Retire on $1028 USD per Month in IIloilo City in the Philippines

This is my retire on $1028 USD per Month in Iloilo City in the Philippines report.

October 14, 2023. My name is Dan. I have lived in or visited 67 countries. I have over 195 reports on teaching people how to retire early for cheap overseas and how to slowly travel the world for half of what you may have thought possible.

In this report, I will share our estimated basic recurring costs of living in what has been called the cleanest and safest city in the Philippines.

You may have seen my recent video interview with Michael and Bianca who recently moved from Boracay to Iloilo City in the Philippines. They call Iloilo the safest and cleanest city they have ever seen in the Philippines.

But this is not the first time we have heard this. In fact, in this slow travel tour of the Philippines, we took the bus (and ferry) from Dumaguete to Iloilo City to investigate for ourselves.

From this bus terminal in Dumaguete, we jumped on a bus bound for this bus terminal in Iloilo City. The trip included the bus north to Bacalod and then the bus itself traveled on the ferry from Bacalod to Iloilo City for a total cost of 1150 pesos ($21 USD) per person. We took the Grab taxi from the bus terminal in Iloilo City to our accommodations. The bus leaves every few hours and the trip took about 10 hours including bathroom breaks and stopping for one meal.

Upon arrival in Iloilo City it was immediately obvious to us why everyone raves about Iloilo City in the Philippines. Some things can only be appreciated by seeing them with your own eye. So you are invited to watch my video of Iloilo City in the Philippines.

In this report, I share our favorite markets, restaurants, and things to do in Iloilo City. Then I will give you a line item estimate of the basic costs of living here on a tight budget. Okay, here we go.

Our Favorite Markets and Restaurants in Iloilo City

Iloilo City Markets

Iloilo Terminal Market: This is where we would buy fruits, vegetables, and rice while in Iloilo City. They also have meat and fish. But the market was under renovation during our visit. So there was not a large selection.

Iloilo Central Market: This is another place where we would buy fruits, vegetables, and rice while in Iloilo City. They also have meat and fish.

The Marketplace: This is an expensive smaller smaller-sized imported grocery store. We would shop here for imported wines and cheese and that sort of thing.

Savemore Market: This store was odd. Not much in the way of imports but the prices seemed high possibly because it is in a fancy mall (Festive Walk) with high rents.

Festive Walk: This is a typical mall in the Philippines with retail stores, restaurants, and a grocery store.

SM City Iloilo: This is another typical mall in the Philippines with retail stores, restaurants, and a grocery store.

Iloilo City Restaurants


Baliwag (Festive Walk Mall): Chicken set with rice and soup 140 pesos, $2.54 USD.

Gilligans: (Festive Walk Mall): Tofu Sisi 162 pesos, $2.94, Chicken Teryaki with rice and soup 134 pesos, $2.43 USD, Crunchy pork sisig with rice and soup 139 pesos, $2.52.

Mang Inasal: Chicken and rice with drink 151 pesos, $2.74.

Netong’s Original Special La Paz Batchoy: Batchoy Pork Noodle.

Veggie Delight (Near La Paz Public Market): Filipino vegan lunch 80 pesos, $1.45 USD.

Roberto’s Restaurant: Famous local food. Queen is 160 pesos, $2.90 USD. Regular pork sandwich 60 pesos. $1.05 USD.


The Summer House: This is a Chinese in the Festive Walk Mall. Expensive but nice food. Garlic rice Lo hai chai (vegetarian) 360 ($6.54), salt pepper tofu 290, $5.27 USD.

Zark’s Burgers (SM City Iloilo): Boneless fried chicken sandwich meal 246 pesos, $4.47 USD, Vege burger meal 234 pesos, $4.25.

Healthy Kitchen Cafe: Falafel salad 160 pesos, $2.90, cream of vegetables 130 pesos, $236.

S&R New York Style Pizza: Big cheese slice with drink 149 pesos, $2.70 USD, 2 pieces of chicken with rice 169, $3/07 USD.

Cocina Project (K-Town Food Court): Smoked honey-back ribs and corn 169 pesos, $3.07 USD.

Iloilo City Nightlife


Google Map

Just click the above link or map and take a Grab Taxi to this “Smallville” area of Iloilo City. We are not recommending any particular bar on this map. But if you walk this area, you are likely to find something that suits your fancy.

We enjoyed the JLK Music Bar which has a DJ playing hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. People were standing and dancing at their tables. It was fun. No flip-flops allowed so wear your trainers (tennis shoes).

Iloilo City Waterfront Esplanade

One of the highlights of Iloilo City is the beautiful brick-paved walkway along the Iloilo River waterfront. It is 14 km long now but to get a good idea of what it looks like, check out one of our favorite areas for walking.

Google Map

Iloilo City New Town Walking Tour

Make sure to take this walking tour of the newer part “Megaworld” of Iloiolo City. This area has beautiful new buildings, malls, and restaurants. This is where we stayed while we were in town.

Google Map

Iloilo City Old Town Walking Tour

Google Map

Editable Google Old Town Walking Tour Map

Cost of Living in Iloilo City in the Philippines

Here are our estimated basic recurring costs of living converted into US dollars if the two of us moved to Iloilo City on a tight budget. This estimate does not include everything that it would cost you to live here since we don’t know your lifestyle and needs.

But I will give you a link to other optional costs that you can add that are more specific to your personal lifestyle and needs.

Rents: You will see furnished apartments on Airbnb starting from about $580 to $900 USD per month including utilities and wifi for properties offering the monthly rates.

But if you moved here and were willing to sign a long-term lease, you should be able to beat that price since the landlord would have no vacancy. I estimate around $360 to $500 per month for a more local-style apartment but you would have to pay your own utilities.

So, for this estimate, I will use $350 per month for rent for a long-term rental which does not include utilities but does include a furnished 1 bedroom apartment rather than just a studio. Make sure to read how I find perfect apartments around the world.

Utilities: Iloilo City is at sea level, so, we would need to run our air conditioner to sleep for most of the year. Our electricity will run about $60 USD per month and gas and water would be another $20 per month so about $80 USD per month for our estimated utilities.

Groceries: Based on our time here and the money we spent on groceries, we estimate about $300 USD per month on groceries for the two of us. We would shop mostly in the public market where the vegetables, fruits, rice, and meats are cheaper. We would cook and eat mostly at home.

Restaurants: If we went out to eat twice per week, once for date night and once for lunch somewhere, plus some street food, we would spend around $40 per week or $160 per month in restaurants for the two of us. We would eat in mom-and-pop-style restaurants when possible but also in the expensive tourist restaurants once a week or so.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to recharge our prepaid service is about $10 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 paid about $7 per week for drop off and pick up wash, dry, and fold laundry, so $28 per month for laundry.

Water: R/O water in twenty-liter bottle jugs delivered would be about 50 pesos per month per jug or about $20 USD per month.

Internet: Our Internet would be about $40 per month.

Transportation: Iloilo City is kind of spread out so would not generally be considered walkable especially if you wanted to be able to explore nature all around the island. So, we would buy a used scooter and two helmets for about $1000 USD. We estimate around $40 per month on transportation.

Alcohol (Optional): San Miguel Pilsen Grande beers are about 130 PHP or $2.36 USD each in stores. The Grande is about 2 beers so that makes beers about $1.18 each in stores. But you will see regular-sized San Miguel Pilsen beers in restaurants for about 70 PHP or $1.27 USD each. We would drink mainly at home so we estimate about $110 per month in alcohol for the two of us.

Entertainment (Optional): We would budget about $150 per month for entertainment for the two of us.

Retire Early $830 USD Per Month on Iloilo City Philippines

Iloilo City

Expense (USD)









Cell Data




R/O Water






Recurring Total




Alcohol (Optional)


Optional Total




Entertainment (Optional)


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This is our estimated cost of living if the two of us move to Iloilo City in the Philippines on a tight budget. To fully understand what it would cost you to live here, you must do an exploratory visit and put your feet on the ground.

To get a better understanding of things you should add to our estimated cost of living watch this video: 9 Reasons You Can’t Retire on $1000 Month Overseas.

You should also add anything to the above table that you spend money on in your home country that is not listed in the above table. Presumably, you find those things necessary in life. To do that, visit the Numbeo Iloilo City webpage and add anything not mentioned in the table.

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 ex-pat living costs in the Philippines range from about $1400 to $2400 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.

But many of you will likely be unable to retire on so little here. I give example reasons why in this report.

You will never know your cost of living here until you do an exploratory visit with your feet on the ground. This next report explains how to avoid coming home early with your tail between your legs.

Also, 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 unexpectedly large expenses.

Where We Stayed

We stayed here in Iloilo City for only 11 nights at $26.77 per night. Not enough time to negotiate the kind of deals we can when we stay for a month or longer.

But if you decide to live or retire in the Philippines for a year or more, and you will be attempting to live within the budget we are estimating in this report. You are going to have to put your feet on the ground and look for more local less expensive long-term accommodations. Here is our process for finding places as we slowly travel: How to find great apartments around the world.

Iloilo City Livability Factors and Retirement Desirability Score

Here are the factors I think about when I consider a place for early retirement potential. After I discuss each factor, I will assign an overall retirement desirability score to Iloilo City. I am writing the following based on my personal experience here.

Walkability: Low Desirability. Iloilo City is fairly large and we didn’t really see a walkable area where we could live and have everything in walking distance. So, we would buy a used scooter and two helmets for about $1000 USD to get around.

Internet: Medium Desirability. It is possible to get about 40 MBPS up and down in Iloilo City for about $40 USD per month. We used our smartphones as hot spots when the electricity was down which only happened once for about an hour while we were in town.

Food: Medium. Iloilo City has a good assortment of restaurants for a town this size. But they are kind of spread over a large area so it would not dictate where we would live.

Transportation: Medium. We saw Jeepneys and tricycle taxis running around town but the place is spread out in all directions and would require transfers so we would buy a used scooter and a few helmets for about $1000 USD to eliminate all the waiting.

Weather: Medium. The average daily temperatures range very little from evening lows of 73F, 23C in January to evening lows of 77F, 25C in May. The average daily highs range very little from 86F, 30C in January to average daily highs of 93F, 34C in April. The most rain falls from June through October when it rains 6 to 10 inches per month. Read this report on where to stay in the Philippines to avoid the 4 kinds of natural disasters.

Things to Do: Medium. This is a medium-sized town in the Philippines with about 500k people. There is dining, fishing, scuba, swimming, boating, yoga, partying, live music, etc. Just normal life. If you get bored, grab a ferry to any of the thousands of other islands in the Philippines. Many ferries are large enough to transport your motorcycle or your car as you travel around the Philippines.

Healthcare: Medium. In the above interview with Michael and Bianco who are living in Iloilo, they praised the healthcare facilities. Other sources I found online were not so generous. More generally, the best health care in the Philippines is in Cebu City and Metro Manila. The top hospital on Cebu Island in Cebu City is about 6 hours away by Ferry called Chong Hua Hospital.

Expats: Low. We saw very few expats walking around Iloilo City. This would be a great town to live if you were more interested in integrating into the local culture. The low number of expats is confirmed by the lack of expats joining Iloilo City Expat Facebook Pages (less than 200 people): One, Two. Even if you do find an expat enclave, make sure to make friends with both locals and ex-pats for a richer experience. I explain why in my report, The Top 10 Mistakes International Retirees Make.

Real Estate: I never recommend buying real estate until you have lived somewhere for at least 2 to 3 years. I have a report explaining Why Retired Expats Should not Buy Real Estate Overseas for the first 2 to 3 years of living somewhere new overseas. Make sure to read that before deciding to buy real estate overseas. In the Philippines, you can’t own land directly in your name. Some foreigners get a long-term lease on land before they build, others take title in a corporate name, and others get married and put the property in their Filipino wife or husband’s name. But do hire a local lawyer if you decide to invest in real estate. Do not use a lawyer referred to you by someone with a conflict of interest with you, such as a new local spouse, a real estate broker, or your spouse’s family.

Visa: High. For your exploratory visit to the Philippines, citizens of many countries can obtain a 30-day free visa stamp upon arrival at the international airports. Plus, you can extend your tourist visa for a total of 36 months in the Philippines without bothering with a retirement visa. The monthly visa extensions cost about $30 USD per month. After the 36 months, you just leave the Philippines and go to another country and then fly back to start the whole 36-month process over again. For this reason, almost nobody I have met in the Philippines bothers to get a retirement visa.

Iloilo City Overall Retirement Desirability Score: Medium. If you are a medium-sized town lover that likes a well organized safe city that is comparatively clean to other cities in the Philippines, and you don’t need a large pool of other expats to entertain you, then Iloilo City is probably right for you. Overall, it is a very nice place to live.

Thanks for reviewing my report, Retire on $1028 USD per Month in Iloilo City in the Philippines

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