With more than 7,000 islands featuring turquoise waters and lush greenery, the Philippines is a picturesque archipelago and a one-of-a-kind expat destination. The main island groupings are Luzon in the north, the Visayas in the central Philippines, and Mindanao in the south. Expats moving to the Philippines can enjoy everything from island life to ancient treasures and modern urban comforts.
Living in the Philippines as an expat
As idyllic as the Philippines seems, new arrivals may be easily overwhelmed when relocating to the country. This is especially the case for expats moving to Manila or Quezon City, the populated urban areas where traffic is chaotic.
Fortunately, there are many transport options. There are train and bus routes between cities and towns, although flying is often the most convenient way to get around the country. It is also advisable to hire a local driver who understands the roads at first.
Known for their genuine hospitality and welcoming nature, Filipinos can also help smooth the transition for new arrivals. The Philippines has a rich history, with many nations calling it home over the centuries, including Spain, the US, India, China, Aboriginal Australia, Japan and the Arab states. Given its multicultural and multi-ethnic nature, expats will likely experience some elements of culture shock.
While Filipino is the official language, English is spoken widely, and expats should not have a problem communicating with the locals. Many businesses and schools communicate in English, and much of the signage around the country includes English translations.
Expats should, however, be aware of safety concerns. Due to violence and insurgent groups, many foreign governments advise against travel to the southern regions of the Philippines.
Cost of living in the Philippines
The cost of living in the Philippines is reasonably low. Expats are sure to find accommodation to suit their budget and taste – and eating out can also be inexpensive when trying local cuisine. Healthcare is also fairly affordable and excellent. Private medical facilities in major cities have adequate resources, though standards vary in rural areas.
Expat families and children in the Philippines
Raising a family in the Philippines will certainly be an adventure. There is plenty to see and do during newcomers' leisure time, while the country offers schooling options catering specifically for expats.
Most expat parents in the Philippines send their children to private or international schools. There are several across the country, with many located in Metro Manila. Education at these schools is quite costly, so we advise expats working in the Philippines to factor this into their contract negotiations.
With a relatively affordable cost of living, expats will be able to spend their weekends discovering the different islands, lounging on the many beaches or visiting the endless historical sites, galleries and museums.
Climate in the Philippines
Thanks to its tropical and maritime climate, the Philippines has splendid weather throughout the year. The country enjoys hot summers and pleasantly mild winters. Be that as it may, things are not all perfect in this Southeast Asian country, as the wet season often comes with inclement conditions such as typhoons and cyclones.
Relocating to the Philippines will not be without its challenges. But with an open mind and a willingness to immerse themselves in the local culture, expats will soon find themselves calling the country home and staying far longer than they intended.
Population: Approximately 115 million
Major religions: Christianity, Islam
Capital city: Manila
Legal system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Main languages: Filipino and English, along with additional regional languages.
Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat blade attachments and two-pin round plugs are used, as well as type B plugs, which have two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin.
International dialling code: +63
Emergency numbers: 911
Internet domain: .ph
Drives on the: Right
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