Where to Live in the Philippines

Where to live Philippines


What are the Best Places to Live in the Philippines for Expats?

Many expats around the world choose the Philippines as one of the best destinations to live. The country has a diversity of cultures, great landscapes, and friendly people that attracts many expats. Here are some of the best locations expats can have in the Philippines.

Metro Manila

As the bustling capital, Metro Manila offers a blend of modern urban living and cultural experiences. It's home to many big multinational companies, global schools, and a lively nightlife scene. Makati and Bonifacio, Global City districts, are popular among expats due to their cosmopolitan lifestyle.


At the heart of the Visayas region, Cebu stands out with its breathtaking beaches, deep-rooted history, and friendly residents. The nearby Mactan and Bohol islands have even greater chances for blissful escapes. Meanwhile, within Cebu City, a vibrant expat community awaits, offering a mix of comforts and recreational pursuits.

Davao City

Found in Mindanao, Davao City is quickly becoming a favored choice for expats. They can enjoy harmony between city progress and access to natural marvels. With Mount Apo and the nearby Samal Island for adventurous opportunities, the city stands out for its safety and cleanliness.


Commonly known as the “Summer Capital,” Baguio draws in tourists and expats with its cooler weather and picturesque landscapes. The city's calm and laid-back environment allows expats to have the serenity and convenience of urban living.

Subic Bay

Once an American naval base and transformed into a Freeport Zone, this meticulously designed community is renowned for its cleanliness and safety. Expats can enjoy various leisure activities, shopping options, and international dining experiences.

Puerto Galera

If you've always dreamed of a beachfront lifestyle, this coastal town presents a more relaxed and budget-friendly choice. Expats will enjoy its ivory-colored sandy shores, incredible diving spots, and vibrant nightlife.


A small city on Negros Island is often praised as a top retirement spot due to its welcoming vibe, affordable living, and various outdoor activities.


Palawan is famed for its stunning beauty, with the Puerto Princesa Underground River and Bacuit Archipelago. El Nido and Coron are sought-after destinations for expatriates in search of serenity amid these picturesque landscapes.

Expatriates who want to live in the Philippines have many fantastic locations to select as their new residence. Whether one craves the bustling vitality of city life, the serenity of unspoiled beaches, or the camaraderie of local communities, this nation encompasses it all. 

The Philippines extends an invitation with hospitality, vibrant culture, and awe-inspiring scenery for expats to establish a home in this paradise. Ultimately, the perfect expat destination in the Philippines depends on personal preferences. Still, there's a suitable place for everyone to thrive and savor all this incredible country offers.

Cheapest Places to Live as an Expat in the Philippines

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the cheapest places to live in the Philippines as an expat are typically in less developed, rural areas, particularly in provinces away from major cities and tourist hotspots. Some examples include:

Northern Luzon

Provinces like Isabela, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac offer lower living costs than urban centers like Metro Manila. Towns in these areas often have affordable housing and a simpler, less expensive lifestyle.

Central Visayas

Areas in Negros Oriental and parts of Bohol can be more budget-friendly for expats. You can find cheaper housing and living costs in smaller towns.


Some areas in Mindanao, such as Bukidnon or Surigao del Sur, offer a lower cost of living. Expats in these areas may find opportunities to lead a more budget-friendly lifestyle.


This small island province is known for its tranquil atmosphere and relatively lower living costs than popular tourist destinations.

Knowing that the cost of living may change significantly within these places is imperative. Prices may have shifted since my last update, so it's crucial to conduct recent research or consult with local expat communities and online forums to get the most up-to-date information on the cost of living in specific areas in the Philippines. Furthermore, consider that your chosen lifestyle, housing preferences, and personal expenditures will impact your total cost of living as an expat.

Best Beach Towns for Expats to Live in the Philippines

The Philippines boasts numerous stunning coastal towns that can be alluring to expatriates in search of a beachside lifestyle. Some of the best beach towns for expats to consider living in include:


Boracay is a top tourist destination with its world-famous powdery white sand beaches. While it can be bustling with tourists, there are also quieter areas on the island for those seeking a more tranquil beach life.

Palawan (El Nido and Coron)

Palawan is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, and limestone karst formations. El Nido and Coron, in particular, offer a laid-back beach lifestyle with various outdoor activities.


Known for its surfing spots, Siargao has become increasingly popular among expats. It has a relaxed vibe beautiful beaches, and more expats are moving here.


Located in Negros Oriental, Dumaguete is a charming coastal town known for its friendly locals, low cost of living, and easy access to diving spots.

Bohol (Panglao)

Panglao Island in Bohol is a haven for divers and beach lovers. It has a mix of resorts and more affordable options for expats to live in the Philippines.


Often overlooked, Siquijor is a small island known for its enchanting beaches and tranquil ambiance. It's an excellent choice for expats seeking a serene beach escape.

Subic Bay

Subic Bay is not far from Manila and offers a more relaxed coastal lifestyle. It has good infrastructure and is popular among retirees.

Puerto Galera

Just a few hours from Manila, Puerto Galera offers accessible beach living. It's known for its diving spots, lush forests, and vibrant expat community.


A tranquil island in Mindanao is famous for its natural beauty, soothing hot springs, and peaceful ambiance, making it an appealing choice for expats looking for a calm beachside lifestyle.

Bantayan Island

Located in the Visayas region, Bantayan Island offers a laid-back lifestyle with beautiful beaches and a sense of community.

When considering a beach town to live in as an expat, it's essential to visit these areas, assess your preferences, and research the local cost of living, healthcare facilities, and infrastructure to determine which aligns best with your needs and lifestyle. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted the accessibility and conditions in some of these destinations, so it's advisable to check the latest travel and health advisories before deciding.

Can Expats Own a Property in the Philippines?

Expatriates can own property in the Philippines, but there are certain restrictions and conditions to be aware of:

Condominium Units: Expats can own condominium units outright as long as the total foreign ownership of the corporation does not exceed 40%. In a condominium building with many units, a maximum of 40% can be owned by foreigners.

Land Ownership: Foreigners are generally prohibited from owning land in the Philippines. However, they can acquire land through certain exceptions, such as through inheritance (if they have Filipino relatives), a lease agreement, or a corporation with 60% Filipino ownership. It's essential to consult with a lawyer or legal expert in the Philippines to understand the rules and requirements.

Long-Term Lease: If you want to secure land for an extended period, you can enter into a long-term lease contract with a Filipino landowner. Lease agreements can typically extend for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years.

Condominium Act: The Condominium Act of the Philippines allows foreigners to buy condominiums without restrictions, a common option for expats wanting property ownership.

Seeking legal counsel and guidance is crucial when handling property transactions in the Philippines, particularly for foreign individuals. Laws and regulations can change, so staying updated on the latest rules and requirements for property ownership as an expatriate in the Philippines is essential.

Visa Options for Expats in the Philippines

Various visa choices are available to expatriates in the Philippines, tailored to their reasons for residing there. Some of the frequently encountered visa options are:

Tourist Visa: This visa suits expats visiting the Philippines for tourism or short-term purposes. Tourist visas can be extended if needed.

Work Visa: Expats who intend to work in the Philippines need a work visa. This visa typically requires a job offer from a Philippine employer. There are different types of work visas, such as the 9(g) Pre-arranged Employment Visa and the 47(a)(2) Special Non-Immigrant Visa for certain professionals.

Resident Visa: Expatriates who plan to stay long-term or permanently in the Philippines can apply for various resident visas, including:

Marriage Visa: For foreign spouses of Filipino citizens.

Dependent Visa: For dependent children and parents of Filipino citizens.

Special Resident Retiree's Visa: This visa is designed for retirees and expats with a pension. It offers several options, including the SRRV Smile, SRRV Classic, and SRRV Human Touch.

Student Visa: This visa caters to international students who wish to study in the Philippines. It needs an acceptance letter from a recognized educational institution.

Investor Visa: Foreign investors can obtain various types of visas based on their investments in the Philippines. The specific requirements and conditions may vary.

Special Visas: There are specialized visas for specific categories of expats, such as missionaries, diplomats, and employees of international organizations.

Balikbayan Program: This program allows former Filipino citizens and their immediate family members to stay in the Philippines visa-free for up to one year.

It's crucial to check with the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate and consult with an immigration expert or lawyer to determine the most suitable visa option based on your circumstances and intentions for living in the Philippines. Because visa requirements and procedures can evolve, it's crucial to remain informed about current regulations.

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