The Philippines has long been a popular destination among travelers and nomads looking for an affordable country to move to. Friendly, English-speaking locals, breathtaking scenery, not to mention the low cost of living, all make the Philippines a very appealing choice. Many only consider Manila whenever thinking of the country. Still, the truth is, the capital city is getting more and more crowded. In contrast, other smaller cities around it are equally or more beautiful, full of life, and more family-friendly. Manila also isn’t the only place where you’ll find eco hotels and luxury villas! If you’re wondering about where to live in the Philippines, check out this post. Here, we’ve listed the best places to live in the Philippines, from lush and exotic Tagaytay City to coastal Subic.
Don’t know where to go, what to do for the weekend? Head to Tagaytay! Located in the province of Cavite, Tagaytay City is a hidden gem south of Manila. The landscape in and around Tagaytay is breathtaking, with Taal Lake and Taal Volcano situated south from the city and Manila Bay an hour-and-a-half drive away. The city itself is full of nature, with parks and green ridges. At the same time, the restaurants and shopping centers are built around the lush vegetation. The volcano remains the main attraction of the area. Travelers can also come here to visit the many churches, immerse in Filipino culture, eat the local food, and explore this natural paradise.
If I were to select a place to reside, Tagaytay would rank among my top choices due to its advantageous location, just a two-hour drive from Manila. Furthermore, its temperate climate, minimal pollution, and enduring provincial ambiance make it exceptionally appealing. However, some individuals express concerns about living here due to the presence of Taal Volcano.
Baguio City is not only a great honeymoon spot, but it’s also a good place to live in the Philippines for its outdoor adventure, exotic cuisine, and local culture and history. The mountain town is a popular summer destination for its cooler weather and variety of outdoor activities, from strawberry picking to boating on the lake. Baguio City is great for families with children as it features lots of parks, including Burnham Park, Mines View Park, and Wright Park. Other fun activities you can do here include ziplining, trekking, and ghost-hunting tours.
Owning a vacation home in Baguio is a dream of mine. I hold a deep affection for everything about this place - its climate, the warmth of its people, the relaxed pace of life, the charming houses - it's all incredibly enchanting. I can easily envision myself never running out of activities, whether it's sipping coffee while gazing out the window, or indulging in the pleasure of savoring fresh, locally sourced produce regularly. Baguio has a way of making everyday moments truly special.
Home to skyscrapers and luxury hotels, Makati is another great city in the Philippines to live in. It is the country’s financial hub and hosts multinational companies, offering lots of business and job opportunities, making it excellent for a long-term commitment. Living in Makati, you’ll also be close to a rich and diverse shopping scene and a multicultural, vibrant lifestyle. Apart from business and shopping, the city is a great place for foodies to try various authentic local dishes. Many locals also come here for a fun staycation due to its proximity to parks.
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Lipa City in Batangas is one of the up-and-coming cities in the Philippines that offers a great quality of life. With Manila becoming overcrowded in recent years, Lipa City is an excellent alternative as a place to live. The city is close to Manila, yet is more relaxed and has a laid-back vibe. It boasts a rich and diverse food scene, scenic vistas, and colorful local culture. The province of Batangas has seen a boom of shopping centers, restaurants, and theme parks so that entertainment options are plentiful.
Bacolod is one of the most family-friendly cities in the Philippine and is a place with a great local community along with up-and-coming suburbs. Also known as the City of Smiles, Bacolod boasts a rich history, culture, and a flavorful food scene. It is very welcoming, not to mention much more affordable than busy Manila. Locals love food and you can see that in each local restaurant, where you’ll return to order their staple desserts and chicken dishes.
Iloilo City is all about sustainable, affordable living and flavorful food. The first thing people coming to Iloilo City notice is the sense of community and how kind and welcoming the locals are. The roads are paved and look extremely well for the countryside region, making traffic fluid and swift. Surrounding the city are a variety of exotic white-sand beaches that will surely have you spending most of your time outdoors.
A coastal city and a commercial hub, Davao City is one of the safest places to live in the Philippines. For this reason, it’s a great choice for living in the country. With Mount Apo on one side and pristine beaches plus the sea on the other, nature is quite abundant in the area, turning Davao City into an excellent destination for lots of fun activities and outdoor recreation. The city itself abounds in colorful sculptures, lighted fountains and boasts a vibrant community spirit.
If you’re looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of big-city life, why not trade life in hectic Manila for a quieter suburban alternative such as Sta. Rosa City, Laguna? Originally a rustic town, it is slowly but steadily transforming into an up-and-coming destination for businesses, shops, and residential communities. People choose to move to Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, for healthy living, fresh air, high-end restaurants, and easy access to local attractions.
Subic is a coastal municipality popular for its sandy beaches, bay area, and hidden underwater gems. It is an excellent spot for diving, as the waters in Subic nestle various coral species and shipwrecks from when the city was a Spanish naval base. Other attractions that make Subic a great place to live in the Philippines include Zoobic Safari and Ocean Adventure theme parks, golf courses, and casinos. Situated on the other side of Subic Bay, towering over the beach, are the mountain peaks of Mt. Balingkilat and Cinco Picos, with a plethora of trekking trails, steep slopes, and splendid views.
Subic is an excellent choice for permanent residence. While vacationing here with my relatives, I noticed that Subic is a progressive area with many amenities typically found in Manila, such as shopping malls and employment opportunities. Additionally, the region offers a wealth of natural attractions that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
Address: Former Dungaree Beach, San Bernardino Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales
135.07 km (84.0 mi) from Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian (Cathedral de Lipa)
Cebu City, the port capital of Cebu Island, is a former Spanish port dating back to colonial times in the 16th century. Culture and history trickle from the city’s most prominent landmarks, including Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, Fort San Pedro, and Krus ni Magellan. The surrounding landscape is quite spectacular, making it a strong point for staying here. If you want to see it for yourself, the observation deck on Mt. Busay will convince anyone with the sweeping city views it offers. This city is a must-add on your Philippines travel bucket list!
If you're like me, looking for abundant job opportunities without the hustle and bustle of Manila, then Cebu City is the perfect choice. What makes Cebu special to me is that it still retains a wealth of natural resources, with beautiful beaches and accessible mountains. But here's a tip from my experience: learning the local language before your move will make your Cebu adventure even more rewarding.
Address: Nivel Hills, Busay, Cebu City
497.46 km (309.2 mi) from Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian (Cathedral de Lipa)
Enjoying sustainable, healthy living and flavorful cuisine in the Philippines
While big cities like Manila are home to shopping malls and theme parks, there are so many other lesser-known urban and suburban destinations in the Philippines that are definitely worth living in. From Iloilo’s friendly community to Bacolod’s cuisine and cultural heritage, we’ve gathered the best cities in the Philippines. Which one is your favorite?
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