10 Things you should consider before living in the philippines
A lot of foreigners decide to live in the Philippines. The low cost of living combined with a laid back island life is a huge attraction for people all over the world. There are some other benefits to living in the Philippines. For example, if you are an English speaker, you will find that Filipinos have the best command of English in South East Asia. Also, Filipinos are very open to foreigners. They have a beautiful culture that has fully embraced diversity over the centuries.
Although these are great benefits, you really should take time to educate yourself on the environment before you go, especially if you plan on making it your new home.
If you are coming from a “first world country” like the US, Canada or Europe, there are a few things you should know before you plan on living in the Philippines.
1. Overpopulation – The archipelago’s land mass of 300,000 Square Kilometers and population of 100 Million makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. You can really feel this in the cities. Manila is one of the 12 most populous metropolitan areas in the world (2010). By comparison, the US State of Texas has about 300,000 Square Kilometers of land area with a population of 26 million. Colorado has 200,000 Square Kilometers with 5 million people (as of about 2012). The Philippines is overpopulated. If you are not a fan of being extremely close to lots of people anytime you go out, then you better prepare yourself.
2. High crime rate – Widespread poverty and rapid population growth has create a completely unbalance socio-economic situation which has created a little more crime then some other South East Asian countries. Some areas of the city are particularly bad for foreigners. Some places in Southern Mindanao actively target foreigners. The site NationMaster will give you some idea on how the Philippines crime rate stacks up against other countries in South East Asia.
3. Narrow roads – With over population, you would think that the roads would grow with the rate of transportation needs. NOT in the Philippines. The economy growth has not grown with the population. As a result, the roads are not adequately sustained or expanded. Most the roads are tight so there is constant slow moving traffic. According to the Overseas Security Advisory Counsil (OSAC), Philippines 2013 Crime and Safety Report: “Traffic is dense, chaotic, and unpredictable. The road system is crowded, and drivers are undisciplined. Driving off the national highways and paved roads is particularly dangerous, especially at night, and should be avoided.“
4. High cost of electricity – The cost of electricity is equal to or greater than some states in the US! No biggie, right? WRONG! Most wages paid are barely enough to sustain the cost of living so utility prices are waaaaay overboard.
6. Poor infrastructure – There is no proper drainage in many of the places around the Philippines. In the cities, drainage is not maintained which cause the floods when it rains heavily. Most roads are only fixed during elections where politicians can make promises and look good. The phone lines, the roads and electricity are all in disrepair in many parts of the Philippines. Government offices such as BIR do not have enough facilities to cater to filipinos who are paying taxes.
7. Poverty – By far the biggest issue that is likely the source of most other problems is poverty. It’s the source of homeless people, street kids, beggars and the crime.
8. Pollution – Air in the city is not fresh at all. Local government has garbage trucks that collects trash once or twice a week. But many filipinos throw their trash in the rivers and shores. Many families do not have toilets so all their waste go directly to the Philippine oceans. In the poor provinces the air is much cleaner. However, living in the province cannot guarantee you the comforts you may have become accustomed to.
9. Housing cost – You would think that a third world country would have much cheaper housing but you would be wrong. Due to overpopulation and lack of available land area, the housing market prices have drastically increased. You may get a good deal but you cannot get a lot of space in your condo or a house with a big yard. It is too tight in the Philippines.
10. Natural Disasters/Calamities – Many places in the Philippines get hit by typhoons annually without fail. Areas such as Metro Manila, Leyte and other gets flooded during rainy season (May – October). In 2013 there were two natural disaster that were so bad that it will affect the economy for years. Typhoon Yolanda and the earth quake in Bohol. Yolanda hit Tacloban and North Cebu causing 30 billion pesos in damage and killing over 5600 people. The earthquake in Bohol destroyed the infrastructure critical to the popular tourist destination and almost a hundred people.
What we did not mention was the level corruption in the Philippines. Like the poverty, the corruption among people in power affects almost all aspects of the life in the Philippines. Even with all of the issues in the Philippines, nothing can tarnish the beauty of the culture and its archipelago. Hopefully, in the upcoming decades the Philippines will become all that it has potential to be.