Manila, Philippines Report of what it's like to live there - 09/17/14
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?
No, Central America and Eastern Europe.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
West coast USA/ 24 hours.
3. How long have you lived here?
2 years. 2012-2014.
4. 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?
Most houses need constant up-keep meaning carpenters and such are at your house weekly. Roofs leak, drainage is poor and lots of houses flood. Commutes are horrendous!!
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Twice as much as the U.S.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Brown sugar but mostly things are available. You just have to buy them when you see them.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Everything is available and it is a little more pricey than the U.S. McDonald's, Wendys, KFC, Cold Stone, PF Changs, Outback to name a few.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Lots of mosquitos and mosquito borne illnesses, ants, roaches.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Lots of help available about US$15/day for maid services or gardener. Drivers are also very common for about US$300/month.
3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Catholic, Mormon, Jewish.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
English is fine.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are safe and cheap. I've heard buses and trains are very crowded with long lines but they are cheap also.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes but it's not super fast.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Fairly easy - just ask someone about plans in your neighborhood.
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?
Vets come to your house and make life simple. Care is cheap and I have found it to be very good. Kennels are fairly inexpensive and well kept; also and no quarantine is needed.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
So many. Lots of orphanages and local government places to donate time and supplies. Also animal shelters.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Fairly casual. A barong can be substituted for a suit.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes, in our time here 2 Americans have been murdered (one diplomat).
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Mosquito borne illnesses; medical care is good, not great.
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?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Rainy, hot, humid.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Lots of schools to choose from and most people can find what they are looking for and end up happy. The most popular school is ISM and the commute for most students is 30-45 minutes by bus.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
I've heard Brent is the best.
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?
Yes, I think inexpensive.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes both in the community and at school.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large expat community and morale seems high.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Eating out, movies are cheap.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Not if you enjoy the outdoors.
4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Flip flops year round, travel to Asian countries, cheap household help.
7. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Mountains are very hard to get to. Hiking and parks are fairly non-existent.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Umbrella, flip flops, car parts such as tires, favorite holiday treats.