Destinations For Expats

10 Best Places to Live in the Philippines for Expats

Aside from its picturesque sceneries, the Philippines also boasts its low cost of living. This attracts a lot of expats who want to make the most out of their money. According to an Expat Explorer survey, the Philippines is a haven for expats because of the locals’ family-oriented culture and welcoming attitude. If you’re also planning to retire in PH, the following are some of the best place to live in the Philippines for expats:

1. Cebu City, Cebu

best place to live in the Philippines for expats
Photo Credits – Business World Online

Cebu City is a bustling locality situated in the island province of Cebu. It’s dubbed as the ‘Manila of Visayas’ because of its booming economy, gated communities, and advanced transportation. Unlike Manila, Cebu has the provincial charm where city and urban life converge.

Many expats choose to settle down in Cebu City due to the strong economy and an attractive way of life. This place is also an excellent option for expats who want to start a business for their retirement.

Over the years, Cebu City has welcomed major builders like Megaworld, Ayala, and Alveo. The continuous real estate development also gives expats a lot of options when buying a condo unit.

Moreover, Cebu City boasts an international airport (Mactan International Airport), top schools, hospitals, and a ton of recreational areas. With such diversity, Cebu City is also a great choice to start a family for expats.

Another thing that many expats love about Cebu City is that the beach is less than an hour away. The laidback lifestyle is also a big plus despite being a city.

2. Clark, Pampanga

Clark, Pampanga is located in Central Luzon, north of the capital Manila. It was the home of what used to be the largest U.S. military base outside of America. Although the military base closed in 1991, expats and children of American soldiers made the place a diverse spot for immigrants. There’s no doubt why it became the top retirement place for Americans in the Philippines.

A number of real estate developments have transformed Clark into a modern city. It’s now a business hub, comparable to Makati City, the business district of Metro Manila.

Clark is well-connected to Metro Manila and neighboring provinces like Bulacan and Tarlac. Above all, Clark houses one of the biggest international airports of the country, the Clark International Airport. Over the years, Clark has been emerging as the country’s hub for aviation, tourism, and business. Some experts are also rallying to move the country’s capital to Clark to decongest Manila.

3. Angeles City, Pampanga

best place to live in the Philippines for expats
Photo Credits- Travel News

South of Clark, Angles City is yet another hub for expats. Angeles City is a highly urbanized locality with the addition of the biggest Ayala Land’s project, the Marquee integrated development. It’s a mall with high-rise condominiums. There are also multiple gated communities in Angeles City that suit expats who want to enjoy a quiet and secure life.

Angeles City is just 90 minutes away from Manila, and it’s well-connected to other provinces and localities.

This city also has a low cost of living where you can live comfortably for less than $1,000 a month. In fact, expats who wish to live here can rent a two-bedroom house for just $200 per month.

If you’re an expat who wishes to bring your young family with you, Angeles City will suit you well. It’s home to Westfields International School, which offers a Cambridge curriculum. For recreation, Angeles City has a golf club and dozens of entertainment establishments.

4. Davao City, Davao del Sur

One of the rising expat hubs in the Philippines nowadays is Davao City. It’s located in Mindanao, south of the Philippines, and happens to be the largest city of the island group.

Davao City is about culture, nature, urbanization, and fresh produce. The city managed to maintain its countryside vibe, despite the fast-paced development. Although it’s located in what’s known as the ‘restive’ Mindanao, Davao City is a peaceful and friendly city, especially for expats.

In 2011, Davao was the only Philippine city to grace the Top 100 World’s Fastest Growing City of City Mayor’s Foundation, a London-based organization. It was also dubbed as one of Asia’s most livable cities by Asiaweek magazine.

The best thing about Davao City is that Mount Apo, the highest peak in the country, stretches over the city and neighboring provinces. And thanks to the strategic location of the city, you can enjoy a beach weekend without driving too far.

5. Subic, Zambales

Even before Davao City became a hotspot for expats, Subic has been a long-time pick for many immigrants. As a former U.S. naval base, Subic is no stranger to foreigners. A lot of attention has been given to ‘Amerasians’ in Subic, who are the children of American naval soldiers who were assigned to the locality.

As for expats, Subic is an attractive place due to its laid-back way of life and stunning beaches. You can go to a public beach in Subic every day for just a short drive. In fact, some expats chose to co-own a beachfront property for their retirement. There’s also an economic zone that offers hundreds of job opportunities, even for expats.

Another good thing about Subic is that you can find malls and grocery stores with dollar price tags instead of peso. There’s no shortage of imported goods from America here in Subic, which is a big plus if you don’t want to miss some of your old favorites.

6. Baguio City, Benguet

Photo Credits – Lakad Pilipinas

The summer season in the Philippines can be pretty harsh, with temperatures rising to 41C or 106F. During this time, the locals would go to the City of Pines, also known as Baguio City.

Baguio is located in the province of Benguet, a mountainous area in the northern part of Luzon. It has cool weather all year long, sometimes getting a little freezy during the rainy season. Moreover, Baguio has the highland vibe, a perfect second home if you want peace, quiet, and a laid-back way of life.

One of the highlights of living in Baguio is its fresh produce. Benguet is dotted with dozens of farms, so everything that you’ll get from the market is fresh.

The only downside about settling in Baguio is its distance from Metro Manila. It’s a 4 to 5-hour drive if the traffic is light. Still, such distance makes Baguio a gem away from the noise of the capital.

7. Metro Manila

Metro Manila is the place to be for those who want to enjoy the accessibility of major transport systems, high-end establishments, top schools, and business hubs.

Metropolitan Manila is officially known as the National Capital Region (NCR) and comprises 17 local government units, including the capital Manila. NCR is the center of the country, where major companies were found.

Metro Manila is the perfect place for expats who are still studying since it’s home to the U-belt (University belt). The University belt is an unofficial subdistrict of Manila, where you can find a cluster of universities and colleges. Some of these universities are considered as “The Ivy League” of the Philippines.

The only downside to Metro Manila is the hustle and bustle. It’s a noisy city unless you find a place on the outskirts of the metro. Still, the fact that housing is easier in the capital for those who have the money, this small issue is just a minor sacrifice for expats.

8. Tagaytay City, Cavite

best place to live in the Philippines for expats
Photo Credits – GetYourGuide

If you want the Baguio weather but don’t want to go too far from Manila, Tagaytay City is a good alternative. It’s located in the province of Cavite and boasts a great view of the Taal Volcano.

Tagaytay is the epitome of highland living in the Philippines. It’s dotted with high-end houses, bed and breakfasts, and establishments. Tagaytay has a laid-back vibe, but it remains connected to the Metropolitan Manila. If the traffic flow allows, you can be in NCR in less than two hours.

Over the past years, Cavite is becoming a real estate hotspot. A lot of investors pour their money into the province, especially in Tagaytay. It’s the reason why the city attracts a lot of tourists every year.

For expats planning to retire in the Philippines, Tagaytay City offers a quiet life with a lot of indulgence at your disposal. There’s a lot to enjoy in this city from golf courses, hotels, restaurants, horse-back riding, and more.

9. Laguna

Laguna is a multi-faceted place for expats. You can choose the way of life you prefer, whether it’s countryside, city living, or the best of both worlds. Laguna is a big province, with areas completely rural and laidback as well as modern and bustling cities.

Recently, big real estate companies have been investing in building high-end residential areas, with some located at the slopes of the majestic Mount Makiling.

Despite its lush and green environment, Laguna remains accessible to Manila. It has the National Highway that lets you go around the Poblacion areas or the South Luzon Expressway if you want to go to Manila and other neighboring provinces.

Some of the best areas for expats who want to retire in Laguna is Sta. Rosa and the historic Calamba.

10. Batangas City, Batangas

Photo Credits – HikersBay

Expats who wish to enjoy a resort-like life would surely find Batangas City a paradise. A large portion of this place has coastal areas facing the Verde Passage. This passage has one of the most diverse marine life in the Philippines. It’s the same reason why resorts, beach houses, and tourist establishments are a big hit here.

Batangas offers a provincial life that’s just two hours away from Manila. It’s also a jump-off point to some of the most famous islands in the country, like Puerto Galera and Isla Verde.

Batangas City is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. It’s considered as the industrial port city in the CALABARZON region. With all the trades, services, and amenities in the city, you will enjoy a comfortable and affordable life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is the Philippines safe for expats?

A: A lot of expats feel safe living and staying in the Philippines. However, the country also sees a number of natural disasters, with an average of 20 typhoons each year. But socially and economically speaking, the Philippines is very welcoming of expats.

Q: How much money do I need to live comfortably in the Philippines?

A: The Philippines has a very low cost of living as compared to neighboring Asian countries. You can live comfortably for just $1,200 a month. It already covers your housing, food, utilities, healthcare, taxes, and a few wants.

Q: Can a foreigner own a house in the Philippines?

A: Foreigners can own real estate property, but they can’t own land. They are restricted to buying condominium units since it doesn’t have a land title. Foreigners who are planning to buy a house in the Philippines should first be aware of the legal consequences.

Q: Can I, a foreigner, open a bank account in the Philippines?

A: Yes, you can open an account in the Philippines, even if you’re a foreigner. You just need to present a form of identification as well as an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR). Some banks will ask for an Immigrant Certificate of Registration. The requirements vary per bank.

Q: How long can I stay in PH if I married a Filipina/Filipino?

A: If you married a local, you are eligible to apply for a permanent visa so you can stay as long as you want in the Philippines. You should meet the requirements of the Bureau of Immigration to be granted one.

Final words

Finding the best place to live in the Philippines for expats starts by knowing what kind of life you want to enjoy. The Philippines is no stranger to foreigners, being occupied and colonized by three different countries in the past. As long as you are friendly and honest, the Filipinos will open you with open arms.

What do you think of the places I listed here? Let me know below!


  1. Gordon Lucas December 11, 2020
  2. sirpo September 28, 2021

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