Don’t lose your sanity living in the city

Quezon city that is. Its where I’m from. But okay when I say city I mean Metro Manila including QC, Makati, Ortigas, Taguig and basically somewhere that is not the provinces. I know many expats the retired ones at least, prefer to live and is happy living in Visayas and Mindanao and some parts of  Northern Luzon but for the expats who need to stay here in city, there are ways to make the most of  your stay in the urban zone.
When you live in the city you’ll encounter urban nightmare like traffic, flooded streets whenever it rains, noise, unflattering site of squalor, garbage, smoke pollution, high prices of goods, etc. Of course You’ll probably encounter them as well in the province but not as much in the main capital of the Philippines.  These are some of the reasons why many expats avoid the city living.  And it’s understandable.

Quezon City
Quezon City

Heck, I go insane with the everyday traffic! Having said, there’s still some ways to have fun and stress free  stay here.  I’m no expert when it comes to living in the provinces so, hopefully I’m forgiven with this post as it’s more for the expats in the city and those  who are maybe planning retire in the Metro area.  I thank you!

Below are few tips of how you can have stress free ways to live in the city. It’s where to stay  where to eat, where to get discounts, how to enjoy life and be stress free  in the city of smiles.

Where to rent or buy a house in the city

So I said house, I’m not fond of high rise condominium type of living. Most expats, especially the ones sent by US companies will usually have them stay at such locations like The Fort in Taguig, or Rockwell, McKinley. If you are the type who likes to be with other with the elite of the expatriates then you’ll likely enjoy getting condo there. Either you rent or you buy. The aforementioned locations near the Makati Central Business District.

For house rent, I’ll suggest do so in Quezon City. Why? Just because it’s in the middle of everything. Here, you can find middle class to upper middle class villages and residential areas. It’s just near everywhere.  Below are several locations to rent or own a house

Philam Village, West Triangle and Scout area

It’s near SM and Trinoma Mall.  These are gated village with nice houses not that ostentatious. You can either rent a house or if there is for sale then take a look. It’s near everything from restaurants, cafes, Television stations and grocery stores. Other places where you can rent or buy a house would be Capitol Homes, Ayala Heights (best village to go to for trick or treat!), White Planes, Green Meadows, New Manila. The rent or sale price might be on the high end but for comfort and security it’s good place to settle.

Cheap yet great food and cool restaurants

Jeepney in QC
Jeepney in QC

Maginhawa Street, Teacher Village, QC is the place to be! If you’re looking for good food to satisfy your cravings but easy on the budget, you’ll find restaurants like Tomato Kick, Van Gogh is Bipolar, Mexican Express, etc.  Good food, good location. Now that’s stress free and fun.

Another suggestion is 77 Bar and resto.  Come one expats and others, if you haven’t been there,  visit the place. Eat and have drink or two or three. It’s actually an old 2 story house they turned into restaurant and bar and what’s nice is it’s so homey!  Just picture and old house. Spanish houses you see in the province. Stress free eating here. Delicious food. Not expensive. Go!

Fun with vouchers

Have you heard of group buying sites?  I’m  a sucker for them. I don’t think this one will matter to the expats but discounts are fun and can save money. You can book a hotel, get travel package, discount on restaurant, and other promos. You can buy vouchers give them as gifts or just use them. I usually look for good deals especially restaurant promos.

Where to withdraw crisp clean bills

Not that it matters, probably,  but I just discovered it so just sharing. Have you seen those PS Bank ATM machines? I like that the money it gives out is always clean and new. I likey!

Where to buy grocery items, etc.

For imported good that expat always looking for, one can always go to Rustans (Powerplant mall), SnR (The Fort). Of course there’s always also SM Hypermart.

Theater Plays, Musicals, Concerts

For the expats who’s into arts, you can enjoy watching different theater performances. You can watch Phantom of the Opera, King and I. And then you can bring along your kids to see Peter Pan and Hansel and Gretel theater play. We’re heading into the ‘ber’ months so more shows and fun activities to go to and see.   One thing about city living, it’s all happening here.  And by the way, the Maroon 5 concert sold out I think.

So those are few tips I’ve mentioned. I’m born and bred in Manila so everything I’m familiar with and I have experienced, I’m sharing.  You know, to live here is not that bad at all.

To live city is to make do with all the other negatives but there are positives that outweigh those annoyances of city living. It’s all about adjusting and making things work out for you and your family.  Whether it’s in the province or in Metro Manila, it’s still in the Philippines. Have fun and stay sane in the city just don’t drive at EDSA rush hour….or else you’ll go insane! :)

And so, would you like to live here?  I think I know the answer. Uhm, still no? He he.

Post Author: Sugar (66 Posts)

A Filipino. Living and working in Manila. Has a soft spot for expats. Always have an opinion about anything and everything.

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  1. says

    Excellent tips, but I am not a city guy, Sugar. Manila and its suburb is indeed a good place to visit, better health facilities, lots of things to do but I will never exchange my life in Marinduque even if you gave me a million pesos.

    • sugar says

      Hi David -Thanks. I’d probably say the same thing if I live and was raised in the province. I’ll likely shun the city life… but born and raised here in Manila so there you go. My sanity still intact except when it’s traffic.. it’s yay!

  2. Manny says

    Hi Sugar
    good article. Yes, would love very much to live in the Philippines and in the near future I will. Yes, I have driven the EDSA during rush hour and no I did not go insane, LOL, As you point out, like in anything one might encounter in life, you adjust, make the best of it, and make things work. Its a short life we all have, so its best to try an enjoy everyday as if it were your last and enjoy. :)

    • sugar says

      Hi Manny – Cebu, Dumaguete, and Davao nice places to live and retire in the Philippines in the future. Taxi’s better in Davao. He he. Thanks.

  3. scott h says

    Nice Sugar, Color me opposite of most retiree expats. I love my baranagay in Paranaque. The sense of community, the Wet Market, the barber shop, the ability to get anything fixed, delivered, cooked or made with in a short walking distance reminds me of what US towns and cities used to be like in the 40’s and 50’s. Not only that but Mall of Asia is close as well as a variety of Mall shopping. Now when we get the urge for “peace and quiet” its just a short hope to the hills and jungles of Tagayatay, the resorts of Lake Taal and Laguna. Maybe some day the Asawa and myself will tire of the city and seek the peace and quiet of the provience, but for now the verve and excitement of the city suit us fine.

    • sugar says

      Hi Scott- For me Paranaque is very far already similar to Cavite.. but it’s a city and yes you get all the hustle and bustle and crowds. I like my kind of city though :)

    • says

      EXACTLY! My sentiments Scott exactly. My house and property is in Vasayas (Negros Oriental) and I’m literally counting the days to my retirement here instead of the 4-8 weeks I spend here currently annually. You all have a great nation and I love it.

    • PapaDuck says

      Glad to see you post another article. Will be living in the Bacoor, Cavite area when i retire in 2014. Out in the Province, but close enough to enjoy the city amenities. Just curious, what kind of restaurant is Van Gogh is Bipolar lol? Also did you get flooded out in QC? Take care and thanks for the good info.

  4. Donna West says

    Nice article Sugar. I am not, nor have I ever been ,a big city person. Now , granted, I am attracted to the bright lights of the city like a bug to a zapper. But I can live much happier without the noise, pollution, crime, traffic, etc. so if I did make my way there to enjoy the sights , shopping, and entertainment available there my stay would be short and sweet. you have my interest though when you mentioned the stage productions and the HyperMart. I heard theres lots of great deals on ukay ukay in Manila also.

    • sugar says

      Hi Donna – I can live in the province too but not like super duper rural kind. I like where the beach is nearby or there are quaint houses or good places to dine and with nice park too. As for stage shows it’s a plus to live in the city because one can easily watch in different venues.

  5. Isagani Cruz says

    Any upper middle class condos you could recommend in QC, with easy access to both Trinoma and the UP/Teachers Village restaurants?

    • sugar says

      Hi Isagani – I honestly don’t know any. Sorry. But SM keeps on building Condo’s in QC.. maybe for those who can’t afford expensive ones in Makati, Taguig Area. But for houses. Ayala Heights, perhaps?

  6. Robert says

    Hi Sugar,
    Glad to see an article that mentions the city (Quezon) where I used to live many years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the general area about 10 months ago and
    I must admit I did not recognize anything or place, soooo crowded now too but
    again it’s been a long time so I shouldn’t be surprised. When I eventually (hopefully anyway) move back to the P.I. I plan on going to the street where we used to live and use that as a starting point to just walk and look around and reminisce about my very happy childhood, Hopefully I’ll at least see a house or a landmark or something that was there when I was a child. As for the tips you
    provided I’m sure people will welcome them and find them very useful and points out the positive side to city living, it’s not all traffic and pollution as a few may think. Take care and thanks for the article.

    • sugar says

      Hi Robert – Thank you. The area where I’m from is residential one really nice and just close to everywhere and walking distance to that photo of the boyscout monument :)

      • Robert says

        Hi Sugar,
        I don’t remember that Boy Scout monument so it must have been built after we left, I was a cub scout myself though. The area we used to live was San Francisco Del Monte and at the time it was nice, not great but nice and I
        certainly had no complaints. So much has changed and guess it’s taking me
        a while to absorb it all – well I was only 12 when we left so I feel that’s understandable. I definitely want to check out Palawan though, it may be the
        place for me based on some of the picures I’ve seen though Baguio is still
        a strong contender.

  7. PalawanBob says

    If I would compare Manila to Sao Paolo, Brazil or Mexico city, Mexico, I would say that Manila is fairly nice and crime-free. Pretty amazing for that size city. One feels relatively safe in Manila.
    Standing somewhere in Makati you almost feel like you are somewhere in a European city.
    Now, don’t get me wrong, I still think that, to like living there you must be born there, Sugar is born there, therefore a Manila lover.
    For me personally, living close to the monkey territory of Palawan is just fine.

    • sugar says

      Hi PalawanBob – But is it more fun in Brazil? Well, I’d chose Philippines anytime ^_^. As to living in the city. I have relatives in the provinces.. one time I ask if they would like try and live in Manila. a resounding no was the answer I understand that.

  8. corjo says

    I think it was my second posting to the Phils I was in my mid twenties ha ha so long ago.I lived there in Q.C. for about 18 months just the back of Santo Domingo on Maria Clara right next to a cigar factory.Breakfast was freshley brewed coffee and a newley rolled cigar. Playing a few games at Rommel billiards before work.
    Happy days but its been over 20 years since I visited that area.Allways thought it would be a mistake to go back just like Rocky 2 was never as good as the original ha ha.
    I think that if I were to be posted to Manila again I would live in Intramorus its truly a haven in the city.Peace quiet yet minutes away from everything you need
    In the mean time I will make do with the towns and cities of Eastern Visayas way off the beaten track there are many treasures to discover there

  9. amapangarap says

    “Hi Scott- For me Paranaque is very far already similar to Cavite.. but it’s a city and yes you get all the hustle and bustle and crowds. I like my kind of city though

    funny. i think of QC also as very far.

    btw, im from paranaque.

  10. Don says

    Good article. Not often we have someone pro Manila. There are actually a lot more expats who work and support the country that could benefit from experiences from locals. A lot of retirees are married to a local or are returning so have no need, there are a lot of us who do want to see more of the countryside around Manila.

    For me, joined a riding club and probably have ridden over 10,000 in a little of 1.5 years, all in Luzon. Most of it in the rain :(

    • sugar says

      Thanks Don, I’ve never lived anywhere except Manila. I think most expats who are from here, they’re somewhere around BGC, Makati, and Ortigas business districts.

  11. mimi_dearest says

    Dear Sugar,
    Like you, I was born and bred in QC. I cannot think of living anywhere else (although the house I inherited is actually located outside the city limits of QC in Cainta, Rizal.)

    Anyway, the sad thing IS ever since I arrived a year ago, I’ve become very sickly. I literally come down with flu-like symptoms (runny nose, fever, bad cough) every five to six weeks.

    My brothers think I’m having a hard time adjusting to the weather. I don’t think so. It’s been a year — more than enough time to acclimatize. I personally think it’s the pollution (I can’t breathe); the noise (I can’t sleep); and the density (I can’t go out on walks and walking is my favorite exercise.)

    BUT will I ever move out into the provinces? NO WAY! I think the peace and quiet will kill me.

    I’m lucky I have a piece of property that is 1400 sqm big. I plan to plant tayabak on my perimeter fence in the hope that it will help filter out the pollution and the noise from the street. I also plan to put in a running track in my garden that can double as a tricycle path for my three year old nephew and his three-month old brother (That is if I can persuade my brother and his family to move with me into my 575 sqm house.)

    But I was wondering if it would be a good thing to become a member of a club with a swimming pool or a golf course (although I don’t swim or play golf). Would you know of any in Quezon City or in Cainta or in Tagaytay? I’m also wondering about fitness centers.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Robert Harrison says

      HI Mimi_Dearest,
      I saw your post about tayabak and I wanted to ask how is it doing? Did you plant it in QC? How is it doing? Do you know where in QC or near Manila that I can buy tayabak?

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