Manila, the capital of the Philippines, has a population of nearly 2 million, while the metropolitan area has a population of nearly 13 million. It is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and the economic, cultural and financial center of the country. Unfortunately, the city is located in an earthquake zone, and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are frequent. And that’s not all: typhoons and floods cause great losses in agriculture and destroy houses and infrastructure.
The traffic in the city is terrible on normal days. On rainy days it is hell. The lack of an adequate public transportation system and significantly inadequate infrastructure are the main causes of heavy traffic in Manila. The public transportation is mainly buses and jeepneys, colourful means of transportation whose name and shape are derived from jeeps, military vehicles used by the US Army during the World War II. If you intend to use a car, you should know that Filipinos, who are so friendly and helpful in private, turn into aggressive and bloodthirsty animals when driving.
The school system has a very low level, so people have to go to international schools, and students who want to attend a good university have to go to other countries to study, but at least corruption is at an acceptable level, you get what you get without bribes.
Speaking of weather: In Manila, the dry summer weather is followed by the rainy season with typhoons and floods, which affect a large part of the city and especially the huts and makeshift houses of the poorest population.
Living in Manila is not expensive, but it is not cheap either when compared to the local average salary. If you have a good salary or pension, you can live pretty quietly, considering that a flat costs about $400 per month.
If you decide to live here, be prepared that you will always live among crowds. Manila is the most densely populated city in the world, with an average of more than 42,000 inhabitants per km², with peaks of almost 70,000 inhabitants/km². For comparison, Madrid has a density of 1,000 inhabitants/km² and Mexico City has a density of 6,000 inhabitants/km² The overcrowding of the city is the cause of many of its problems, especially high air pollution, high noise pollution, terrible traffic, dirt and insecurity. This lack of security leads people who can afford it to live in gated communities or residential areas that are guarded around the clock.
Filipinos are extremely friendly people by nature. Filipinos are excellent entertainers and have a natural disposition for human relations. It is also very easy to communicate with Manilans as almost everyone speaks English. There is a very clear gap between wealth and poverty, there are many rich or wealthy people and there are also many people who live below the poverty line. A discrepancy in living conditions that is obvious when you admire the skyscrapers where middle or upper class people live and the outlying neighborhoods where the poor live. There are many homeless and beggars.
As for work, we can say right away that the greatest job opportunities are to be found here. Manila is the economic center of the country, where most multinational companies are based, so it is possible to find a job if you only know the English language. Although the country’s economy is developing strongly and many IT, technology and start-up companies are constantly opening branches in Manila, attracted by the low labor costs, it is not so easy for a foreigner to find a job because the labor market is extremely competitive. Be prepared to compete with hundreds of local applicants who have good English skills and will settle for a lower salary than you.
Living in Manila – pros and cons
Living in Manila, pros
- Lively and modern city
- Friendly and helpful people
- Warm weather
- Religious and social tolerance
Living in Manila, cons
- Few employment opportunities
- Low salaries
- Terrible traffic
- Typhoons, earthquakes, floods
If you love crowds, chaos, markets full of people and life, Manila can be an interesting experience for a while. On the other hand, if you love quiet, unspoiled places where you can live in peace, do not consider it.
If you want to know more about living and working in the Philippines, I recommend you to read the article: Living and working in the Philippines