Manila, Philippines Report of what it's like to live there - 04/21/13
Personal Experiences from Manila, Philippines
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
I have lived in many cities overseas.
2. How long have you lived here?
August 2010 - August 2012.
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
My apartment was very close to the embassy and I could walk. Most people lived in Makati or Fort Benefacio with a commute time of 45 minutes one way. Traffic is always bad in Manila, unfortunately.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
It depends on whether you buy locally-produced food or imported items. American goods are available, but they can be a little pricey.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
I had everything I needed available there.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are many american fast food restaurants and they all deliver for very cheap.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Mosquitoes are everywhere, but if you use repellent they are not too bad.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Through the DPO at the embassy.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
The domestic help is very cheap and very good.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, the U.S. Embassy has a brand-new facility, and there are other gyms available for a fee.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
They are everywhere and I had no trouble using them.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Yes, TV in my apartment was free.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Nothing. Most people speak English, but it is nice to know a few words.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
It is difficult. Not wheelchair accessible.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are safe and cheap. They are metered, but sometimes you need to request them to turn them on.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Manila tends to flood. I was glad to have an SUV so I could get through the flooded streets without harm. I suggest a compact SUV because parking can be difficult with a large SUV.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, I think I paid 80 dollars for a 3 Mb/sec connection.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Sim cards are very cheap, and you can reload with prepaid credits very easily at any Seven Eleven store.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
At work, the dress code is business casual, but a lot of people wear ties. Not many wear suits because the heat is a factor.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
My neighborhood had lots of pickpockets, so beware! But I did not feel in danger, even at night.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Hospitals seem very good and cheap. For any type of surgery, though, I would suggest going to the US or Singapore.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
I would rate it unhealthy. Manila is a very congested and overpopulated city.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Weather is tropical warm year 'round, with a rainy season and a dry season.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Very large. Many Americans and Australians, Japanese and Koreans are based in the Philippines.
2. Morale among expats:
I would say high.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Nightlife is very popular in Manila.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It is great for singles, and I know a lot of families and couples that enjoy the Philippines. The key is to get out of Manila and explore the beautiful Islands.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes, from what I hear. Filipinos do not mind gay or lesbian people.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not that I am aware of.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Scuba diving (which is superb) and traveling to many of the islands.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Scuba diving, exploring the Islands. Lots of nightlife.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Manila is very cheap, you can save a lot of money. There are 7,000 Islands to visit, and domestic flights are very cheap. Gorgeous Islands with white sand beaches. The weather is warm to hot year 'round with a rainy season. Filipinos are very friendly and polite.
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
Larger-size clothes and shoes. It is difficult to find large sizes in Manila.