Moving to Manila?

Connect with fellow expats in Manila
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Manila guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Manila

Manila: Accommodation and Visa

Need advice on moving to Manila? Both a popular tourist destination and the commercial center of the Philippines, countless expats opt to move to Manila each year. Read our introduction to Manila to learn more about the city, its districts and neighborhoods, visa requirements, and more.
Compared to other Asian cities, the cost of living in Manila is relatively low.

A Reasonable Cost of Living

In comparison to other Asian business hubs, Manila’s cost of living is relatively low. However, how much you end up spending largely depends on your own lifestyle choices. The cost of accommodation typically constitutes a big factor in expatriates’ budgets. The amount you spend on rent can vary greatly, depending on location and your needs. As an example, you may be charged a monthly rent of PHP 40,000 for a studio or one-bedroom apartment in one of Manila’s major business districts. Should you decide to rent a house in a gated community in one of the city’s suburbs, you might have to pay as little as PHP 20,000 per month.

Apartments in fancier neighborhoods like Forbes Park and Dasmarinas Village come at even higher prices than in Makati. Keep in mind that utility costs are not necessarily included in the rent and that it is worthwhile to switch off the A/C every once in a while. The Philippines is said to have the third highest cost of electricity in Asia. Keep an eye on changes in foreign exchange rates if your pay is fixed in another currency. Currency fluctuations can be significant, and you should include them in your estimations when considering your monthly budget.

Renting a Home

Your budget and preferred location will indeed be the determining factors in your apartment hunt. Not only should you be aware of how much you can afford to pay in rent; you also need to decide in which districts and neighborhoods you would like to live. In this regard, you may want to take the location of your work into consideration. After all, it wouldn’t make much sense to settle down in Quezon City if your office is located in Makati.

In any case, apartments and houses are widely available all over Metro Manila. The challenge lies in finding a place that is safe, offers all the amenities you are looking for, and is not too far off the beaten track. Because of Makati’s and Quezon City’s popularity, it is often hard to find an affordable apartment or even a house in these districts. Searching in internet listings like Philippines Properties or important national dailies like Manila Bulletin is a great way to start.

The Right Visa for You

Before moving to Manila, you will need to figure out which type of visa you require. There are a number of visas that may apply to you:

  • A tourist visa applies to you if you stay between 30 and 60 days.
  • A non-immigrant visa is required for expats on a pre-arranged employment, trade, transit or study visit. The requirements obviously vary.
  • Non-quota immigrant visas are granted to spouses and children of Philippine citizens and natural-born Filipinos.
  • Quota immigrant visas apply to anybody with sufficient financial capital and certain professional qualifications and skills. A maximum of 50 quota immigrant visas are granted to expats of any one nationality each year.
  • The special resident retiree visa allows for multiple entries and an indefinite stay in the country. To participate in this visa program, applicants must submit a deposit depending on their age and retirement pension.

If you receive a pension and you are at least 50 years old, then the required deposit for a special resident retiree visa is 10,000 USD, plus a monthly pension of 800 USD for a single applicant and 1,000 USD for a couple.

If you receive no pension and are at least 50 years old, then the required deposit is 20,000 USD. For applicants aged from 35 to 49, the deposit is 50,000 USD.

For former Filipino citizens who are at least 35 years old (regardless of the number of their dependents), for ambassadors of foreign countries who have served and retired in the Philippines, and for current and former staff members of international organization who are at least 50 years old, the deposit only amounts to 1,500 USD.

For more details on the individual visas and how to apply, see the Filipino Bureau of Immigration.

General Visa Requirements

The specific visa application requirements vary considerably depending on which type of visa you are trying to obtain. Do not hesitate to contact the Philippine embassy or consulate closest to you for specific information. To give you an idea about the paperwork you can expect, here is a list of things you need to apply for a pre-arranged employment visa:

  • a valid passport
  • two completed application forms
  • passport-sized photos
  • physical and medical exam reports by an authorized physician
  • police clearance
  • the visa application fee
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jacques Paillard

"All expatriates in my company joined InterNations because it really helped me get accustomed to my new life in Manila. "

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

"The idea of getting to know other expats in Manila was very appealing to me, and I've greatly expanded my network in the Philippines. "

Global Expat Guide