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What are the costs of living in Makati?

How much does it cost to live in Makati?

Do you want to find out how much rent, bills and utilities are in one of Metro Manila’s most desirable cities?

You’re in the right place!

Hey there – I’m Mel, a Filipino-British travel blogger who’s been living in Makati for years, and in this post, I’m going to answer all your burning questions about living in Makati.

In this post, I’ll share an overview of how much it costs to live in Makati and break down how much it costs to live in the thriving central Greenbelt area of Makati.

What’s the cost of living in Greenbelt, Makati?

A few years ago I moved to Makati from London and I found the prices in Greenbelt only slightly cheaper than those in the UK – however, that’s not to say you can’t live in Makati within a decent budget.

At first Manila, let alone Makati, was quite a culture shock – especially coming from the UK. But it turned out to be an amazing change of scenery, and the move changed my life!

Moving to Makati can be both thrilling and a little overwhelming – it’s one of the liveliest cities in Manila. And while there are many pros to living in Makati, the city has its downsides too.

(Check out my other post: The Pros And Cons Of Living In Makati – An Expat’s Honest Take)

Now let’s get into the costs of living in Makati, Philippines!

Aerial view of the Pasig River and skyscrapers in Makati, Manila - Costs of Living in Makati - what's the cost of living in Makati Philippines?

Aerial view of the Pasig River and skyscrapers in Makati, Manila

Where is Makati?

Makati is an upmarket city in Metro Manila.

Being a Central Business District (CBD), Makati isn’t cheap – and living there isn’t cheap either.

Makati’s Greenbelt area, with its sprawling maze of shopping malls, businesses and restaurants, is synonymous with consumerism – thus it seems particularly catered towards expat income and tourist budgets.

If we’re drawing comparisons to London, I’d say Makati is like a compressed hybrid of Oxford Circus, Kensington, Canary Wharf and London Bridge.

How expensive is it to in Greenbelt, Makati?

The answer to this question relies partly on three things:

  1. How long you will be staying in Makati for;
  2. Whether you need to stay specifically in Greenbelt; and
  3. Whether you have a household income that supports the cost of living in Makati.

The thing about Makati, and the Greenbelt area particularly, is that living there can quickly become unaffordable if your spending is greater than your income. Speaking from experience, when you live in such a lively consumerist area, it’s very tempting to spend — often.

A tropical residential pool and skyscrapers in Makati, Manila

A tropical residential pool and skyscrapers in Makati, Manila

Is Makati a desirable city to live in?

Makati is a highly desirable city. And like with any area, the more desirable or posh a neighbourhood is, the higher the costs are going to be.

So before jumping into living costs, it’s important to consider your reasons for wanting to live in the Makati CBD: Is it for social clout, or is it for convenience?

Perhaps you work in Ayala Avenue or conduct business along Paseo De Roxas? If your work is in the Makati CBD, you’ll save significant time (hours of traffic) and money living in the same area and walking to work instead of driving everyday.

However, if you’re not fussed about having a fancy condo address in the Makati CBD (such as Greenbelt, Legazpi and Salcedo Village) and you don’t feel under pressure to live in an exclusive, gated subdivision (such as San Lorenzo, Dasmariñas, Bel-Air or Urdaneta), there are a couple of other neighborhoods around Makati that can provide better value.

How much does rent cost in central Makati, in the Makati CBD?

If living in Makati is non-negotiable for you, then rent costs start from around ₱45,000 (Philippine pesos) per month for your condo rent alone. That doesn’t include a highly-coveted parking spot either.

As of 2022, ₱45,000 (PHP) is about £650 (GBP) or $880 (USD).

You might be able to find cheaper options, say between ₱30,000 to ₱40,000 for a relatively small studio (30 sqm) or 1-bedroom unit in Makati CBD, but for the same price in the outlying areas of Makati, you could rent a larger unit (50-60 sqm), or even a 2-storey apartment. It’s all relative.

Philippine jeepney in traffic on Ayala Avenue in Makati

Philippine jeepney in traffic on Ayala Avenue in Makati

How much does rent cost outside the Makati CBD?

Some of Makati’s outlying areas include San Antonio Village and Poblacion. Even Palanan, Bangkal and San Isidro are all a short commute (just a taxi or jeepney ride away) or up to 30 mins walk from the Makati CBD.

Here’s a hypothetical cost breakdown for living outside central Makati:

  • Say you found a 1-bedroom unit in Poblacion for ₱30,000. For the same cost as a condo alone in Greenbelt, you’d have ₱5,000-10,000 from your budget to pay for water, electricity, and wifi per month.
  • Air conditioning will likely contribute most to your electricity costs, topping out at around ₱1,200 during high summer months for one person.
  • You’ll also need to consider around ₱2,500 per month for a parking slot if you have a car, and maybe ₱1,000 for laundry services per month.

So all in all, bills, parking and laundry costs can really push your budget.

It’s all about how personally flexible you are.

  • If you don’t mind a smaller living space but higher rent costs, you can choose to live nearer to all shopping malls, nightlife and business district.
  • Or, if you don’t mind a commute, you’ll have more financial breathing room if you live outside the Greenbelt area in a nearby district.

Just remember to set aside your budget for basic rent and consider that you’re likely to pay upwards of ₱4,000 a month for bills and utilities.

High-rise buildings on Ayala Avenue in Makati

High-rise buildings on Ayala Avenue in Makati

Tips for Cutting Rent and Electricity Costs in Makati

There are a number of ways to cut down your rent costs in Makati.

  1. Find somewhere to live slightly out of Makati, because the cost reduction in rent is significant once you leave the CBD. Even if it’s only 15 minutes away, the distance helps cut your costs significantly.
  2. Tap into your network for cheap deals. If you’re looking for a place to rent and want somewhere trustworthy, I’d recommend that you try and find a place to rent through a friend or an acquaintance, in case they’d be able to give you ‘mates rates’ on the place, or via expat or community Facebook groups.
  3. Find someone in a hurry to rent. They’re more likely to accept a lower monthly rent cost just so they can have someone move in as quickly as possible. When a landlord or agent needs to get someone asap, you have more room to bargain. So be bold!
  4. Haggle! Never accept an offer without at least trying to sweeten the rental pie for yourself. Again… be bold!

With regards to keeping electricity bill costs down, here are a couple of tips:

  1. Use electric fans when you can instead of air-con.
  2. Turn off lights when you’re not using them and unplug electronics from the wall – especially if you’re using adapters! Brown-outs (power-cuts) are a thing, and using different fuse voltages can increase likelihood of them.
  3. Remember to conserve water too – turn off the taps when brushing your teeth or doing washing-up.

If you’ve been careful about using electricity and your bill seems higher than it should, double check with your electricity company that they haven’t just taken an average reading and charged you according to other residents in your building. This can happen.

A bowl of Asian food

A bowl of stirfry with shrimps in Manila

What are the Average Food and Grocery Costs in Makati?

I’m going to talk about the cost of groceries and food-shopping in Greenbelt, specifically, since that’s what I know – but if you have some additional tips to share then please do leave a comment!

  • The spending scale starts at the lower-end scale in Greenbelt 1, which is full of fast food joints, stalls and budget-friendly stores, rising up to Greenbelt 5, which hosts the most expensive restaurants and luxury shops.
  • To be honest, any restaurant or food joint in Greenbelt 3 onwards starts creeping towards Western prices, which really stretch the limits of being affordable, especially on an average salary in Manila, which is ₱410,000. I’d say that living alone in the Makati CBD will be nearly impossible on that wage.
  • Thus, when in doubt, cook your food! Really, seriously, you gotta cook. Otherwise you’ll be burning through cash at daily meals like in any other major city around the world, since Greenbelt charges those prices.
  • I suggest going out of Greenbelt for food shopping, such as to Cash & Carry or SM Hypermart, a 20-minute walk away through Greenbelt, Landmark, Glorietta, which are all interconnected. The Rustan’s supermarket in Greenbelt 1 is always busy, doesn’t have that much produce compared to others, and offers no cheaper alternatives to certain products (e.g. an imported box of almond milk was labelled ₱1,060. Madness. UTTER MADNESS.)

In any case, if you don’t mind spending on your groceries, go to the main Rustan’s supermarket.

I would do my average grocery shopping every few weeks there, and on average my bill would be around ₱3,000-4,000 each time – but that was only for groceries for one person.

A beautiful tree-lined subdivision in Makati, Manila

A beautiful tree-lined subdivision in Makati, Manila

What’s the Quality of Life in Makati?

Makati is bubbling with life, with creativity, with new restaurants and bars and events popping up all the time.

It’s extremely international, with almost as many foreigners, expats and tourists on the scene as Filipinos.

There are many sports classes, gyms, and fitness centres dotted around Makati, which means it’s easy to get in shape and socialise near your home. Your condo tower is also likely to have its own fitness or gym room.

Every week, Salcedo Saturday Market in Jaime Velasquez Park serves up everything from fresh produce and seafood to local street food delicacies cooked before your eyes. It feels like a community.

If you fancy it, check out my post about 10 Things To Do In Manila!

An assortment of Filipino street food in Manila

An assortment of Filipino street food in Manila

You can also take advantage of museums and culture in the Makati area: the Ayala Museum is nestled there in the heart of Greenbelt and the Yuchengco Museum is nearby on Gil Puyat Ave.

Beyond that, nightlife shimmers in areas like Poblacion and Rockwell, which are full of pop-ups, bars, hotels, clubs, and street food stalls.

In Greenbelt, live music and events are always taking place in the courtyards. It’s very touristy there.

Please note, though, that escorts can sometimes operate within these areas, which can potentially make you feel uncomfortable. I personally avoid these areas at night time and prefer to hang in Poblacion or Fort BGC (Taguig).

How much does public transport cost in Makati?

Makati has great public transport. For example, the Ayala MRT is nearby and is a godsend on the days when you just cannot bring yourself to sit in a car in traffic for hours on end.

If you’re a female, you can use the female-only carriage.

Here are the costs of public transport in Makati, as of September 2023:

MRT

  • Base fare: ₱12
  • Additional fare for every station: ₱2

Jeep

  • Minimum fare: ₱10
  • Additional fare for every kilometer: ₱1

Bus

  • Ordinary bus: ₱10
  • Air-conditioned bus: ₱12

LRT

  • Base fare: ₱15
  • Additional fare for every station: ₱2

Taxi

  • Flag down rate: ₱40
  • Per kilometer rate: ₱13.50
  • Waiting time: ₱2 per minute

GrabCar

  • Fare varies depending on the distance and traffic conditions. Expect it to be a minimum of ₱150 per ride.

Here are some examples of public transport fares in Makati:

  • MRT from Ayala Station to Gil Puyat Station: ₱12
  • Jeep from Ayala Avenue to Buendia Avenue: ₱12
  • Bus from Greenbelt Mall to SM Makati: ₱10
  • LRT from Ayala Station to Taft Avenue Station: ₱15
  • Taxi from Ayala Avenue to Forbes Park: ₱100
  • GrabCar from Greenbelt Mall to Poblacion: ₱200

Please note that these are just estimates, and the actual fare may vary depending on the specific route and traffic conditions.

Here are some of tips for using public transport in Makati:

  • Make sure you have exact change. Most jeepney and bus drivers might not have change for larger bills, so it’s best to be prepared.
  • Keep an eye on your surroundings. Public transport can get pretty crowded, so just be mindful of pickpockets and other scams.
  • Be ready to wait it out. Public transport in Makati can be a bit unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for some waiting time.
  • Stay cool and patient. We all know public transport in Makati can be a bit stressful, but just take a deep breath, stay patient, and try to keep calm.
  • Act confident. If you don’t look local, people are going to stare. It’s a staring culture, it’s natural, but it’s easy to feel insecure and uncomfortable. Try and project an attitude of confidence so nobody messes with your chi!

How Walkable Is Greenbelt, Makati?

The number one thing I love about living in Greenbelt particularly is how walkable the area is.

The pavements are great and streets are catered to pedestrians. Go for a jog, an after-dinner walk, or just stroll through the air-conned malls to stretch your legs (especially after being trapped in traffic for most of the day, ha!).

Beautiful view of Makati, Manila from a plane window - Costs of Living in Makati - what's the cost of living in Makati Philippines?

Beautiful view of Makati, Manila from a plane window

Should you live in Makati or not?

So that’s my guide to the cost of living in Makati, and specifically, the cost of living in Greenbelt.

Having lived in a major city like London my entire life, including Makati and Manila, my biggest piece of advice is this: don’t be a financial slave to the area you live in, and don’t blow all your money in malls and restaurants.

It’s so convenient to pop over and pick up a Starbucks latte or eat out for dinner a couple of nights a week, but all that impulse spending adds up!

Exploring the area is fun, but save up for other fun stuff or journeys away, too. Makati is not the centre of the archipelago!

There are so many amazing places to visit near Manila, and lots of stunning islands to explore around the Philippines.

I hope you found these insights and costs of living in Makati and the Greenbelt area useful.

If you have any questions, drop a comment!

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.

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