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Island Living: The Best Locations For Expats In The Philippines

The Philippines, a dazzling archipelago comprised of over 7,000 islands, is a wellspring of natural beauty, rich historical narratives, and diverse cultural traditions. Its tropical weather patterns, affable local residents, and cost of living – typically lower compared to many Western countries – make it a desirable relocation spot for expatriates. This guide offers insights into some of the most sought-after locations in the Philippines that combine high-quality living standards, natural allure, and a range of facilities for expats.

The Filipino Expat Experience

The Philippines stands out in the Southeast Asian region for its distinct amalgamation of indigenous culture and foreign influences due to its history. The country is internationally recognized for its inherent warmth and hospitality, making expats feel at home. English is one of the official languages of the Philippines and is widely spoken, mitigating language barriers that expats often face when moving to a new country. The country’s landscape is a treasure trove of natural attractions, boasting everything from sparkling beaches and verdant mountain ranges to an abundance of biodiversity in its coral reefs.

Makati City: The Urban Jungle

Strategically nestled in the heart of Metro Manila, Makati City shines as the financial nucleus of the Philippines. Its skyline, stippled with majestic skyscrapers, is the headquarters for a plethora of multinational corporations, foreign embassies, and the Philippines’ primary stock exchange.

A hallmark of Makati City is its vibrant, cosmopolitan lifestyle, enhanced by a multicultural atmosphere, largely a result of its diverse expat community. From world-class cuisine to a flourishing arts scene, the city has a multi-faceted charm that appeals to its residents and visitors alike.

The city is segmented into a collection of dynamic districts, each boasting its unique character. Residential sectors are adorned with luxurious condominiums, while commercial areas teem with high-end shopping centers like the Ayala Center, a hotspot for retail therapy, dining, and entertainment. Discover more about Ayala Center’s offerings on their official website.

Gastronomy in Makati is a global affair, with an array of dining options catering to a broad spectrum of tastes. The city’s thriving food scene is a testament to its diversity, boasting everything from traditional Filipino fare to international cuisines. Makati’s nightlife complements its culinary scene perfectly, offering a myriad of options from quiet bars to energetic clubs.

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Art and culture have a special place in Makati. The city houses a number of art galleries and museums, including the Ayala Museum, known for its ethnographic and archaeological exhibits that offer a glimpse into the country’s rich heritage.

The city’s commitment to becoming a global hub extends to ensuring an efficient public transportation system and sustainable urban development. For expats seeking modern urban living, Makati City strikes a perfect balance between work and leisure, business and culture.

For up-to-date information about local amenities, job opportunities, and upcoming events, visit the Makati City government’s official website. Here, you can find a wealth of resources about living and working in this vibrant city.

Bonifacio Global City: The Luxury Enclave

Bonifacio Global City (BGC), tucked away in the district of Taguig, showcases the epitome of urban luxury. BGC is lauded for its thoughtfully planned cityscape, featuring a stunning amalgamation of residential and commercial skyscrapers, cutting-edge art installations, and well-maintained green spaces.

Prominent shopping centers, such as the SM Aura Premier and Market! Market!, serve as high-end retail hubs, offering a diverse mix of luxury brands, entertainment facilities, and fine dining establishments.

The food scene in BGC is a food lover’s paradise, with a vast array of international eateries that cater to every palate. Regardless of whether you crave authentic Filipino cuisine or international gourmet dishes, you’ll find an impressive culinary landscape in BGC.

Nightlife in BGC is vibrant and diverse, featuring a spectrum of upscale bars, lounges, and dynamic clubs that cater to various entertainment preferences. BGC also nurtures a lively arts and culture scene, with venues such as the Mind Museum and the BGC Arts Center, offering a myriad of enriching experiences.

Nature and fitness enthusiasts can take advantage of BGC’s various parks and open spaces, like the Track 30th, a verdant retreat perfect for outdoor exercises and yoga sessions. Visit the BGC’s parks and open spaces page for more details.

Furthermore, BGC’s strategic location and modern infrastructure have attracted numerous multinational corporations and start-ups, paving the way for a wide range of employment opportunities for expatriates.

For a comprehensive understanding of BGC’s offerings, lifestyle, events, and job opportunities, refer to the official website of BGC. BGC’s extensive amenities and state-of-the-art infrastructure make it an ideal location for expats seeking a premium urban lifestyle in the Philippines.

Cebu City: The Queen City of the South

Cebu City, affectionately known as the “Queen City of the South,” stands as the oldest city in the Philippines and carries a storied past and a vibrant cultural heritage. This city offers a relaxed urban lifestyle that contrasts the hustle and bustle of Manila, yet it still boasts an array of modern amenities.

Renowned as the primary domestic shipping port, Cebu City is the epicenter of about 80% of the country’s shipping firms, making it a strategic location for those seeking opportunities in maritime industries.

The city also nurtures a flourishing expat community, offering a warm and welcoming environment to newcomers from around the world. Retail enthusiasts will enjoy world-class shopping complexes such as SM City Cebu, where one can find a plethora of international and local brands.

Food lovers will appreciate the vast culinary landscape in Cebu City. The city is brimming with eateries that serve an array of both local and international cuisines, providing a gastronomic journey that caters to all palates.

Furthermore, Cebu City is a stone’s throw away from some of the Philippines’ most sought-after tourist attractions. Enjoy the pristine white-sand beaches of Mactan Island, explore the historic Basilica del Santo Niño, or soak up panoramic city views from the Tops Lookout.

Living in Cebu City offers a balanced lifestyle that combines the comforts of urban living with easy access to natural beauty and cultural landmarks. If you’re considering a move to Cebu City, visit the Cebu City official website for a wealth of useful information, including local amenities, upcoming events, and guidance on moving to this dynamic city.

Davao City: The Durian Capital

Nestled in the Mindanao region, Davao City stands as a beacon of tranquility and safety within the Philippines. Its reputation for peace and orderliness has led to an uptick in its popularity among expats seeking a comfortable and secure living environment.

Recognized as the “Durian Capital” due to its abundant production of the aromatic durian fruit, Davao City also ranks as the third most populous city in the Philippines. It serves as the central hub of the Metro Davao urban area, an economic powerhouse in the southern part of the country.

Davao City offers an appealing blend of urban amenities and close proximity to nature’s wonders. Shopping enthusiasts will find a treasure trove of retail outlets in premier malls like SM Lanang Premier.

Nature lovers will be captivated by the city’s nearby natural attractions. Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines, offers challenging treks and breathtaking views, while the Philippine Eagle Center provides an unforgettable experience with the country’s national bird.

In addition, Davao City prides itself on its quality healthcare services, vibrant festivals like the Kadayawan Festival, and the world-class durian industry that exports the “King of Fruits” globally.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of life in Davao City, from its culture and traditions to its economic opportunities and public services, consider visiting the Davao City government’s official website. This resource will offer a deeper insight into what it’s like to call this tranquil city home.

Baguio City: The Summer Capital

Baguio City, colloquially referred to as the “Summer Capital” of the Philippines, welcomes expats with its pleasant cooler climate, a stark contrast to the tropical heat prevalent in other parts of the country. Situated in the mountainous region of Luzon, the city affords stunning panoramic mountain views and verdant landscapes that are a delight for nature lovers.

Baguio City is famous for its beautifully curated parks, such as Burnham Park and the Baguio Botanical Garden, which offer leisurely strolls amid lush greenery and a variety of recreational activities. The city’s annual ‘Panagbenga’ or ‘Flower Festival’ is a visual treat that draws crowds to celebrate and appreciate the blooming flower floats and vibrant street dancing.

Further adding to the city’s appeal is its intellectual vibe, courtesy of the several universities located here. Notably, Baguio City has earned the honor of being declared a “creative city” by UNESCO for its dedication to crafts and folk art, further amplifying its cultural richness.

For further insights into what Baguio City offers in terms of local amenities, educational opportunities, job prospects, and lifestyle, the Baguio City official website serves as an extensive resource.

Boracay: The Beach Lover’s Paradise

If a slice of tropical paradise is what you desire, Boracay stands as the epitome of beachside living. Revered worldwide and once crowned the best island globally by Travel + Leisure, Boracay boasts pristine white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, complemented by a vibrant nightlife scene that assures fun after sundown.

Boracay’s appeal extends beyond its natural beauty. The island has progressively evolved into a hub for remote workers and digital nomads, courtesy of the burgeoning co-working spaces and the substantial improvements in internet connectivity. This development means you can seamlessly work with the scenic beauty of the island as your backdrop.

The island offers a variety of activities such as snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, and kiteboarding for water sports enthusiasts. For more serene experiences, beachfront yoga and massage services are also widely available.

Check out this Boracay Island Guide for extensive details about accommodations, activities, lifestyle, and the overall vibe of living in this beach paradise.


The Philippines’ diverse locales offer an array of lifestyle choices for expats. Whether you’re seeking the hustle and bustle of a major city, the calm of a mountainous retreat, or the serenity of beachside living, you’ll find a place that fits your preferences in the Philippines. By researching, visiting, and immersing yourself in the culture and community of these locales, you’ll be better equipped to make a decision that aligns with your lifestyle preferences and needs. Happy island hopping in the Philippines!

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