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Cost Of Living In Ermita Manila (2009)
I live in Ermita Manila, so I will do my best to answer some of your questions. Keep in mind; these are my experiences which surely will differ from others.
Tap Water: In the almost year and a half that I have been living in Ermita Manila, I have not had any water shortage problems. I know of an individual that lives in another area in Manila and he has weekly water truck deliveries. The water that comes out of my faucets look like ordinary water, however I do not drink it. I purchase five gallon water jugs for 50 Pesos each.
My monthly water bill comes out to around 700 to 1,100 Pesos per month, depending upon usage. Electric bill is separate from water bill.
Lifestyle: In Manila, you can find reasonable rate apartments. All the expats I know are paying about 25,000 Pesos plus for their units. I do not have much experience with house rentals, I do know a few expats that do rent and are paying much less in comparison to the expats who are renting condos/apartments in Manila. Contact me off list for further.
Swimming pools, the Philippines is a third world country, so only those who have the assets will have swimming pools. I would think swimming pools would be more common in the gated communities. Gated subdivisions usually have security guards controlling the entry control points and roving patrol(s).
Home Security: It is best to always have someone in your home, as a deterrent against house break in's. A trusted house helper would be a big help. I worked in law enforcement for almost twenty years. Experience and training indicate most house break in's were because of poor security measures/precautions and because the tenants made their daily routine noticeable for would be thieves. Ninety-nine percent of the houses here have security bars to minimize home break in's and intruders so it is the norm here in the Philippines.
Charm: There are many nice apartments, and upscale condos in Manila area that are very charming. You pay for what you get. These high standard and classy living arrangements with fashionable views do not keep cheap in Manila and will cost you some money. I know people that are paying amounts of 45,000 Pesos plus per month to live.