Live & Retire In Puerto Princesa, Palawan As A Foreigner: Visiting Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan is a dream come true, but it is especially elating due to its breathtaking scenery and friendly locals but, is Palawan a good place to live for foreigners?
Although Puerto Princesa is presently unavailable to tourists due to pandemic restrictions at the time of writing, the area is looking to open again in the near future. For expats wishing to retire or live in Palawan, it’s recommended to see the latest news regarding travel restrictions to Palawan.
What You Need To Know About Puerto Princesa, Palawan
One not-so-well-known fact is that Puerto Princesa happens to be the 49th biggest city in the entire Philippines since it occupies 253,982 hectares. Not bad for a provincial tourist destination!
Despite being a Philippine city, Puerto Princesa is known for its lush beauty amidst Palawan’s island paradise.
It would be ideal to visit the city of Puerto Princesa on March 4 because this is the Foundation Day of the city.
The population is also quite small since only around 220,00 people reside there year-round. Most of the population makes fishing and agriculture their livelihood though many are also part of its booming tourist industry.
Foreign & local visitors like to drop by Puerto Princesa because typhoons rarely hit the island. However, it is often recommended to visit during good weather (the dry season extends from November to May).
What Is The Vibe Of Puerto Princesa Philippines
The overall vibe of Puerto Princesa is relaxed. The city is not a metropolitan city such as Manila or Cebu, so even though it can be busy, city life is not as busy as you may expect. Moreover, as there are several fantastic gateway destinations within the city itself, the atmosphere of locals and foreigners is peaceful and calm.
Because the city and its surroundings are all part of the island’s allure, you will find that the locals are quite friendly to visitors. As a foreigner visiting for the first time, you may find it reassuring to deal only with the official tour guides affiliated with the travel operator you signed up with (if applicable).
As you keep traveling, you will get to know more of the locals who can help you navigate your way in Puerto Princesa which is useful when you retire in Puerto Princesa as a foreigner.
The nice part is that Puerto Princesa has a low crime rate compared to other places in the country. But, of course, as with any tourist destination, there can be some risks, so it is best to be vigilant at all times.
Cost Of Living In Puerto Princesa, Palawan As A Foreigner
If you plan to visit Puerto Princesa any time soon, you may likely be wondering how much does it cost to live in Puerto Princesa as a foreigner?
To live comfortably in Puerto Princesa as a foreigner, the total cost will be around $1150 – $1400 per month. Basic costs reach around $850 and added extra such as tours, entertainment, etc., cost around $300+ resulting in average living expenses to total $1250 – $1400 for a single adult.
Naturally, many significant factors impact the overall cost of living in Puerto Princesa as a foreigner. However, if you can reduce 3 main significant factors: transportation accommodation and food, then your living costs can be much lower.
House Costs In Puerto Princesa
The cost to live in Puerto Princesa depends on the individual. Still, the average expat tends to have a minimum level of comfort, resulting in higher prices or lower prices depending on the individual.
House prices in Puerto Princesa can be incredibly low depending on the facilities and location. House prices tend to range between 9K-13K Pesos ($178 – $257); however, some can be found slightly outside the city for a lower price. larger houses tend to be a similar price to a small condominium. 14K-17K Pesos ($277 – $336).
Transportation Costs In Puerto Princesa
Generally, there are three main ways to get to your lodgings and elsewhere in Puerto Princesa. These are tricycles, jeepneys, and private vehicles such as rented vans.
Prices for renting a small vehicle in Puerto Princesa start around 1000+ Pesos a day ($20+). However, this will change depending on what services you use and the vehicle you choose. After speaking to several vehicle hiring centers, we found that most offered a long-term rental discount.
However, if you choose public transportation, you will find cost-effective options available. On average, expats spend less than $70 on public transport in Puerto Princesa.
Usually, a legitimate travel operator will help by reserving the right transportation for you and your party so that you won’t get disoriented upon your arrival in Palawan. If you want to get around the way the locals do, though, you can try out riding a tricycle or even hopping onto a jeepney.
Food Costs In Puerto Princesa
If you’re counting pennies and cents during your visit, then you can appreciate the small eateries because these often serve surprisingly good food (particularly seafood) at low prices.
You will be able to find a nice big meal (main dish, sides, and drink) for around 200 – 300 Pesos each. Street food and local food can be found for much less. Chicken and rice can be as low as 100 Pesos. Overall, If you retire In Puerto Princesa as a foreigner, you will likely spend around $200 – $400 on food per month living in Puerto Princesa, but if you eat locally and reduce restaurant visits, then this cost can be reduced significantly.
What some local tourists do, to save on food costs, is to buy their raw ingredients from local markets and prepare their food in their rented space.
Other Costs In Puerto Princesa
The most significant expenses for living in Puerto Princesa as foreigners are treats and tours. These are really what pushed the budget up. This is because other expenses are fairly standard for the Philippines. Still, expenses such as scuba diving or other tours are usually what increase the costs, and this is one area you may wish to keep an eye on if you are looking to live cheaply in Puerto Princesa as an expat.
Naturally, other significant factors will need to be taken into account. These include visa expenses, health insurance, and so on.
Hiring Household Helpers in Palawan
If you are retiring in Palawan, you may opt to hire household helpers to keep house for you in your lodgings. You may approach a workforce agency for this, but a fee is charged when recruiting someone.
You can also rely on locals you trust to refer anyone they know. Household helpers may either be maids, gardeners, or drivers. Facebook is a great source of information.
Since the cost of living in Puerto Princesa is quite low, you can expect the cost of hiring household helpers to be low too. In addition, one advantage of using a workforce agency is that the government of the Philippines regulates them.
On the other hand, if you use local contacts to find helpers for you, your contacts may probably not charge you a fee… But this networking to find helpers isn’t regulated by the government.
Generally, the chores that your household helpers will be responsible for are:
It would help if you always thought carefully about hiring strangers to be your household helpers. This is a grave problem that even the Philippine government is trying to regulate. That’s one reason some clients opt to get their helpers from workforce agencies – at least there are records to show who hired whom for how much at a particular time in a certain Philippine location.
Is Puerto Princesa a Safe Place for Foreigners to Retire In?
As previously mentioned, the crime rate in Puerto Princesa is relatively low compared to the rest of the country. This is partly because most visitors enjoy their leisure time, so people tend to be welcoming.
Palawan itself is relatively safe due to its proactive local government unit. However, to play it safe, contact your home country’s embassy or consulate in the Philippines for advice since that is where your government will release information about any risks to people of your nationality.
In 2017, the US government released a warning to its citizens in the Philippines about plans by terrorist groups to “kidnap foreigners,” particularly tourists flocking to the Underground River of Puerto Princesa in Palawan. The US government usually releases only such warnings if they believe the source is credible enough to warrant this.
The warning was credible enough for the British government to, shortly after, repeat the US government’s advisory to its citizens visiting or living in the Philippines. In response to this, the Philippine Army also put up precautionary checkpoints within the province of Palawan, emphasizing areas where tourists tend to go.
On the other hand, crime isn’t the only threat in Puerto Princesa. One threat comes from the natural environment, such as insects like scorpions. You might also eat something from an eatery with questionable food preparation practices.
These are advisable areas to account for but in most cases retiring in Puerto Princesa as a foreigner is completely hassle-free. Nonetheless, checking the local government and embassies’ latest information is always recommended before traveling.
Best Attractions For Expats In Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Venture Into the Underground River of Puerto Princesa
Some visitors come to Puerto Princesa primarily to experience a boat ride into the Underground River. This river goes into a series of caves, so you can expect your boatman to serve as your guide as your boat slowly traverses into the opening in the rock face.
Your boatman will point out certain rock formations within the caves. Each rock formation has its particular nicknames. Just be careful about the bats!
Yes, that’s right, there are bats within the caves. However, the boatmen are friendly and know the river and the caves very well. (They are also stand-up comedians, making the boat ride especially fun.)
Note that you’ll have to reserve your slot in the Underground River tours because only a limited number of tourists are allowed daily. You can rely on your tour guide operator to make this reservation on your behalf.
Dazed by Fireflies of Iwahig River
Not everyone knows about this attraction on the Iwahig River, probably because you have to visit at dusk to see the fireflies in the area start to awaken and show their softly glowing lights. So if you have never seen a firefly before, this could be your chance! Just be sure to remove the flash function of any cameras you will be used not to scare off the fireflies.
Since you can only visit during the dry season, it is best to time your visit between April and June when the ocean waters are calm, and it won’t be too hot for you. That way, you won’t find it difficult traveling to Palawan Island.
Is Puerto Princesa a good place to retire?
Puerto Princesa is a wonderful place to retire for foreigners in the Philippines. The area itself is beautiful, and with a short 4 hour travel time, you will be able to reach some of the most beautiful sites in the Philippines, such as El Nido.
The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming to foreign retirees in Puerto Princesa, which makes you feel welcomed as a retiree.
As I always mention, there are pros and cons to every area, and not all areas will suit every type of retiree. However, every year many foreigners decide to retire in Puerto Princesa.
I would recommend researching as much information as you can about retiring in Puerto Princesa, including looking through our YouTube channel, which has some fantastic information about utility bills in the Philippines, cost of living, and other important information that is extremely valuable if you are planning to move to Puerto Princesa.
Once you have your research, it is a great idea to look at your overall lifestyle and see if it matches up with the values of Puerto Princesa. For example, if you love the busyness of a big city such as Manila, you may not enjoy Puerto Princesa as it’s not on that scale. but on the other hand, if you are looking for a relaxed retirement in a much smaller city, then Puerto Princesa may be perfect. Retire In Puerto Princesa As A Foreigner.
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