Fort Bonifacio, in particular Bonifacio Global City (BGC), has many attractive features for families moving here from a developed country.
Transition from a city life in a developed country to the Philippines would be the easiest if you choose to live in BGC. Compared to the rest of the Philippines, the sidewalks in BGC are wide. The skyline is the cleanest, as all telephone and power cables are installed underground. The buildings are modern and neat.
The management of BGC (a private consortium) is also quite diligent in keeping the place in order. Traffic marshalls are very visible and they do their best in trying to keep the traffic flowing most of the time. Traffic rules that put pedestrian first (the only place in the Philippines) are also a valuable feature for residents.
On the other hand, one should also consider the financial costs of a place before making a relocation decision. Below is a quick peek at what you should be prepared to pay if you are considering making BGC your new home.
Cost of housing
One can get some insightful data from Zipmatch, a real estate website, about the rent level in Fort Bonifacio. For example, it has a tool that allows visitors to see the average rental price of properties in Fort Bonifacio that are currently on their database. These are asking prices. User can sort the data by the type of condo units that they are looking for, such as 1, 2 or 3 bedroom units.
For example, you can see the asking rent per square meter for each of the condominiums in Fort Bonifacio in this page. We can see that the asking rent per square meter in BGC is around P900. This is comparable to high end condos in Makati City. The data is good enough for a broadbrush comparison. However, if one is to take the Zipmatch scores such as neighborhood score seriously, we should read carefully on how they are calculated. For example, what they consider as a good neighborhood is based on accessibility to shops and banks, whereas you may have other factors in mind, like walkability, security and so on.
Association dues and amenities. see this article. It has been two years since we last updated the association dues, but since the 12% VAT is removed from association dues from the start of 2018, the total cost in this category is likely to be still more or less the same.
For a rough estimate, the rent for a 1 bedroom condo unit (40 square meters) is about P35,000 (USD 700) per month.
Cost of transport
If you live in BGC and work in other parts of Metro Manila, your best option is to drive or carpool, as public transport is not very convenient nor is it comfortable.
The second best option is to use an app assisted car hailing service like Grab. If your office is in Makati, the largest business center in Metro Manila, then each ride can cost P100 to P300 depending on the supply of drivers. This is more expensive than regular taxi, but then the condition of the car is usually better than a taxi's, and there is a higher degree of security, as the app hailed car can be tracked.
The cost of renting a parking space in BGC is around P4,000 to P5000 per month.
You can get almost everything you need in BGC, and almost every where is within walking distance. So in theory, your transportation cost can be zero if you work in BGC, or just retire here.
If you cook at home and buy your groceries from supermarkets, the cost in grocery shopping is not too different from that in other parts of Metro Manila. There is no wet market within BGC, but if your house help can go to the nearby wet market in Guadalupe, you can get fresh fish, meat and vegetables at prices that are a little cheaper than the supermarkets'. It is hard to estimate the cost of grocery shopping, as the range of food preferences can be quite wide.
Eating out in BGC is a little more expensive than in other parts of Metro Manila. A meal in a simple restaurant like Shaky's Pizza can cost P300 to P500 per head. There is no old town inside BGC, as BGC was built from an empty lot in the 2000s. This means nearly all places in this nicely maintained place are subject to the same higher cost of land, and tends to attract high-end restaurants. No back or narrow alley with cheap but nice restaurants like they have in Poblacion in Makati City, for example.
If you cook, you can live on P500 per day. Eating out decently will cost about P1,000 per meal.
A cup of Starbucks currently costs P135 (less than USD 3).
In a month, the food bill for one person could be around P18,000 (USD 360) assuming that you eat out only once a week, and have a cup of espresso drinks three times a week.
If you are content with watching internet streamed movies and shows, you only need to pay about P500 (USD 10) on top of your internet fees. But of course once in a while you would want to go to the cinema or watch a performance. In BGC, a movie ticket costs around P300 (USD 5). (See here for movie schedule). Shows in BGC Arts Center can cost as little as P500 to as much as P3,000.
There are high end clubs in BGC (e.g. Valkyrie, Revel), and expect to spend about P2,000 (USD 40) per visit per person.
BGC has its own water utility company. Water rates in BGC is around P135 per cubic meter, which means a bill of around P700 (USD 14) for a two-person household. This water rate is higher than elsewhere in Metro Manila. According to the water company, they pre-filter the water so that it is drinkable from the tap. Nonetheless, many residents are still worried about the safety of the water, and either install their own filter or buy filtered water.
Electricity is provided by the main power company in Metro Manila, Meralco, so the rate is the same as in the rest of Metro Manila. However, due to a big explosion that occured in a residential building in BGC a few years ago, many buildings no longer have piped cooking gas supply, and cylinder gas is not allowed in many condominium buildings, so electricity, a more expensive energy source, is the main power supply for cooking. For a two-person household that uses air-conditioning a lot, electricity bill could be over P6,000 (USD 120) per month.
The cost of decent internet is around P1,500 per month (USD 30) and if you do not make too many calls, your cell phone bill could be as low as P500 (USD 10) per month.
The most well-known medical facility in Fort Bonifacio is St Luke's Medical Center. This is probably one of the most expensive medical facility in the Philippines. It has a lot of the most advanced medical equipment, and the hospital rooms are spacious and clean. Many top notch doctors have office there. Its fees may still be competitive if you come from developed countries, but a few weeks' stay in the hospital could cost enough for you to buy a condo unit outside Metro Manila. We will not give an estimate here.
Cost of education and child care
If you have a family with young kids, then the cost of education must of course be factored in.
For very young children, there are several child care centers in BGC. They can be found here. Prices vary, but be prepared to pay at least P5,000 per month for a two-hour class.
There are also local and international schools in BGC. These local private schools (using English as medium of teaching) cost about P250,000 (USD5,000) to P400,000 (USD 8,000) per year, while international schools like ISM or BSM cost about USD 10,000 more per year.
From the estimates above, you can see that if you do not have kids, and are in reasonably good health, you can get by living in BGC with around USD 1,500 per month. This is a basic standard of living for a developed country, not the 'live like a king' kind of standard, and has not included the cost of laundry, or cost of clothing. To us, that is a lifestyle choice.