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View of Taal Lake from Tagatay, Philippines
View of Taal Lake from Tagatay, Philippines
View of Taal Lake from Tagatay, Philippines

Living in Philippines

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 10, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Philippines. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance

What do I need to know about living in Philippines?

Live in Philippines? Answer this Question

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Philippines, they said:

"Please come! Several of my friends have done, but all are in other locations and mainly retirees like myself. Several have taken permanent residence in Philippines; I should add - particularly now that UK has become degraded (say-no-more!)," explained one expat living in Taguig, Philippines.

"The best is to have some work over internet from outside the country. It is more an investment country over here than a job finding country," said another expat in Davao.

"I would suggest a minimum income from Australia or the US dollar 400 per week and that's living very comfortable. Rent is about $45 per week, food can add up to about $100 plus per week - electricity is about $75 a month, water about $10 a month. In general if you want to live the same lifestyle you will need no more than $400 per week. Make the move - I regret not doing it earlier in my life. I'm 52 getting married next month the one piece of advice don't believe what a lot of Filipinas tell you take your time choosing a partner you don't want to make one big mistake as divorce is very difficult to have undone in the Philippines," added another expat who made the move to Surigao City.

"Be patient. Learn the language, or some anyway. Don't rush to judgement, better often to reserve your opinion. Muck in with the real locals to learn the real Manila," explained one expat living in Manila, Philippines.

"Be patient. Learn to accept "indirectness" as a form of communication. Just because someone doesn't tell you something, it doesn't mean they aren't telling you something. Listen with all your senses," mentioned another in Manila.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

How do I meet people in Philippines?

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When we asked people living in Philippines about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"I am a rather elderly male married to a Filipina for 25 years and spend 2-3 English Winter months in Bonifacio Global City in a condo, which we share with my daughter, who has been resident there for 5 years (was a gap-year!) and she is already fluent in Tagalog! This area is fantastic, with the newest and largest SM Aura Mall, and fairly new Market-Market Mall, both with loads of shops and restaurants plus the new wider roads and even more shops and restaurants. There are many tower blocks and new condos. The only thing I miss is expats for chats, meetings, etc. So I would welcome news of any expats/expat clubs and meetings in or near to Bonifacio Global City.," remarked another expat living in Taguig, Philippines.

"Diving, rotary, NGO like tree planting or animals or street children. Church groups," added another expat in Davao.

"Suriago city is actually not a tourist destination area though there are some activities that are available to you here. I would certainly not consider spending a lot of time here. Siargao Island is the place to visit. Great pictures, fantastic surfing - if you need a heads up message me," remarked another expat who made the move to Surigao City.

"Taking language courses at one of the Universities or Colleges is a good way to meet both locals and other expats whilst learning language and culture. I can personally recommend De La Salle/CELL or Christian Language Study Centre. If you can get membership of a Sports or Country Club, grab it. I've been a member of Valle Verde Country Club and found it to be a fantastic place to get away from the bustle and noise of Manila, not to mention play sports," explained one expat living in Manila, Philippines.

"Try to get involved in an US / Filipino club or establish a mixed group of friends," said another expat in Manila.

"To get involved right away, join the very active American Women's Club. It's also for men here who have to leave their wives at home in the U.S," added another expat who made the move to Manila.

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

What is life like in Philippines?

Live in Philippines? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in Philippines what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Well, it's well-known that when you marry a Filipina, you also marry her family! Mine are many, and obviously have lots of young and beautiful children to spoil. But they also have financial problems, and shortage of employment prospects (many are poorly paid even as balikbayans (overseas workers) but never ask for help, so it gives us expats the chance to provide direct-charity, which makes one feel good," remarked another expat who made the move to Taguig.

"Socializing, eating, drinking, living a nice and happy life in and surrounded by nature," explained one expat living in Davao, Philippines.

"People are more focused on working. As we all know it is a third world country - the wages on average is 4000 pesos a month If they are not financially stable they do enjoy life - this is one thing I do admire about Filipinos," said another expat in Surigao City.

"Hmmm, locals love their shopping malls. Weekends are busier than the weekdays. "Gimmicks" are popular on Friday or Saturday night, typically in Manila, Eastwood Libis or Makati. This can be any form of going out with friends, but Manilenos love a drink ;-)," added another expat who made the move to Manila.

"Food. If they can eat with family and friends, even better. Social life is very important. Image is also important," explained one expat living in Manila, Philippines.

"On the weekends most people go out shopping in the huge malls to socialize and then go out to eat in one of the many restaurants and fast food places. Along with the Filipino restaurants, there are franchises from every corner of the world, so there is something for everyone. Everyone goes out Friday night after work, so there are traffic jams all over Manila," mentioned another in Manila.

Is there a lot of crime in Philippines?

Live in Philippines? Answer this Question

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"No. Less crime than most places. There is crime, but if you don't look for it you probably won't find it," remarked another expat who made the move to Angeles City.

"Petty crime, but I am alert to avoid it. Cebu is safer than most American cities," explained one expat living in Cebu City, Philippines.

"There are scams in bars, and some places I would not walk at night. I avoid the Muslim areas. I am not easily intimidated. Foreigners cannot own guns. But my wife can. Our house has very effective perimeter security," said another expat in Prudential Village, Daliao, Davao City.

Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Philippines accepting of differences?

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"I'm constantly puzzled why, with so many tower blocks and new dwellings, I rarely see expats in the local malls, so I assume that many of the condos - such as the. 50-storey tower block in which we live- must be either held by expats as investments for the future, or by overseas workers? In the 25+ years that I have either lived in or visited Philippines, the only problems I know of were when many areas of Mindenao were passed to Muslim control. (I'm certainly NOT racist, having worked on development projects in many countries, and always preferred village life)," commented one expat who made the move to Taguig.

"They are diverse and they accept differences. Majority is catholic, then Muslims and Buddhist. Not so much atheist. People pity the atheist over here," remarked another expat living in Davao, Philippines.

"They all live in harmony. The majority are Catholics - there are a small amount of Muslims but they coexist," added another expat in Surigao City.

"No, they are not diverse, but yes, they are accepting. Although very Catholic on the surface, often it is "do as we say, not as we do". Gays and other minority groups do not seem to be unduly persecuted as far as I can see," remarked another expat who made the move to Manila.

"Religous, primarily Catholic. Church and religion are an integral part of life. They don't separate religion from work life," explained one expat living in Manila, Philippines.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What are the schools in Philippines like?

Live in Philippines? Answer this Question

"Since it is a small school, easier to make friends and parents are welcoming, as well as the teachers. It's like a family, no bullying. Academically, there are homeworks so kids can learn more. Also, since it is a Chinese international school, kids will be taught Chinese culture and Mandarin language. My experience is Grade 1 -5 and so far I am satisfied. What the school lacks in facilities, they compensate with caring teachers/staff and good curriculum. For elementary, I do recommend it," explained one expat living in Taguig, Philippines.

"Check out their Facebook (Noblesse International School) or website, contact them, and if possible set up a meeting with the School Director and Principals. Education is the priority at this school. You will not regret it," said another parent with children at Noblesse International School in Angeles City, Pampanga Province.

"It is the best school outside of Manila, with a proven track record of placing students in top universities each school year," commented one expat when asked about Noblesse International School in Angeles City.

"As I see it, the price is too high in relation to the quality of teaching, and educational services. Not worth it. The school focus seems to be on growing the number of Korean students. It might make the school more of a Korean school than American. Who approved the school for high school accreditation in Minnesota? How was the accreditation conducted?," explained one expat in Clark, Pampanga, Philippines with kids at St Paul American School.

"This is a CHRISTIAN school and the main objective is to "develop Christ-like, lifelong learners". Regardless of whether or not you are Christian, If you want your children to learn values and develop godly moral character then this is definitely the best school in Manila for that. The teachers are passionate about growing kids closer to God, and the quality of education they delivery is just excellent. The only drawback I can think of to this school is that it is an English Only campus with 90% expat children, so you do not get to immerse in the Filipino culture as much as in a Filipino school. However, all children go through Tagalog classes through every year in elementary and it is also offered in High School as one of the options to meet the foreign language requirement. I think there is an "email" link at the top somewhere -- please feel free to ask me any questions. I would love to see more families going to this school. ," wrote an expat living in Cainta, Rizal with children attending Faith Academy.

"Do not enroll in this school! The headmaster is a brute and he bullies kids. Teachers are OK but some don't teach .. They get away with that! Too much programmes too that students academics are affected. No communication with parents, or if there are, it is so confusing! We're definitely pulling out at the end of the year. My son seems to like it there though because school time is like one long recess break," said one commented one expat when asked about Mahatma Gandhi International School in Pasay City.

Is the cost of living in Philippines high?

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We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in Philippines, they wrote:

"That's a difficult question. It all depends on the retiree's needs and his ability to live within his means. I believe that one can make it work at almost any income level if they are willing to make the appropriate sacrifices," added another expat who made the move to Angeles City.

"For Air conditioning, internet, phone, cable TV, water, tax, transportation, pharmacy, food and hardware, and all extras cost me $1200 Canadian dollars a month," explained one expat living in Prudential Village, Daliao, Davao City, Philippines.

"One can live on a tight budget when shopping at local markets, buying local produce. Affordable accommodation can be easily found and a 2 bedroom house can be rented at US 200 dollars a month," mentioned another expat living in Angeles City.

"Living costs including the lease of a small furnished apartment depend on where the apartment is located. In a non luxurious area they normally do not exceed 1200 USD per month. Public transportation is cheap," said an expat in Manila.

What type of recreational facilities are in Philippines?

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When we asked people living in Philippines about recreational activities, they mentioned:

"There's a great golf club and driving range in the CutCut area and it's patronized by expats and locals alike. All top hotels have swimming pools that offer daily rates to casual visitors and many have a kids play area. All suburbs have a football/ sports pitches, but are not always well maintained. Unfortunately, there are few sports clubs," remarked another expat in Angeles City.

"Swimming can be done in the public pool of a sports stadium rather close to where I am living. Golfing in a nearby golf course by members of the golf club. Hiking in a public park nearby," added one expat living in Manila.

What is the weather like in Philippines?

Live in Philippines? Answer this Question

"It's almost always hot, but it does cool down in the evenings. Typhoons blow in on occasion, but there are always public warnings to keep the public informed of the dangers," added one expat living in Angeles City.

"There are two main seasons. The rainy and the dry season. The rainy season is characterized by frequent typhoons (July - December) The dry season is very hot and humid (January - June)," commented one expat who moved to Manila.

Are there good restaurants in Philippines?

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"All hotels have nice restaurants and local canteens offer inexpensive dishes. Korea Town has a wide choice of Korean, Japanese, Italian, Filipino restaurants and offer the best service in town," mentioned another expat living in Angeles City.

"There are lots of restaurants selling local and international food. Bars and discos offer a wide range of entertainment until the early morning," said an expat in Manila.

Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Philippines?

Live in Philippines? Answer this Question

"There are large supermarkets dotted all around the city and there are numerous markets with fresh produce. Shopping malls, with all the latest gear, as well as nice affordable gear are found in most areas," added one expat living in Angeles City.

"Shopping can be done in malls or markets. They are located in practically all cities in Metropolitan Manila," commented one expat who moved to Manila.

What are the visa & residency requirements in Philippines?

Live in Philippines? Answer this Question

"Most passports are given a three month visa on arrival and one can arrange longer stays through the many visa agents found in most hotels," mentioned another expat inAngeles City.

"A residency permit can be obtained through a yearly quota system or if you are married to a local person- on the basis of the marriage. Foreign visitors upon their arrival in the Philippines are granted a free tourist visa for 30 days, which may be extended to 59 days through the immigration. Before the expiry of the 59 days visa the foreign visitor may extend his/her visa to 60 or 180 days more. The tourist visa maybe further extended up to 3 years," commented one expat who moved to Manila, Philippines.

Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Philippines?

Live in Philippines? Answer this Question

"I have not had to use my insurance here because the cost of care has been so inexpensive. I had to get an MRI which cost me less than 200 USD," said one expat living in Angeles City.

"There are a lot of health insurance choices on offer and it is highly recommended to go on one of them. To be without cash and medical insurance may become a death warrant for the "Unprepared"," mentioned another expat inAngeles City.

"We do not have health insurance, except for PhilHealth through my husband's work. It pays for hospital stays, but there are a lot of out-of-pocket costs. However, these are not high - we are fortunate in that we have not needed any kind of major medical treatments. Something like advanced-stage cancer would have to be handled in Manila and would cost us in the realm of USD 5000 - 10,000, I'd estimate. Primary health care, like bandaging of wounds, bronchitis, and the like is free to all comers," commented one expat who moved to Bontoc, Philippines.

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

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Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Philippines GuidePhilippines Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Philippines.

Philippines Forum Philippines Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Philippines on our Philippines forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Philippines Index Philippines Index
An index of all of our site's Philippines information.

Contribute to Philippines Network Contribute
Help others in Philippines by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Philippines.

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