Located in Southeastern Asia, the Philippines is an archipelago consisting of 7,107 islands. Covered in resplendent beaches, awe-inspiring rainforests, and giant active volcanoes, the country is home to some of the world’s most beautiful wildlife and some of the world’s most sunburned expats. Claiming three natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Philippines can come across as something of a new Eden.
Interestingly, despite their almost antithetical geographies, the Philippines has something in common with Paris, the "City of Love". Nestled within the patchwork islands is one of the world’s most romantic expat communities. In the InterNations Expat Insider 2014 survey the main reason respondents named for relocating to the Philippines was their love for a local resident.
Perhaps the intoxication of romance explains why this group of expats is somewhat tongue-tied. Just under four in five respondents living in the Philippines said they either speak only a little of the local language, or none at all. Luckily, English is one of the country’s official languages, and as such, half of our respondents were able to say that living in the Philippines without speaking the local language isn’t a problem.
Considered the ‘rising tiger’ in Asia, the Philippines is expected to continue on its trajectory of economic growth after finishing 2013 with a GDP increase of 7.2%. However, the wealth garnered from this impressive growth remains largely in the hands of big business and the elite. The high wealth disparity, fuelled by factors such as corruption and industry monopolies, is a critical problem. More than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line and, according to UNICEF, about 60% of Filipinos die without ever having seen a healthcare professional.
However, this doesn’t seem to have impacted expats much. Currency exchange rates and strong employment positions means that many are content with the cost of living. In our survey, three in five respondents living in the Philippines said they found the cost of living to be either good or very good.
Furthermore, despite the high concentration of wealth, one thing that is improving for Filipinos on the ground is education. Public spending on education tripled between 2005 and 2013, and improvements have been seen in resources, facilities, enrollment, and test scores.
And yet, while the Philippines scores slightly above average in the Expat Insider survey for education, it is in childcare that the nation comes to the fore. More than half of respondents living in the Philippines agreed that childcare options were numerous and easily available, and two-thirds agreed that childcare was easy to afford there. Perhaps this is why expats living in the Philippines are amongst the happiest in the world, beaten only by Ecuador. After all, they can enjoy working life on a tropical island without having to worry about exorbitant childcare costs.