I was planning to make Manila, Philippines my new home base. I did a lot of research on different areas of the city but as we all know, no amount of research can beat the boots on the ground experience. So I decided to rent an Airbnb room in a few areas of the city to get a feel for the surroundings.
Manila is actually a section of metro Manila aka “the National Capital Region” which is a huge cluster fuck of sixteen different cities stuck together. This is important because each city has a different vibe. Some areas are very clean, upscale and expensive. Pretty much western standards. Other areas are nothing but sprawling slums that you have no reason to visit.
Another thing to note is the traffic is terrible in Manila. Going a few kilometers during rush hour can take hours. So you really need to choose wisely when you decide to base yourself somewhere in metro Manila.
Things I’m Looking For in a Home Base
I want to live in a clean safe area. I want a nice comfortable furnished condo with fast internet. Preferably with a pool and a gym. Walking distance to malls and a park would be nice. I also want some nightlife and dining options within walking distance. I want to spend as little time in taxis as possible so I want everything easily accessible to my home.
There’s a Manila thread on the SMP forum with a lot of great advice. So I narrowed my search down to three main areas. Makati, Bonificio Global City (aka BGC, aka The Fort) and Pasay.
Pros and Cons of Living in Pasay, Manila, Philippines
I stayed at Shell Residence near the Mall of Asia. Really nice complex. Clean and secure. Nice pool in the center of the buildings. It’s a five minute walk to Mall of Asia. The mall is enormous and has everything you could ever ask for when it comes to shopping or dining. That’s a good thing too, because there’s nothing else around Shell Residences.
Mall of Asia is right on Manila bay which is nice. I love being near the water. It’s no white sand beach, but it’s the ocean. You can take a stroll at any time and get some fresh air. Hard to find that in Manila. There’s several gyms nearby there and a few small bars along the boardwalk.
Another plus is Pasay is directly next to the airport. So if you travel a lot and don’t want to deal with the traffic, the airport is just a few minutes away. Then you can fly anywhere foreign or domestic on plenty of cheap flights.
Overall, I liked Pasay and I would be happy living there. But the nightlife is a bit dull so I would end up taking a taxi to some more lively areas when I wanted to party. Unless you want to spend every night walking around a huge mall and eating at US franchise restaurants, there are better options.
Pros of Pasay
Location. Near the sea, near Mall of Asia, near the airport.
Nice condos available. Shell Residence is a great complex. It’s clean and safe in that area. There are several others right across the street too.
Affordable. Manila condos are expensive compared to a city like Bangkok. So Pasay still isn’t cheap. But I found the condos around Pasay were slightly cheaper than Makati if you’re pinching pennies. Really if budget is that big of an issue you’re better off in another city anyways.
Cons of Pasay
It’s boring around there. Very little nightlife. No parks or anything.
Pros and Cons of Living in Makati, Manila, Philippines
Next I tried staying in Makati. Jspill from Nomad Philippines speaks highly of Gramercy Residences so I stayed there. It’s a great building. Very professional staff. Good security. Excellent amenities. Roof top pool and gym. My balcony had a great view of the city.
It’s also in a very convenient location. Century City mall is right next door if you want to find some food or do some shopping. It’s also right down the street from the red light district P Burgos Street.
This area is rocking at night. I had a lot more fun around here than I did in Pasay. But P Burgos does get old after a while and I thought the scene was a bit dull compared to some place like Soi Nana. But it’s nice to have that option nearby.
I enjoyed my stay at Gramercy but if I were to live in Makati, I would probably rent somewhere near Greenbelt Mall. This mall is huge. Much bigger than Century City mall and there’s a lot more bars and restaurants inside. There’s a nice outdoor area with a bunch of little bars lined up. At night these places get packed with both foreigners and locals. Lot’s of cute chikas hanging around giving you that smile from across the room. 😀
This was more my scene. And it’s not too far from P Burgos if I decided I wanted to bare back some GoGo girls. 😉
Pros of Makati
Great nightlife in Makati. Everything from five start dining to the seediest mongering scene you could imagine is all at your doorstep.
Quality apartments. Luxury condos are all over the place in Makati. I tried looking for decent apartments in both Angeles City and Boracay and all the good buildings were fully booked. Everything else was a dirty little rat hole in a sketchy area. No thanks. But you will have no problems finding a nice room in Makati on day one.
Walkable. If you choose your building wisely, you will never have to take a taxi or ride a motorbike. Grocery stores, gyms, parks, malls, restaurants, bars, etc all within a 15 minute walk. This is absolutely crucial for me in a big city like Manila.
Cons of Makati
No nature. No sea. No river. Very few parks. It’s a crowded, polluted concrete jungle. That would probably grind on me after a while but thankfully there’s a lot of beautiful places in the Philippines if you need a beach holiday. Boracay location review coming soon so please subscribe to my email list for that update.
Pros and Cons of Living in Bonificio Global City aka BGC aka The Fort
I don’t know because I’ve never been there. But people say it’s even MORE expensive than Makati (which is already pushing my upper limits of acceptable prices in Asia). And it’s even further away from the airport and the nightlife in Makati.
So I never made the effort to explore the area. But I will. And when I do I will update this post. Is there any reason to live in BGC over Makati? Not that I can tell. Let me know what you think in the comments.
So that’s my thoughts at the moment. If I decide to settle in Manila, I will probably choose Makati. It ticks all my boxes and I think it would make a great home base to lay low, grind on my work projects and bang cuties from Filipino Cupid and Pina Love.
Several times a month I can take short trips to some of the beautiful islands for some R&R / creampie action then get back to work. Another day in paradise…