12 Reasons Why Expats Love To Live In The Philippines

live in the Philippines - a photo of an expat woman riding a jeepney

If you’re looking to live in the Philippines, let’s get one thing clear: it’s going to be an incredible ride! I’m talking about picture-perfect white sand beaches, a super friendly vibe, and some of the most affordable living you’ll find anywhere. Of course, I was born and raised here, so take my excitement with a grain of salt.

Listen, I won’t lie – living in the Philippines as an expat is a bit challenging, too. You’ll tackle the occasional confusing government forms and stare in awe (or slight horror) at Manila traffic, but that’s the whole fun of it, right?

That’s why I’m here to be your insider guide! We’ll figure out where to settle (city buzz or island chill?), how to get around, and all the ways to live your best life on a budget. You might even learn some Tagalog along the way – it’s the best way to get to the heart of Filipino life. Ready to dive in? Let’s do this!

1. The Warm Embrace Of The Philippines

Picture it’s your first day as an expat here in the Philippines, barely off the plane, and you’re already getting smiles from everyone. There’s real “Mabuhay!” energy all around—even the grumpy-looking security guard might surprise you with a friendly nod.

That’s the thing about Filipinos: hospitality is in our blood. We’ll ask you where you’re from and if you have eaten (because food is life!) and even invite you over for a spontaneous karaoke session at our local neighborhood hangout.

Don’t be fooled – it’s not just about being polite. We Filipinos genuinely love connecting, and there’s a strong community vibe here.

Neighbors might pop by with a plate of homemade treats like puto (steamed rice cakes), or if you look lost, someone will probably go out of their way to help you find the nearest jeepney stop.

It’s that “bayanihan” spirit I mentioned, where everyone pitches in. Before you know it, the Philippines starts to feel like a giant, friendly neighborhood!

reasons to live in the Philippines - a photo of expats with a Filipina

2. It’s So Affordable To Live In The Philippines

Okay, let’s talk money because this is where the Philippines really shines. I won’t sugarcoat it: salaries here aren’t the highest, but guess what? You don’t need a crazy income to live comfortably.

A decent one-bedroom apartment in a nice, safe part of Manila like Makati or Bonifacio Global City might cost you around $300-$500 a month. Compare that to your major cities back home!

Groceries? Way cheaper, especially if you shop at local markets and go for delicious, fresh produce. A week’s worth of fruits, veggies, and meat shouldn’t set you back more than $30.

Eating out is ridiculously affordable, too. Think flavorful Filipino street foods for a dollar or two (don’t miss the isaw!) or a sit-down meal at a casual place like Jollibee or Mang Inasal for under $10. You could even splurge on the occasional fancy restaurant and still feel like you’re getting a bargain.

Nights out? A local beer like San Miguel will run you just about a dollar, and there’s always free entertainment – Filipinos love their live music!

3. The Language Advantage

Here’s a fun fact: the Philippines is one of the biggest English-speaking countries in the world! Sure, we have our own quirks (“comfort room” means bathroom!), but for the most part, you won’t have that lost-in-translation feeling.

And did you know that signs are in English everywhere in the Philippines? So, most expats like you will understand them, which makes running errands way less of a headache.

Don’t get me wrong, learning some Tagalog is awesome, but you’re not starting from scratch. Imagine how much harder it would be if you had to master a new language just to get groceries! 

Here, English is your bridge. You’ll pick up Tagalog phrases along the way, but those first few months are smoother, which makes a huge difference when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

living in the Philippines - friends toasting and celebrating at a white sand beach

4. A Tropical Paradise At Your Doorstep

The pictures don’t lie—the beaches in the Philippines are breathtaking. We’re talking about places like White Beach in Boracay, known for its super-fine sand, and El Nido in Palawan, with dramatic limestone cliffs and crystal-clear lagoons.

But let’s get adventurous—hop on a ferry to lesser-known islands like Siquijor or Camiguin. There, you’ll experience deserted beaches, hidden waterfalls in the jungle, and the perfect hammock spot under palm trees.

And the thing is, adventures aren’t limited to the coast! Hike up Mt. Pinatubo, a volcano with a stunning crater lake, or explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site rice terraces of Banaue – a centuries-old marvel.

Short on time? Even near the capital city of Metro Manila, hiking trails with fantastic views, like the Pamitinan in Montalban Rizal, are just a short drive away. The best part? Travel within the Philippines is super affordable, which makes weekend escapes a no-brainer!

5. There Are Many Expat Communities In The Philippines

Making a move anywhere is tough, which is why the Philippines’ expat communities are a lifesaver. Big cities like Manila (especially Makati, the country’s financial hub, and Bonifacio Global City, with its sleek vibe), Cebu City, and Davao City have a thriving expat scene. Join Facebook groups like “Philippines Expats” and attend meetups on sites like Meetup.com, and suddenly, you’ll find your crew.

From helping you find reliable doctors to sourcing your favorite snacks from back home, these folks become your lifeline. Plus, it’s a social whirl!

Think beach trips, barbecues at someone’s condo with a pool, and plenty of laughs. If you’re a parent, there are private, public schools, and international schools with curriculums from various countries, ensuring a smooth transition for your kids.

how to live in the philippines as a foreigner - elderly female smiling with young female doctor

6. You’ll Have Different Healthcare Options

Let’s be practical: health matters wherever you live. In the Philippines, as an expat, you have options too!

The public healthcare system, PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation), is basic but very affordable. But, for many expats like you, private hospitals are the way to go.

Facilities like St. Luke’s Medical Center or Makati Medical Center rival what you’ll find in Western countries – modern tech, English-speaking doctors… the works. And even then, it’s significantly more affordable than back home.

Most foreign nationals invest in a private health insurance policy. Do some research, as there are great local and international providers, and plans vary to suit your needs.

Worried about pre-existing conditions? Talk to an insurance broker specializing in expat needs. The bottom line is that healthcare in the Philippines is good quality and won’t break any expat’s bank.

7. City Living Vs Island Life

As a native Filipino, I can say that life here offers a spectrum of experiences for any expats planning to live in the Philippines. In Metro Manila, for example, you’ll experience traffic gridlock (a 10km trip during rush hour easily turns into a 2-hour ordeal!) alongside swanky malls like Rockwell Center in Makati, which sell designer brands.

Interspersed with these are tiny sari-sari stores (those cute corner shops where locals buy everything from shampoo sachets to a single egg).

Outside the big cities, the tempo slows dramatically. In a beach town like El Nido, Palawan, your biggest concern might be choosing which hammock has the best sunset view.

A photo of a foreign woman on a public transportation living in the Philippines as an expat.

8. Ride Jeepneys The Filipino Way

Getting around is another good reason why expats want to live in the Philippines! Jeepneys, those iconic, colorfully painted stainless steel jeeps, are king of the road. A short ride costs around 10-15 Philippine pesos (that’s less than $0.50!).

For longer hauls, air-conditioned buses (like Victory Liner) offer decent comfort, and a Manila to Baguio trip might cost about 500 pesos ($9). Or, use Grab (the Southeast Asian Uber equivalent) to rent cars or even motorbikes of ANGKAS (a motorcycle ride hailing company) for zipping through traffic.

Exciting news: Manila’s MRT (train system) is expanding! The new Metro Manila Subway project is underway and promises to transform commutes in the coming years!

9. Internet Speeds From City To Coast

Internet connectivity varies drastically. In capital cities, fiber plans from providers like Converge ICT and PLDT ensure decent speeds for streaming and remote work. Expect to pay around 1500-2500 pesos ($26-$44) a month for a 50mbps internet.

In remote islands of the Philippines, speeds might be snail-paced, so manage expectations. Sometimes, that stunning beach view is worth the occasional buffering!

10. Enjoy The Classic Dishes And Street Food Delights

Speaking of joy, let’s talk about food! Adobo is a must, but expect many variations across the country. Basically, it’s usually a garlicky, vinegary braise of chicken or pork.

Lechon (whole roasted suckling pig) is a celebration staple, and its crispy skin is pure heaven. In Pampanga, sisig is king – a sizzling plate of chopped pork bits, onions, and chili peppers.

Street food is dirt cheap and delicious: try isaw (barbecued chicken intestines, surprisingly tasty!) for about 10 pesos ($0.18) a stick. When comfort food cravings hit, cities offer various flavors, from authentic Korean BBQ joints in Koreatown, Manila to wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas at Amare La Cucina in Baguio.

Group of different people volunteering at a foodbank for needy people.

11. Natural Disasters: No Need to Panic, Just Plan

As you may know, the Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the typhoon belt, and earthquakes sometimes happen. But here’s the deal: Filipinos have this in the bag. The Philippine government agency PAGASA issues storm warnings with color-coded alerts, and communities drill regularly.

My advice? Don’t stress, just be prepared. During the wet season (June-Oct), check the PAGASA website daily. Have a typhoon emergency kit ready (bottled water, non-perishables, flashlight, etc. – there are checklists online). When you hear those storm signals, follow local protocols, and you’ll be absolutely fine.

12. Air Quality

Look, Manila air isn’t the freshest. In fact, it’s the most polluted part of the Philippines. All those cars and factories add up, especially during peak traffic hours.

If you have sensitivities, it’s good to know your options. Head up to Tagaytay (a 2-hour drive from Manila) for stunning Taal Volcano views and a serious dose of clean air.

Or go full beach mode! Towns like San Juan in La Union, Baler in Aurora province, and Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro have awesome beach vibes, and those sea breezes work wonders.

Visas Matter For Expats To Live In The Philippines

Okay, I promise, no visa bureaucracy talk, but I can’t leave you hanging! The Philippines has a few expat-friendly visa options. The most popular is the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV). It’s got age requirements (50+) and a deposit system of $50K for ages 35+, but the perks are nice.

Do your own digging on the Philippines Retirement Authority website—they’re the official visa people. My advice? Start this process way in advance because paperwork takes time anywhere in the world!

Useful Tagalog Phrases Expats Need To Learn

Don’t worry; you don’t need to be fluent in Tagalog to live in the Philippines. But a few words in Tagalog and some basic phrases go a long way! Use these vocabularies to get around, order food, and make new friends.

These Filipino phrases are a good start for expats like you who plan to live in the Philippines. But what if you want more? Then try the Ling app! It’s a fun and effective language app that helps you master 60+ languages easily. You can get it from Google Play and the App Store and use it for free!

Are You Ready To Live In The Philippines?

Okay, I’ll admit it: the Philippines isn’t perfect. You’ll battle jeepney traffic, get lost in translation sometimes, and maybe even miss a good burger once in a while.

But hey, that’s half the fun! This place will make you laugh, teach you patience, and fill your days with unforgettable moments.

So, if you want a place where smiles come easy, every day is a mini-adventure, and your savings last longer, then you gotta check out the Philippines! Living here isn’t just about a new address – it’s about embracing a whole new rhythm, a whole new vibe. And guess what? You’re gonna fall in love with it!

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