One of the most powerful incentives for living in the Philippines is the lower cost of living. And yet, the number of our kababayans migrating to countries like Australia continues to rise, with many of them toiling for years just to be able to work Down Under and/or move their families there.
Given that, just how big of an adjustment do our OFW’s have to make when they start living and working in Oz? The cost of living in Australia is pegged to be 129.40% higher than in the Philippines, and the rent here is estimated to be 482.97% higher. Let’s break those figures down and see just how big the difference is between living in Manila and in Sydney:
In Manila, the price of a combo meal at McDonald’s ranges between PHP90-PHP120 while the same would cost around AUD10 (PHP360) in Sydney. If you wanted to have lunch at a mid-range restaurant, around PHP350 would suffice per person in Manila, but you would need AUD40 (PHP1,440) if you were dining in Sydney.
1 lb. boneless chicken breast – Manila: PHP149.15/ Sydney: AUD6 (PHP216)
1 liter whole milk – Manila: PHP76.40/ Sydney: AUD1.38 (PHP49.68)
A dozen eggs – Manila: PHP70.56/ Sydney: AUD5.90 (PHP212.41)
1 loaf white bread – Manila: PHP50.29/ Sydney: AUD2.22 (PHP79.92)
1.5 liter drinking water – Manila: PHP34.07/ Sydney: AUD2.53 (PHP91.08)
1 kg. apples – Manila: PHP106.41/ Sydney: AUD3.98 (PHP143.29)
1 kg. bananas – Manila: PHP54.01/ Sydney: AUD3.05 (PHP109.81)
1 kg. potatoes – Manila: PHP65.23/ Sydney: AUD2.78 (PHP100.08)
1 head lettuce – Manila: PHP49.67/ Sydney: AUD2.46 (PHP88.56)
1 kg. white rice – Manila: PHP44.28/ Sydney: AUD2.90 (PHP104.40)
Next to food, housing is the most important living expense. Real estate pricing is typically dependent on location and size, so let’s compare the average costs of unfurnished 1-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments inside and outside of the city centres of Manila and Sydney:
One-bedroom apartment in city centre: Manila: PHP10,859.14/ Sydney: AUD1,781.06 (PHP64,121.09)
One-bedroom apartment outside city centre: Manila: PHP5,904.81/ Sydney: AUD1,295.38 (PHP46,635.81)
Three-bedroom apartment in city centre: Manila: PHP20,039.16/ Sydney: AUD2,954.34 (PHP106,361.10)
Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre: Manila: PHP12,549.19/ Sydney: AUD1,978.85 (PHP71,241.86)
For basic utilities like electricity, water, and garbage disposal, the monthly cost per month for an 85 sq. m. studio apartment in Manila ranges between PHP2,000-PHP6,000. For a Sydney apartment with the same specifications, utility bills figure between AUD100 (PHP3,600) – AUD300 (PHP10,800.49).
Prepaid mobile charges, on the other hand, cost around PHP7.27 per minute on average in Manila and AUD 0.38 (PHP13.68) in Sydney. Expect to shell out around PHP2,209.78 a month for access to cable or DSL Internet with 10mbps speed in Manila but about AUD70.38 (PHP2,533.80) for the same in Sydney.
In Manila, there are three options for getting around: via train (MRT/LRT), cabs, or driving one’s own car. A one-way ticket on the train costs around PHP8.50 while a monthly pass is at PHP500. Cabs have a flag-down rate of PHP40 and a per km rate of PHP15.
If you opt to purchase your own car, the price tag on an entry-level sedan like a Toyota Corolla starts at PHP750,000. Gassing it up would cost around PHP39.66 per liter.
Sydney’s foremost methods of transport are pretty similar, so a one-way ticket on the train here is sold at AUD3.90 (PHP140.41). Monthly train passes are AUD130 (PHP4,680) apiece. The flag-down rate for cabs is AUD4 (PHP144) and the per km rate is AUD2.14 (PHP77).
Purchasing a car in Sydney, however, really takes the cake. The average cost of a Toyota Corolla here is AUD23,205.86 (PHP835,449) and a liter of gasoline or petrol is pegged at about AUD1.27 (PHP45.72).
Living a normal, comfortable life goes beyond having food, shelter, and transportation: personal effects like clothing, shoes, and entertainment should also figure into the equation.
A pair of durable jeans from a reputable brand such as Levi’s costs an average of PHP2,080.80 in Manila but fetches around AUD96.35 (PHP3,468.78) in Sydney. Dresses from high street brands like Zara or H&M are about PHP1,322.64 each in Manila and AUD64.13 (PHP2,308.79) apiece in Sydney. Mid-range running shoes or trainers can set you back by as much as PHP4,500 in Manila and as much as PHP165 (PHP5,940.27) in Sydney.
In the mood for catching the latest blockbuster at the cinema? You’ll probably cough up PHP200 per head in Manila but that number goes up to AUD18 (PHP648) if you happen to be in Sydney. (Or skip the cinema altogether and just queue up your Netflix account.)
So, why do so many Filipinos still keep migrating to Australia? It all comes down to two things: higher salaries and better medical insurance (Medicare!). OFW’s get the best of both worlds since they maximize their earning power by raking in AU$ paychecks and sending back most of it to the Philippines, where its purchasing power grows tenfold, thus allowing for more savings (provided that the family members back home are prudent with money).
Now, if that’s not one heck of a life hack right there, I don’t know what is.