What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
1. My Quit Smoking Chewing Gum - you can't buy it locally so I have to have it shipped over.
2. More little Australian themed presents to give away as pasalubong to different people.
3. Large stocks of my favourite deoderant - you get pretty sweaty and I don't like the local flavours
1. My laptop - they are cheaper there
2. Most clothes except for suits
3. My sense of irony - earnest is the go!
What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
Don't be scared to move to Manila. It is not nearly as scary as people would have you believe. I am more scared wandering around deserted Sydney streets at night than in Manila.
Of course be sensible. Dress modestly, don't wear expensive jewellery or watches etc. Look out for pickpockets on the trains - I got a wallet with a chain after my introduction to pickpockets on the LRT!
You can't really live an insulated western life so try to fit in with the locals wherever you can. For example, jeepneys are often convenient, NOT scary and you really get to live the local life. Learning how to get around teaches you a lot which you will find valuable in your time here.
Smile a lot! It really opens doors.
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
Yes, a large condo is typical expat housing if you have no kids. No need to worry about security, just get to know the guards and staff in your building well and they will look out for you.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
I lived in Pasay/Malate first because it was close to my first Uni course. Found the building (Asiawealth Tower) on the net.
Second condo was just outside Valle Verde 1, recommended by someone who I knew. Much quieter and richer area. I didn't enjoy it as much. A car would be helpful if you decide to live more than walking distance from the LRT/MRT.
Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
Lower than Sydney by miles! Condos can be had for 20k/mo and up, all the way to 70k/mo if you are getting a good allowance or feeling rich.
Furnished adds far more than the cost of buying stuff, so if you are staying more than a year consider going unfurnished.