The Philippines is well known for its awe-inspiring natural beauty, with turquoise waters and lush green flora. The Philippines’s best feature, though, is its warm and welcoming people, who contribute to the country’s cultural richness. Expats moving to the Philippines are enticed by the wonderful quality of life, but just like any expat destination, there are some downsides to living in paradise.
Below is our list of pros and cons of moving to the Philippines.
Lifestyle in the Philippines
+ PRO: Beautiful natural scenery
With more than 7,000 islands and white sandy beaches, the Philippines's striking natural landscape will leave many expats in awe. The Philippines's beaches consistently top the best beaches and islands lists, while the archipelago is also famous for its delicious exotic fruit.
+ PRO: Plenty of outdoor entertainment
Thanks to an abundance of beaches, rock formations and mountains, the Philippines is a haven for nature-loving expats as well as fitness enthusiasts. New arrivals can look forward to a plethora of outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, rock climbing, surfing and sandboarding.
Safety in the Philippines
- CON: High crime rates
Safety in the Philippines is a major concern, with high crime rates and gang activity recorded in Manila. There are also scams targeting tourists and foreigners. Expats should avoid crowded public places and remain vigilant.
- CON: Increased incidence of natural disasters
The Philippines is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. Typhoons are known for leaving behind a trail of destruction during the wet season, while volcanic and seismic activity is also a common occurrence.
Cost of living in the Philippines
+ PRO: Inexpensive groceries and restaurants
The cost of living in the Philippines is generally low. Produce in the Philippines is cheap and fresh since the archipelago has a thriving agriculture industry. The Philippines also boasts fantastic cuisine and a vibrant restaurant scene, with options for every price point. Typically, though, eating out is highly affordable.
+ PRO: Public healthcare is free and private healthcare is low cost
Expats working in the Philippines will be entitled to receive free public healthcare under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). That said, standards in public hospitals vary, so most expats choose to access private healthcare, which is low cost and largely exceptional.
+ PRO: Reasonable accommodation prices
Expats will certainly get more bang for their buck in the Philippines, with many expat-friendly housing options at a lower rate than in European countries or the US.
- CON: Expensive electricity
While accommodation in the Philippines may be budget-friendly, electricity is costly. This is especially the case during the intense summer months when air conditioning is non-negotiable. Expats will also need to account for monthly utilities in their budgets.
Accommodation in the Philippines
+ PRO: An abundance of housing options
Expats moving to the Philippines will be spoilt for choice when it comes to both furnished and unfurnished housing. Accommodation in the Philippines comes in many forms, including apartments, freestanding houses, townhouses and duplexes and luxury condos in gated communities.
- CON: Home security lacks in certain areas
Due to the high crime rates in the Philippines, expats who do not live in gated communities may need to invest in additional home security to reduce the risk of burglaries.
Education and schools in the Philippines
+ PRO: Public schools are free to attend
The Filipino education system is a testament to the Philippines’s diversified history and culture, as it is an amalgamation of its American and Spanish influences. Government-funded public schools are free and instruction is in English or Filipino, making them a viable option for expats who cannot afford the prohibitively expensive international schools.
+ PRO: A wide range of international schools is available
Expat parents who can afford it will have no trouble finding a suitable international school for their children in the Philippines. Though most of the schools are concentrated in Manila, expats will find a range of curricula on offer, including British, American, German, Japanese and French.
- CON: The quality of public education lacks
The standard of public education in the Philippines has long been a source of contention for locals owing to the lack of facilities, large class sizes and the poor pay teachers receive.
Transport and driving in the Philippines
+ PRO: Extensive and reliable public transport system
The public transport system in the Philippines is as diverse as its population. The country has comprehensive and reliable train and bus networks. Jeepneys, a uniquely Filipino mode of transport, are also widely available and affordable. Taxis and e-hailing services are also abundant and efficient.
- CON: Driving can be chaotic and frustrating
The Filipino people have a reputation for being chaotic drivers who rarely follow the rules of the road, making driving in the country a brave yet dangerous choice for expats. Most expats hire drivers to navigate the Filipino roads, some of which are in disrepair. Those who intend to get behind the wheel in the Philippines are encouraged to drive defensively to protect themselves.
Are you an expat living in Philippines?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Philippines. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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