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Expat Living Outside Of Davao City

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    Expat living in Davao: A topic that is always popular with foreigners looking to live in the Philippines is the island of Davao. Previously we have spoken about living in Davao City and briefly mentioned other areas outside the city, but what about living outside of Davao city as a foreigner full-time? Is it a good idea, and if so, what do you need to know?

    Today we will explore several provinces across the Philippines and look into the benefits of living outside of Davao city in more detail. As an expat living in Davao (especially outside of Davao city), there are many things to discuss, so let’s first look at some vital information about life as an expat living in Davao.

    Information For Expats Living In Davao

    Davao city itself has been well spoken about previously by ourselves and news outlets over the last several years. Still, one of the reasons Davao has become well known is because the island has transformed rapidly. However, this transformation has not reached all areas of Davao. Thus, safety inside and outside of the city is a questionable subject.

    At this current moment, some governments warn against traveling to particular parts of the Philippines. This is often due to terrorism and clashes between insurgent groups. For example, the UK government alerts the public to only travel unless it’s essential, but in addition, they advise against all travel to the south and west of Davao island.

    The US department of state has several valuable documents about living in Davao as an expat. Some of which include the safety and security of Davao. There have been nine documented cases of explosions and bombings over the last few years, many of which were located in Mindanao. The US department of state advises reconsidering travel to the Philippines at this current time due to the ongoing pandemic and safety concerns.

    A few months ago, the Taal volcano safety level was raised from level 2 to level 3. Ongoing developments are in progress.

    Davao is an active area for earthquakes, and typhoons are also common. Data suggest that there are around 20 recorded typhoons on average per year.

    To summarise, the most significant factor to be made aware of if you plan to live outside of Davao city is the current safety concerns. However, millions of visitors visit and live in the Philippines, and most of these stays are trouble-free.

    Costs Of Living Outside Of Davao City

    Overall the cost of living is fantastic. If you look to save money living in the Philippines, you will find many opportunities outside Davao city. From my experience and cost of living, I found prices outside Davao city to be around 20% cheaper than in the city.

    Therefore, if you estimate your monthly expenses to be $1000 USD when living in Davo city, your living expenses outside Davao city will be around $800 USD per month.

    In the smaller provinces and towns, travelers will unlikely find many corporate businesses. Most other businesses are local, and family-operated. Nonetheless, many brands and well-known business chains exist in the cities across Davao island.

    Areas & Provinces Of Davao City

    Butuan City

    Butuan City is a beautiful part of Davao and is currently the home to around 350,000 people. Many of the major roads from Butuan connect with other cities in Davao, such as Cagayan de Oro, Tandag, and Davao city itself. Currently, it’s one of the fasting growing cities in Davao. Apart from the current pandemic era, the city is home to many local festivals.

    Cabadbaran City

    Cabadbaran City has a much smaller population than Butuan City, but it is also a fast-growing city in the Philippines. So if you plan to start living outside of Davao city, it’s always a good idea to investigate the cost of living. Even though living costs remain low, Cabadbaran City’s most significant increase is the cost of living and the cost of doing business.

    Cagayan De Oro

    Cagayan De Oro is one of the major cities of Davao, and the latest statistics suggest that the current population is around 680,000 – 710,000 People. This city is known for its white rapid but also for many other areas of interest. In addition, the locals are extremely friendly and approachable, which has led to the phrase – the golden friendship.

    Cotabato City

    Cotabato City is one of the most populated cities due to its landmass. The city is not as big as other areas, but the latest figures suggest a population of between 335,000. Unfortunately, as mentioned, many governments worldwide have warned against traveling to Cotabato City due to the high levels of terrorism and other safety concerns.

    General Santos City

    General Santos City is often referred to as – GenSan. The city is one of the most populated in Davao due to its population of around 700,000 – 720,000 residents. The levels of reported crime are moderate but similar to Cotabato City; governments worldwide generally advise against travel to this area.

    Iligan City

    Iligan City is a very modern and stunning city in Davao. Safety around this area has always been a talking topic, and there are often heavy police around the city. The latest information suggests that Iligan City looks to expand into the technology world, and this looks to take hold as soon as 2025.


    Mati is a very natural part of Davao island. The area is smaller than other areas on our list, but it is home to some of the Philippines’ most beautiful areas and beaches. The area is accessible by vehicle from Davao city, and travelers will pass through Tagum to reach the area.

    Surigao Del Sur

    Surigao Del Sur is not a town or city but instead a province. The capital city of Surigao Del Sur is Tandag City. This is the home place for many products sold in the Philippines and overseas, such as rice and tropical fruit. Some areas can be slightly more expensive than other due to the higher number of visitors.


    Tagum is a city you will pass through on your way to Mati. Tagum is a highly modernized city that has seen a great deal of growth in terms of business and technology. As a result, there are many hotels and accommodations for those looking to stay for a short period.  

    Best Places For Living Outside Of Davao City

    Surigao Del Sur is one of the nicest areas outside of Davao. The cost can be slightly higher than normal during the busy period, but prices remain low during this current pandemic era. In addition, the areas have plenty of opportunities for expats, many of which include natural wonders such as Tinuy-an Falls.

    The province is also accessible to some stunning islands, perfect for foreigners living outside of Davao city who wish to island-hop.

    Advice For Living Outside Of Davao As A Foreigner  

    One piece of advice I would give for those living outside of Davao city, whether they are local Filipino or foreigners, is to avoid traveling solo unless you are confident that you will be safe at all times. There have been several reports of kidnappings happening across Davao of Filipinos and foreigners. Thus as there is safety in numbers, it’s recommended to avoid any solo travel. In addition, always let someone know where you are going, even if it’s a friend or a landlord.

    I know I’ve written this before, but …. Living in different provinces of Davao is a unique experience as all Davao provinces have their own personality. So, as an expat living in Davao, it’s best first to decide on what attractions, features, and living experiences are essential to you. This will help you decide on where to live in Davao.

    While traveling or living outside of Davao City, it is likely that you will be looked at from time to time. If you have ever wanted to feel like a celebrity, you will enjoy Davao; Ha-Ha! I’ve had times when people come to touch my skin and just come to talk and say hi….

    ….Most often, this is in the less well-known areas of Davao. Locals do this not out of disrespect but instead more out of curiosity. It is best to be friendly and welcoming. In some cases (especially with the younger generation), you may be the first white or black man they have ever seen, so it’s best to just go with it, be friendly and say hi back.

    Finally, the standard practices apply to living outside of Davao similar to the rest of the Philippines, such as; Don’t boast about your wealth, avoid addressing elderly locals by their first name, do not disrespect local customs or Filipinos, avoid staring or other aggressive body language and so on.

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