Finding accommodation in the Philippines will likely be the biggest difficulty facing new arrivals. But with some research and support, exploring the various housing options and securing the perfect home away from home needn't be a hassle.
Thanks to the reasonable cost of living, expats can find rentals from luxury condominiums to simple freestanding houses. From metropolitan city living in Metro Manila to the tropical beaches of Palawan, every area of the Philippines has something unique to offer expats.
Types of accommodation in the Philippines
Expats looking for accommodation in the Philippines will find plenty of options to suit their budget, lifestyle and circumstances.
Expats can find freestanding houses for rent in the Philippines, and these are a fantastic option for families with children who require more space. Many plots will also have expansive gardens – some with fruit-bearing trees.
Townhouses and duplexes
Other types of property in the Philippines include townhouses and duplexes. These semi-detached homes allow multiple tenants and families to rent one property while having separate living spaces.
Condos and gated communities
Condos are one of the most popular types of expat accommodation in the Philippines. Expat condos and gated communities often include sought-after amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and clubhouses, as well as living quarters for domestic workers such as maids.
The disparity between rich and poor in the Philippines is undeniable, and beyond the expat-friendly areas, there are many poor neighbourhoods. That said, gated communities are quite removed from these areas and generally have controlled access administered by full-time security.
Renting an apartment in the Philippines is a great, low-maintenance option for newcomers. Apartments usually have full-time security, although they will likely lack the amenities offered in condos. There are also furnished serviced apartments in most major cities that offer a host of services, including WiFi access.
Factors to consider when househunting in the Philippines
Expats moving to the Philippines should consider whether they want a furnished, semi-furnished or unfurnished property when househunting. Furnished accommodation is more expensive, but it's convenient for those in the Philippines on a short-term assignment.
We advise house hunters to ask about air conditioning and the insulation of prospective properties. Expats may also find some homes lack basic amenities, such as Western toilets, especially in rural areas.
Home security is a factor that expats should keep in mind when looking for accommodation in the Philippines. Given the high crime rates in certain areas, many expats live in insulated, wealthy areas with tight security and access control. Many houses also have security bars on the windows.
Most expats in the Philippines can afford to hire a house cleaner and a driver. If they need help on a full-time basis, they may need to provide accommodation for their employees.
Finding accommodation in the Philippines
The internet is the best place to start the accommodation search. Online property portals such as Dot Property Philippines and Lamudi allow house hunters to explore listings suited to their budget, location, property types and sizes.
We highly recommend enlisting the services of a real estate agent or relocation company. These professionals will take the weight off a new arrival's shoulders when looking for a new home and negotiating with landlords.
When looking for accommodation, location is a key consideration. Most expats moving to the Philippines live in the Metro Manila area, while Makati City is particularly popular as it is home to many international corporations and is the heart of the diplomatic community. Traffic is notoriously bad in large cities, particularly in Manila, and this affects commute times, so expats should carefully consider proximity to their workplace, schools and shopping centres. Housing in rural areas is cheaper than in larger cities, although amenities are limited.
Renting accommodation in the Philippines
Most expats rent accommodation in the Philippines, and an expat's employer will usually assist with the process. If not, real estate agents can help guide them.
Most lease agreements are for one year, and the full year's rent may be expected upfront for luxury condos. Short-term leases are also available, mainly in serviced apartments in larger cities.
Deposits are often equivalent to two to three months' rent.
The rental price frequently excludes utilities such as water, electricity and WiFi. Expats should budget for this as an additional cost.
Expats should document any areas of the house that need maintenance before signing a lease and moving in. It is not a given that the landlord will repair any broken items or utilities before the occupation, and tenants must strike a deal with the landlord. It may be negotiated for the landlord to pay for supplies, such as paint, if the tenant pays for or does the physical labour themselves.
Buying property in the Philippines
Foreigners can own a house or condo in the Philippines, but cannot own the land on which it stands. Control of the land will generally be through a long-term lease with a Filipino national. So, most expats living in the Philippines for a short time do not buy property.
It is advisable for expats who wish to buy a property to enlist professional legal and real estate services. House hunters can ask these professionals about the possibility of home renovations and building a new property on the land.
►Moving to the Philippines with children? Then Education and Schools in the Philippines is essential reading
Are you an expat living in Philippines?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Philippines. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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