If you think living in Manila is expensive, you're not imagining things. In a survey of home rental prices across six cities in Southeast Asia, the Philippine capital ranked second, just behind Singapore. 

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According to research by ecommerce aggregator iPrice, the price of a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Manila is 56 percent higher than in Kuala Lumpur, 47 percent higher than in Jakarta, 31 percent higher than in Ho Chi Minh, and nine percent higher than in Bangkok.

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Of course, as a developed country, Singapore is in a league of its own. According to sources, monthly room rental in an HDB (Hosing and Development Board) costs between S$500 to S$800 (P18,000 to P30,000) depending on the location and size of the room, while a room in a private apartment in prime districts such as East Coast, River Valley and Chinatown is around S$800 - S$1,800 (P36,500).

And we're only talking about rent. Computing for the cost of living, Manila is still in the top tier of the most expensive cities in the region based on Numbeo, a database platform that compiles the cost of living in different places around the world.

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In the list of popular cities across the region with the most expensive cost of living, Manila came in third at P50,800, just slightly below Bangkok at P51,500. The study takes into account the usual necessities, including rent, food, transportation, utilities, etc. Not including rent, the total cost of living is still about P28,800 per month in Manila.

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Overall, the cost of living in the capital of the Philippines is 33 percent higher than in Kuala Lumpur, 28 percent higher than in Ho Chi Minh, and 24 percent higher than in Jakarta.

Topping the list again, unsurprisingly, is Singapore, where the average monthly cost of living is a whopping P119,732.

Consider those numbers and stack them up against the fact that, according to Numbeo, Manila residents have the lowest estimated average net salary compared to the other five cities. iPrice says the average salary of Filipino workers living here is only about P18,900 per month.

In effect, the average cost of living in Manila is 168 percent higher than the average salary.

"It comes as no surprise that about 35 percent of Metro Manila's population is reported to live in unstable, badly constructed shelters in the slums, and 11 percent of these reside near railroads or garbage dumps," iPrice says.

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