I get a lot of questions from people who want me to help them decide where in the Philippines they should retire. What city is best for a foreigner? Well, that question has as many answers as there are people! Everybody is different, has different interests and desires vary from person to person.
Maybe you are a person who likes a lot of privacy and quiet? If so, maybe you would be making a mistake by settling in a City, perhaps some secluded beachfront in the middle of nowhere would be more suited to you. Maybe you are the type who enjoys beaches. If so, you wouldn’t want to settle in Baguio, because it isn’t on the beach. Again, if you are looking for warm weather and sunshine, Baguio offers a cooler climate with more rain and probably wouldn’t suit your needs. If you are hooked to your foods that you enjoy in your home country, better to settle in a larger city like Manila, Cebu or Davao (and a few others) to ensure that you will be able to get a good supply of imported goods. Every city is different, and offers different benefits (and drawbacks too), so just do some research before making your decision.
Another thing to remember – narrow your list down to a few cities that are of interest, then go and see them! It is not expensive to travel around the Philippines, so you have the perfect chance to do some investigation and sample the flavor of each city that you think is interesting.
Now, with those things in mind, let’s look at a few cities that seem to be favorites of ex-pats:
- Angeles City: This is probably the favorite retirement haven for Americans, and Australians are starting to favor it too. There are a huge number of US Military retirees here, due to the fact that this is the former home of Clark Air Force Base until it’s closing in the 1990’s. Angeles City is famous for it’s bar scene, with plenty of liquor flowing, and plenty of girls dancing at the bars. For me, that is not what I was looking for when I moved here, so it is not the right environment for me
- Baguio City: Not as popular as Angeles, but a totally different atmosphere. If you are looking for cooler weather, Baguio should be high on your list. Baguio is known as the City of Pines because it sits among lush pine trees, which is unusual for the Philippines. This is not really a tropical atmosphere as you find in most of the Philippines.
- Manila: Personally, I don’t care for Manila. It is too polluted and crowded for my enjoyment. Also, the cost of living is very high there. However, if you want to be where the action is, that’s Manila. Any kind of activity that you may enjoy would be available in Manila. All kinds of foreign goods can be purchased there too.
- Cebu City: I would guess that among foreigners, Cebu is a close second to Angeles City when it comes to retirement destinations. Cebu is hugely popular among foreigners coming to the Philippines. Cebu is also going the way of Manila when it comes to overpopulation and such, though, so at some point in the future it may not be such a desirable location. At this time, though, Cebu probably has among the best infrastructure to be found in the Philippines, good shopping, good access to air travel, both domestic and international. Cebu would be fairly high on my list if I were to reconsider where to live.
- Davao City: A lot of people are scared to death when they think of coming to Mindanao, let alone living there. However, for me, I consider Davao as the best place to live in the Philippines. I feel that Davao is extremely safe, despite all that you hear about danger in Southern Mindanao. Davao has a hard line Mayor who does not put up with crime – petty or violent! Davao offers many of the advantages of Manila and Cebu, while maintaining more of a “small town” feel. Personally, I would not consider moving from Davao, I find it to be a perfect location.
- Cagayan de Oro City: Many of the same comments that I said about Davao apply here. Cagayan is, in my opinion, a safe place to live. It offers many activities for foreigners, and makes for a nice retirement area. Keep in mind that Mindanao is the only island in the Philippines that is outside the typhoon belt, so no matter where you choose to live in Mindanao, you will experience better weather than in many other Philippine destinations.
Of course, ex-pats choose many other towns and cities in the Philippines. I have just listed a few places that seem to have higher ex-pat populations. For me, a higher number of ex-pats means that you are more likely to find the goods and services that you expect or hope your new home to have.