Your Best Places To Live In The Philippines

Where Are The Best Places to Live in the Philippines?

I posted awhile back on this subject, What Are Your Best Places Philippines?, and also put up a dedicated best places in the Philippines map page with every suggestion I’ve received regarding the best places to like in the Philippines.

So few suggestions, though.  Why is that?  Everyone who does live here in the Philippines lives somewhere … and you either consider that the best place to retire or live in the Philippines, or you already have a goal to move to a different place you feel is better for living in the Philippines.

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

So, no controversy?  Strange that.

Why even ask what are the Best Places to Live in the Philippines?

best places to live in the PhilippinesWhere should I live in the Philippines is one of the most common off-line questions I get, and I really want to publish more along the lines of Philippine best places for foreigners  … but I’m only one guy and I can only live in approximately one place at a time ;-).

For those of you who haven’t read it yet, or don’t recall, I live in Marilao, Bulacan province on the island of Luzon … just a few kilometers outside Metro Manila .. the National Capital Region.

What Others Think About Best Places to Live in the Philippines?

Fortunately, though, there’s an active Philippine blogging community out there … and sometimes people writing those blogs come up with ideas very similar to mine.

Here’s what an Adobo Lover In Canada thinks about his long-term place to live in the Philippines.  Recommended reading.

Bataan Province, My Chosen Residence When Living In The Philippines

One of the difficult choices I have to decide on when I planned to live in the Philippines again was where to set my long-term residence.

I lived half of my life in my motherland and was a former resident of Manila and Quezon City but this time, I do not want to reside in those cities because I feel that it does not fit my lifestyle anymore. Traffic, pollution and congestion are my primary reasons for avoiding Metro-Manila but I could cite more if need be.

I have considered Cebu, Davao, Batangas, Laguna – places in the Philippines that is close to the beaches and the countryside but was not able to check them out entirely because honestly, I don’t know anyone in those places to give me an idea on where best to locate.

Discovering Balanga City in Bataan province was coincidental. I never even considered residing there. It started when together with a partner who was from there – we setup a search engine optimization business to help me promote our travel agency in Canada and also some other websites that I own. … (read the rest of the article at: Bataan Province, My Chosen Residence When Living In The Philippines

So where’s your best place to live in the Philippines … foreigner … Filipino … dual citizen or whatever?  I want to know and so do the other members of the community here.

Also, how much do you think you will be spending per month to live in the Philippines, retired in the Philippines, or earning online in the Philippines, or getting a job here in the Philippines?  The community wants to know, so share your best places to live in the Philippines when you can.


  1. Gary Wigle says

    I am limited as to where is the best place to live in the Philippines so I tend to listen to my wife who has worked all over the chain of islands. For her the worst was Manila. She went to school and worked in the Visayas and liked the people very much. She was born and raised in Mindanao. Bukidnon was her home for most of her childhood. She has lived and worked in CDO, Davao City and Tagum City. By far she believes Tagum City is the best. We have visited GenSan a few times and it comes in 2nd place. All I know is for the short time I was there Cebu and Lapu Lapu City are very hot and dirty. Davao City is OK but way too big for me. Tagum City is large by my standards at 230,000 and growing. I would love to be out on a farm but don’t have a car so that is out of the question. So until a few years under my belt it will have to be Tagum City.

    Anyone else have a good idea?


    • says

      Gary Wigle (ID 5660) » Thanks, Gary, you’re on the map now 😉 Funny so few recommendations come in from Mindanao. I’m also puzzled why nothing has come in from Cebu at all … I know I have readers there … h well, maybe a lot of people aren’t quite happy with their choices … that’s life.

  2. Paul Thompson says

    90% of foreigners married to a Filipina are going to live where their wife is from, or close to it. If the spouse is from Luzon, you will live on Luzon. and the same rule applies for the rest of the archipelagos known as the Philippines. The remaining 10% will live where their needs are met,, be it diving, boating golfing ect. Even “Adobo Lover” picked Bataan, as his partner was from there.
    It all falls back on an old adage; “It the wife is happy, you’re happy!”

      • says

        Oh, wow! Thanks for the mention, Dave. I just found out about this while checking my stats and wondered how the heck did it shoot to 300 page view plus for 2 days, when I checked I saw most of the visits are coming from PhilFAQS. I checked my email, searched for an email from your feed and saw it in my spam filter! I wonder why? It didn’t even trigger the blog permalink! Hmmn.

        @ Paul – sorry for the confusion. By partner, I meant a business partner. Not my wife. LOL. My wife doesn’t want to leave Toronto yet until she’s retired. I can’t wait that long.

        Dave, you got me thinking when you mentioned in your comment on that blog post about other OFW’s “the ability to see their own home country with a fresh vision.” Why don’t readers of PhilFAQS highlight the advantages and disadvantages of the places they’re living in the Philippines, either in their own sites or right here at PhilFAQS?

        As of now, I’m writing a draft of how I rate Balanga city as a city to live in – for the benefit of both foreign expats and OFWs. What do you think?

        Thanks again for the mention. I appreciate it a lot.


          • eric says

            I would like to move to the suburbs of a city that has movie theaters and malls but far enough in the country to have a small farm. Also air conditioning, cable and internet would be great. Any suggestions?

          • says

            @ eric

            Thanks for writing in. Hundreds of cites could meet most of your needs easily. You could start looking here:
            Malls in the Philippines
            I don’t know how to answer the having a small farm part, though. Depends on how far you want to go from a city. Rural, farming areas just aren’t going to have all the modern conveniences available in cities.

    • Andy says

      I couldn’t have put it better. If you’re in a relationship the best answer in my opinion is normally to be in the same area as your partner’s family. My wife’s brothers and the family of one even live within the same compound as us although they have their own separate house so there is privacy as well. If you get on OK with the relatives you also gain security, an important consideratiion in where you choose to live. We chose Santiago City in Isabela for those reasons. We are a long way from the coast but have a swimming pool and I don’r really like the beach anyway. Also the recent sunami in Japan provides graphic evidence of the dangers of living close to the coast,. I hope and pray that nothing like that happens here.

      • Leia says

        @Andy at Santiago Isabela. We are moving to Santiago City in 3 weeks with wife. Can you tell more of the place as I have not been there but the wife is from there. Internet speed, cable, are there public pools to go to?

  3. says

    I have only been to three dif. places so Im kind of like the rest. My wife is from Leyte and that is where I have spent the most time. I have been there nine times over the last 18 years the most recent two weeks ago. It is close to her family and many nieces and nephews. We don’t have any children but I do enjoy them when Im there. The people I have met there have been very friendly and I know the area now. I don’t hate where I live now in the us in fact life has been good to me. Im not a big fan of cold weather . I don’t eat fish and I know the tacloban area has just about any food that I like. I have no desire to be tied to any full time work but I want to have enoght ground to grow a garden. Ive been building up my nest egg to retire. I enjoy being pampered ie. massage . Also I enjoy some traveling and there enough flights out of Tacloban to manila to conect with just about anywhere I might want to trael too–Hong Kong, Thiland, New Zealand, etc. I figure if I have about 3000 us a month in income it would be enough to pay the bills and do what I want to do. If I get real bored i figured I would open a model train store and make no effort to sell products but spend a lot of time building displays. It is starting to sound better the more I write about it.,,,

    • says

      donm (ID 5664) » Thanks Don You’re On The Map, now, and thanks. I’m going to send a link from this comment to my son who works much too hard back in the cold and gloom of the US. He’s not quite ready to retire yet, but I’m always after him to make the move sooner rather than later as his old man did. And trains? he and I are both certified (or certifiable) Colorado rail nuts … yes, Caboose Hobbies was/is a frequent stop for us.

      I’ve talked about a model railroad shop with him as well … would we ever make more than a few pesos with something like that, even in Metro manila? Very probably not. But the right question to ask is, would we really care? Any good store needs a big display/test layout, and I’m a history buff as well so my ‘excuse’ for the display would be charity events and free shows/lessons for school kids. You know, if you do your taxes right (honestly), there’s no reason you can’t have all the advantages of your own business here as you can back in the US … you have to show a profit two years out of five … but no one ever said how much profit ;-).

      And have you ever considered the cost of craft labor, graphic artists, mini-foundry, lost wax casting experts and machinists here? Very low in comparison to the US … craftsman level super detailed limited edition kits, anyone?

      Pay my son a visit at and tell him to get busy with his blog and his mopvge to the Philippines. best of luck with yours.

  4. John in Austria says

    Hi Dave,

    From my trips around the Philippines, and my last trip which as you know covered the whole area from north to south, I personally would recommend the Visayas region – the climate is good, not too touristy, and beautiful scenery. For the uninitiated, the Visayas are central in the Philippines, and include many islands including Cebu. I think if I wanted to settle there, I would select somewhere in the Visayas. Just my opinion.

    • says

      John in Austria (ID 5666) » Thanks, John. I know you have traveled and seen much more of the Philippines than anyone else I know of … except perhaps my father-in-law who used to work for the Central bank as a traveling auditor ;-). But no particular city there in the Visayas?

  5. says

    The municipality of Medina, Misamis Oriental in Mindanao. An hour away from Cagayan De Oro city. The place where you can find the Duka Bay Resort. Back then it was just White Beach for us. No, entrance fee. We just pay for the table. After swimming, there are no showers then. So we go to a place called Alibuwag. A natural pool of spring water bursting from the sands. Its just a kilometer away from the beach. It was later developed by the local government I think and encased it to become a natural pool.

    The water is indeed fresh and very cool. People would place there soft-drinks in the sands where the waters were coming. After an half an hour you can get a cool drink.

    In the mid 70s. As a kid then when we would visit our relatives there. Especially during fiestas. We would roam around that small town. And its interesting to note I saw back then at least 3 American type homes. They stood out among the usual houses around them. They had a great garden in front. It was like I was in a foreign land.

    Last 2004, I visited this place again. My aunts house was near the bridge and the seawall. It was just great to sit there watching the boats and the clear waters. When we walked passed the bridge in the evening. No street lights by the way. To my surprise the mangrove trees below the bridge were lit up with thousands of fireflies. My wife was so amazed as to see such things as these are now very rare.

    I just hope those fireflies will still be there when I plan to take my kid to see this place.

  6. BMichels says

    Been awhile been moving to our apt and know it’s all systems go! Just working on visas and counting down to retirment in Aug 2013.
    What funny about my situation on where to live in the Philippines is I asked my wife if she wanted to live near her family and she said NO!!
    I them asked were and she said Subic Bay. She explained to me that it was a place that has a good mix of locals and retired military some of whom we are friends with and the availability of american goods.
    She also explained that even though she loves her family she still wants us to have our privacy to. Because after all It’s our retirment and we should beable to enjoy it. All I could say was WOW!!!
    She choses us over them this could be interesting.


    • says

      Hi Mike, glad to see you checking in. hey don’t work too early on those visas, they are only good for 6 months or so in advance of the move.

      There’s a lot to be said for living close to the wife’s family, as we chose to, and a lot to be said for being a little further away. My wife and I often go through periods where we feel a little too close, and I know this feeling isn’t unique.

      It’s often harder for the wife to live close than it is for her husband. I know my wife gets pestered for a lot of petty little things that family members would never bother me about, in person. Some distance can be valuable.

      One of the good things if you live on Subic is, they will always be coming to see you, rather than the other way around, and you can easily get a house that will accommodate guests without you yourself having to retreat to the attic … don’t laugh, I’ve heard tell of guys that bad off.

      You’re still planning a visit in perhaps October of this year?

      • Ben B says

        Hello Philly,

        You touched on a subject that has been bugging me for quite sometime, living close to family members. Some of us retirees are not rich although we have steady income and can live reasonably better than others. Sharing our little resources with our relatives is not a problem but to look up to you to take care of their daily needs and constantly at your door for more seems too hard to handle. Any suggestions?

  7. joe says

    San Antonio, Zambales. Close enough to Olongapo to go shopping, yet not too noisy and congested. Close to the beach, also.

    • says

      joe (ID 5730) » Thanks, Joe. Your contribution is much appreciated. I’ve been to San Antonio many times, my wife has family and property just a few km away in San Marcelino, Zambales. You are on the map now.

  8. Bob New York says

    I never had any intention of retiring or moving to The Philippines but I have spent hundreds of hours researching it and reading what others have to say. The only place I really know there is Iligan CIty, a place I found by accident while websurfing about 5 years ago. I never thought so much detail about a place could be found on the internet and it still kind of amazes me. So many pics, vids and written articles and comments mostly put up on the internet by the proud people that live there, and yes they really do have a lot of pride in their city. If I ever decided to live in the Philippines for retirement that is the only place I would want to be, Iligan City.

    At this point in time I don’t even have any immediate plans for retiring but when the time eventually comes along I will then see how much of a monthly / yearly income I will have available. I like it where I am now in the suburbs of New York City. What usually forces retirees out of this area are the ever increasing taxes and other associated costs of living here.

    I have enjoyed my visits to Iligan and will continue to visit. Each time I take a look at certain things that would affect a foriegner retiring there.

    • says

      Bob New York (ID 5895) » Bob, the finances are not an issue. If anyone can live in the new York metro, they have enough to live here. The taxes, for retirees are miniscule. But the cultural differences and the separation from family and familiar surroundings … that’s an issue that can’t be dealt with in dollars and cents.

      By the way, which “New York suburb” are you referring to? I am originally from Hudson County, New Jersey (Tony Soprano’s stomping grounds).

      • Bob New York says

        I think the point I was trying to make, if I can survive here on my retirement income that is most likely what I will do. Fortunately I have a small place here. The house is paid for and I pay half or less in taxes than most of my neighbors. I am also in a very quiet and secure area so if I want to play loud music at night or just enjoy the silence I have a choice, without having to be concerned about bothering the neighbors or them bothering me.

        If I ever did sell out what I have here and move out of the area I could never afford to move back here at todays prices. I like to own and not rent. I know there are advantages to each but it is just my preference. I know if I moved to The Philippines I could not own a house there and I wouldn’t waste the time in trying to find loopholes or other ways to circumvent laws forbiding foriegners from house and land ownership there.

        I f I could buy property, I’d have a builder look at the blueprints for my house here and have it duplicated as close as possible and modified for the climate there. I would want hot and cold running water at all times, Central air con or window type units in each room and I dont think I would feel at all comfortable with bars on the windows. I do realize in some areas it is kind of a necessity.

        I don’t know how much the cost of electricity there would affect me. Yes, I want a hot water heater, I want Air Con and those are big energy users. On the other hand I will not be paying $1500 to $2000 per year for heating oil for the oil burner so that may compensate. At the moment I pay about $50 to $60 per month for electricity with the higher number reflecting summer when I use Air Con although not constantly as I might there. I think I average about 350 KWH per month.

        If I ever do become serious about moving to The Philippines I think what I would try is renting a place for about 6 months or a year there and not sell out here. Then see how things look after that. I know of the many cultural differences and having to acquire patience in a lot of things that we don’t even think about here.

        In the mean time however I shall continue to enjoy my vacation visits and continue to look at additional details of what it would involve to live there on a full time basis. It will always be a place in my imagination, live there or stay here.

        • says

          Bob New York » Understood, Bob. Moving here is certainly not for everyone. I love how you realte your experiences when you do come here, makes me feel as if I were there on your journeys. Godspeed.

          • Bob New York says

            I anticipate many more visits and experiences to write about. I am only there in Ph for about 2 weeks out of the year and try to write about those experiences sparingly so I still have things to comment on or write about for the following 11 months.

            With websites such as this one and Bob Martins many websites, I can have Virtual Visits to Ph every day. I have built up enough contacts and other things in Iligan City that I can maintain a virtual prescence there even when I am home here half way around the world and for me that is a nice feeling to have.

  9. Jun says

    For all the places i’v visited in the philippines, bacolod city is top of my list. It is also known as the city of smiles famous for their masskara festival every 2nd week of october. It is few kilometers away from beaches and resorts. Bacolod city is a complete package from urban living to natural resources.

    • Bruce says

      I agree Jun. I have spent a great deal of time in Bacolod and it is one of my favorite places. Little pollution, people are friendly. One time I looked into renting an (unfurnished) 2 bedroom house with maid quarters and gated entrance with a place to pull up a car. PHP 6000 a month. This was out by the old airport but still walking distance to the closest Mall (I like to walk though). I am looking to rent in Cebu right now and you can’t even get a decent apartment for less the PHP 10,000. I need to check to see if that house is still available :)

  10. Mike says

    A friend if mine just told me he is moving to Mandaue. Is anyone familiar with that area and how is it for crime, weather etc?

    • says

      Hi Mike, Mandaue is part of Metro Cebu. It’s a very popular foreigner area, for those who like big cites. This should give you the info you need:

      Every city n the Philippines is safe, or not safe, depending on the opinions of those who love it or hate it. After nearly five years in the Philippines, I can say I certainly feel a heck of a lot safer here than in the USA

      Come see for yourself.

    • Dan says

      Hey Mike,

      I know I’m late writing but my wife is from Mandaue – I have stayed there for many months. Mandaue is part of metro Cebu, and like any big city there are good and bad areas. We lived right on the road to one of the bridges that go across the bay so there was a lot of truck traffic and noise, and that specific area was pretty run down. But there was a lot to do, it is close to malls and my wife said there are a lot better areas than the specific area we were. I like to walk around a lot, and never had any problem with crime at all. The people in the area all were nice, we got lots of smiles and the teenagers always said “Hey Joe” as I walked by. Still refering to GI Joe. :)

      • says

        No such think as being late to this subject, Dan. I’m building a map to show all the places recommended by readers as good places to live in the Philippines. You are now .On The Map. Thanks.

        • coffeehound says

          Hi Philly.
          I wish your comments were a little more up-to-date, ’cause I have only lived in Phils about 1 1/2 yrs. I live about 1/2 way between Manila and Angeles City (CLARK) in a rural barangay and LOVE it. I have a beautiful 2 bedroom bungalow with a HUGE kitchen (nearly 10 meters of tiled counter space), nice back yard with an unfinished building that could easily become my “dream AMERICAN STYLE BAKERY” or restaurant and pay only 5000 PHP per month rent.. My only income is American SS, but is more than adequate for my Filapina fiance’ and myself with enough left to treat her very well.
          We are within 1/2 hour of SM Mall (in Baliwag) or 2 hours (by bus) from Manila so nearly everything we need is readily accessible. In addition, I was raised in tiny farm town in Iowa, so when I came here, I felt like I was coming home. (People are so friendly and treat us as if we were natives here.)
          I hope to be able to post more comments here and hope to hear from other Americans wanting to know more about living “in province”.

          • says

            I’m not really sure what I am supposed to do about the comments. coffeehound? please tell me what, in particular is disappointing you?

            Regarding living in the provinces, that’s where I live and I find it great. Wouldn’t live in Manila, Cebu Baguio for example, if you paid me.

            Regarding your bakery idea … the most feasible way I know of for starting a small business and making a success of it is food, no question about it. Godspeed.

          • tony says

            im living in qc manila 4 yrs..interested in moving coffeehound,,what can u tell me about ur place?

          • myrna says

            Hi Mr. Coffehound,

            I was born and raised in Bustos Bulacan, just a bridge apart from Baliwag. We were in the place where you live last year with my American Husband. I agree with you, People are very nice, everything is cheap. People in that area can live without the SM Baliwag and yes, you can get to MAnila in two hours with no transportation problem. If you are just looking for a farm to retire this place is recommended for farming. I am a FIlipina and I was a farm girl who experienced riding the carabao or walk distant miles to get to our ricefield but I am scared of putting a business in the Philippines unless it is a call center so goodluck to your business plan.

          • Jeff says

            Hello I am replying to coffeehound American living in Angeles city in Philippines from Iowa farm
            town. I am also from Iowa and married to a Filipina . It is our dream to retire and live in the Philippines but we are only in mid 40s and want to retire before we get security so we are looking for affordable, secure, safe place to live, grow a garden and have a small business or rental property. Could you please give us more information on what I need to do to live there as an American with the embassy and more about cost of land per square meter both with and without house on lot. Thanks and we look forward to hearing more from you .

  11. RC says

    I am a Filipino and I can say that you can chose variety of cities or places you want to stay for good or just for vacation that is depending on what are your preferences. I am from the province of Leyte Region 8 specifically from Ormoc City which I believe a nice place to leave too. Why would I say nice that is because I’ve stayed in Lapu-lapu City, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Samar, Taytay Rizal, Quezon City and Manila; and visited places like Subic, Sagada in Mt. Province, Baguio City and many more which is nice too….but Ormoc City is the City that I’ve known for its simplicity yet developing. If your a nature lover the city is blessed to provide what you need from biking, mountaineering, nature tripping and whole lot more. Since it is a city you can check what business you want to open that you think will work for you. At your convenient time you can try to Google “ORMOC CITY”. It would be better if you yourself discover the best things that the city has. Thanks for this site.

  12. Dennis McPeters says

    I don’t claim to be an expert on the Philippines but have been to a few places and very much enjoyed the island of Bohol. Tagbilaran is the largest town on the island and has most of the amenities people generally look for. Near Tagbilaran is Panglao Beach, one of the premier beaches in the world, according to a number of sources. The bee farm near Panglao is a nice place to visit. Bohol has some amazing attractions: The Chocolate Hills are a geographic wonder – nature formed hills that look like giant Hershey’s kisses. A large adventure park, Danao, has a zipline, cable car and beautiful scenery. The Loboc River features some nice small boat cruises, waterfalls, and children serenading. Rice drying alongside the roads, mango trees, and views of the ocean abound. One event I will always remember is Mr. Harina going to the river, hauling his water buffalo out of the river, and riding it to the farm to work the land for rice planting. He is past 70 and does this every day. Daughter Evelyn said, in her cute Visayan accent, “My father takes very good care of his caribou.” I witnessed 2 and 3 year old children who cannot speak English but can sing old songs from the 70s and 80s in perfect English. I’m convinced every Filipina/o is a born singer. Both high speed and low speed boats ferry back and forth every day from Mactan, near the Cebu Airport. Bohol is not a rich island and the people live simple lives but they are the most wonderful and beautiful people I have met.

    • says

      Thanks Dennis, appreciate the input. You’re on the map now.

      And by the way, I’m no expert on the Philippines either .. this is not a place for “experts”, they tend to bore me.

  13. says

    G`day Philly,was wondering if you could help me with selecting a town to retire in the Philippines.
    I am at the present time in Australia, and have a Filipino fiancee and her niece living in Cayagan de oro city, which I don’t like very much (The city that is) and they are happy to move to wherever I wish to live once I retire there, which is in the next couple of months.
    Philly I intend to try it out for maybe three months on my pension money of $900 au per month for rental, food, and other items. (Will have $1100 should I retire there)
    I have a house in Australia which I can sell at a later date should I make the move permanently, and I am seventy years of age but with no health problems that I know of.
    Philly i would like to stay away from the big cities so could you please advice me in your opinion of where would be a safe place to live that I could afford to do so on my pension.
    I will be supporting my fiancee ,and her niece until such a time that they set up their own business.
    This is a big move for me Philly and I want to do it with my eyes open, so any advice you can give me will be very much appreciated.
    Many thanks….David F

    • says

      Hello David,

      Thanks for writing in. You actually have several questions in there, all of which require quite a bit to answer, so let me take the one related most to this article first. Where to live?

      This would be a lot easier to answer if I knew what it is that turns you off most about Cagayan se Oro?

      Medium size provincial cites like CDO are a lot the same no matter where you go in some ways. So what are you misisng most that CDO doesn’t provide, and what parts of life there are the most dissatisfactory to you?

      Regarding costs there is the ‘book answer’ … Manila costs the most, large provincial cites like Cebu and Davao cost 80% of manila and smaller provincial cites cost 79% or so of Manila costs.

      The reality is, for a foreigner, how you chose to live and how well your ready made family is at managing money is by far the key factor. As a foreigner here for nearly 6 years now, I feel how much you will spend per month is much more dependent upon you than on any geographical question.

      Now, as to budget, you certainly can live, on your own, for AuD $900 a month, but you will not live well at all in today’s market. I see the cost of food, fuel and even basic essentials like cooking gas shooting up like crazy the past few years. There will not be much margin or error or impulse buys at all.

      And the most important factor in your case is health care. It’s great that you have no health problems at this time, but the reality is, health problems come to all of us who live long enough. And it will only take one hospitalization to wipe out the average guy’s savings. What is your plan for dealing with a heart attack, a stroke, or for that matter, being hit by a bus … you don’t think the bus company will pay for your hospitalization, do you … instead they will sue you for denting the bus *sigh*.

      I’m sure to get an earful from some of my Aussie readers, but I have to say this. You currently live in one of the most socialized, cradle to grave citizen-services counties in the world. A fellow could drop into any place in Australia via parachute, with empty pockets and someone will see to it he gets cared for, gets housed, gets looked after and most importantly, not let him starve. I marvel every time I watch a documentary from Australia how the government services there far exceed even what’s available in my own USA.

      In the Philippines, people starve every day. It’s an OK country here if you are well off, but living hand-to-mouth and being 70-plus? Not so much. Much of the commercial health insurance here cuts off at 70 or 75 you know? People that old are pretty much assumed to be ‘done for’. Cold, hard facts my friend.

      And I’ll leave the business of investing in business for another time. It’s very, very high risk and extremely failure prone, especially when a foreigner is involved. Think this all through very, very carefully, especially if you already own a home back there in Australia. Can’t you bring your fiancée there on a marriage visa?

      Sorry to sound negative here, but I don’t preach the “Live in Paradise” nonsense that many foreigners do … “just the facts, ma’am” as Jack Webb used to say.



  14. Ernest says

    Hi, I recently stumbled across this site as I have been wanting to make the move to the Philippines. I just recently visited there for the first time in april 2012. My trip was only for two weeks, and I got a taste of a few different places. The first place I visited was in Mindanao island ( Ditay, Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay) very confusing how to name the place correctly since It’s very new to me, but anyway, I met my fiance at Pagadian airport, and went straight to her home town ( Ditay, Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay) I absolutely loved the people there, everyone was so nice, kind and accepting of me, the family, the neighbors would all come to visit me every evening (around 20 people) just for nice talks about multiple things.. I come from a broken home so this was very special experience for me, I felt at home… Some things to note though is that the area is very poor, no AC, no running water (ole bucket of water, bathing outside in your shorts thing) prone to flooding, and rice fields galore around you.. but even though I never had it that bad it really humbled me and I enjoyed my week there sleeping on the hard floor with a mosquito net to cover me and my fiance. I would love to live there but the problem is there is no Jobs unless you want to be a rice farmer (can’t do that because of back problems) sooo.. that is kinda out of the question right now in terms of living there.

    The next place I got a chance to visit and stay was in Makati city for one night, so can’t really say much about there except omg big cities (never been to a city even close to the size of New York before this visit)

    The next day we headed to Quezon City, Manila where I spent the next week with my fiance in a mid range hotel. This being my first time in a really big city was a bit uncomfortable, crowded, polluted , dirty, smelly and very heartbreaking at the same time (many people would come up to me begging and I barely had enough money to survive the rest of the week with my fiance, so I could not help) that really saddened me, and seeing abandoned children walking down the roads only added to it..

    That being said, Manila had many things to do, such as big malls, shopping centers, restaurants etc.. but those things didn’t really matter to me except for being able to take my fiance on two different dates for dinner and a movie at SM mall of asia. All of the people I ran into where very kind and polite, though I did get a lot of stares, but I noticed the entire week I was there I only saw one other American there, and he was a very mean grumpy man (as I observed how he talked to his wife, and the people at the hotel whom were very helpful and nice) so I didn’t even want to have conversation with him, the Filipino’s were much nicer and polite.

    Sorry for babbling on but this was the best way to describe my short but humbling experiences in those areas..

    Just for info that may help the question or questions I would like to ask to the kind readers and posters of this site. I am 27 (soon to be 28) my fiance has already stated she would fallow me anywhere I wanted to live, and her family backs us 100%, they just want to see us happy.

    Issues I am sure to face is job opportunities as my back problems haven’t allowed me much of options here in the states.. I do have experience with computers and can build them, repair them, and possibly operate an internet cafe (if that is even an option) but I know I have to start somewhere to provide for me and my fiance, at least a reasonable way of life.. I can do without the very fancy things, but I would like to live in a safe place, and a place not as big as manila, and cleaner. I’ve never had much in terms of materialism in my entire life, and grew up in a poor family, and we are not close so its not gonna be a problem for me being away from them.

    My most important question I would like to ask is, where would be a decent place for me and my fiance (soon to be wife) to stat our life together there in the Philippines? I am thinking of applying for dual citizenship, and I do not have anything of value here to leave behind.. so its all or bust for me..

    My heart is really pulling me to live there in the Philippines, as I really love the culture, and the closeness of the families, and finally feeling as part of a family, her family is my family and I love them as so.

    We just want to live a simple life, and of course an affordable one.. I know this is a lot of questions inside of lots of talking, but I am open minded to listen and to take in to thought any of your suggestions/opinions all is welcomed and I am very grateful for any of them.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post, and even with the little experiences I have had there, I hope that it may also help another person who is seeking to find. Much love and many blessings -Ernest

    • says

      Hi Ernest,

      Thanks for writing in and for providing such a “newsy” comment, I am sure many readers here will appreciate it.

      I’m just going to have to tell you a couple things straight from the shoulder, though.

      Jobs for foreigners in the Philippines are very difficult. The Philippine unemployment rate is 2 or 2 1/2 times as bad as the atrocious US rate, and half a million or more Filipinos leave every year to work abroad .. often in jobs far below what they are qualified for.

      If you have issues with getting a job in the US then you are a very, very poor risk for any sort of decent paying job here.

      And there is nothing more common here in the Philippines than bright young men with computer-related degrees driving tricycles or collecting junk, trying to eek out money for perhaps one meal a day. Internet cafe’s are typically hand-to-mouth operations, and each year, as more and more people carry smartphone, becoming a dying breed.

      You may not want to hear this, but I’ll say it anyway. At 28 years old you have no business moving to the Philippines and trying to scratch out a living from jobs that belong to Filipinos. You should get yourself a decent job in the US, bring you fiancee’ to the US so that she can live and work in a decent environment, get her her US citizenship, something that will pay her dividends all her life, and then build up your savings so you can come to the Philippines and stand on your own two feet. Tough words, but that’s my opinion.

      If you still feel a job in the Philippines is for you, you can start looking here. There are thousands and thousands of jobs listed, the pay may disappoint, but the listings are certainly there.


      • Ben B says


        At your young age and wanting to leave the US to live in the Philippines is a bad idea. Unless, you are rich and maybe invest and create a business venture, forget about going to the Philippines because there is no job there for you.

        The best thing for you to do is bring your fiancee to America and let her work and maybe at a later time when you both have enough income, then you can think of living in the Philippines.

        • says

          Ernest, as the designated “old guy” here I have refrained from saying anything about your age. It’s fine with me if you come here to the Philippines at any age. But there is a LOT of wisdom in what Ben B has to say.

          I have two points to make, both of which are often unpopular.

          Back in the USA, especially today, we have hordes of rabid, even overtly racsist people who continually rail against immigrants, legal or illegal, and how they are “stealing” American jobs. It’s their right to hold such a point of view. Have you ever given any thought to your moral right to come to the Philippines and ‘steal a job” from a Filipino? Believe me, the US, even in today is a paradise compared to conditions here in the Philippines. When is the last time you went to bed hungry, or put crying children to bed hungry … able to give them, at most, 1 meal a day? 10 million or more Filipinos (the lucky ones, with enough money) flee the country and live overseas in return for any ‘scrap’ of a job, because they just can’r afford to buy their children three meals a day here. Legally, it can be done, but should you? Remember, just because you “have a right”, does that equate to “being right”?

          Second, people in the vast majority of the world’s 200 plus countries will all agree, “To be born an American is to have won first prize in life’s lottery”. If you brought your wife-to-be to the USA, she could “win that prize” as well. My own wife didn’t want to go to the USA at first. then, she did, we waited out the visa, the time for citizenship, and she is now so grateful that she had the opportunity to live in the US 9and carry the Blue passport), even though she is still proud to be a Filipino. Don’t limit your family’s opportunities just because one way may seem ‘easier” than the other. There’s more to life than ‘quick’ and ‘easy”.

          Or so this old man opines. Godspeed.

      • clifford chapman says

        You need to LISTEN to the advice given. Money is not so easy to come by there trust that my friend. Nice to be on holiday for a few weeks but the daily grind & forthcoming inflation will so dispell your holiday dreams. I’m 67 years old with a monthly income of $1000 USD a month & my wife has her PhD. from CMU in Mindanao & we are worried about funds too. So Be smart & listen up here ! There are no soup kitchens there …. simple stuff no money no food !

        • says

          @ Clifford Chapman:

          So true, so true, Clifford. It’s scary how many people never learn to manage their money, and after they are broke, in debt, and been sitting and waiting 99 weeks on unemployment benefits for the “job that never comes”, Then decide to move to the Philippines. Don’t do it, people, you have no idea how much easier life is for a poor person in the US than it is in the Philippines. You have been warned.

      • Ernest says

        Hello, sorry for the late reply been very busy lately.

        Thank’s for the reply and advice, I should have stated first off that our plan was indeed to bring her here first and we were going to save money for a while before actually making the move to the Philippines. I’m not so ignorant to try and move there with nothing and I know the pay is not good I’ve talked to many of my family members there about it and many of them clear around 200 per month working 14 hours a day 6 days a week. Also I had no plan in taking jobs so to speak from Filipino’s. It would be a Job that I could create and provide services to others. I also have a Psychology degree and certificates in Hypnosis, MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) Bio-Feedback, etc.. and want to give back in ways that I can, and would really like to do some charity work there also to help people in need, even it be a few families here and there. I do not draw money from the government and never have unemployment.

        I make a living enough to get by now, so it’s enough for us to start here and have a decent life. I should apologize for not being clear about first bringing her here and both of us saving together to create some time of business there, I was really just inquiring on places from others peoples experience on safety most of all for my family, and possible business opportunities. Well for me it’s not about “easy” id rather work my fingers to the bone and be happy, than have it easy and be miserable.

        The US is not unattractive to me because of jobs or anything of that nature, I just don’t like the culture here and way of life to be honest. I understand I have to start here with my current situation, but do not believe it’s not impossible for me just because I’m not of retiring age. Look a few post down at the guy who is from the UK who has lived there since 20 years old and seem to be doing just fine.

        Then again I’m not a very materialistic person like a lot of Americans are, it’s just the way the social system has taught people to be around here, your value is based on what you have, status, popularity etc. but I do not buy into the false senses of freedom and being the best country in the world. I for one also do not see people coming here from other countries as stealing our jobs, because the picture of America is painted as a place of freedom for “ALL”, so they have the right to become citizens and work here imo. This country is not for one race and was not created by one, so I do not hold the same beliefs as racist people, or those who think they are just coming to “steal” our Jobs from us. Most of the job losses here are actually due to our government sending them to other countries, not them coming here and stealing them. I just personally do not like this country and never have never will. It is not was it used to be, and is ever falling rapidly and I see it very clearly.

        I also understand no money no food, I send money to my fiance and her family monthly and am glad to do so. Point really being if I have enough to feed my family, and to pay the bills of a VERY simple life, then it is enough for the both of us. I understand some of the comments were made because I left out bringing her here first off and both of us working and saving money. Also this was no vacation to me, nor did I experience culture shock living the way they did, it was more of a life experience in finding what was important for me and could hold fulfillment, I didn’t try to even treat my self to the ways of life here in the states, I wanted to live less, and as they did, I do not feel fair to try and live like I’m some important person with more meaning than they are, and am glad to humble my self to live as they do.

        Travelling, living abundantly, shopping, fancy things all of that really does not matter to me one bit, that is all temporary happiness without fulfillment at least for me, so I know it has a lot to do with perspective.

        Still to say though I do appreciate all the advice from you and the other posters, and of course will listen and take what is said in to consideration, much obliged. Yet still I will have to make the choices based off of what me and my wife to be will want and be happy with and what seems best for us in what we feel are our needs. Best wishes again to everyone, may you all find your happiness wherever you are or want to be.

  15. mike henebry says

    Libmanan: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    (BudM had asked about living in Libmanan, Cam Sur, Luzon, and I wrote this about my experiences in this small farming town. We built a second story on our nephew’s house with a “kano” suite consisting of two bedrooms, a CR and a great room for living and dining that has hot and cold running water, a shower with an enclosure and separate floor drain, and A/C and ceiling fans. Although we spend most of our time downstairs with our nephew’s family we have quite comfortable “oasis” that especially helps with the transition each time we return to the Philippines.)

    The Good: Libmanan is rural, relatively quiet and safe. If you to want to be in a somewhat rural area, but close to conveniences, Libmanan could possible work for you. Libmanan is actually not a bad place to live, but not an interesting place to visit. It is a town of (I believe) about 17,000, and it is where my wife was born and raised and most of our Philippine relatives live. It is relatively clean, free of diesel fumes, and the water and electricity fail only about once per month for only a few hours (which is a much better situation than I see posted on expat blogs), at least in Taban Barangay, where we built our house. The people are quite friendly to me, as I am the only expat in town.

    Libmanan is a short train ride (but takes 40 mins with stops) to Naga City, a large university town and provincial capital, with all the chain restaurants and shopping (including at least three A/C malls, a new SM Mall) and most cultural activities that you would get in any large city in the Philippines. Sure, you can go a lot of places in the Philippines by Jeepny, tricycle, bus, etc., but the roads are often uncomfortable and IMHO, dangerous. This train, the “Bicol Express”, leaves Libmanan every morning at 7 and returns from Naga at 3, so it is easy to spend a day shopping in Naga, have a nice lunch and breathe your quota of diesel fumes. We also take this train to and from Manila; we get an A/C sleeper compartment for about 650 pesos, which is a lot more comfortable than a 12-hour bus ride from Manila.

    Naga has many building supply and furniture stores including Ace Hardware, City Hardware and two Home Depots that served us well as we built our house. There are expats in and around Naga City, and we sometimes meet in the SM Mall.

    The Bad: Libmanan is rural and quiet, with no modern chain stores or restaurants. But, it soon will have a Jollibee, a Seven/Eleven and a branch of Banco de Oro (BDO), where we have our accounts. It is a rice farming community that is not located very near a beach, in the mountains, or in any place scenic – much like a small farming town in the American Midwest (Illinois or Iowa). You may or may not enjoy living close to your relatives. We do enjoy living close by ours since we get along well and all of them are middle class (teachers, nurses, policemen, etc.) and do not constantly want to “borrow” money.

    The Ugly: Like many Philippine towns, large and small, Libmanan’s downtown is not particularly attractive, and its daily “wet” market is downright ugly. However, the new mayor has promised to clean up the market.
    I have tried to give folks an accurate account of life in and around Libmanan. It would be great to have at least one other expat in the town, although, as I say, there are others in the area.

    Please let me know if you need further information, and folks are welcome to visit our house when we are in country, usually only in Jan or Feb.

    • Ernest says

      Thanks for the information! very helpful.. I’ll have to try and visit there one day. I’ll be going in a few days back to Manila, Pagadian, Ditay and Diplahan to spend time with my lady and family.. I so miss it there! best of wishes to you and yours.

  16. says

    Im probably one of the few younger guys on here, im from the UK and 27 years old. Ive been living in the Philippines for seven years now, it was the last country on my around asia 1 year trip but i fell in love with the country and here i am seven years later lol.

    Ive lived in 4 places in the Philippines. Baguio, Boracay, Manila & San Jose Nueva Ecija (province of my GF)

    I spent at least 4-5 years living in Boracay, for me its by far the best. Theres a great expat community there which is important if your a foreigner, infact the expat community in boracay is amazing! i see too many foreigners become sosolated in the Philippines because their wive has suggested a ”GREAT” place to live, but its only great if your a filipino.

    Boracay – has it all, if you want peace and tranquility theres plenty of empty beaches on the island for you. If you want fun, company, lively atmosphere boracay has that too. You get to meet locals, expats and tourists so you will never be bored. Water sports are great and obviously boracay itself is just beautiful, amazing golf course there too. I even made my own guide for boracay

    Baguio – its a beautiful place, i love the fresh cool air of camp john hay, theres not many expats living there for some reason but i think its a great place to live for at least 1 year.

    Manila – been living here the past year, its a lot of fun in manila, so many things to do its just most people dont know all the hidden little gems in the city, fort bonifacio is my daily place to hangout/work/meet people. The polution is scary! me and my gf have a 1 1/2 year old and a another baby on the way so we will definately be leaving the city soon just because of the polution, its disgusting.

    San Jose Nueva Ecija – My girlfriends province, we stayed here for 4-5 months when she was pregnant, you know i never even considered living in a small province in the Philippines, whats the point? Unless its on a beach of course. Her family are very nice, had a very comfortable stay but the have never been so bored in my life, incredibly boring living in a province inland. The highlight of our day would be going to jolibee lol.

    • Ernest says

      Thanks for your post, glad to see that a younger person did post a story of success and being able to make it there at a young age. Also the tips on the places you visited and advice on family living. If you don’t mind me asking what type of work are you doing there? Thanks. Oh the highlight of Jolibee 😀 I kinda liked that lol.

  17. Dick says

    I live in Guadalupe, a Barangay of Cebu City, it is crowded, the traffic can be terrible and even for a guy who has lived most of his life in Arizona it’s hotter than he** here! But having said all that, in the months that I have lived here I am enjoying the proximity to the malls, the airport, the restaurants, markets, etc. The people are friendly and there are enough expats living here so that I don’t feel like an oddity when walking the streets. And funny thing is that the only times I have been “hustled” is by other Americans who ask me for money at the malls, claiming that they lost it all in either a bad business deal or their “girlfriend” cleaned them out. What can I do but give them a few dollars? I am only renting a home in a subdivision at the present time and I have the ability to drop everything and just go, I have a few bucks in the bank, a good military and SS pension combo so money is not an issue (lucky me). I want to travel around the country and get a look at some other areas while keeping Cebu as my base. Baguio is attractive to me because I heard the temps are more to my liking, being some 5000 ft above sea level. I also heard its polluted and crowded there but unless you live in the provinces that is true of any major city in the Philippines so that is not a deterrent. I would be curious to hear what other expats say about Baguio but there is not much info out there from someone like me actually living there. Anyone want to chip in?

  18. KANOY says

    I’ve lived here 7 yrs…1 month in Sampalok Balik-Balik the remainder in Dasmarinas Cavite the advantage of living so close to Tagayray is we have never had a flood–high ground new sewers–and of the estimated number of typhoons in 7 yrs–7×24=168 only 2–Ondoy–Milenyo did any damage here–the wife was from Laguindigan Misamis Orental but we wanted to start life anew–the mayor and senator is fantastic here–newly paved and even painted roads 3 rebuilt bridges–so far 1 traffic light I expect to see more….all in all…this is a good a place as any to die

  19. Jon says

    I have lived in Zamboanga City, Manila and now Subic Freeport.

    Manila – Polluted, Congested, Hassles, Pricey, Western products available (25-50% more than US prices), Avoid the port area and Tondo. Internet reliable (speeds up to 10MB)

    Zamboanga City – Cheap food (Seafood, fruit, etc.), Cheap real estate, Beautiful country. Security becomes primary concern. Congested within city limits. Internet not reliable/low speed. Rolling brown outs

    Subic Freeport – Prices similar to Manila, Clean, Safe, Quiet, reliable power, reliable internet (up to 3MB), great water pressure. Western products available (similar cost to Manila). Closest to living in American Standards. Zero traffic, zero jeepneys, zero hassles

    I have travelled extensively throughout the Philippines and find that most larger cities are congested (Davao, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro). I did like the feel of Dipolog (Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao) and if the Subic Freeport was not an option for me it would rate as my second choice.

  20. Paul W. says

    I’m from the USA and am now retired ! My wife is from Banna. We had to make a choice.. peace & quiet & safety Vs. places most Americans live , lots of variety shops, bars, flooding, ect. We chose Banna and never regretted it ! In 4 yrs never has been flooded, I can take a walk at anytime and be safe . So it depends on what a person wants .

    • Philly says

      Thank you so much for contributing, Paul. Your are in the map now:

      Zoom the map and click on the map pins to see everyone’s description)

      Thanks again. I believe I am the only site operator right now who has things set up so readers can submit their own special places. As you correctly state, the best place ever is the place each person actually wants to be … now the place, necessarily, where the most vocal guys live.

    • Philly says

      Exactly, James. This continual dirge many have of living in the provinces becuase it’s cheaper can be wiped out in one night when you find out there is no decent hospital available, etc.

  21. says

    Thank you Philly for your unbiased answer to my question, it is what I was looking for.
    Philly I could bring my fiancee to Australia but the problem is that she has an 18 year
    old niece that she takes care of and if my fiancee was to come here what would be the
    chances of bringing her niece with her.
    She could not leave her behind to fend for herself because my fiancee is her only family.
    Could you also tell me that if I applied for a visa form both of them what is the average
    time that it takes to be approved.
    Many thanks for your advice Philly.
    David F


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