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The 8 best places to live in the Philippines: A guide for foreigners

best places to live in the Philippines
Table of Contents

The Philippines has emerged as a favored destination for foreigners to live in. The country is renowned for its diverse cultures, remarkable landscapes, and hospitable locals, making it a perfect living spot. With over 7,000 islands, each city in the Philippines has its charm and appeal, making it a tough choice to determine the best place to live in the Philippines. Whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures, serene relaxation, or a fresh start, there is a place in the Philippines that suits every foreigner. In this article, we listed the eight best places to live in the Philippines that are perfect for foreigners. 

Where are the best places to live in the Philippines?

The Philippines, known for its stunning beaches, vibrant cities, and warm, welcoming culture, offers a diverse range of residential areas that cater to different lifestyles, preferences, and needs. Whether you’re an expat, retiree, a couple, or a family finding a new home, there is a place in the Philippines that is perfect for you. Here’s a summary of the best places to live in the Philippines:

  1. Manila
  2. Cebu
  3. Davao
  4. Dumaguete
  5. Palawan
  6. Makati
  7. Subic
  8. Boracay

1. Manila

Manila, the Philippine capital, combines historical heritage with modern attractions, offering a rewarding lifestyle to foreigners. Its global vibe is enhanced by top-notch shopping, dining, and entertainment options. With tours of landmarks like Intramuros, Manila highlights the nation’s history. The city appeals to a diverse group, including young professionals, families, and retirees, with an average monthly living cost of about ₱ 36,163 ($615) without rent. Manila boasts a diverse culinary scene, various housing options for all budgets, and an efficient transport system, making it an attractive and accessible place to live.

Why Manila is the best place to live in the Philippines:

  • Outstanding healthcare facilities: Access to esteemed hospitals and high-quality healthcare services gives residents the assurance they need.
  • Sophisticated shopping and eating outlets: Manila caters to every preference and taste, whether it’s luxury malls or varied cuisine options.
  • Rich in cultural attractions and lively nightlife: Residents can immerse themselves in the city’s historical tours during the day and delight in the lively nightlife activities after sunset, promoting a well-balanced lifestyle.
  • Various accommodation options: Manila is the best place to live in the Philippines, with various housing offerings to suit different needs and budgets. Residents can choose from comfortable suburban homes to luxurious city residences.
  • Efficient transportation infrastructure: Manila’s developed public transport system ensures easy commuting within the city, making daily travel and urban exploration hassle-free.

2. Cebu

In the Philippines’ Visayas region, Cebu City neighborhoods offer a mix of modernity and nature, making it the best place to live in the Philippines for foreigners seeking urban comforts in a less crowded space. With living costs of around $806 monthly for a high-quality life, the city boasts beautiful beaches, islands like Malapascua and Moalboal, diving, and leisure activities. Renowned for delicious cuisine, excellent healthcare, and international schools, Cebu City neighborhoods attract foreigners with its blend of essential and luxury amenities.

Top reasons why Cebu is the best place to live in the Philippines:

  • Natural attractions and activities: With its famous beaches and distinctive islands such as Malapascua and Moalboal, Cebu is perfect for those who love the ocean, offering everything from swimming and diving to various watersports.
  • Contemporary conveniences: Achieving an ideal lifestyle balance, Cebu is one of the best places in the Philippines due to its vibrant food scene, exceptional healthcare, and international schooling options, addressing the diverse needs of its community.
  • Thriving social scene: The city’s dynamic nightlife and social gatherings give expats plentiful opportunities to connect and find their community, making the transition to a new country smoother.
  • Soothing yet lively atmosphere: Cebu offers a more laid-back feel than other major cities in the Philippines, ensuring a peaceful living environment while providing all the necessary urban perks.

3. Davao

Davao City is the Philippines’ largest city, perfectly mixing beautiful nature with exciting city life. It is the best place to live in the Philippines for foreigners who enjoy the outdoors. Living here can cost about $850 a month.

Why Davao is an ideal home for foreigners in the Philippines:

  • Safety: It’s the number one safest city in the Philippines.
  • Nature: There are wildlife sanctuaries, gorgeous waterfalls, and stunning islands to explore.
  • Adventure: Davao is the best place to live in the Philippines for adventurers who want to dive, explore shipwrecks, and climb mountains.
  • City perks: There’s an international airport, many places to eat, and big malls for shopping.
  • Cultural mix: The city welcomes a fun blend of locals and foreigners, adding to its rich culture.
  • Community life: Davao offers a diverse and lively living environment that suits many interests and lifestyles.

4. Dumaguete

Dumaguete City, often recognized for its beachfront and status as a top retirement destination in the Philippines, offers a blend of tranquility, affordability, and rich cultural experiences that appeal to foreigners, especially retirees. The city is home to fewer than 150,000 people, creating a close-knit community atmosphere while providing all the necessary modern conveniences. Living here can cost around $925 a month making it the best place to live in the Philippines for retirees.

Top reasons to live in Dumaguete in the Philippines:

  • Beachfront living: The city boasts serene beaches that offer relaxation and leisure.
  • Rich cultural experience: A diverse community brings life to local customs and cultures.
  • Natural attractions: One of the most popular places in the Philippines is the Sandbar, home to the sea turtles on Apo Island.
  • Friendly community: The warmth of Dumaguete’s residents makes settling in easy for foreigners.
  • Historical and modern blend: The city combines its Spanish colonial charm with the comforts of modern amenities.
  • Ideal for retirees: Dumaguete is specifically recognized as the best city in the Philippines due to its peaceful atmosphere and supportive community.
  • Small-town charm with global connectivity: Despite its small size, Dumaguete offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle, allowing residents to enjoy the best of both worlds.

5. Palawan

Palawan is like something out of a dream for those who crave a peaceful life surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the beaches, towering cliffs, and clear blue waters. It’s the best place to live in the Philippines for foreigners looking for a quiet island lifestyle, with monthly living costs averaging around $976.

Why Palawan is fantastic for expats in the Philippines:

  • Gorgeous surroundings: With some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and rock formations, Palawan is a must-see for anyone who loves to be wowed by the outdoors.
  • Easy to get to: The island is easy to get to, thanks to its many ports and airports, making travel and settling in much simpler for those from other countries.
  • Various food choices: Whether you’re into the local seafood hits or want international flavors, Palawan’s eateries have something to satisfy every craving.
  • Neighborly vibes: The island’s locals, Palaweños, are hospitable, making it easy to slip into the community and make lasting friendships.

6. Makati

Makati is the Philippines’ busiest business and financial district, so it offers many job possibilities for young professionals. This lively city’s multicultural environment and highly urbanized lifestyle make it the best place to live in the Philippines for foreigners. Monthly living costs around $1,254.

This is why Makati is the best place to live in the Philippines:

  • Multinational environment: Makati’s population is a lively tapestry of cultures, making the city’s atmosphere open and friendly to people worldwide.
  • Markets and job openings: Makati, the Philippines’ financial hub, offers many job and business chances for foreigners.
  • Excellent city living: The city is famous for its modern infrastructure, high-end shopping malls, and best neighborhoods.
  • Dynamic social scene: Makati’s clubs and bars make it the best city in the Philippines to meet new people and mingle at night.
  • Quality facilities and services: Makati provides excellent services for a high standard of living, ranging from medical care to fun and education.
best city to live in the Philippines

7. Subic

Subic Bay Freeport Zone is a beautiful place where history meets modern living and the great outdoors. This area used to be an American naval base. It has become one of the most popular places in the Philippines, where locals and people from other countries enjoy a peaceful life in beautiful houses with everything they need nearby. With a budget of around $1,250 a month, you can have a comfortable lifestyle in Subic, surrounded by nature and a mix of different cultures.

Top reasons why Subic is the best place to live in the Philippines:

  • Suburban experience: The wide-open homes and yards provide a suburban-like feeling that many foreigners may miss from their home countries.
  • Outdoor activities: For those who love nature, Subic offers beaches, scuba diving, and theme parks, among other activities.
  • Duty-free shopping: Shopping lovers will enjoy many duty-free stores offering great deals on international brands.
  • Excellent infrastructure: Subic is one of the best places in the Philippines which has dependable utilities, such as stable electricity, steady internet, and efficient garbage disposal, ensuring a comfortable living environment.
  • Traffic and cleanliness: The local government’s strict traffic rules and dedication to cleanliness make Subic the safest place in the Philippines.
  • Education and entertainment: With international schools and many leisure activities for kids, Subic is the best place to live in the Philippines for families.

8. Boracay

Boracay is a beautiful island paradise for foreigners who want the best island life experience. This island is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches and stunning sunsets, but it offers more than just pretty scenery. People there are friendly and open, making it the best place to live in the Philippines for newbies. It costs about $1,617 to live here.

Why Boracay is the best place to live in the Philippines:

  • Island with beautiful nature: The island’s white sand beaches and beautiful sunsets make it a great place to live.
  • A warm and welcoming community: People from other countries can easily settle in and feel at home because everyone is calm and friendly.
  • Various activities: Everyone can always find something to do, from yoga lessons and health camps to different water sports.
  • International community: The island’s foreign community allows locals and visitors to easily meet people worldwide, building a sense of world connection that makes living there more enjoyable.

How can foreigners buy property in the Philippines?

Foreigners can buy property in the Philippines through a corporation, by buying a condominium unit, or by buying a freestanding house (and leasing the land). At Own Property Abroad, we’re here to streamline your property acquisition process, eliminating any confusion and challenges. Leveraging our deep understanding and extensive experience in the local real estate market, we offer comprehensive support from understanding legalities to identifying the perfect property, securing favorable deals, and ensuring thorough due diligence.

For more details on how we can support your property acquisition journey, please leave your contact information below or email us at

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the largest city in the Philippines?

Davao City is the largest city in the Philippines in terms of land area.

What is the best province in the Philippines?

Palawan is regarded as one of the Philippines’ top provinces, with first-rate amenities and tourist attractions. Other provinces such as Cebu, La Union, Boracay, and Davao are also popular.

What is the safest city in the Philippines?

Davao is known as the safest place in the Philippines, with a crime index below 28.

What is the price of land per square meter in the Philippines’ provinces?

Different provinces in the Philippines have different land costs per square meter, depending on the nature of the property. Suburban residential or commercial properties can be purchased between ₱ 2,500 ($42.50) and ₱ 3,500 ($59.50) per square meter. The price per square meter for agricultural land might be less than ₱ 1,000 ($17), which goes down the farther you are from towns and challenging access points.

Your guide to buying property in the Philippines
Written by Therese Angeles

One Response

  1. Thanks.. I always want to live in a condo in Pasig because my work is nearby. I have budget. What would you guys recommend aside from Amaia Land?

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