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An expat’s guide to housing in Metro Manila

Half a million people live there — and another half a million go to work there every day.

Welcome to the bustling Makati City, one of the 16 urban districts which make up Metropolitan Manila, commonly known as Metro Manila, the National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines. Makati is where you'll find the major banks and financial firms, high-end shopping malls and hotels. It's also where the majority of expats in Metro Manila choose to live, saving themselves a daily struggle with the notorious traffic congestion across the Filipino capital.

Other expats venture further out from Makati's financial district and opt instead for residential areas like Bonificio Global City in Taguig City, an affluent, urbanised lifestyle hub with condominiums, offices, retail, dining and entertainment areas. Others choose Ayala Alabang Village and Filinvest Corporate City in the Muntinlupa City district.

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 also 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.

Makati City

Within Makati, Forbes Park is one of Manila's most prestigious residential enclaves. It's where some of the wealthiest families in the Philippines reside, along with industry leaders and foreign dignitaries. The Manila Golf and Country Club and the Manila Polo Club are located here. The rental value of  a five-bedroom house in Forbes Park is between 350,000 and ₱ 550,000 Philippine pesos a month — the equivalent of $7500 to $11,850 U.S. dollars. To the west of Forbes Park is Dasmariñas Village, a gated community with properties available at 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 its strong community spirit. Since 1993, the "village captain" of Bel-Air has been hosting community thanksgiving celebrations in April, which include live concerts and street bazaars. A three-bedroom house in Bel-Air costs between 140,000 and 250,000 pesos a month, or $3,010 to $5,375 U.S. dollars.

Within the central business district (CBD), San Lorenzo Village is close to the head offices of a number of multi-national organisations . 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 condo developments like Rizal Tower, Luna Gardens, Joya Lofts and Towers and One Rockwell.

Another popular condominium complex among expats in One Roxas Triangle in the Manila Bay area. A one-bedroom apartment in One Roxas Triangle costs between 200,000 and 300,000 pesos a month ($4,300 to $6,450 U.S. dollars).

Taguig City

The former headquarters of the Philippine Army, this site was developed into a commercial and residential zone in 1995. The "city" boasts a high standard of living with a convenient combination of luxury residences. The mixed-use development also includes corporate offices, shopping malls, a world-class hospital, a science museum, alfresco dining, and manicured landscaped parks and gardens decorated with modern Filipino art. Residences here include the Bellagio, Morgan Suites Executive Residences, The Venice and 8 Park Avenue. The British, Japanese, American, Korean and Chinese international schools are located within Bonificio Global City. Rents here are between 180,000 and 250,000 pesos a month ($3,870 to $5,375).

Muntinlupa City

Ayala Alabang Village was created in 1981 and it has since grown to become a popular expat neighbourhood with plenty of sports leagues for children to join. Filinvest City is a scaled down version of Bonificio Global City with mega-malls, a hospital, offices, entertainment options, condominiums and country clubs within its perimeters. A four-bedroom house in Ayala Alabang Village costs between 140,000 and 250,000 pesos a month ($3,010 to $5,375). A two-bedroom apartment in Filinvest City costs around 100,000 pesos a month ($2,150 U.S. dollars).

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