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What Is It Like To Live In Manila?

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    You may have an upcoming plan to move to Manila or perhaps an extended vacation in the capital of the Philippines. So, to help you get a clear picture of life in Manila, we are going to ask the question, “What is it like to live in Manila?”.

    What Is It Like To Live In Manila As A Foreigner

    When you arrive in Manila, the first thing you will often notice is how busy the city is. This is not just the Metropolitan area of Manila, but this applies to Manila’s outskirts and other cities.

    As in most capitals worldwide, Manila has a somewhat business feel, especially towards the Metropolitan area. Many large chain corporations have their head offices set up in business areas across Manila, which seems to add to the city’s uniqueness.

    This gives Manila a distinctive feel, which is what city lovers adore. As there is an increasing level of wealth in Manila compared to other parts of the Philippines, you often find out that everyday items are more expensive than you may first consider. More on that later.

    At the other end of the scale, you may notice that Manila has a big community of homeless citizens spread around the capital and the nearby suburbs. The heartbreaking thing is it not uncommon to see children and families living on the street. Many of these homeless families stay in busy areas where they ask for food and money.

    These are a few of my first thoughts when I first arrived in Manila. However, when I got to know the city more and looked into what it is like to live in Manila, I soon realized this question branched out into several different categories…

    The Price When Living In Manila

    When we look at prices in Manila’s Metropolitan area, we can see that the prices are much higher than anywhere else in the country, which is expected from this famous city. We’re going to split the price into two simple categories that take up a large part of most people’s living allowance: the rent prices and food prices.

    RENTAs a fresh face to Manila, I expected renting to be much higher than it was in reality. After staying in Cebu and Davao city for long periods, I knew the accommodation prices would be higher. However, after a few days, I was able to find several decent one-bedroom condominium units for only a few thousand pesos (2-3K+) more than similar units in nearby cities.

    FOODThe most significant difference in price out of all the categories today was indeed the food. There’s always a place where you can buy chicken and rice for 80 pesos or less, but I found many finer dining restaurants than other cities in the Philippines. These were much closer to my condominium than any of the cheaper food establishments. However, do take this with a pinch of salt as this experience was mainly due to my geographical location.

    I would also see that convenience stores such as 7/11 had higher prices for everyday items such as water and bread than other nearby cities.  

    The Taxis In Manila 

    The taxis are slightly different in Manila than any other city you may have visited before. Many scams take place within the taxi industry, and these affect locals and foreigners. It is best to agree on a price before you even set foot in the taxi (quite literally).

    When I was living in Davao city in 2019, the meter’s taxi price started at 40 pesos. This meter fee started at 60 pesos in Manila, so only a slight difference in meter taxis from this perspective. However, one point to remember is that there is so much more traffic in Manila than any other city in the Philippines, so even a short journey could soon add up, especially if the taxi driver decides to take a “shortcut.” These costs are not as expensive as some Weston counties’ capitals. However, when compared to other cities in the Philippines, rates can be on the higher end.

    Grab is very much used across the Philippines. Grab is generally the first choice to get around the Philippines for many foreigners as it shows the price, time, and vehicles available on the app.

    So now we know what is it like to live in Manila in terms of taxis how about what is it like to live in manila when meeting the locals…

    The People Of Manila

    If you have ever visited the Philippines for an extended period, you will know just how approachable and friendly Filipinos are. This is also extended to the population of Manila. Upon meeting a few different people, I did feel a slight difference in the community all Manila that other islands. This is to be expected as all islands and cities are different.

    I found Manila people to be slightly different, not in a wrong way or a right way, just different. In general, I found Filipinos to be a tiny bit less friendly towards foreigners compared to the south. I don’t believe this is because they are less friendly. I believe this is because locals see many more foreigners in Manila. In Davao city, for instance, foreigners are much less seen. So, people will always say hello and smile at you.   

    I also found that people in Manila were slightly more caring about how you dressed, how you spoke, and what you looked like. For instance, when I was looking at investments, I met a few sellers at the top of their game. After speaking about my travels, they seem to talk down about people who had a different accent (for example, the south Philippines) and people with darker skin than them.

    I thought perhaps this was a one-off, but then I met somebody else who behaved similarly. I don’t believe this is how all people act In Manila. I believe it was just my bad luck to meet negative people like this. But I have been informed by a few Filipino friends that this can be common, so I felt it worth mentioning.

    The Nightlife And Activities Of Manila

    The nightclubs were amazing. I can’t explain how massive and breathtaking some of these clubs are! Drinks can sometimes set you, especially in the more VIP venues. Some clubs add unasked for extras, so it’s always best to look at the price before ordering.

    There are tons of activities to do in the Metropolitan Manila area as well as nearby cities. You will always feel you are in a city when you look at Manila because it is always so busy and rammed.  If you are looking for a getaway or activities outside of the city, some of the nearby islands are a plane ride away and might be more suitable.

    Manila Vs Cebu

    When we look at what is it like to live in Manila? We find ourselves asking the ultimate question which is better, Manila or Cebu? It depends on what you’re looking for and the quality of life you are aiming at.

    In Manila, it is much faster-paced, busy, and has a business feel.  However, Cebu has a much more relaxed feel but at the same time provides a high-quality city life. Cebu has access to whale sharks in the south (Oslob) and beautiful beaches north of the island.

    When comparing Manila and Cebu, the price may be a factor. You will often find Cebu to be slightly cheaper; however, we can see the correlation between Cebu and Manila’s price increase in recent years. But still, Cebu remains cheaper (at least Currently).  

    The Safety Of Manila

    We recently spoke about safety in the Philippines and concluded that people have some safety concerns living in Manila (This is what I’m sure you are thinking). However, this is mainly due to Manila being the capital and the vast amount of people living there. When we look at data and opinions from public figures and bloggers who write about life in their country’s capital, we can see that safety is always a concern no matter what capital they live in.

    A foreigner who decides to live in Manila doesn’t need to worry about safety as over the years, due to the president’s leadership, security has increased. What foreigners should keep an eye open for is scams. Having your wits about you and becoming streetwise is essential. There are many different neighborhoods across Manila. Each of these neighborhoods has its feel. If you have any concerns, there is a U.S website which can check the city.

    What Is It Like To Live In Manila: The Bottom Line

    What is it like to live in Manila?: The capital of the Philippines is a beautiful place to live in. If you have a reasonable income or live on your pension, you should live happily in Manila. This is because the scale of Manila and the different levels of living is enormous. In other words, you can find accommodation and a city to suit your budget even if that means going slightly outside of the city.

    In Manila, there are quite literally hundreds of things that you can do. It would take somebody a very long time before they start to get bored in this active city. There are many different types of restaurants, gyms, parks, experiences, and hobbies that people can attend while living in Manila.

    Homelessness is sadly very visible on the streets of Manila. In most countries such as Australia, America, the United Kingdom, and other Western countries, it is rare to see homeless children. For me, this is the most heartbreaking so be aware that you may be asked for money as you’re walking down the street by a homeless family.

    The people are amazing, fun and most of the people I met had tons of zing. It is a fast-paced world if you are living in metro areas. The level of English spoken by Filipinos is incredible.

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