Known for its low cost of living, beautiful white sand island beaches, and nice year-round weather, the Philippines has become a favorite destination amongst digital nomads and expats in recent years.
While moving to the Southeast Asian country definitely comes with its advantages, it isn’t for everybody, and it is essential to weigh the pros and cons of living in the Philippines before making the leap.
For some, the Philippines’ promise of year-round warm weather and laid-back vibes is just too good to pass on, especially considering the affordability of living in the country. For others, this tropical corner of paradise is marred by natural disasters, crowded cities, and high levels of poverty.
The ultimate question you need to ask yourself before making the move is whether the advantages outweigh the negatives. I have created this list of the pros and cons of living in the Philippines to help you make an informed decision on whether or not to make the move.
A Quick Overview & Comparison
|Pros of Living in The Philippines||Cons of Living in The Philippines|
|Low Cost of Living||Crowded Cities|
|Beautiful Beaches and Landscapes||Earthquakes and Typhoons|
|Year-Round Warm Weather||High Air Pollution Levels|
|Friendly People||High Crime Rate|
|Great Public Transportation||Poor Driving Conditions|
The Pros of Living in the Philippines
1. The Extremely Affordable Cost of Living
By far one of the biggest advantages of living in the Philippines is the country’s extremely affordable cost of living compared to most Western countries.
A single-bedroom apartment within the Manila city center can be rented for about 300 USD per month, while a similar apartment outside the city center can be found even cheaper.
Beyond rent, common services and products are also often much cheaper in the Philippines than in other countries, including such commodities as groceries, eating out at restaurants, and transportation.
A single person moving to the Philippines can expect to spend an average of about 550 USD a month living in the country. Meanwhile, a small family of four can expect a cost of living of about 1900 USD per month.
2. The Friendly Locals
Another benefit of making the Philippines your home is the warm and friendly people that live there. The last thing you want when you move somewhere new is to feel out of place.
Luckily, this is never the case when living in the Philippines, with the locals being known as some of the most welcoming people in the world.
Embracing a festive and community-oriented culture, the Filipino people are often open to accepting outsiders into their local societies and will typically greet foreigners with a polite “magandang umaga (good morning)” as you pass them on the streets.
3. Year-Round Warm Weather
Promising a tropical climate, the Philippines’ year-round warm and sunny weather is another of the country’s most prominent appeals to expats moving to the area, especially for those coming from a region with a cooler climate.
While the climate slightly varies between the islands, the Philippines typically promises comfortable conditions, with Manila boasting year-round temperatures averaging in the high 20s to low 30s degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, the Philippines features a wet and dry season, which promises a combination of pristine beach weather and verdant landscapes.
4. Beautiful Beaches
Speaking of beautiful beaches, the Philippines’ coastal havens are definitely another of the biggest advantages of moving to the country.
There are thousands of breathtaking shorelines scattered throughout the Philippine archipelago’s over 7,000 islands, each promising unique experiences and views. Boracay Beach, Samal Island, and El Nido are some of the most famous beaches, but untouched stretches of private shorelines are just waiting to be uncovered by expats and new arrivals.
5. The Food
If you are a foodie, then Filipino cuisine is definitely going to be a plus when deciding whether or not to live in the Philippines. Favoring chicken, pork, and beef in their dishes, Filipino cuisines combine Southeast Asian and Spanish influences for a variety of different flavors.
However, if you aren’t a meat lover, the Philippines also offers a wide selection of alternatives, especially if you are staying in a larger city. Vegan, halal, and kosher restaurants can all be found in areas with international communities, including Manila, Cebu City, and Makati.
6. English is Widely Spoken
Another big plus in providing a comfortable move to the Philippines is the country’s extensive use of the English language. Almost everyone in the country can speak English, making it fairly easy to communicate with the locals.
Additionally, most street signs, government forms, and businesses are conducted in English, making navigating within the country a breeze.
While English is widely accessible, visitors moving to the country should learn some basic Filipino, as it goes a long way in making a good impression on the locals.
7. Has an Established Expat Community
While it may not seem particularly important, the Philippines’ existing expat community is by far one of the country’s biggest pros for moving here.
While the Filipino people are very warm and welcoming, sometimes you just need to connect with like-minded people going through the same lifestyle changes as yourself.
Whether you are feeling homesick or looking to network with other nomads and expats, there are thousands of other foreigners calling the Philippines home that you can connect with.
8. Breathtaking Nature and Wildlife
While we’ve already talked about the Philippines’ beautiful beaches, the island nation also promises a diverse natural landscape complete with lush rainforest and rugged mountains just waiting to be explored.
Whether climbing to the peaks of Mayon Volcano, trekking through the Masungi Georeserve rainforests, or diving to some of the world’s most vibrant reefs, the Philippines promises a world of adventures and weekend trips for your move to the country.
9. Accessible Public Transport
Another pro of living in the Philippines is the public transport networks. From buses and trains to the local mini buses known as jeepneys, the Philippines makes getting around the country easy, not to mention super affordable.
However, it is worth mentioning that public transportation in the Philippines is often very crowded and can often result in uncomfortable experiences and interactions if you are in tight quarters with strangers.
Luckily, more private transportation options, such as the Grab e-hailing app and taxis, are also very affordable and widely accessible.
The Cons of Living in the Philippines
10. You Cannot Own Property as an Expat
One of the biggest drawbacks of making a long-term move to the Philippines is the inability to own property in the country as an expat. Still, there are other ways you can make your home in the Philippines.
Since the law prohibiting expat property owners is limited to land ownership, foreigners are still permitted to own a condominium, given that 60% of the building’s units are owned by Filipino citizens.
Additionally, expats can also purchase or construct a house on a long-term lease agreement with a Filipino landowner.
Still, the inability to purchase property in the Philippines as an expat can be a massive negative for those looking to make a permanent or long-term move to the country.
11. Crowded Cities
If big crowds aren’t your thing, you are going to want to avoid moving to the Philippines’ big cities. While Manila, Makati, and Pasay City are home to some of the country’s most prominent expat communities, they are also home to some of the highest population densities in the world.
In fact, Manila, the country’s capital, boasts a whopping 73,920 people per square kilometer, meaning aspects of ordinary daily life such as traffic, noise levels, and public transportation are often loud, uncomfortable, and congested.
12. High Levels of Poverty
Poverty is a huge problem in the Philippines, with the average family income being just over 2,600 USD per year.
While this may not affect expats directly, it does affect their everyday lives around them. As a result of the poverty levels, things such as scams, unmaintained infrastructure, and dirty streets are very common in the country’s urban centers.
It is important to keep in mind these drawbacks of the country’s high poverty levels when evaluating the cons of moving to the Philippines.
13. Threats of Terrorism and High Crime Rate
Probably the biggest drawback of moving to the Philippines is the risk of terrorist attacks. Safety can be a serious concern when living in the country, particularly in busy urban centers.
While terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in the country, areas of most concern are Manila City, Mindanao, and the Sulu archipelago. Government agencies and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have taken steps to combat the country’s terrorist threats, but these attacks and foreigner abductions are still not uncommon.
14. The Threat of Natural Disasters
Along with its terrorism attacks, another safety concern to those deciding to live in the Philippines is the risk of natural disasters, with typhoons and earthquakes being common in the country.
More than 100 earthquakes are known to affect the country each year. However, the most serious threats are that of typhoons, which consist of major floods and strong winds. While these can occur throughout the year, they are much more abundant during the wet season, which runs from April to November.
15. Traffic Conditions and Road Risks
Roads in the Philippines are notoriously chaotic, which can be a huge mark in the con column if you are someone who likes to drive around.
Partially because of the country’s overcrowding problem and partially due to poor infrastructure, roads in the Philippines are often congested with bumper-to-bumper traffic. And those that aren’t are full of reckless drivers weaving their way hecticly through the streets.
Road rules are practically non-existent in the Philippines, and people should definitely plan on sticking to public transport or private drivers if moving to the country.
16. Can Be Too Hot
While the year-round warm temperature is one of the biggest marks in the pros column, it can actually be a bit of a drawback too, with the dry season often experiencing elevated temperatures unbearable if you are not used to it.
April and May in particular boast the month’s warmest temperatures, which are often made worse by the high humidity levels that occur in the Philippines throughout the year.
17. High Levels of Air Pollution
Another safety risk to expats looking to move to the country is the high levels of air pollution that plague the Philippines’ larger cities. In fact, according to reports conducted by the World Health Organization, Manila’s levels of airborne lead particles are three times higher than the acceptable levels.
While the Philippine’s air quality index isn’t quite at the levels to pose serious health risks, it can cause reactions and concerns for expats with preexisting conditions.
18. Spotty Internet Connection
One of the biggest cons for a potential expat deciding whether or not to move and work remotely from the Philippines is the country’s spotty internet connection.
While it isn’t everywhere in the country, the Philippines’ internet connection is unreliable at best, which can pose a problem if you are relying on it for an income.
When moving to the Philippines, you should expect periods of slow download speeds and connectivity issues to interrupt your workday.
What are the Safest Areas in the Philippines?
While terrorism is a threat throughout the country, the safest cities to move to in the Philippines are Davao, Bohol, Makati City, and Cebu City.
What are the Unsafest Areas in the Philippines?
The unsafest areas that you should absolutely avoid moving to when living in the Philippines are the Sulu archipelago, Quezon City, the Jolo Province, and Basilan.
What are the Downsides of Living in the Philippines?
Crowded cities, natural disasters, high crime rates, and the threat of terrorist attacks are just some of the downsides of living in the Philippines.
Are there Sharks in the Water in the Philippines?
The Philippines is home to over 200 species of sharks and rays, making it a fantastic setting if you enjoy exploring underwater biodiversity but not so great if you fear aquatic predators.
What is the Cost of Living in the Philippines?
The cost of living is extremely affordable in the Philippines, with average monthly expenses being about 550 USD for a single traveler. Meanwhile, a family of four can expect to pay about 1900 USD per month while living in the country.