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What is Your Neighborhood Like?

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adminee
9/26/2008 12:12 EST

At this time of year, many new expats are living in temporary housing and actively looking for a house or apartment. Choosing the right town or city neighborhood is a big decision. Families, retirees and single expats often look for much different things! To help newcomers in your area narrow down the possibilities, we invite you to post a reply to this thread telling about your town, rural area or city neighborhood. Please begin your post by putting the name of your area/town/neighborhood in capital letters.

Here are a some suggestions for topics that you may want to cover when describing your area:

-- nearby schools? international schols?
-- do many expats live in the area?
-- activities for families or single expats?
-- proximity to city or areas where most expats work?
-- typical housing (sizes, costs, yards/no yards, etc.)
-- parks and recreation areas?
-- nightlife and restaurants?
-- safety and crime issues?
-- do you need a car?
-- basic amenities?

Thanks for helping new expats in your area!

Betsy Burlingame
ExpatExchange.com

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locopmd
10/8/2008 09:48 EST

Here is my first recommendation in METRO MANILA: BGC (Bonifacio Global City)

Bonifacio Global City (The Fort, Ft. Boni, or FBGC). Ideal residence for working and living in the Metropolis. Neighborhoods are clean, expansive and close to work.

Schools: International School Manila (American/Intl), British School Manila, Japanese School Manila; coming soon Korean School Manila.

Expats: Plenty! Catch them at Market Market, Serendra Shops, High Street, Fort Square, & the Stopover.

Activities for families and singles: Lots - entertainment, shopping, dining, restaurants, bars, parks, golf, museums (coming soon), or just strolling the Promenade.

Proximity to work/business district: The BGC is the newest business district in Metropolis. You can walk, take the Fort Bus, or taxi to work in the BGC or nearby Makati (10-15min).

Housing: Prices in the BGC are higher than in Makati, Ortigas, and Eastwood, however this is the newest and most modern residencial and commercial neighborhood in the Philippines. No flooding, all underground utilities (including natural gas lines), own sewage treatment plant. Condominium flats, bi-levels, and lofts. From 20sqm studio-type up to 250sqm 3-bedrooms. Priced from P3M-25M (Pesos 3Million-25Million). Some balconies/terraces; no yards. Best bet Serendra (across from Market Market) with 65% open green space (parks, pools, BBQ areas).

Parks, recreation areas: Plenty!

Nightlife & Restaurants: Ft. Square - Jack & Jills, Pier 1, Embassy, Prince of Jaipur, and more. High Street: TGIFridays, Texas Roadhouse Grill, Italianis, Krispy Kreme, Brothers Burger, Claw Daddy, New Orleans, Pancake House, Starbucks, Seattles Best, Coffee Bean, Bos Coffee, Figaro. Places here aren't open as late as Makati-area establishments, but much cleaner and safer.

Satety, crime-issues: very safe. BGC has its own private security company with roving patrols.

Transportation: you dont need a car. You can walk. If you get tired, hop on the Fort Bus or catch a cab.

Basic amenities: supermarkets, convenience stores, beauty salons, barbers, banks, hardware & home furnishings, restaurants, malls, churches, hospital (St. Lukes), medical & dental clinics.

Next review: Makati . . .

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locopmd
10/8/2008 10:07 EST

My 2nd recommendation in METRO MANILA: Makati City

Makati's CBD (Central Business District).

Makati is the second best residential district for working and living in the Metropolis. The CBD is over 50 years old, with infrastructure waning. Neighborhoods are congested with pedestrian and vehicular traffic. There are still plenty of overhead utility lines, broken-up sidewalks, and very little parking. Also, during last big typhoon (Milenyo, Sep06) the entire city was blacked-out. Only the BGC and Rockwell neighborhoods had 100% back-up power during the storm.

Schools: see The Fort (BGC).

Expats: Plenty! Catch them in Ayala Center (Glorietta & Greenbelt), Legaspi & Salcedo Villages.

Activities for families and singles: Lots - entertainment, shopping, dining, restaurants, bars, parks, golf, museums.

Proximity to work/business district: The CBD lies primarily along Ayala Avenue, the premier financial and business district in the Philippines. You can walk the entire neighborhood (including Legaspi and Salcedo Villages) either along the street level, or on the elevated and covered walkways. If you get tired, flag down a cab. Forget the jeeps or buses -they are slow, crowded, and unclean. If you are adventurous, and need to go up or down EDSA, you may take the train (MRT). However dont travel by train during peak rush hours (you wont get a seat and are crammed worse than sardines) or at night (unless you are getting off at Shaw, Ortigas, or North EDSA-Trinoma stations, its too dangerous). NOTE: Rockwell Center is in the NE corner of Makati, across EDSA from Guadalupe. It is isolated from public transport lines, so if you dont work in this neighborhood, forget this residential option. Also, avoid Guadalupe, West Makati, Old Makati (Poblacion), and anything more than 20 mins (in traffic) away from work.

Housing: Overall, condo prices in the Makati CBD are lower than BGC, Ortigas, and Eastwood, due to the large housing supply. Prices all depend on your needs. There are also townhouses and single-family detached homes. Sizes range: 20sqm studios up to 2000+ sqm mansions in Forbes! Priced from P3M-50M+ (Pesos 3Million-50Million). Rentals from P10K-50K per month. Houses with yards are available in Bel-Air, Dasmarinas, and Forbes. Best bet  The Residences at Greenbelt. Adjacent to Greenbelt 2, this is the premier residence in the Philippines. It is the only residence within Ayalas Greenbelt Lifestyle Center. This three-tower complex is walking distance to all commercial business along the Ayala Avenue CBD.

Parks, recreation areas: Plenty in Salcedo & Legaspi Village, Ayala Triangle, and Ayala Center

Nightlife & Restaurants: Everything you need for entertainment is in Makatis CBD. Bars and restaurants abound in Ayala Center, Paseo Center, Legaspi & Salcedo Villages, and Ayala Triangle with Manila Peninsula, Shangri-La, and Mandarin Hotels. New developments arising in Ayala Center (former Park Square 1).

Safety, crime-issues: safe in the CBD. Dont venture at night alone outside the CBD. Hail a cab instead.

Transportation: you dont need a car. You can walk or hail a cab. Avoid jeeps and buses.

Basic amenities: groceries, convenience store, beauty salons, barbers, banks, hardware & home furnishings, restaurants, mall, churches, hospitals, medical & dental clinics.

Next up, Ortigas Center . . .

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locopmd
10/10/2008 06:43 EST

My 3rd recommendation in METRO MANILA: Ortigas Center

Ortigas Center (Mandaluyong City) -
Ortigas is my third choice for living in the MM. It is conveniently located to bus, train, and jeep lines. There are two MRT (train) stations, Shaw Blvd/EDSA Central, and Ortigas/ADB. There are six malls in the area: Star Mall, EDSA Central, Shangri-La Plaza, SM Megamall, Podium, and Robinson’s Galleria. There are tons of high-rise condos and office buildings in this business district. However, the congestion, traffic, and lack of schools, drop it too #3 on my list.

Schools: see The Fort (BGC).

Expats: Plenty! Catch them at the Shangri-La Plaza, Megamall, Podium, Robinson’s Galleria, Crowne Plaza, Emerald Ave, and Metrowalk bars and restaurants

Activities for families: SM Megamall has everything: ice skating, bowling, movies, video arcades, spas, beauty salons – you name it! After you get bored there, hop over to Robinson’s, Shangri-La, or the Podium. For singles, there’s bar hopping from Shangri-La to Metrowalk, all the way down Julia Vargas and over to Frontera Verde and Tiendesitas (Ortigas Ave at C-5, 10min cab ride).

Proximity to work/business district: The Ortigas CBD is bounded by Shaw Blvd on the south, Ortigas Ave on the North, EDSA on the west, and Meralco Ave on the east. This neighborhood is smaller than the BGC and Makati, so everything again is walking distance. However, if it’s raining or you’re tired, just hail a cab. If you work in between Makati and Cubao, you can easily hop the MRT for a short 10 min commute in either direction along EDSA (avoid rush hours). Forget the buses, and there are no jeep lines running through Ortigas like the Fort Bus in the BGC.

Housing: Condo prices in the Ortigas CBD are slightly higher than Makati, due to short supply. There is a large construction boom going on, however lots are almost filled. Options are mostly condos or corporate serviced apartments. Sizes range: 20sqm studios up upwards. Priced from P3M-15M+ (Pesos 3Million-15Million). Rentals from P12K upwards. Houses with yards are available in nearby Greenhills and Corinthian Hills.

Parks, recreation areas: none

Nightlife & Restaurants: Plenty - Shangri-La Plaza, Megamall, Podium, El Pueblo, Galleria, Metrowalk

Safety, crime-issues: Inside Ortigas Center is safe. Don’t venture across EDSA to Star Mall Annex (Shaw Blvd) area at night. Pick-pockets and muggings have occurred there. Hail a cab instead.

Transportation: you don’t need a car. You can walk or hail a cab. Avoid jeeps and buses.

Basic amenities: groceries, convenience store, beauty salons, barbers, banks, hardware & home furnishings, restaurants, mall, churches, hospitals, medical & dental clinics.

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locopmd
10/13/2008 13:36 EST

My 4th and last recommendation in METRO MANILA: Eastwood City

Eastwood City (Libis, Q.C.). Eastwood is my last choice for living in the MM, due to the limited transportation and shopping options. There are no trains, buses, or major jeep lines running directly between Eastwood and Ortigas or Makati. There are a few jeeps that go as far south as Ortigas Avenue then you have to transfer. There is also a jeep line that runs northwest from Libis to Cubao, and then you have to transfer to the train or buses going south to Ortigas and Makati (going in circles -ridiculous!). Eastwood is built and managed by only one developer, Megaworld, which has poor property management. There are about a dozen condo towers, half-dozen office buildings, about two dozen restaurants, a movie theater (only 4 screens), no schools, no parks/recreation areas, no supermarkets, and limited family activities and nightlife. A new (tiny) mall is opening by year-end2008/early 2009, so we shall see if there will be any improvement . . .

Schools: none

Expats: There a few ex-pats that work in Eastwod's BPOs, call centers, and at Citibank. You'll find them out at the bars and restaurants in Citywalk. However, most others live and work in Makati, Ortigas, and the BGC.

Activities for families: Very few. Besides eating, there is only one 4-screen cineplex and a bowling alley in Citywalk.

Proximity to work/business district: If you don’t work in Eastwood, why the heck are you living here? All the other business districts are 25-45 minutes away, depending on traffic. If you do live and work in the neighborhood, all the office buildings lie within a three-square block radius. Unless the elevators are slow, your commute from your doorstep to the office should be no more than 5-10 minutes.

I did have one friend that lived in Eastwood and drove to work in Ortigas everyday. He said it took him only twenty minutes each way (on a good day). Now he is on assignment in Europe. When he returns, he said he’ll be moving to Ortigas close to his office. The traffic is not worth it anymore!

If you are lazy or it’s raining, there is a free shuttle bus that circles the neighborhood several times per hour throughout the day.

Housing: Condo prices in Eastwood are slightly higher than Makati, but lower than Ortigas and BGC. The catch: the whole Eastwood City development is owned, built, and managed by Megaworld - they have a monopoly on the condo market here. Floor plans, layouts, and sizes are very limited. A 37sqm furnished studio-type flat in Lafayette 1 rents for P15,000 per month. Units sell for about P2.5M-10M (Pesos 2.5Million-10Million). No yards, no views, and very few balconies. Lastly, there are live concerts in the plaza blasting almost every night of the week. If your unit faces McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Teriyaki Boy, or Go-Nuts Donuts, you won’t get much sleep unless you close the windows and crank up the A/C!

Parks, recreation areas: none

Nightlife & Restaurants: Very few bars and decent sit-down restaurants. After a few months of living and working in this small neighborhood, you’ll be very, very bored.

Safety, crime-issues: very safe.

Transportation: get yourself some good cross-trainers, cuz you'll be on Foot Patrol - you're walking!

However, when you leave the neighborhood to head into the city, you have to drive or take a cab (no trains or buses). Unless you are very adventurous, and happen to stand no more than 5’6” tall, you can hop a jeep to Cubao or Ortigas Avenue, then transfer (not recommended).

There is the CityLink Bus (business class motorcoach) that runs along C-5 between Eastwood and NAIA Terminal 3. Fare one-way is P20 going to Market Market! (BGC), and P35 to the end-of-line at Newport City/NAIA T3. (At Market Market, you can transfer to the Fort Bus going thru the BGC, then along McKinley to Ayala MRT station. Best bet: catch a cab into the Makati CBD. The Fort Bus is also jammed packed with call center workers and students). The CityLink Bus schedule is limited to morning (630-930am) and evening (430-730p) rush hours, and it’s often late due to heavy traffic. CityLink is also jam-packed with construction and office workers, so if you don’t board the bus at the 1800 Building (across from McDonald's), you may not get a seat!

NOTE: C-5 (E.Rodriguez Ave) between Ortigas Ave and Katipunan in Libis has NO CROSS STREETS NOR INTERSECTIONS. This is one of the worst traffic planning schemes in the Metropolis! So whether you’re driving or catching a cab, you have to use U-Turn slots located 1Km either up or down the blvd. This can take up to 10-20 minutes in heavy traffic just to circle the block. If you’re going to Shopwise (supermarket), Outback Steakhouse, Shakey’s, Gerry’s Grill or anywhere else up to 1.5Km outside Eastwood, you’re better hopping the Heel-Toe Express and walking!Shopwise does have a free shuttle for returning to Eastwood, however their schedule is sporadic, and the last ride back leaves about 7pm.

Basic amenities: convenience stores, beauty salons, banks, hardware store, travel agent, couple dozen restaurants, half-dozen fast food outlets, one small strip mall (Citywalk), church, medical & dental clinics. NO SUPERMARKET, no cellphone retailers, and very few late-night eateries. As far as fast-food goes, there is no Taco Bell, no Burger King, no Wendy’s – just McDonald’s, Yellow Cab pizza, KFC, Chow King (local-style, Chinese-Pinoy), Tokyo-Tokyo (Japanese), 7-Eleven, and Mini-Stop – all 24-hours.

If you need any more help or info, just drop me a line at

MABUHAY!

~ loco

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locopmd
11/10/2008 07:53 EST

My next recommendation outside the Metro Manila area is Baguio City.

Baguio is my first choice for living outside the MM. It is cool (sometimes cold) year-round as it is situated at 1800 meters (about a mile-high) at the base of the Cordillera Mountains. It is the jumping off point for the Ilocos region and the Mountain Provinces. The once small town is now a major city and the economic and educational hub in Northern Luzon. The place is teaming with locals, tourists, ex-pats, and tons of students. The major drawback is that the city was built for 25,000 and is now overpopulated with 500,000+ during the peak summer season. The congestion in the CBD is really bad! However, this doesn’t deter people from coming back to frequent this “Summer Capital of the Philippines”. If you are semi-retired (or better) and want to beat the heat of the lowlands, Baguio is the place to be.

Schools: Brent International School in Baguio is my recommendation. This is the best option for ex-pats. One of my good friends (who now owns a dive resort in Boracay), has been living as an ex-pat in the Philippines for more than 30 years. He sent his three sons to Brent School in Baguio, while spending time between Hawaii and the Philippines. You could get by with St. Louis University (loyalty/legacy from pre-school thru post-secondary), however the English instruction (anywhere in the Philippines) is nowhere near the quality as it was thirty years ago. If you are an English-speaking native (American, Brit, Aussie) and have any teaching/training experience, open up your own English Institute or tutorial business. Don’t worry about accent – focus on reading, writing, grammar, conversation, and comprehension.

Expats: There are plenty of ex-pats in Baguio. You can find them along Session Road, at SM City, Camp John Hay, Baguio Country Club, City Market, and any of the major schools, colleges, or universities, especially during special events like the Flower Festival and Oktoberfest.

Activities for families: SM Malls again has taken over this community. The open-air mall here is much smaller than those in other locations, however they have eight movie screens, along with plenty of shops and dining options. In its former years, Camp John Hay used to be the playground for Americans and other foreigners, as well as upper-class Manilenos. The mountain resort was famous for its miniature golf course, bowling alley, roller-skating rink, horse & pony rides, and dozens of picnic areas and walking trails. Although it’s been a half-century from its glory days, John Hay has a new membership golf club, hotel, condos, townhouses, cabins, concessionaires, and duty-free shops.

Proximity to work/business district: The Baguio CBD is relatively small: all of about five square hilly blocks bounded by the Bonifacio rotunda at St. Louis University up Magsaysay past the Marketplace, up Abanao extension to City Hall, down to Burnham Park and back up Harrison Road past Governor Pack to Luneta Hill, and then back down Gen. Luna to Lower Bonifacio to Rimando. The main avenue is Session Road that runs from the bottom of the hill at the Maharlika/City Market, up to the SM City mall. There are no condominiums in the CBD, however there are some in the town proper. I recommend renting a place out near Loakan/PMA, Petersville, Brent/Legarda Rd, or anywhere 10-15 out of the town proper. If you don’t have to work in the business district, DON’T! With number coding restrictions and no public parking lots/structures in town make traffic and driving impossible.

Parks, recreation areas: despite the sprawl, there is still plenty of green. Most of the hills inside town are overgrown with housing, however take a stroll through Burnham Park, Wright Park, Mansion House, Camp John Hay, Baguio Country Club, Philippine Military Academy, Botanical Gardens, Sunshine Park, Teachers’ Camp, and Mines View. If you’re energetic, take a walk from Camp John Hay back down South Drive back to the city center. This is only one of a few places in town where you can still see pine trees. You can drive or hop a bus to San Fernando, LU and the beach in less than an hour. Also, check out Klondike Hot Springs resort at Camp 1 at the bottom of Kennon Road.

Nightlife & Restaurants: there are plenty of restaurants all over town, from Session Rd to SM mall, to CJH out to the suburbs. Nightlife is limited to a few bars & karaoke joints. This is not Manila or Cebu.

Safety, crime-issues: Baguio is relatively safe compared to Manila or other large cities. However, always take precautions as there are opportunists everywhere. I lived in Baguio for two years and never had an incident. However over the same period of time in Metro Manila, I’ve been a victim of a mugging, a couple of cell pone pick-pockets, a car break-in, and dozens of taxicab rip-offs. Watch your personal belongings especially during Panagbenga (Flower Festival). This started out in 1994 as a small town festival and has evolved into a mega-commercial month-long event that draws close to a million visitors during February. There are close to a hundred thousand visitors during Parade Weekend alone. Also, watch yourself when roaming the City Market and malls.

Transportation: Unless you live way out in the suburbs and have to do several errands everyday, you don’t need a car. Take a jeep or cab. Since Baguio is hilly, small, and congested, there are no tricycles (motorcycles w/sidecars). Whenever I’m in town, I always walk everywhere. The town is small, streets are narrow, and the traffic is HORRENDOUS! Due to the large college population, traffic starts as early as 5am from La Trinidad going up Magsaysay towards town, as well as along Roxas and Rimando from Brookside and Trancoville heading to the University Belt. Coupled with various construction projects and ridiculous contra-flow and other schemes, traffic lasts up to 9pm. If you are in a cab or jeep going to town, and traffic comes to a standstill anywhere near the CBD, just jump out and start walking.

Basic amenities: Aside from the large warehouse/box type retailers, Baguio has everything you need

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bethechange
4/5/2010 21:09 EST

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE (SBFZ)

- nearby schools? international schols? Brent International, Casa Kalayaan and a few other smaller schools within SBFZ. Ateneo has a campus here.

-- do many expats live in the area? Not compared to Manila or Baguio

-- activities for families or single expats? Lots of activities for both, especially if you enjoy any form of outdoor activity. For a taste of culture such as museums or big shows you go to Manila (2 hours via toll road "NLEX") or casinos in SBFZ or Clark.

-- proximity to city or areas where most expats work? Most expats in this area work in SBFZ or Clark Economic Zone. Clark is 1 hour away via a toll road "SCTEX".

-- typical housing (sizes, costs, yards/no yards, etc.) Prior US military housing is very sturdy, large yards, parking. Wide range of prices depend on lease conditions. Houses to apartments available. Cheaper than expat areas in Manila but more than Olongapo or Baguio. Contact SBMA LADD, there is also a Century 21 office. Expats can hold long term leases and sublet. Security in residential, checkpoints are okay, not as good as Dasmarinas or Bel-Air. The residents are also to blame.

-- parks and recreation areas? Lots of both and it is safe to run, bike on the streets. This is the jungle. The stars fill the night sky. The bay is beautiful and the beaches nice. Lots of fresh air. Pet friendly.

-- nightlife and restaurants? Some nightlife and restos, many nightclubs and bars.

-- safety and crime issues? In SBFZ very little crime, outside SBFZ petty crimes and other things associated with a city.

-- do you need a car? no, transport available in SBFZ via Winstar, shuttle buses, taxis, Victory Liner has a stop. Outside SBFZ same. This is a big area so you'd have to be patient.

-- basic amenities: great amenities left behind by US military. very quiet, most rules enforced, most traffic officers honest-tickets are cheap and easy to pay. Rules usually enforced. No flooding, PLDT phones and internet via SubicTel, Subic Enerzone has reliable power, Subic Water handles water and sewage, SBMA handles trash/recycling pick up. Medical facilities were basic but improving with two new medical centers, one in Cubi and one in the central business district. Various grocery sources including a couple wet markets.

Many residents join the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce as a resource and for social activities. They have an open public forum.

email me if you have specific questions.

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bethechange
4/5/2010 21:12 EST

Re: BAGUIO CITY

We visit Baguio yearly and every year have respiratory problems of some sort. We don't have them elsewhere in the Philippines. I also have a couple friends who live there who are looking to move because of respiratory problems.

If you are suspect or have allergies read more on the subject and also search "Baguio pollution".

For some this might not be an issue.

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bethechange
4/5/2010 21:28 EST

Metro Manila-SALCEDO VILLAGE

-- nearby schools? international schols? don't know but they are available. universities nearby.

-- do many expats live in the area? yes

-- activities for families or single expats? familes some, singles some. there is a sports club and small parks.

-- proximity to city or areas where most expats work? very close to central Makati. walk was 15 minutes.

-- typical housing (sizes, costs, yards/no yards, etc.)
city living, I had a basic one bedroom (750sf) for US$200/month looking at a park with elevator, aircon, hot H2O, security, no balcony. There are lots of this sort of place right next to the ones that are US$2000/month. My friends lived in a 3br w/ children for $750/month.
Apartment living and neighbors aren't that considerate.

-- parks and recreation areas? not much

-- nightlife and restaurants? fantastic and I could easily walk to both. I would walk home at 2am from Greenbelt.

-- safety and crime issues? city type crime. safer to take taxi. learn how to deal with taxis and report them.

-- do you need a car? no, bus, jeepneys, taxis readily available. walking is easy but weather can be a problem.

-- basic amenities my apartment was basic but my gym, bank, work were nearby. laundry, cleaning service and parking were in basement. small grocery was about two blocks away but I ate out alot and had lots of friends who liked to cook. real grocery was in Makati.

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chive69
5/26/2014 21:42 EST

Damn Loco! You are the best!

Question, can you run a description like this of Quezon?
My girlfriend lives there...

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MELARCHER
5/27/2014 00:59 EST

Incredible amount of great information! You mentioned Baguio City, how about Tagaytay .....would you have similar information? My husband and I are retiring soon and fortunately I already own a lot there. Thank you!

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Panglaodreamer
5/29/2014 00:06 EST

Tagbilaran-Panglao area works best for me.

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CAteacher
5/29/2014 00:15 EST

It is nice to see this thread revived. There is a lot of good information about places to live, but it has become somewhat dated. How about writing about the current situations in these areas? We could refer newbies to this strand and not keep answering the same questions.

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standupguy
7/11/2014 19:23 EST

I live in a quaint section of Toril called Prudential Village. There is a newly built apartment across the street. A Westerner just moved into one unit. The units are small one bedroom kitchen/living area and bath six hundred PhP per month. You are 5 minute walk to Vales Beach, owned by the Davao Police Chief. Toril, Davao City, is a buzzing little metropolis with a brand new G-Mall and BPI bank. Davao Downtown is a 35 minute cab ride away that costs about 190 PhP.

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