Expat life, work and retirement in the Philippines

Expat life, work and retirement in the Philippines

Expat life, work and retirement in the Philippines

Manila is a fascinating destination for expatriates, whether arriving to take up a new job, getting settled into an active retirement or hoping to start a new business.

The Filipino capital is a mix of everything necessary for an upscale Western lifestyle, along with local enclaves set between skyscrapers and the spires of Catholic churches and poverty-stricken districts alive with children and noise. Everyone is warm, friendly and helpful, and most Filipinos speak easily understood English, a rarity in Southeast Asia. A lack of reliable infrastructure, decent roads and erratic transport options either lend spice to the Manila experience or drive expats to despair.

The country’s 7,000-plus islands, abundant beaches, reefs and scenic beauty are now attracting retirees, digital nomads and expat professionals from across the world. Manila’s expat community is huge, racially diverse and scattered across a number of districts including Ortigas, Makati and Alabang. Accommodation is easily arranged, with using a real estate agent the best way, although incomers need to ensure their needs are understood in full. Apartments range between 20,000 to 50,000 pesos a month, with luxury poolside villas costing 500,000 a month, seemingly expensive but providing privacy and security.

Shopping is easiest in Manila’s massive malls, stacked with foodstuffs from across the world as well as everything that’s needed to set up a home. Familiar Western brands are easily available at a price, but the cost of living is refreshingly low with the exception of the city’s expensive electricity. Getting away from it all on weekends is easily done, with Anilao’s beaches superb for scuba-diving and Puerto Galera’s gleaming white beaches and azure seas an unbelievable sight. Surfers will love Siargao, a recent addition to favourite surfing haunts worldwide.

For less active weekends in Manila, there’s a great choice of fine dining with more than one glass of excellent wine, and the city’s Spanish restaurants remind diners of the Philippines’ Spanish legacy. If you’re celebrating at home with friends, a roasted pig with crispy skin is the way to go and can be delivered fresh-cooked to your door. All in all, although Manila and the Philippines are as yet somewhat alternative destinations for living, working and retiring, the country has a great deal to offer for those who’re happy to experience a totally different lifestyle than in the more usual expat destinations.

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