How do I prepare for living in the Philippines?

2023 © Wikiask
Main topic: Humanities
Other topics: Philippines
Short answer:
  • Heat and humidity take some time to get used to.
  • One needs medical insurance and ensure good medical facilities are in the vicinity.
  • It would help to learn basic Tagalog or Filipino.
  • There are fewer rights for LGBTQ people.

The Philippines has diverse cultural life and busy modern cities. The archipelago of more than 7,000 islands is a world of its own.

The biggest draw for the Philippines is the pleasant climate and abundance of pristine places to live. The Philippines is popular among expats and many pensioners looking for a place to spend their time after retirement.

Central Metro Manila area with Ortigas, BGC and Makati skyline
Central Metro Manila area with Ortigas, BGC and Makati skyline. Patrickroque01 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With the low cost of living and the favorable prices for accommodation, the Philippines has various options for different budgets.

If one is ready to move to the Philippines, they should be aware of its abundance and shortcomings. Some of the important pointers to remember are:

The high heat, humidity, and tropical rains of the Philippines make it a little challenging to enjoy[edit]

It is hot and humid in the Philippines all year round. January is considered the 'coldest' month, with an average temperature of 25.5°C, while May is the hottest, at 28.3°C on average.

However, in some places, the temperature can soar much higher. In May 2021, the temperature in the northern city of Tuguegarao hit 40.3°C, while the heat index reached 53°C in Dagupan in the same month.

The high temperature and persistently high humidity could be overwhelming for foreigners.

Humidity remains at monthly averages ranging from 71% in March to 85% in September.

It is recommended to get the wardrobe ready for tropical weather. One may include cotton and linen-based clothes like tank tops and shorts. Also, one must not forget to use sunscreen.

It is also recommended to carry an umbrella and stock the food during the rainy season, as tropical downpours are heavy and may last longer than expected.[1]

The medical infrastructure is relatively underdeveloped in the Philippines[edit]

The Philippines' public healthcare system isn't among the numerous reasons to migrate here.

The Lancet and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation placed Philippine healthcare 124th out of 195 in 2018. The US ranked 29th.

If it spent more than 4.4% of its GDP on healthcare, like Sudan and Yemen, the Philippines would rank higher.[2]

Before relocating to the Philippines, consider medical insurance and quality medical facilities near the accommodation.

Punctuality isn't a favored trait in Philippines[edit]

The Philippines is one of at least a dozen nations and cultures with a relaxed attitude about punctuality, but the rationale is intriguing.

It may have begun with Spanish colonists who used their tardiness as a prestige symbol to demonstrate they could breach societal norms.

Being late is so common that there is term "Filipino time" to denote this behavior. Some Filipinos now communicate an event's start time an hour early so it starts on their favored schedule.[3]

So one must expect some delays and adjust their arrival accordingly.

One can get by with only English, but it's a good idea to acquire some introductory Filipino as well[edit]

Filipino and English are the official languages and most spoken in the Philippines.

It's the fourth-most English-speaking nation. One can communicate with 64 million individuals in the country, or two-thirds of the population, but it is highly recommended to learn introductory Filipino.

On smaller islands and in everyday encounters with servers, grocers, taxi drivers, and other non-English speakers, a few phrases in Filipino will make life simpler.

Learning introductory Filipino won't seem complicated when one realizes that this will help them navigate almost anywhere in a nation with 175 languages and dialects.[4]

Filipino cuisine is delicious and has a wide variety of offerings[edit]

One's taste buds will be pleased about the relocation, even if they are apprehensive. The Carabao mango has a delightful flavor. It is one of the varieties of delicious mangoes available in the Philippines.

Filipino cuisine is fresh, spicy, and meat-based. Few dishes like balut may be outrageous to foreigners, but most are simply tantalizing.

Some dishes are national, while others are regional. Some of the popular Filipino dishes are:

  • Adobo, several types of meat marinated in spices and vinegar
Chicken adobo. dbgg1979 on flickr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Chicken or pork stewed in soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorns, and bay leaves
  • Kare-Kare or oxtail in a creamy peanut sauce
  • Fermented seafood paste
  • Kamaro, a delicacy prepared with sautéed insects
  • Lechon, a whole spit-roasted pig with liver sauce
Lechon getting prepared for communal feast in the Philippines
Lechon getting prepared for communal feast in the Philippines. whologwhy, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Sisig, a serving of finely sliced pig's face, liver, and brain
  • Popular vegetarian options include Turon, which is a deep-fried banana roll. Bibingka- a type of baked rice cake. And coconut rice cakes.[5]
Turon banana
Turon, deep-fried banana roll. FoxLad at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is relatively affordable to live in the Philippines[edit]

Living in the Philippines is affordable, especially if you come from a developed nation. Rent, transit, and restaurants are cheap, but apparels like jeans, trendy trainers, and sophisticated shoes are not.

Manila was the only Filipino city in Mercer's 2021 Cost of Living Survey, ranking 78th and cheaper than 14 American cities.

If you're moving to the Philippines, you may need to convert part of your funds into pesos. However, one needs to remember that some high-street banks may levy high fees and provide relatively poor conversion rates.[6]

The Catholic religion is dominant and holds significant political sway in the Philippines[edit]

As per an estimate, 99.9% of this nation is religious, compared to 26% in the US. Filipinos are 92% Christian, with an 81% Catholic dominant population.

The 1986 bloodless People Power Revolution showed the extent of the Catholic Church's influence. Manila Archbishop Jaime Sin's call to resist President Ferdinand Marcos drew millions to the streets, overthrowing the tyrant peacefully and restoring democracy.

It is imperative for anyone newly moving to the Philippines to remain respectful of the local religious beliefs.[7]

People who identify as LGBT have relatively few legal protection and rights in the Philippines[edit]

The Philippines do not penalize gay sex, and LGBT individuals are allowed in military service. However, that's the only extent of rights the community has received.

Transgender persons cannot alter their legal gender or name and have no legal protection against assault or prejudice. President Duterte has inconsistent views on LGBT rights. His statements have changed depending on the context, place, and situation he has been speaking in.

In 2019, President Duterte told Filipino expats in Tokyo that he "used to be homosexual" until his second wife "fixed" him, so one mustn't expect the nation to become LGBT-friendly anytime soon.

It is worth noting that the last decade has seen some progress. Manila's 2019 Pride March drew a record 70,000 people, and Geraldine Roman became the first trans politician to win a parliament seat in 2016.[8]

Pride March, Manila 2019
Pride March, Manila 2019. ChaoticElias, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

While it is usually safe, LGBTQIA individuals must exercise general caution to avoid unwanted attention.

The Philippines is situated on active fault lines making it prone to seismic activities and volcano eruptions[edit]

Volcano evacuations may occur in the Philippines due to its location on the 'Ring of Fire,' which consists of five fault lines.

The Philippine government reports 24 active volcanoes, including Taal Volcano, which erupted in 2020 and 2021. The 2020 eruption caused 39 deaths, but a six-week widespread evacuation prevented more.

Taal volcano, The Philippines
Taal volcano, The Philippines. Ray in Manila CC BY via Flickr

Another explosion generated 14,000 tons of sulfur dioxide in 2021. Locals flock to inactive volcanos for hikes, trail exploration, and picnics.[9]

The Philippines' five fault lines make earthquakes a common occurrence. Over 88 earthquakes exceeding 5.0 on the Richter scale occurred in 2020.[10]

One must ensure that they and their loved ones are familiar with earthquake response. Also, one needs to consider earthquake-resistant properties. When planning any outing to a volcanic site, ensure it is inactive.

Basketball is a way of life in the Philippines[edit]

The Philippines' basketball obsession could be a result of the popularity of American culture. The Philippine Basketball Association, second only to the NBA, has won the most Olympic medals of any Asian team.

The national team's success, especially locally, is a source of pride for Filipino society. Basketball is played nationwide in any location- backyards, prisons, beaches, and even cemeteries.

Locals playing basketball in the Philippines. Kamoteus CC BY via Flickr

NBA Philippines managing director Carlo Roy Singson remarked that basketball is a religion in the Philippines.

Knowing the game and sharing the enthusiasm could forge friendships that would last a lifetime.[11]

Courtesy is universally and enduringly ingrained in the Filipino culture[edit]

Pinoys are generally polite and refer to foreigners as "sir" or "ma'am," regardless of age.

Younger folks respectfully call somewhat older relatives and acquaintances "Kuyas" and "Ates," which means brothers and sisters. In the same way, "Po" is a general honorific for the elderly or seniors.

When entering a residence, young people stoop, grasp an elderly person's hand, and contact it with their forehead in a "mano" sign of respect. Banks, restaurants, and taxis have separate lines for the elderly, pregnant, and disabled people.[12]

It will benefit one to learn certain honorifics, words, and customs to fit right in when one moves there.


  1. "World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal". Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  2. "Problems Plaguing the Philippines' Medical Care". Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  3. Inc, Primer Media. "Expats' Guide: Filipino Time". Tips & Guides. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  4. "Languages Of The Philippines: Everything You Need To Know". 2022-04-20. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  5. Wheatley, Nick (2022-11-05). "Famous Filipino Food: 15 Must-Eat Dishes in the Philippines!". Wandering Wheatleys. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  6. (2016-01-20). "The Most Affordable Cities to Live in the Philippines". Pinoy Top Tens. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  7. Lipka, Michael. "5 facts about Catholicism in the Philippines". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  8. "Being LGBT and Catholic In the Philippines Is Not Easy". Time. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  9. "Active volcanoes and eruptions in the Philippines". Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  10. "philippine earthquake: Latest News & Videos, Photos about philippine earthquake | The Economic Times - Page 1". Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  11. Moya, Jove. "Why Do Filipinos Love Basketball? Origins, Famous Players, And More". Tatler Asia. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  12. "Culture and etiquette in Philippines | Local customs in Philippines". Rough Guides. Retrieved 2022-11-08.