Makati, in the Philippines is the business hub of Manila and by default is where most working expats will be living. There is no doubt that Makati is safe and mostly has great places to eat and visit. The prices reflect London prices in the shops as far as I can see and the “real” Philippines is not really on display. It is mostly a concrete jungle with plenty of overpriced coffee shops and a great drainage system that floods the roads on heavy rainfalls.
There are many things to do in the area. Great Malls and restaurants and cinemas and even expensive schools for the children of expats.You can visit some of the more popular tourist attractions to get your initial bearings, and learn a thing or two about the people who live there. Visit the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church, to find out why ‘Our Lady of Grace’ has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re looking for somewhere to relax, then you should head over to the Greenbelt Chapel, which has been named as one of the most calming chapels in the whole of the Philippines.
Many travelers first visit Makati to enjoy the fine art museums and recreation areas, and to appreciate the colonial-era architecture of the chapels and churches. People then choose to stay because of the brilliant climate and the excellent education system, with the public and non-profit University of Makati taking residence in the city center. The golf and polo clubs on the outskirts of the city provide plenty of entertainment for expats living in Makati, as does the Makati Coliseum, where most of the city’s major sporting events are held.
Single expats and couples usually rent condominium units with one or two bedrooms, while families with children prefer one-level houses or two-level apartments with three or more rooms.
Expat houses in Metro Manila are often located within gated community villages where wealthier locals live. Condominiums and gated villages usually have round-the-clock security guards who monitor the coming and going of non-residents. Some of the larger villages may even have security checkpoints to screen visitors before they arrive at the main entrance.Forbes Park is one of Manila’s most prestigious residential enclaves, where some of the wealthiest families in the Philippines, industry leaders and foreign dignitaries reside.
The Manila Golf and Country Club and the Manila Polo Club are located here. Rent on a five-bedroom house in Forbes Park is between 300,000 to 450,000 pesos a month (or about US$7500 to US$11,250). To the west of Forbes Park is Dasmarinas Village, a gated community with slightly lower rents.
The smallest of the gated villages in Makati city is Urdaneta, which has a population of about 3,500. Close by is Bel-Air, a gated village which used to be part of Urdaneta. Bel-Air is considered one the cleanest and greenest of villages in Makati City and it is known for it’s strong community spirit. Since 1993, the “village captain” of Bel-Air has been hosting community thanksgiving celebrations in April, which includes live concerts and street bazaars. A three-bedroom house in Bel-Air costs between 140,000 to 200,000 pesos a month (US$3500 to US$5000).
San Lorenzo Village is close to the part of the CBD where head offices of businesses like Allied Bank, Caltex and Bank of Commerce are located, so expats with offices in this part of the city often live in this compound. Other gated villages within the city include Legazpi, Salcedo, San Antonio, Magallanes and San Miguel.
Rockwell Centre, which was formerly the site of a thermal power plant has since been developed into a commercial and residential hub. Expats looking to rent condominiums would do well to begin their search here as Rockwell Centre is home to more than half a dozen luxury condos like Rizal Tower, Luna Gardens, Joya Lofts and Towers and One Rockwell.
Factors to consider when house-hunting in the Philippines