NINE months ago we moved from Sydney to Manila. As we packed our bags and sold most of our things, I felt fearful yet excited. I had travelled to the Philippines many times but, living somewhere is a whole different ball game! Well, after 9 months I have to say that it’s a pretty awesome place to live! Here are 10 simple things I love about living in the Philippines!
1. Beer is cheaper than water
When you go to a restaurant, you’ll find that a juice is just over 100 pesos (about $2 USD) whereas a beer is only about 50 ($1)… I’m a keen budgeter (not an alcoholic), so I choose beer for purely financial reasons of course. Beer is also sold in a bucket of 6 and is usually only 250-350 pesos. If you want to order beer to your door, you can even order from San Miguel Brewery directly where you end up paying only 29 pesos a bottle when you order a case! That’s 62 cents a bottle folks!
2. No one takes themselves too seriously.
You may be fooled by the presence of guards and police with large shotguns standing outside malls, but normally they’re happily singing Air Supply or Celine Dion out loud! No matter who you are, everyone’s just trying to be as happy as they can and finding the best way to get themselves through the day. TV personalities are often engaged in all sorts of crazy comedy sketches and activities which are hysterical.
3. Live Music
The Philippines has, by far, the best live music scene I’ve ever experienced. Actually, you can travel all over the world and in every hotel lobby, cruise ship, bar or restaurant you will find a Filipino band. No only will they be sensational but, you can request anything from Pink Floyd to Justin Bieber and they will play it! This happens on every night of the week in Manila. Not like my hometown of Sydney where you need to find one of a handful or venues that might have live music and that’s only on a Friday & Saturday night. Once the sun sets, the alfresco bars and restaurants erupt with the sounds of some of the best cover bands in the world.
4. The beaches
The Philippines has some of the most remote, secluded and incredible white sand beaches in the world. I mean beaches that glow with bright blue and emerald water at the bottom of giant limestone cliffs only accessible by boat. This is the stuff of James Bond movies! With over 7000 islands to explore, the Philippines is a true beach and island adventure destination. If you’re sick of the overrun beaches of Bali and Thailand, then hop over to the Philippines for a truly unique and secluded experience.
Generally, Filipinos are happy and they take pride in their work. Unlike some other places, where you often experience jaded waiters having a bad day and taking it out on customers… Most Filipinos pride themselves on the service they provide and this results are a pretty top-class experience in my opinion.
6. No Judgement
Generally, Filipinos are very honest and make a joke out of everything rather than silently judge like many of us do in the West. For example, It’s completely acceptable (as a guy even) to check yourself out in a mirror… Ok, before you think I’m vain… Let me add some context. We recently moved into an unfurnished apartment. In the Philippines, unfurnished means bare. No hot water system, no stove or oven, no aircon, and… No mirror. When I leave the house, the first mirror of the day I see is the one in the lift! Normally this is a startling moment when I realise how unprepared I am to face the outside world… So, it’s nice to be able to stand there and carefully fix myself without anyone judging me!
7. Mangos & fresh fruits
Mangos in the Philippines are just awesome. They’re also plentiful and cheap all year round! Unlike Australia, (where you pay through the roof off season and even in season they can be hit and miss) every mango here is an absolute gem! Due to the tropical climate and number of local markets, it’s very easy to pick up cheap, fresh tropical fruits any time.
8. Unique culture
Unless the rest of South East Asia, the Philippines is a real blend of Spanish or South American culture with Asian culture… It’s not fully Asia, it’s not fully South America, it’s just the Philippines with an incredibly interesting blend. This becomes very obvious in the local language – Tagalog – which has taken many Spanish words, Street and place names, as well as the architecture of course. If you head to some of the older areas of Manila such as Intramuros, you’ll see a fascinating blend of old and new architecture and culture.
The barbecued meats here are simply sensational… I don’t know what it is… Maybe the type of charcoal the Filipinos use, but the BBQ flavour in meats is completely different, filled with a smokey body that adds so much flavour to everything! Yum!
10. Cost of living
The Philippines is a cheap place to live. Sure there are condos in areas like Bonifacio Global City where, if you want, you can spend as much money as you would in Sydney… However, it’s incredibly easy to live in absolute comfort for a fraction of the cost of Australia. For example, we’re currently renting a fantastic condo with resort facilities. We feel like we’re living in a holiday resort every day yet our monthly rent is the same as the weekly rent we were paying for our small unit in Sydney.
So all in all, the Philippines is a great place to live full of exciting destinations, colourful culture and friendly people! If you’re interesting in learning more, come join the Road Less Travelled Facebook community.