimate on the low end. For a full understanding of what it would cost you to live here, visit Numbeo Manila and add anything you spend money on in your home country that is not mentioned in the table. Our costs of living are generally much lower than a new traveler’s because we are great bargain hunters but there are a few people that live cheaper than we do.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.

More typical living costs for ex-pats in Manila range from about $1500 to $2500 per month. But people spending that much also have higher incomes or pensions. They often report spending more on entertainment, eating out, and alcohol. Many also have more expensive cars, houses, or apartments.

If you are going to try to retire cheap offshore, make sure to read my report, the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore, which explains why you should have emergency funds available for unexpected large expenses.

Here are the livability factors I use to determine whether I would be willing to retire in Makati Metro Manila in the Philippines.

Makati Metro Manila Philippines Livability Factors

When a livability factor is assigned a high value it means that the factor is very livable, low it is not. Medium means that the factor is in the middle of the spectrum.

Walkability: Medium. I rate Makati as medium walkablility. Everything you need in daily life is within a walkable distance if you stay in the central area of Makati. If something is further away you can usually get there in 20 to 30 minutes on a grab taxi or local taxi. The local taxis all seem to use their meters so they often cost less than a grab taxi.

Internet: High. We had our own router in our Airbnb apartment and the Wifi was great. The great Wifi we had is called Globe (28 Mbps down, and 21 Mbps upload). You will be fine if you are Internet hogs like us.


Food: High. Almost all of the food in the world is in the Metro Manila area because it is the capital city of the Philippines. There is a very meat-centric diet in the Philippines in general, but we were surprised how many vegetarian choices were on menus and how many completely vegetarian or Vegan Restaurants were in town.

Weather: Medium. Average daily highs range from a low of 86F/30C in December to an average high of 93F/34C in April. Average nightly lows range from a low of 74F/2C in January to a high of 80F/27C in May. May through November experience 8 or more days of rain with 15 or more days of rain in the middle of the rain season, July through September.

Things to Do: High. As with most capital towns around the world, there is more money on average in the Manila area than around most of the Philippines. That means more food choices, more malls, more live music, and more things to do in terms of city life. Manila is a large sprawling city with traffic troubles, so it takes a long time to get out into nature. But there are 7000 islands in the Philippines with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The island of Palawan is just an hour away by air for about $100 per person or less. Thus, it is not very difficult at all to find your way to the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world. So if you have the money to enjoy a better life in Manila, it ranks high on the desirability of things to do, otherwise, it is medium.

Expats: High. With English speakers running everywhere around you, you may not need as many ex-pats around you to feel at home. But you may need tips on where to find stuff. Check out these Facebook pages (Facebook 1), (Facebook 2). They may know where to find some of your favorite brands from home. They may also know where you can get a nice apartment at a fair price. Just be careful about who you listen to. Some will tell you how much it costs to recreate their old life here instead of how to live fabulously for much less by learning from the locals.

Medical: High. Here are the top hospitals in the Philippines according to this source. We got all of our travel shots at Makati Med and were very impressed with the service there. Manila has some of the best hospitals in the Philippines. So if you are worried about health challenges, this will be an important factor for you.

Visa: High. For your exploratory visit to the Philippines, many countries can obtain a 30-day free visa stamp upon arrival. We were able to get a 30-day extension in less than an hour at the Makati Extension office. Plus, at the time of this writing, you can get additional extensions of up to 36 months before you have to do a visa run to another country.

As stated in my “Top 10 Mistakes International Retirees Make,” I recommend you spend at least 6 months here before considering obtaining a retirement visa. Here is my report on the Visa Process in the Philippines, which is subject to change of course.

Retirement Visas: High. There is a Visa program for people 35 to 49 years of age if you are healthy, active, and able to deposit $20,000 in an approved Filipino retirement account. This Visa allows you to live in but not invest in the Philippines and you can pay extra for dependents. You just need the money, a medical clearance, and a police clearance. The most popular visa allows investment in the Philippines and requires a larger deposit. For those 35 to 49 years, with a $50,000 deposit, or those over 50 years with a $10,000 deposit, either, that can also show $800 monthly income for individuals or $1,000 for couples, you will have the right to invest in the Philippines. Or, if you are over 50 years, you can avoid proving income with a $50,000 deposit. Income requirements can be shown with Social Security Administration documents stating your benefit amount. These rules are subject to change without notice.

Banking: Medium. This is not professional advice. But I leave my money in my home country bank and take money out as needed at ATMs. When you are in a foreign country, it is much easier to get into a mess than to get out of one. If you want to store money outside your home country, don’t put it in developing country banks. If you decide to put money in the banks here to get a visa, you will probably end up fine. Just understand the risks are higher. Here are the International Banking Mistakes I learned about since I left the USA in 2007.

Pollution: Medium. Manila is on the ocean so the air seemed fairly good for a city this large. I was surprised to learn it was merely moderate when we were there. But it does get unhealthy from time to time. Maybe it is all the Jeepneys that seem to be spewing smoke out the back. In general, it is better to not swim in rivers, lakes, or oceans near cities in SE Asia unless there is some government periodic testing you can verify. The further you get from cities and industrial areas the safer the water generally there is a lower risk.

Makati Metro Manila Overall Retirement Desirability Score: Medium for large city lovers and cultural explorers and low for nature lovers unless they have the resources to get out of town when the mood strikes.

Makati Metro Manila Nightlife

There is a very centralized nightlife walking area in Makati. We have provided the map and video below. There are of course many bars, clubs, and nightlife activities around manila, but they are more spread out and time-dependent. Here is the walking area of Makati where the nightlife is the most active. Just click this map to enjoy this walking street. Start walking and listen to a place playing the music you enjoy most.

Here is the video of us on this walking tour:

The map includes all of the places we stopped, but you will see many other nightlife locations along our walking path that you may also want to investigate.

Google Map


Here is the editable list of nightlife locations on our tour. Just click the list our the map to make edits and take this tour once you are in Manila, Makati, Philippines.

Manila Philippines Old Town Walking Tour

Here is the map and editable list of the old town walking tour of Manila.  The story about each location is below.  

Google Map


Rizal Park: The execution of Filipino patriot José Rizal on December 30, 1896, fanned the flames of the 1896 Philippine Revolution against the Kingdom of Spain. The park was officially named in his honor, and the monument enshrining his remains serves as the park’s symbolic focal point. The declaration of Philippine independence from the United States was held here on July 4, 1946, as well as later political rallies. Rizal was an eye doctor, poet, and writer and is considered a national hero in the Philippines because he was an advocate for the freedom of the Filippino people.

National Natural Museum: Free to all visitors.

San Agustin Church: Completed in 1607, it is the oldest stone church in the country, and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992. It is inside the original walled city built by the Spaniards. It was first built of Bambo as the first religious structure on Luzon Island and was rebuilt in stone in its current form. Over the years it has been partially destroyed and rebuilt because of earthquakes and was a concentration camp during the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. Source.

Intramuros: Intramuros means inside the city. This was the seat of the Spanish Government during the Spanish colonial period from 1571 to 1865.

Fort Santiago: The fort was named after Saint James (Santiago in Spanish), the patron saint of Spain, who is also known as Saint James the Muslim slayer because of the legend that he miraculously appeared hundreds of years after his death to fight in the battle of Clavijo, whose relief adorns the façade of the front gate. The fort was built to help protect the city from invading Chinese pirates and other invaders. Source.

Minor Basilica: The cathedral was originally a church in Manila under the Archdiocese of Mexico in 1571. The cathedral was damaged and destroyed several times since the original structure was built in 1581 while the eighth and current structure of the cathedral was completed in 1958. It now serves as the cathedral of Manila and the seat of the Archbishop of Manila. Source.

Binondo: This district of Manila is known as the oldest China Town in the world. Binondo is the center of commerce and trade in Manila, where all types of businesses run by Filipino-Chinese thrive since 1594. Source.

Our Favorite Restaurants, Markets, Groceries


Here are the restaurants we ate at in China Town. Videos of the foods are in this video Qiang Hui made about China Town on her channel.

Hidden Food Gems in Manila World Oldest Chinatown 🥢🥡

Quik Snack: Our favorite dish: Indonesia Tofu 150php/$3 USD

New Po Heng Lumpia House: Qiang’s favorite: Lumpia 95php/$1.90 USD.

Vege Select: Amazing selection of vegetarian dishes with the traditional plant-based meats from China.

Dong Bei Dumplings: Qiang’s favorite: Kuchay pork dumplings 14pcs 200php/$4

Shanghai Fried Siopao: Qiang’s favorites: Fried siopao (pork) each 30php/$0.60

Favorite Restaurants walkable in Makati.

The Sexy Kitchen: A vegan restaurant with entrees starting at around $8 USD. Great date night places.

Wabi Sabi Noodle House: Probably our favorite restaurant in Makati. Dishes from around SE Asia start at around $4 USD. Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurant.

101 Hawker Food House: Amazing food from around Asia both Meat, Fish, and Vegetarian choices. Meals start around $4 USD.

Favorite Markets:

We shopped at this grocery store and were able to find almost everything we needed. But there are many grocery stores all over Manila. We also enjoyed the Legazpi Sunday morning market where they sell fruits, vegetables, and other foods from around the world. There are malls all over Makati with fashions, restaurants, and gadgets from all over the world: Greenbelt by Ayala Malls, SM Makati, and The Landmark – Makati.

Bonifacio Global City (BGC): BGC is about a 30-minute taxi ride from the central part of Makati. It is literally the cleanest most beautiful modern city in the world as far as I know. It is much more beautiful and clean than Makati but a little sterile and antiseptic in my humble opinion. So although I don’t think I could live there, you must at least visit there when you are in Manila. Here is a video we did of BGC during our visit there.

Example Place to Stay Makati



We stayed in this Airbnb apartment for the first week. But they had a cheaper special when we stayed there.  But you will have to get a long-term rental to get a good deal. The above photo is an example of what you can get for 12k PHP ($240 USD) per month fully furnished not including utilities. We found this on the day we wrote this report on this Facebook page. To help find a nice place, we follow the process we describe here: How to find perfect apartments around the world.

How we got to Makati

Here is our video about how we got to Makati. We found the best flight deal on We flew from Malaysia to the Philippines in March of 2022, about a month after they reopened to foreign tourists.

Thanks for reviewing my report Makati Metro Manila Philippines Retire Early Report.

Please subscribe to or our Youtube Channel to watch us move around the world, 15 years and 67 countries so far. Make sure to grab a free copy of my eBook, How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 15+ Years. It has most of my best tips and tricks.

This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the Youtube channel for Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?