The exciting prospect of relocating to a new country comes with a blend of expectations and challenges. If your sights are set on the Philippines, allow this guide, presented by Annexus International Relocation Service Inc., a partner of Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group, to be your guiding light as you begin this transformative journey.
With over three decades of expertise, Annexus has pioneered seamless transitions for expatriates, executives, and families relocating to the Philippines. This guide serves as a comprehensive resource, offering a glimpse into the enchanting blend of tradition and progress that defines the Philippines. Immerse yourself in a world where cultural richness converges with breathtaking landscapes and the welcoming embrace of local communities.
Embark on this exciting journey with confidence, knowing that Annexus is committed to excellence, offering a stress-free experience as you navigate the complexities of international moves. For more insight into their services, visit www.annexusinternational.com.
SECTION 1: UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS
What It’s Like to Live in The Philippines
Living in the Philippines offers a unique and diverse experience, combining vibrant urban centers with beautiful natural landscapes. Here’s an overview covering various aspects of life in the Philippines:
Culture and Lifestyle:
Hospitality: Filipinos are known for their warm hospitality and friendliness. The culture places a strong emphasis on family, community, and social gatherings.
Festivals: The Philippines is rich in festivals, celebrating religious events, cultural heritage, and local traditions. These events often feature colorful parades, music, and traditional dances.
Climate: The country has a tropical climate with three distinct seasons:
• Tag-init (hot dry) – usually between March through June;
• Tag-ulan (rainy) – usually between July through December. Expect warm temperatures and occasional typhoons during the rainy season.
• Tag-lamig (cool dry) – usually from November through mid-February.
Cost of Living:
Affordable Living: The cost of living can be relatively low, especially outside major cities. Housing, transportation, and food expenses are generally affordable.
Diverse Flavors: Filipino cuisine is a fusion of indigenous, Spanish, Chinese, and American influences. It features a variety of flavorful dishes, with rice as a staple. Street food is also popular.
English Proficiency: English is widely spoken and is one of the official languages, making it easier for expatriates to communicate. Tagalog (Filipino) is the national language.
Public Transportation: In urban areas, public transportation includes jeepneys, buses, and tricycles. Traffic can be a challenge in major cities.
Healthcare and Education:
Healthcare Facilities: Healthcare services are available, with modern facilities in urban centers. Expatriates may choose between private and public healthcare.
Education: The Philippines has a mix of public and private schools, as well as international schools offering various curricula. English is often the medium of instruction.
Recreation and Tourism:
Beautiful Beaches: The Philippines is famous for its stunning beaches and islands. Popular destinations include Palawan, Boracay, and Siargao.
Outdoor Activities: Scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, and other outdoor activities are easily accessible due to the country’s diverse landscapes.
Traffic and Infrastructure: Traffic congestion and occasional infrastructure challenges can be encountered, especially in major cities.
Natural Disasters: The Philippines is prone to typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, requiring awareness and preparedness.
Living in the Philippines offers a mix of cultural richness, natural beauty, and the challenges that come with a developing nation. Adaptability, an open mind, and an appreciation for the local culture contribute to a rewarding experience in this Southeast Asian country.
Foreigners living in the Philippines should be aware of several major cultural differences to help them adapt and integrate into Filipino society. While Filipinos are generally welcoming and accommodating, understanding and respecting these cultural differences can enhance one’s experience as an expatriate. Here are some key cultural differences to prepare for:
Respect for Elders and People of Authority: Filipino culture places a strong emphasis on respect for elders. It’s customary to use polite terms like “po” and “opo” when speaking to older or more senior individuals, standing up when an elder enters the room is a sign of respect, offering a seat, or having one go ahead in line.
Close-Knit Families: Family is central to Filipino life, and extended families often live together or in close proximity. Expect to be involved in family gatherings and celebrations, and build strong relationships with Filipino relatives and in-laws, especially if you settle with a Filipino/Filipina.
Hospitality: Filipinos are known for their hospitality. It’s common for people to offer food and drinks when you visit their homes, and guests are expected to accept graciously. Refusing an offer can be considered impolite.
Smiles, Laughter, and Resilience: Filipinos are generally friendly and cheerful. Smiles and laughter can be contagious and are a big part of our culture, even in difficult situations. Thus, Filipinos have been known to be resilient in the face of life-altering challenges. Countering a negative situation with a positive attitude or outlook is what makes Filipinos continue to thrive.
Punctuality: While being on time for formal and business events is important, Filipinos tend to be more flexible with time in social settings. Don’t be surprised if gatherings start a little later than scheduled. Sometimes, when you ask if they’re on the way, what they mean is that they had just actually left to meet you or are just getting ready to leave.
Religious Practices: The Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic, and religion plays a significant role in daily life. Be respectful of religious customs and traditions, including attending church services during major religious festivals. While predominantly Christian, the Philippines also observes other religious holidays such as those of Muslims (Eid Ul-Adha and Eid al-Fitr).
Saving Face: Filipinos are often sensitive to not causing embarrassment or “losing face” in public. It’s considered impolite to openly criticize or correct someone in front of others. Tact and diplomacy are highly valued.
Non-Verbal Communication: Filipinos fall within the high-context culture spectrum. Non-verbal cues, such as body language, tone, and facial expressions, are important in Filipino communication. Pay attention to subtle cues and gestures to better understand the context of a conversation. Low-context cultures are usually straightforward and more explicit in communication.
Hierarchy in the Workplace: Respect for authority and hierarchy is common in Filipino workplaces. Titles and seniority are significant, and it’s essential to show deference to superiors. Many Filipinos still call their superiors “Sir”, “Ma’am”, or “Boss” as compared to other companies or in other countries where it is acceptable to address superiors or managers by their first name.
Festivals and Celebrations: The Philippines is known for its numerous festivals and celebrations throughout the year, which are often religion-based. Joining in the festivities, like the colorful Sinulog or lively Ati-Atihan, can be a great way to immerse yourself in Filipino culture.
Pasalubong: Bringing a small gift, known as “pasalubong,” when visiting someone’s home or office is a common practice in the Philippines. It’s a sign of appreciation and thoughtfulness.
Sensitivity to Criticism: Filipinos are generally sensitive to criticism, especially in public or social settings. Be mindful of how you provide feedback or address issues and do so with tact and respect.
By understanding and embracing these cultural differences, foreigners can build positive relationships and create a more harmonious and enjoyable experience while living in the Philippines. Being open, respectful, and willing to learn about the local culture will go a long way in making your stay in the Philippines rewarding and fulfilling.
The Philippines is a multi-lingual state with 175 living languages and dialects. The word “Filipino” refers to the people native to this country as well as to the local official vernacular. Filipino (previously referred to as Tagalog) and English are two of the major languages spoken in the Philippines.
The more than 170 dialects used in the country are further classified into 8 major dialects, namely: Bicolano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon (Ilonggo), Ilocano, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Tagalog, and Waray. These are spoken by locals often interchangeably with Filipino when conversing amongst themselves.
Local businesses still widely use the Filipino language, but almost always, whether in the local or multinational industries, the English language is largely required in both written and spoken forms. It would still be good to know a few words or phrases in Filipino or any of the dialects, especially as this will endear foreigners more to the Filipinos. It will come in handy, especially when visiting places outside of Metropolitan Manila.
Economy and Job Market
According to the latest economic updates released by the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) or the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, GDP grew by 5.3%, anchored on historic high employment levels, acceleration of tourism, and increasing investment registration activities. The government implements catch-up plans and expedites programs and projects for the rest of the year to achieve the growth target of 6.0% to 7.0% for 2023.
The Philippine Statistics Authority further reported that the unemployment rate in August 2023 was at 4.4%. This is a significant decline from the 5.3% registered in the same month last year and from the 4.8% in July 2023. This translates to about 468,000 fewer unemployed individuals.
In light of the latest employment statistics, the current government administration’s commitment is being challenged to generate high-quality and high-paying job opportunities for workers.
SECTION 2: COST OF LIVING AND LIFESTYLE
Cost of Living
The cost of living in the Philippines can vary widely depending on the city or region, with urban areas generally being more expensive than rural ones. Overall, the cost of living in the Philippines is lower than in many Western countries, but it is still more expensive than in some other Southeast Asian nations. Here are some key points to consider:
Housing: Rent and property prices can be relatively affordable in the Philippines, especially in smaller cities and rural areas. In major cities like Manila, Cebu, and Davao, housing costs can be higher, but they are still generally lower than in many Western cities.
Food: The cost of food in the Philippines can vary, but generally, it is less expensive than in many Western countries. Street food and local markets offer affordable options while dining in mid to upscale restaurants can be more costly.
Transportation: Public transportation, such as buses and jeepneys, is usually affordable. However, owning a car can be expensive due to high import taxes and fuel prices.
Healthcare: Healthcare costs in the Philippines are generally lower than in Western countries, making it a popular destination for medical tourism. The quality of healthcare services can vary, so it’s essential to research and choose reputable facilities.
Education: Private education can be relatively expensive, but public education is available and more affordable. Universities and colleges in the Philippines often offer education at a lower cost compared to many Western countries.
With the Philippines being a popular hub for business process outsourcing services, the influx of foreign families propelled the establishment of additional international schools across the country. Within Metropolitan Manila, while still the preferred schools offering international baccalaureate, the International School Manila (ISM) and the British School Manila (BSM) no longer dominate this area. Foreign families have other alternative options where to send their children, and which are most likely less costly.
Utilities: The cost of utilities like electricity, water, and internet can be reasonable in the Philippines. Amongst the three, electricity is the most expensive, while the internet can be a fixed monthly amount depending on the package one chooses to avail.
It’s important to note that living costs can vary significantly from one location to another within the Philippines. For example, living in the capital city, Manila, may be more expensive than in smaller provincial towns. Additionally, your lifestyle and personal choices will greatly influence your overall cost of living.
When comparing the cost of living in the Philippines to other countries, it’s crucial to consider your specific needs, lifestyle, and expectations. It’s also a good idea to research and consult local resources to get a more accurate and up-to-date picture of the cost of living in your desired area.
The average lifestyle in the Philippines can vary widely depending on factors such as location, socioeconomic status, and cultural background.
It’s important to note that the Philippines is a diverse country with over 7,000 islands, and lifestyle variations can be significant from one region to another. Urban areas like Metro Manila have a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, while rural areas may have a more traditional and agrarian way of life. The average lifestyle can differ greatly based on factors like income, occupation, and individual preferences.
There are some common elements that can be described as part of the typical Filipino lifestyle:
Family-Centeredness: The Philippines is known for its strong family ties and close-knit communities. Many Filipinos live with or near extended family members, and family gatherings and celebrations are an integral part of life. Value for the family is also the driving force for most decisions made by the people, whether at work or in their personal and individual lives.
Hospitality: Filipinos are renowned for their warm and welcoming nature. Hospitality and generosity are important cultural values, and it’s common to offer guests food and refreshments, or their seats in a meeting or transportation, even if it means sacrificing their own benefit or enjoyment.
Festivals and Celebrations: The Philippines is a country with a rich tradition of fiestas and festivals. Various towns and regions have their unique celebrations, often with parades, cultural performances, and special dishes. Major holidays, such as Christmas and Holy Week, are widely celebrated.
In no small measure, most Filipinos still make an effort to celebrate and prepare for these traditions despite challenges, i.e., financial restraints.
Food: Filipino cuisine is diverse and flavorful. It often includes rice as a staple, along with various dishes made from pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables. Street food is also popular, offering a wide range of affordable and delicious options.
Transportation: Public transportation, such as jeepneys and tricycles, is commonly used for daily commuting, particularly in urban areas. Motorcycles and scooters are also prevalent. In larger cities like Manila, there’s a mix of public transport and private vehicles.
Community Life: In many areas, neighbors know each other well, and there’s a strong sense of community. Public markets and local shops are essential for buying everyday goods.
Religion: The Philippines is predominantly Catholic, and religion plays a significant role in daily life. Church attendance and religious celebrations are vital for many Filipinos.
Education: Education is highly valued in the Philippines, and many families prioritize sending their children to school. Public education is available, but private schools are also popular, particularly at the primary and secondary levels.
Entertainment: Karaoke or videoke is a favorite pastime in the The Philippines or amongst Filipinos abroad. You can find karaoke machines in many households and entertainment venues. Watching basketball, volleyball, and boxing is also popular, with many Filipinos being passionate sports fans.
Shopping: Filipinos enjoy shopping at malls and markets, and there’s a wide range of retail options from budget-friendly to high-end. Most cities in the country have a shopping center.
However, you will also find that people mostly window-shop or hang out. Some simply prefer being inside the mall as it provides temporary comfort from the unforgiving heat and humidity outside.
Healthcare services are widely available, from local government clinics to private hospitals.
Healthcare costs may be generally lower than in Western countries, making it a popular destination for medical tourism. The quality of healthcare services can vary, so it’s essential to research and choose reputable facilities.
International schools are mainly the top and ideal choice of expats to enroll their children in. With the influx of foreign families in the country, more international schools have opened to accommodate the need for their children’s continuing education. The existing system presents both opportunities and challenges depending on the circumstances and location.
Many major cities in the Philippines, especially in Metro Manila and Cebu, have international schools that cater to the educational needs of expatriate children. These schools often follow foreign curricula such as the American, British, or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. They provide a familiar and high-quality education that expat families may prefer.
English is one of the official languages of the Philippines, and it is commonly used as the medium of instruction in schools. This can be an advantage for expat children who are fluent in English. However, some international schools also offer bilingual programs or curricula in other languages, such as Spanish or French.
Expatriate children are legally allowed to attend public schools in the Philippines, and in some cases, they may do so. However, the quality of public education can vary, and language barriers may be a challenge in some cases since Filipino (Tagalog) is also used in instruction.
The curriculum in Philippine schools typically follows a 10-year basic education program, consisting of six years of elementary and four years of high school. International schools may offer additional programs, such as the IB Diploma or Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which can be valuable for expat students preparing for further education abroad.
International schools in the Philippines are relatively expensive. The cost of tuition and fees varies depending on the school’s reputation, facilities, and the grade level of the student. Some companies offer educational allowances as part of expatriate compensation packages to help offset these costs.
Many international schools in the Philippines provide modern facilities, extracurricular activities, and a range of resources to support students’ learning and development.
Some expat families may opt for homeschooling as an alternative to traditional school settings. The Philippines has a growing homeschooling community, and it allows flexibility in terms of curriculum and scheduling.
When considering education for expat children in the Philippines, it’s essential to research and choose the right school or educational option that aligns with your child’s needs and your family’s preferences. Additionally, you should be aware of visa requirements for expat students and the necessary documentation for enrollment in Philippine schools.
SECTION 3: LEGAL AND IMMIGRATION ASPECTS
Legal Considerations When Moving to The Philippines
When moving to the Philippines, it is important that expatriates ensure that the proper visas are applied for them. Companies, in general, are the principal sponsors of expatriates and their dependents when relocating to the Philippines. Thus, the sponsoring organization must first and foremost be properly registered and recognized to do business in the Philippines.
It is important to note that work and dependent visas are applied for while in-country. They cannot be lodged while abroad.
Thus, prior to traveling to the Philippines, the foreign national must ensure that all required documents, including those needed for their children’s enrollment, are readily at hand. Should any of the documents be legalized or apostilled, this should be completed before one travels to avoid incurring additional unnecessary costs.
Further, before traveling into the country, a temporary tourist or business visa (9A visa category) must be implemented on one’s passport. This is especially true for visa-restricted nationals.
Visa-restricted nationals are required to apply for a 9A visa in the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in their home country or point of origin before traveling to the Philippines. The initial validity granted for visa-restricted nationals can range from 14 days to a maximum of 59 days.
Non-restricted visa nationals, on the other hand, may enter the Philippines without a visa. The 9A visa will be issued upon arrival and will be valid for 30 days.
Further to the above, other requirements to be allowed entry in the county are:
- Passport with a validity of 6 months from the date of arrival;
- Outbound/return ticket must be presented.
Visa processing in the Philippines is a lengthy process. Thus, to ensure one’s application proceeds on time and accordingly, expats are advised to refrain from leaving the country while the visa is being processed to avoid being subjected to Revalidation.
Revalidation occurs when the expat is out of the country while the visa is approved or when the visa is approved but the expat insists on traveling out of the country rather than having the visa implemented.
Process of Acquiring Work Visas for Professionals and Their Families
As mentioned previously, work and dependent visas (for accompanying family members) have to be applied for in-country. The type of visa depends on the nature of business and the location of the sponsoring organization.
There are primarily at least 2-3 government agencies responsible for granting a foreign national’s legal status to work and live in the Philippines.
The first step in applying for a work visa requires the application of an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). A labor market test is conducted before the position being applied for is approved and granted for the foreign national. The entire process is completed within 45 days, from the publication of the position up to the approval and issuance of an AEP card, which can be completed earlier barring any delays.
Once the AEP has been approved, the next step is to apply for a Provisional Work Permit (PWP) with the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
The PWP allows the foreign national to work in the country while the 9G visa (Pre-arranged Commercial Visa) or the PEZA visa is being processed. These two visas, dependent on the type and location of the sponsoring organization, are the most common work visas applied for by foreign nationals.
Further, the PWP is valid for 3 months and can be extended for another 3 months. Since the long-term work visa application is still ongoing, the 9A visa of the foreign national (including that of their accompanying family members) must be extended. Processing time is between 1 to 2 weeks.
Note that the PWP allows them to work, while the 9A visa allows the (each) foreign national to stay in the country within the validity granted. The 9A visa automatically cancels out once they leave the country. Thus, a new one should be granted before or upon their return depending on their visa category.
The 9G Visa is applied for and approved by BI and may take 2-3 months to complete from the date of application.
The PEZA Visa is processed and approved by PEZA and implemented by BI, with the entire process completing between 1 to 2 months from the date of application.
Lastly, dependent visas are limited to the spouse and legitimate children of the expat. Extended family members are only granted a 9A visa. The initial visa can be extended to a maximum stay of 16 months.
Processes for Setting Up a New Business or a Branch of an Existing Company
Setting up a new business or a branch of an existing company in the Philippines involves several steps and processes. The specific requirements and procedures may vary depending on the type of business and the location within the Philippines.
It’s essential to consult with a local business attorney or engage the services of a professional business registration and compliance consultant to guide you through the process. Requirements and procedures may change over time, so it’s crucial to stay informed and ensure that you are in full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.
Requirements for Permanent Residency or Citizenship
Permanent residency is not granted to everyone. As of today, there are different policies to consider when applying for permanent residency. Citizenship is granted to children with at least one Filipino parent.
SECTION 4: BUSINESS CULTURE AND WORK ETHIC
The work culture in the Philippines is influenced by a mix of factors, including the country’s history, values, and the influence of various cultures.
It’s important to note that work culture can vary depending on the specific industry, company, and location in the Philippines. In multinational corporations and larger cities, you may find the work culture to be more cosmopolitan and similar to Western work environments. Smaller companies and businesses may exhibit a more traditional Filipino work culture.
Business customs in the Philippines can differ from those in other countries due to the unique cultural, historical, and social factors that shape the country’s business practices.
Building and maintaining relationships are paramount in Filipino business culture. Trust and personal connections play a significant role in business dealings, thus people spend time socializing and getting to know each other outside the workplace, in contrast to others with transactional cultures.
The Philippines has a strong sense of hierarchy and respect for authority. Titles and seniority are highly regarded, and it’s essential to show respect to superiors, both in words and actions. This hierarchical structure can be more pronounced compared to some Western countries.
Age is highly respected in the Philippines, and seniority is often associated with wisdom and experience. This respect for elders extends to the workplace, where older colleagues may be deferred to and consulted for guidance.
The family is a central unit in Filipino culture, and this influence is felt in the workplace. Employees may prioritize family obligations, and employers often understand and support this.
Filipinos value “saving face” or avoiding public embarrassment. In business dealings, criticism or negative feedback may be delivered indirectly or with tact to avoid causing embarrassment or offense. This contrasts with more direct communication styles in some cultures.
Giving and receiving gifts is a common practice in Philippine business culture. It is a way to build and strengthen relationships. However, gifts should be given and received with modesty and humility. Excessive or ostentatious gift-giving can be seen as inappropriate and goes against the employee code of conduct.
“Filipino Time” can lead to more flexible schedules, where meetings and events may start later than scheduled. It’s important to be patient and understanding of this cultural practice.
Decision-making can be consensus-driven in the Philippines. It often involves consulting with various stakeholders, and decisions may take longer to reach. This contrasts with more top-down decision-making in some cultures.
Filipinos tend to use indirect communication, which can be challenging for those from more direct communication cultures. Messages may be delivered subtly, and it’s important to read between the lines.
Religious practices and observances, particularly within a predominantly Catholic population, can influence business customs. Meetings or events may be scheduled around religious holidays, and discussions may incorporate religious references.
The concept of “Mabuting Loob”, which means having a good heart or pure intentions, is significant in Filipino culture. Business transactions often incorporate this notion of acting with integrity and sincerity.
The Philippines is a diverse country with various ethnicities and languages. Business customs promote diversity and inclusion, with laws protecting the rights of workers against discrimination.
It’s essential for individuals and companies doing business in the Philippines to be aware of these customs and practices and to adapt to them as necessary. Building strong relationships, showing respect, and being culturally sensitive are key to successful business interactions in the Philippines.
Typical Workday and Work Week
The typical workday and workweek in the Philippines can vary depending on the industry, company, and individual preferences.
The standard workweek in the Philippines typically consists of five working days, from Monday to Friday. This is like the common Monday-through-Friday workweek in many Western countries.
The standard work hours in the Philippines are typically eight hours a day, with a one-hour lunch break. The most common work shift is from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Some businesses and industries, such as call centers or BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) companies, operate on a 24/7 basis, so employees in these sectors may have varying shifts, including night shifts.
Overtime work is common, and employees are typically compensated for overtime hours. Overtime pay is regulated by labor laws, and it is often set at a higher rate than regular pay.
Work schedules can vary, and some employees may have the flexibility to adjust their work hours if they meet their required weekly hours. Flextime arrangements may be available in some companies.
Short breaks for coffee or snacks are common throughout the day, and they are often considered an opportunity for socializing with colleagues. Employees may or may not take them.
Saturday is typically a regular rest day, as is Sunday, although some businesses may offer a whole or half-day schedule on Saturdays. Sunday is generally considered a day of rest and is widely observed as a day off.
Tips for Making Good Business Relationships
Building good business relationships in the Philippines, like in many other cultures, involves a combination of professional etiquette and cultural awareness. Here are some tips to help you establish and maintain successful business relationships in the Philippines:
Build Personal Connections:
Filipinos value personal relationships. Take the time to build personal connections before diving into business discussions.
Small talk and friendly conversations are often appreciated. Discussing family, hobbies, or local topics can help break the ice.
Respect Hierarchy and Titles:
Filipinos have a hierarchical culture, and respecting authority is crucial. Address people using their titles and surnames, especially in the initial stages of your relationship.
Use Polite Language:
Employ polite language and gestures. Saying “po” and “opo” (similar to ‘yes’ and ‘please’) shows respect.
Avoid confrontational or aggressive communication. Filipinos tend to prefer indirect communication.
Whenever possible, conduct face-to-face meetings. This helps build trust and a sense of connection.
Business relationships are often strengthened through in-person interactions.
Business Dinners and Socializing:
Business often extends beyond the office. Invitations to meals, events, or other social activities are common and can be an excellent way to strengthen relationships.
Gift-giving is a common practice in the Philippines. Small, thoughtful gifts are appreciated and can help establish goodwill.
When presenting a gift, do so with both hands as a sign of respect.
Patience and Flexibility:
Business negotiations in the Philippines may take time. Be patient and avoid rushing the process. Be flexible in your approach, as unexpected changes can occur.
Be aware of and respect Filipino customs and traditions. This includes understanding religious practices, holidays, and social norms.
Avoid sensitive topics such as politics and religion unless the other party brings them up.
Demonstrating reliability is crucial. If you make promises, ensure you follow through on them. Maintain clear and consistent communication throughout the business relationship.
Understand the Concept of “Saving Face”:
Filipinos often avoid confrontation and value saving face. Provide feedback and critique in a constructive and diplomatic manner.
Networking is essential in the Philippines. Attend industry events, join business organizations, and actively participate in community activities to expand your network.
Remember that each business relationship is unique, and adapting to the specific context and individuals involved is essential. Showing genuine interest in the people you work with and respecting their culture will contribute significantly to the success of your business relationships in the Philippines.
SECTION 5: HOUSING AND ACCOMMODATION
Commonly Available Accommodation
Expats have the option of leasing a condominium unit or a single-detached house in any one of the villages in the metropolitan area. Serviced apartments, hotels, and Airbnb are also other options for a short-term stay.
Housing Prices Across Different Regions
Rental is typically higher in the metropolitan area compared to other regions in the country.
Key Considerations When Searching for Housing
In searching for a property, we take into consideration the following:
- Housing budget
- Furnishing status (semi, unfurnished, fully)
- Stability and security of the property
- Location and proximity to work and school, as well as to service establishments.
- Travel time and accessibility to and from these places matter.
Process of Purchasing a Property
The process of purchasing a property in the Philippines involves several steps and can vary depending on the type of property (e.g., land, house, condominium) and whether it’s a new development or a resale.
Here is a general overview:
- Identify the type of property you want to purchase and research locations and prices to find a property that fits your needs and budget.
- While not mandatory, working with a licensed real estate agent can help you navigate the process, especially if you’re not familiar with the local real estate market.
- Verify the ownership of the property and check for any liens or encumbrances. Confirm the authenticity of the land title by requesting a copy from the owner or the seller.
- Once you’ve found a property you’re interested in, negotiate the purchase price with the seller.
- Some transactions begin with the buyer submitting a Letter of Intent. This document expresses the buyer’s serious interest in the property and outlines the basic terms of the purchase.
- Once the terms are agreed upon, a reservation agreement may be signed, accompanied by a reservation fee. This fee temporarily “reserves” the property for you while the legal and financial aspects are sorted out.
- Decide whether you will pay in full or finance the purchase. If financing, secure a mortgage loan from a bank or other financial institution.
- The next step involves signing either a Contract to Sell or a Deed of Sale, depending on the arrangement with the seller. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the sale.
- Pay the necessary taxes and fees, including the capital gains tax, documentary stamp tax, transfer tax, and registration fees.
- The transfer of title takes place at the Registry of Deeds. The seller and buyer, or their representatives, must be present to sign the necessary documents.
- Visit any of the branches of the utility services to transfer these (water, electricity, etc.) to your name.
- Take possession of the property and ensure that the utilities are functioning.
- Post-Transaction, update your records to reflect the new ownership and keep a copy of all transaction documents for your records.
It’s essential to work with a reliable lawyer to guide you through the legal aspects of the transaction and ensure that all necessary documents are in order. Additionally, it’s advisable to seek professional advice before making any significant financial decisions. The specific steps and requirements may also be subject to change, so it’s crucial to consult local authorities and legal professionals for the most up-to-date information.
SECTION 6: TRANSPORTATION AND CONNECTIVITY
Main Forms of Transportation
Jeepneys, trains (MRT and LRT), taxis, and buses are a few of the common public transportation options in the Philippines.
In terms of reliability, Grab is more dependable than choosing to commute with the other public transportation mentioned.
Internet and Mobile Connectivity
Internet and mobile connectivity are generally reliable and available in the city. In some cases, internet connectivity can be limited in provinces.
Best Cities or Regions for Commuting to Work
Expats’ preferred locations are BGC (Bonifacio Global City) in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City; Makati City, and Alabang in Muntinlupa City as these are mixed-used developments integrating various functions and activities in one area.
These locations offer a vibrant, dynamic, and sustainable way of catering to the different needs and lifestyles of those living and working in the area.
Accessibility to Main Business Hubs
Major business hubs in the Philippines, such as Makati City, Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City, and Alabang, are designed to be accessible and well-connected. The Philippines has been investing in transportation infrastructure to enhance accessibility to business districts.
Metropolitan Manila, where these three (3) are, has an extensive public transportation network, including buses, jeepneys, and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems.
The road networks in and around major business hubs are designed to facilitate smooth traffic flow. However, traffic congestion can still be a challenge in highly urbanized areas.
Business districts often have pedestrian-friendly zones and walkways to encourage walking and enhance connectivity between different establishments.
You will also find that efforts have been made to promote sustainable transportation, including the development of bicycle lanes and infrastructure to support cycling. This initiative especially started during the pandemic.
Initiatives to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities (PWDs), such as the provision of ramps and other facilities, contribute to a more inclusive environment.
The main business hubs are often situated within reasonable proximity to international and domestic airports, facilitating business travel. However, do expect traffic congestion to and around the area.
Access to reliable and high-speed internet is crucial for business operations. The Philippines has been working on improving its telecommunications infrastructure to support the needs of businesses.
SECTION 7: SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND NETWORKING
Filipinos are generally known for their warmth, friendliness, and hospitality, making the Philippines a relatively welcoming country for foreigners. The Filipino culture places a strong emphasis on the concept of “kapwa,” which highlights a sense of shared humanity and interconnectedness. As a result, many foreigners find it easy to make friends and feel a sense of belonging in Filipino society.
Integration into Filipino society can be relatively smooth for many expatriates, especially in urban areas where there is a higher level of cultural diversity. English is widely spoken and understood, which makes communication easier for English-speaking foreigners. Additionally, Filipinos are often curious about other cultures and are open to learning about and embracing different customs and traditions.
However, like in any country, the level of ease in integration can vary depending on individual factors such as personality, openness, and willingness to adapt. Some foreigners may find it helpful to participate in local activities, engage with the community, and show respect for Filipino customs and traditions to facilitate integration.
It’s worth noting that the Philippines is a diverse country with various regional cultures and languages, so experiences may differ depending on the specific location. In general, though, many foreigners find the Philippines to be a welcoming and friendly place to live.
Communities or Groups for Expats
Networking Options in Manila
Manila, being a cosmopolitan city, has several established communities and groups catering to expatriates. These communities provide support, social interaction, and assistance in navigating the challenges of living in a new country. Some notable expat communities and groups in Manila include:
American Association of the Philippines (AAP): A community for Americans living in the Philippines, the AAP organizes events and provides a platform for networking and socializing.
British Women’s Association (BWA): A group for British expat women in Manila, offering social events, charity work, and support.
Manila Expat Forum: An online forum where expats in Manila can share information, ask questions, and connect with each other.
Internations: An international community with a presence in Manila, Internations hosts events and provides a platform for expats to connect.
Foreign Correspondents Club of the Philippines (FCCP): While primarily for journalists, the FCCP also attracts expats interested in media and current affairs.
Manila Expat Meetup: Regular meetups organized through platforms like Meetup.com, where expats can socialize and network.
Manila Expat Spouses: A group focused on the spouses of expats, providing support and a social network.
These communities often organize social events, cultural activities, and networking opportunities, creating a sense of belonging for expatriates in Manila. It’s a good idea for newcomers to explore these groups to ease the transition and build connections in their new environment.
SECTION 8: DEALING WITH EMERGENCIES
The Philippines faces various natural and man-made emergencies, and the level of preparedness can vary depending on the specific region and the type of emergency.
Here are some aspects to consider:
Natural Disasters: The Philippines is prone to natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. The government has implemented disaster risk reduction and management programs to enhance preparedness, including early warning systems, evacuation plans, and public awareness campaigns. However, the frequency and intensity of natural disasters can sometimes strain response efforts.
Health Emergencies: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of healthcare preparedness. The Philippines has a healthcare system that has been improving, but resources can be limited in certain areas, and access to quality healthcare may vary. The government has taken steps to enhance its healthcare infrastructure and response capabilities.
Security Concerns: Certain areas in the Philippines may face security challenges, such as insurgency and terrorism. The government, in collaboration with security forces, takes measures to address these concerns and maintain public safety. Travel advisories and security alerts are often issued to inform both residents and visitors.
Response and Recovery: The Philippines has experience in responding to emergencies, both natural and man-made. Local government units are typically at the forefront of emergency response efforts, with support from national agencies and non-governmental organizations. International assistance may also be sought, especially during major disasters.
While efforts have been made to improve preparedness, challenges persist, including issues related to infrastructure, funding, and coordination. It’s essential for residents, expatriates, and visitors to stay informed, follow government advisories, and be proactive in their own emergency preparedness, such as having emergency kits, knowing evacuation routes, and staying updated on local conditions. Additionally, expatriates should familiarize themselves with emergency protocols and resources provided by their employers or expat communities.
Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group
Reloc8 consists of key partners located in 12 countries across the Asia Pacific region. Together, we offer employee mobility services to clients seeking assistance in 23 locations throughout Asia, including: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. In addition to these, we extend our services to the following destinations: Fiji, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, The Solomons, The Maldives, and Guam. Our members represent the premier destination and immigration service providers in the Asia Pacific region. Each partner maintains their unique style and cultural identity, contributing to the Alliance’s diverse and multicultural atmosphere. However, they all share a collective commitment to upholding the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and service excellence.