The 2010 data of the National Statistics Office revealed that there are around 200,000 expatriates, or expats, currently living in the Philippines. That includes foreign employees (and sometimes their families, too), retirees, spouses of Filipino citizens, and even students, many of whom profess that living in the Philippines has been one of their best decisions.
Though a foreign national cannot buy and own land in the Philippines, expats can still experience the joy of living in a cozy home. Houses and apartments for rent are great choices, especially for those bringing their families with them, as these types of dwellings offer more in terms of space and comfort. Compared to condos, houses and apartments provide a much larger living space to accommodate an entire family, pets, and even guests. Expats living in these homes will have more room to do a variety of activities indoors and outdoors, and with more privacy but less of the restrictions associated with condo living.
1. Choose an ideal location.
In the cities comprising Metro Manila, there are plenty of residential areas outside the business districts that offer expats the cosmopolitan lifestyle they are accustomed to. Examples of these are BF Homes in Parañaque, Loyola Heights and South Triangle in Quezon City, and the fringe areas of Makati. These places offer plenty of competitively priced rental houses and apartments, which are also close to leisure and lifestyle spots for a more comfortable suburban living. BF Homes in Parañaque, for instance, is a quickly gentrifying neighborhood that is now teeming with artisanal shops and lots and lots of restaurants.
Makati, on the other hand, despite being the Philippines’ most expensive real estate market, offers plenty of good-quality rental houses and apartments in its fringe areas, including Brgy. Bangkal, San Antonio Village, and Brgy. Poblacion.
2. Know the ins and outs.
With the current traffic condition in Metro Manila, it is a good habit not only to give yourself time allowance when going to and from work or school, but also to know which routes and modes of transportation are best for you.
Metro Manila is served by major thoroughfares, chief of which is EDSA that runs from the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay to Monumento in Caloocan. It is also where majority of the metro’s commuter buses run. There are also four commuter railways that serve the metropolis: LRT-1 runs from Baclaran to Roosevelt in Quezon City; LRT-2 runs from Santolan at the border of Pasig and Marikina to Recto Avenue in downtown Manila; MRT-3 runs from Taft Avenue in Pasay to North Avenue in Quezon City; and the Philippine National Railway (PNR) from Alabang to Manila. Buses, jeepneys, and taxis are likewise available to bring you to the metro’s CBDs. Another mode of transport available are UV Express vans—point-to-point transport services that have terminals in many locations, even in cities outside the metro. These vans ferry commuters to major CBDs.
3. Be nice to your landlord.
Since you will be dealing with your landlord over the next year or two, your relationship with him or her should start amicably. Being friends with your future landlord will give you a number of advantages, such as lower rate and speedy response should any part of the property needs repair.
4. Check the property for extras.
What comes with the rent aside from the house or apartment itself? Does it already include basic furnishings, such as beds, sofa, chairs, a dining table, and air-conditioning and heater systems? A furnished property will save you an enormous amount of money, not to mention the trouble of having to pack and move them should you decide to change address. In addition, being in a tropical country, doors and windows with screens to ward off mosquitoes are a big plus. Other extras may include a power generator, a garden, and a spacious laundry area.
5. Check out te neighborhood.
Choose a neighborhood that is close to business districts and leisure and lifestyle areas to avoid wasting time on long commutes. It will better if the neighborhood itself has everything you need, including hospitals, supermarkets, wet markets, banks, churches, convenience stores, terminal hubs, and schools. Also worth checking is whether there are security guards that man the neighborhood’s gates.
6. Inspect the property.
Do not forget to investigate the house or apartment as well. In a tropical country like the Philippines, typhoons and monsoon rains are common, which hasten houses’ wear and tear. If you are renting a fully furnished property, check whether appliances are working properly and none of the furniture and fixtures are broken. Document those that are broken or in need of repair so you can let the owner know.
7. Know what you can and cannot do.
As a renter, there are limitations on what you can do during your stay in the property. Ask the owner whether pets are allowed, if the neighbors wouldn’t mind occasional parties, or if the furniture can be moved around the house. Bear in mind, though, that there are property owners who definitely mind if you decide to bore holes on the walls or install clotheslines in the backyard. If in doubt, always make sure to ask permission first.
8. Read the lease contract thoroughly.
Check and double-check the lease contract. If there is anything in it that you do not feel comfortable about, or if you wish to change or add something, make sure to bring them up before signing. Keep in mind that contracts, even those that are not notarized, are legally binding and any violations on the renter’s part may void the security deposit.
Most of the time, expats working in the Philippines have their local accommodations arranged by their employers. If this is not the case, there are plenty of houses and apartments to rent in Metro Manila’s suburban areas. Keep in mind though that most landlords require a minimum lease duration of one year, and they normally charge one-month advance payment and two months’ rent for security deposit (which will be returned to you at the end of the lease contract) before moving in.