An expat’s guide to housing in Metro Manila

Most expats living in Metro Manila choose to live in Makati City, close to the Central Business District where most of Metro Manila’s high-end shopping malls, hotels and good quality restaurants are located. Traffic in Manila is notoriously bad, so expats who work within the CBD can spare themselves a tedious commute by renting a house or apartment within the vicinity of Makati city. Other popular expatriate residential areas are Bonaficio Global City in Taiguig City, an affluent, urbanized lifestyle hub with condominiums, offices, retail, dining and entertainment areas and Ayala Alabang Village and Filinvest Corporate City in the Muntipula City district.

Single expats and couples usually rent condominium units with one or two bedrooms, while families with children prefer one-level houses or two-level apartments with three or more rooms.

Expat houses in Metro Manila are often located within gated community villages where wealthier locals live. Condominiums and gated villages usually have round-the-clock security guards who monitor the coming and going of non-residents. Some of the larger villages may even have security checkpoints to screen visitors before they arrive at the main entrance.

Makati City
Forbes Park is one of Manila’s most prestigious residential enclaves, where some of the wealthiest families in the Philippines, industry leaders and foreign dignitaries reside. The Manila Golf and Country Club and the Manila Polo Club are located here. Rent on a five-bedroom house in Forbes Park is between 300,000 to 450,000 pesos a month (or about US$7500 to US$11,250). To the west of Forbes Park is Dasmarinas Village, a gated community with slightly lower rents.

The smallest of the gated villages in Makati city is Urdaneta, which has a population of about 3,500. Close by is Bel-Air, a gated village which used to be part of Urdaneta. Bel-Air is considered one the cleanest and greenest of villages in Makati City and it is known for it’s strong community spirit. Since 1993, the “village captain” of Bel-Air has been hosting community thanksgiving celebrations in April, which includes live concerts and street bazaars. A three-bedroom house in Bel-Air costs between 140,000 to 200,000 pesos a month (US$3500 to US$5000).

San Lorenzo Village is close to the part of the CBD where head offices of businesses like Allied Bank, Caltex and Bank of Commerce are located, so expats with offices in this part of the city often live in this compound. Other gated villages within the city include Legazpi, Salcedo, San Antonio, Magallanes and San Miguel.

Rockwell Centre, which was formerly the site of a thermal power plant has since been developed into a commercial and residential hub. Expats looking to rent condominiums would do well to begin their search here as Rockwell Centre is home to more than half a dozen luxury condos like Rizal Tower, Luna Gardens, Joya Lofts and Towers and One Rockwell.

Another popular condominium complex among expats in One Roxas Triangle in the Manila Bay area. A one-bedroom apartment in One Roxas Triangle costs between 200,000 to 300,000 pesos a month (US$5000 to US$7500).

Taguig City
The former headquarters of the Philippine Army, this site was developed into a commercial and residential zone in 1995. The “city” boasts a high standard of living with a convenient combination of luxury residences, corporate offices, shopping malls, a world-class hospital, a science museum, alfresco dining, and well manicured landscaped parks and gardens decorated with modern Filipino art. Residences here include the Bellagio, Morgan Suites Executive Residences, The Venice and 8 Park Avenue. The British, Japanese, American, Korean and Chinese international schools are located within Bonaficio Global City. Rents here are between 180,000 to 250,000 a month (US$4500 to US$6250).

Muntinlupa City
Ayala Alabang Village was created in 1981 and it has since grown to become a popular expat neighbourhood with plenty of sports leagues for kids to join. Filinvest City is a scaled down version of Bonaficio Global City with mega malls, a hospital, offices, entertainment options, condominiums and country clubs within its perimeters. A four-bedroom house in Ayala Alabang Village cost between 130,000 to 180,00 pesos a month (US$3250 to US$4500). A two-bedroom apartment in Filinvest City costs between 70,000 to 90,000 pesos a month (US$1750 to US$2250).

Houses and condominiums in Makati City tend to be a little older than those outside Makati. The rental market has been relatively stable in the last couple of years, though rental can get a little higher during the summer months.




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