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Moving to the Philippines?

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Jacques Paillard

Living in the Philippines, from France

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

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

Living in the Philippines, from Portugal

"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. "

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The Philippines at a Glance

Moving to the Philippines

Have you decided to move to the Philippines? Your life is likely to change completely after settling in the second largest archipelago in the world. The InterNations Guide on the Philippines provides you with all the necessary info for this adventure, on everything from geography to visa.


Moving to the Philippines is a consideration for many expats who dream of a laid-back life under palm trees in a warm and sunny climate. The Philippines is the second-largest archipelago in the world, and its 7,641 islands are considered the hidden treasure of Southeast Asia.

The nation’s heritage and its various cultural influences add to the Philippines’ appeal as an expat destination. After moving to the Philippines, you will quickly become aware of the diversity in the country’s culture and nature, complete with metropolitan areas and scenic landscapes.

However, the immense destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) in November 2013 sadly demonstrated that natural disasters are one of the biggest safety risks, which should be taken into consideration by anyone moving to the Philippines. 

Geography and Climate of the Philippines

The Philippines are located east of Vietnam, between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. With its many islands, the nation offers 36,289 km of coastline. The terrain is mostly mountainous with extensive lowlands along the coast. The highest point is Mount Apo, 2,954 m in height.

After your move to the Philippines, you will experience a tropical marine climate throughout the year, with monsoon season from November to April in the northeast and May to October in the southwest. You should also be aware that the country is located in the typhoon belt. Each year, the archipelago is affected by up to 15 typhoons and five or six severe storms.

Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda was one of the biggest tropical storms ever observed. It affected upwards of twelve million people, resulting in numerous lives lost and countless homes in ruins. On top of that, expats can expect landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis to be common as well.

Manila: The "Pearl of the Orient"

An article on moving to the Philippines could never be complete without mentioning Manila, the capital and biggest city in the entire country. The city is not just the seat of the Philippine government. With its 12.88 million people, it is also a buzzing center of commerce, as well as the home of historic landmarks, of scientific and educational institutions. Thus, Manila is the political, commercial, and cultural center of the nation and the biggest magnet for expats interested in moving to the Philippines.

The seaport of Manila is among the busiest around the globe, making the city an important location for import and export. In addition, different industrial developments have been built throughout the city, creating new business areas. At the moment, the commercial center of Manila is Makati. Many well-known multinational law firms and construction companies, as well as banks and stock brokerages, are based in Makati. Corporations like Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, and Shell, to name just a few, all have their regional headquarters in Makati.

At the same time, Manila is a popular tourist destination for foreigners and Filipinos alike, despite the lack of a definable city center, which was destroyed in World War II. Manila is a vibrant metropolis constantly growing in population. It is also the very definition of Filipino urban culture.

The Growing Economy of the Philippines

Expats moving to the Philippines will benefit greatly from an economy that has recently experienced significant growth. Since the country does not rely too strongly on exports and international trade, the recession has not hit it as hard as it affected some of its neighbors in Southeast Asia. The labor force of the Philippines counts about 41 million people, around a third of which work in agriculture. Expatriates could be likely to find work in the services sector, which employs more than half of the Philippine labor force. Philippine’s economy is ranked the 39th-largest in the world in 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Despite the strong economy, however, poverty is an issue, as around a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. This may come as somewhat of a surprise to expats. As of 2015, the Philippines also faces a large national debt of around 45% of its GDP despite its well-performing economy and high GDP. Its economy highly depends on money sent home by overseas workers.

Despite the damages caused by the devastating typhoon in 2013, the national economy is still growing steadily by around 6% every year. The storm largely spared the Manila region, the economic center of the Philippines. However, it shredded countless rice and sugar cane fields, which are important cash crops and export products, as well as causing famine and suffering in the affected provinces.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

InterNations Expat Magazine