This post is by Paul Fournier, a Dutch digital nomad who lives in Boracay, Philippines. Paul is the author of BoracayCompass which is a detailed guide to the island, and he also manages JourneyCompass, where he writes about other travel destinations. You can follow him on Facebook.
I often see Boracay being mentioned as expensive by people online. But they’re they’re mostly misinformed. Because yes, you can spend a lot if you want, but the island doesn’t have to be expensive at all – Boracay caters to every budget. And to prove it I’ll show how I’m living comfortably off of $1000 per month (actually about $800 a month if you don’t include health insurance and Internet subscriptions), and how you can too…
I live in a small studio apartment; just a 3 minutes walk from the center of Boracay. White and Bulabog Beach are also just minutes away. My monthly rent is $280, including water and electricity.
The gas I use for cooking costs me about $20 every three months when I cook every day. But I’m not cooking much anymore these days – I’ll mention why later on.
The internet speed and reliability used to be poor on the island, but it has been improving fast. I’m still on a DSL landline connection, and although slow (1Mbps), it has been very responsive and reliable for me. It costs me $40 per month.
The local Wi-Fi sim cards & dongles used to be unreliable and not suitable for work, but they’ve made huge strides in recent years so that I might switch to that soon. They’re faster too (~3Mbps), and cheaper.
Tip: when looking for an apartment to live in Boracay it’s best to stay in a hotel for the first couple of days at least, so you can find something locally. Because apartment prices online are inflated, and without seeing the place in person you never know what you’re getting…
A beautiful looking apartment might be located right next to a cock farm, for example, picture many sleepless nights 🙂
Ahh, that’s one of the things I love about Boracay, getting around is so easy. The island is very compact, which means you can walk anywhere. That’s why I don’t own any mode of transport. No motorcycle and not even a bicycle.
When I want to go somewhere on the island a bit further away I just hail a tricycle or motorcycle driver. I may buy my own motorcycle in the future because it’s still convenient to have, but it’s far from a necessity. You can find a decent used motorcycle for about $600.
Eating Out & Groceries
Going out to eat is one of my favorite activities in Boracay. I love that it’s so affordable compared to Western standards and that there’s a lot of different international cuisines available. I eat out almost every day, often multiple times.
You can eat cheap local food at carinderias for about $1.50, or you can visit some of the more fancy restaurants and spend anything from $3 to $100. There’s a huge price range and cuisine variety spectrum, making it easy to find something for every budget, taste, and mood.
Cooking my own dinner actually doesn’t lead to much savings. Supermarkets are on average a bit more expensive here than in my home country, and there’s less choice.
When I do groceries I usually buy most of my food in the local markets, the prices there are about average compared to my home country, though some things cost less and some more. Apples are relatively expensive for example, but you can buy huge watermelons for relatively cheap.
Things To Do
For my entertainment, I do three things basically, eat out, relax on the beach, and enjoy the nightlife. I already talked about how much food costs, but didn’t mention anything about drinks yet… In beachfront bars a local San Miguel beer costs about $1.3 on average, in clubs, it’s more expensive, but still affordable.
I also like to play sports, I have a private boxing teacher who costs me $5 per one-hour training session, and I regularly play beach volleyball which is free.
Electronics are relatively expensive in Boracay (in all of the Philippines actually), and the choice of good quality clothing in Boracay is very limited. That’s why I always tend to buy these things when I’m visiting my home country.
All in all, living in Boracay can be very affordable. Especially considering that you have many beautiful beaches and a world class nightlife plus restaurant scene just minutes from your doorstep. The quality of living is definitely a huge step up from what I was used to in my home country.