Manila, Philippines Report of what it's like to live there - 09/18/15
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, previously Djibouti, Peru, Pakistan, and Qatar.
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?
Northern Virginia. I've taken Air China and Korean Air. I prefer Air China because of the 1 hour layover in Beijing opposed to the 6 hour layover in Korea.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Private sector / Engaged to a Filipina.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
SMDC High rise condos.
Nice homes in sub-divisions.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Cheap in comparison to the USA. No fresh milk here. Most Asians are lactose-intolerant.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Minor creature comforts. Pillows etc...
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
All American restaurants. Japanese and Korean available.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Not many just the usual coaches and roaches.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
DHL or embassy/ most people use email or Facebook for letters.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Very cheap. Like 4-5k pesos a month or to US$80-100/per month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes. Most are 60-80 pesos a day or $2 per day.
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?
Works great here for most purchases.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
A little will help to make purchases.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes and no. It depends, however Philippines is handicap friendly.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Affordable yes. Usually US$1 or less. Safe no and yes. Since, traffic is usually slow 20mph its safe.
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?
small car will do. Gas saver or Suv. 1 liter of gas is 65 cents.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
buy a local sim
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?
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?
Yes. Teaching English is an option or consultant to tech companies.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Petty theft and burglary/robbery. Use common sense and you should be fine.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Air quality in Manila is low
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?
The air quality is low. The Particulate Matter in Manila is very bad. I recommend wearing a mask if you ride public transportation.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Very hot during the daytime. Many Pinoys carry umbrellas to block the sun and prevent themselves from getting darker.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Very good. Didn't use but most schools teach in English.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Available. Never used.
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 never used them.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
No. Basketball and volleyball are available. Filipinos are not generally athletic people/culture.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Huge expat community all over the place. Mostly former military.
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?
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Great city for all of the above. Filipinos are family oriented and very open to taking foreigners.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes. Many gays in Manila and a very open gay culture/club scene. Just watch their TV shows and you'll notice the most popular TV show host are transgender. Go figure.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Yes. As with most of Asia the darker you are the worse people treat you. The Philippines is no exception. I imagine people of African descent and people with dark-skin such as Indians or Pakistanis are pre-judged by the locals who base all their opens from popular American movies. Go figure!
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Partying, clubs and Filipinas openness to date foreigners.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Many places to travel. Boracay and Cebu have great beaches.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
This city and country is very cheap. You can get most western creature comforts.
10. Can you save money?
Yes. US$1,000 per month and you will live like a king here.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Wife or girlfriend. Just kidding :-)
4. But don't forget your:
Protection sunscreen etc...
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Jose Rizal national hero
7. Do you have any other comments?
Great post that many fight over.