How to Become A Digital Nomad In Philippines
If you searched “digital nomad Philippines” and landed yourself here, you’re on the right track. Because this blog post contains everything you need to know about working remotely in the land of beautiful beaches and delicious fruits!
Sure, you might have heard about the awful internet connection or the absurd traffic congestion in the Philippines but hey – what’s nomadic life if it has to be sugar spice and everything nice, right?
Being a digital nomad in the Philippines can be a beautiful experience thanks to the friendly locals, tropical weather, stunning geographical areas and many more.
Read on to find out more about what the Philippines has to offer.
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Related Posts on Digital Nomads
Five Top Digital Nomad Places Philippines
- Cebu City
- Davao City
Why Become A Digital Nomad In The Philippines?
Because of the amazing people, low cost of living and ultimately, no strict visa requirements needed to live there long term.
Filipinos Are Amazing People
The Philippines is one of the countries whose people will make you feel at home instantly.
The people are warm and friendly, well-mannered and helpful.
They don’t make a habit out of scamming tourists. Filipinos are open to haggling even if you bargain for lower prices.
Hot tip: Shop in the morning when they just opened as sellers want to make their first sale. They believe that this will bring them and the customer good luck for the rest of the day.
Communication is easy as Filipinos have a high level of English skills.
This makes it so much easier to blend with the locals. The fact that they still enjoy life to the fullest despite the struggles and challenges is soul-enriching.
Of course, there will be times you may bump into some bad eggs among the 100 million people residing in it, but in short, the Philippines is a perfectly safe country.
Low Cost of Living
It’s safe to say that a digital nomad in the Philippines can live well even on a low budget.
Compared to most SE Asian countries, the Philippines offers an affordable cost of living. From dorms to condos with resort-like facilities, there are many types of accommodation you can choose from depending on your budget and appetite.
If you live like a local – shop like a local and eat like a local, you can get by with a minimum monthly budget of around $700. Even if you choose to stay in big cities like Makati, Manila, and Cebu or popular beaches like Boracay.
Grocery shopping and eating out won’t cost a bomb too. With just $8 or less, you can get filling meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Easy Visa Requirements
Whether one needs a Philippines visitor visa or not will depend on your citizenship. A 30-day visa waiver is available for all European Union citizens, most western countries and non-western countries.
You may refer here for the list of countries.
If you’re from one of the countries listed, you don’t need to apply for a visa prior to your departure but you need to:
- Have onward tickets for the next country destination.
- Ensure your passport is still valid for at least six more months.
Applying for a visa extension is also easy.
Read on to find out more on visa requirements in the Philippines.
Cost Of Living In The Philippines
The cost of living in the Philippines is incredibly affordable!
Believe it or not, with a monthly budget between $2000 to $3000, a couple can live a lavish life with massages, maids, club membership and many more.
With just over $1000 a month, you can get a three-bedroom beach house, close to amenities, with a pool and garage.
But let’s take a step back and see how you can tailor your budget according to accommodation, transportation and food.
For short term stays, hotels are easy to find on Agoda, Booking.com and Airbnb BUT to save time, head straight to Agoda because more often than not, they offer the cheapest options compared to the other two.
On Agoda, the price starts from as low as $74 per night for a 4-star hotel in Manila.
For long-term accommodation options, the best way to explore this is by consulting the locals and not real estate agents. Also, if you book your accommodation with Airbnb and eventually like the place, you can always negotiate with the owner to rent it off-app, monthly.
A city person can consider Manila or Cebu – home to all sorts of shops, restaurants, bars and malls. The beach is just 30-minutes away by car if you need a breather. With $800, you can get a one-bedroom furnished apartment with city and ocean views.
Getting around in the Philippines is much more convenient with public transportation such as the jeepney (jeep-like buses with crowded seating and kitsch decorations) tuk-tuk or scooter taxis where the fare costs less than a dollar.
Forget about purchasing a vehicle (unless you want to) because the traffic and roads there will test your patience to the ultimate level.
Unless you find it more convenient to own a scooter, you can get a brand new one for $1000 or a pre-loved cute little scooter for less than $400.
This rugged, laid-back country is brimming with local daily markets rich with fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood. Shopping at these markets isn’t only cost-efficient but you’ll be spoilt for choice!
- A dozen eggs: $1.50
- A kilogram of beef: $5.10
- A kilogram of tomatoes: $1.10
- A loaf of bread: $1.10
There you go, the staple food is pretty much covered.
If you prefer to stick to imported brands that you’re familiar with, that’s fine too, as big supermarket chains have locations in every city.
If you don’t feel like preparing your meal, the Philippines is jam-packed with night markets with extremely cheap street food.
Well, eating at restaurants won’t break the bank either. A decent meal including a beverage at a local restaurant cost between $5–$10, so you’ll fork out not more than $100 a month even if you eat out often. A three-course meal for two can be enjoyed for $15.
The Philippines weather spells summer all year round but if you’re not used to the hot sun, the best time is from October to January.
Except when the storms strike, the weather is always just around 25-32°C.
Cities like Baguio are considered cold climate areas as it’s located in the mountains so you might need to wear a jacket. The temperature can fall below 20°C at night.
Otherwise, digital nomads can continue to enjoy wearing a t-shirt, shorts and slippers!
Also, it’s worth noting that the Philippines is sometimes hit by typhoons and earthquakes any time of the year.
This info might be useful to help your preparation:
- Active typhoon season is between June to September with August being the most active and May the least active.
- Avoid the islands of Eastern Visayas, Bicol region, and northern Luzon.
- The southern island and region of Mindanao is largely free of typhoons.
Digital Nomad Visas In The Philippines
If you don’t plan to stay long in the Philippines, you don’t need to worry about applying for a visa.
This list includes countries whose citizens can enjoy a trip to the Philippines for up to 30 days without a visa as long as you have these:
- Passport with a validity of at least six months.
- Roundtrip flight itinerary.
- Hotel bookings.
In case you change your mind and want to stay longer than 30 days, you can:
- Apply for a 29-day visa extension at the Bureau Of Immigration (BOI) or at the airport immigration control booth upon arrival in the Philippines (only at the Manila and Cebu airports) for $60.
- Apply for the 6-month visa extension (non-immigrant temporary visas) at the BOI for around $200. This six-month visa is similar to a type of digital nomad visa.
Most regional hubs and touristy areas such as Boracay have BOI offices.
However, if you’re from a country not listed here, you need to apply for a visa for around $37 with these documents ready:
- An original passport-size photo.
- Six-months bank statement with an authorized stamp and signature of the bank officer.
- Original passport with validity of at least six months.
- Copy of e-ticket that shows your flight details.
- Onward journey flight ticket if you are a temporary visitor.
- A photocopy of the latest Income Tax Return and Personal Assessment Number Card if you’re self-employed.
Other documents might be requested depending on your visa process. Submit them at least two weeks before your departure.
For those interested in making the Philippines your second home (provided you’re over 35 years old), you can apply for the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV). It’s a special non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals. With this visa, you can also consider the country as an investment destination.
Before you make big decisions though, ensure you’ve done enough research and read all about it on the Philippine Retirement Authority Website.
What Happens If You Overstay?
Make sure you don’t. The fees are quite high – almost $100 a day.
You might as well stay for another 29 days considering the same amount of fees. Just bear in mind that due to the corruption issues in the country, you might not have it easy at the immigration centre.
Top Digital Nomad Places Philippines
For digital nomads, staying in big cities is the best option.
Coffee shops with Wi-Fi and internet cafes are abundant so cities are a convenient place to mingle around, running a business and networking.
In short, settle down in a city and explore nearby islands for some adventures.
Here are some cities and co-working spaces recommended for you:
Manila is the country’s economic hub that’s packed with people, cars, noise and pollution. As rough and thrilling as it may sound, avoid being on the road at rush hour.
Despite the mess, Manila is considered convenient for most thanks to the easy access it provides to the rest of the country. The city houses the international airport, big shopping malls and supermarkets chains.
Manila comprises a collection of cities. Digital nomads around the world recommend Makati or Bonifacio Global City (BGC) if you prefer to wind down at bars and spend your weekends in nightclubs.
The locals are the most happening people who love ‘videoke’. Filipinos love to sing whether singing loves them or not!
If you love wine instead of beer, hippie cafes instead of roadside stalls, yoga instead of diving – Manila is for you.
The expat community, tourists and digital nomads also love Cebu.
Cebu city cost of living is slightly higher as it’s located in the heart of the country. It allows you to access almost anywhere in the Philippines. If you plan to surf or dive, you can always travel to beautiful, neighbouring islands like Bohol or Negros.
Cebu City has some of the best coworking spaces in the Philippines.
You’ll also see The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf everywhere, and a chain of cafes for digital nomads and remote workers. Like other cities in Manila, the traffic in Cebu is still a nightmare but otherwise, it’s a great choice to have a balance between work and play.
The city speaks peace and safety as it’s almost free of crime.
Despite the Philippines’ recurring corruption issue, Davao’s President Rodrigo Duterte has zero-tolerance for crimes and illegal activities. Believe it or not, it’s one of the safest places in Asia.
Based on popular opinion, Davao is a city of the friendliest people.
The city is the third-largest in the Philippines, both by area and population. Located at southeastern Mindanao Island, Davao has some good coworking spaces and an ideal collection of cafes with a high-speed internet connection.
The cost of living in Davao city is cheaper than Manila or Cebu, making it a perfect choice for digital nomads with a small budget.
Davao has built a reputation from its safety record, ease of access, affordable living cost and strong community of students and millennials. As a result, the city was nominated numerous times as a digital nomad hotspot in the international remote work arena.
If you love surfing and wish to work by the beach for a few months, Siargao is a perfect place for you. Find accommodation in the General Luna area for a good internet connection.
Otherwise, there will be little to no Wifi/phone signal.
There are no coworking spaces available but in General Luna, cafes with good Wi-Fi are plenty.
It’d be best to avoid the high season due to the increased price of everything. Also, the rainy season in the Philippines lasts for quite some time so unless you don’t mind being stuck on a pretty damp island, by all means.
Not available but you can check out these cafes.
- Harana Surf (great accommodation, restaurant and Wi-Fi)
- Kook Café (a small café with good Wi-Fi)
- Bravo (great accommodation, great restaurant, good Wi-Fi)
Palawan is an island with stunning beaches and lagoons, coral and natural wonders such as limestone cliffs, a UNESCO World Heritage underground river, and a beautiful coral reef.
Riding a motorbike is safe enough with the absence of horrific traffic conditions and crazy drivers. Shopping malls are available, accommodation rent is cheap, immigration is rarely congested – sacrificing city life to stay here is quite worth it.
You can find coworking spaces in El Nido or its central town, Puerto Princesa with a pretty decent internet connection.
Ranked 103rd place out of 176 countries with 28.69 Mbps on average, the Philippines’ internet speed is still considerably low.
However digital nomads based in the cities have no issues so far. Only rural areas and islands have poor connections.
As a backup, you can register for a local SIM and use the mobile connection to support your connection needs. Globe, Smart, and PLDT are the most reliable internet service providers in the Philippines.
Unless you’re a vlogger who needs to upload a lot of large video files regularly, you’re going to have a hard time working.
Best Place In Philippines To Live
The Philippines offers a diverse housing option that caters to all digital nomads.
You can find stylish modern apartments, urban co-living spaces, and beach-view resorts where you can work and enjoy the greatest pleasures in life.
Finding comfortable and affordable accommodation in the Philippines is indeed a breeze!
Bonifacio Global City
- Avida 34th Street BGC from $54 per night
- MySpace@BGC from $38 per night
- Modern Penthouse in BGC from $34 per night
- Lub D Philippines Makati from $36 per night
- Aly’s Condo from $27 per night
- RedDoorz Plus from $18 per night
- Amethyst Boutique Hotel from $32 per night
- 18 Suites Cebu from $23 per night
- Castle Peak Hotel from $22 per night
- Red Knight Gardens Apartelle from $30 per night
- Hotel Galleria from $22 per night
- The Strand Suites and Dormitel from $19 per night
- Villa Solaria Resort (Pet-friendly) from $21 per night
- White Coco Hut Villa from $17 per night
- Cuacua925 Homestay from $15 per night
- Acacia Garden Inn from $27 per night
- Ala Amid Bed and Breakfast from $26 per night
- Novie’s Tourist Inn from $25 per night
Best Food To Try In The Philippines
The best way to get to know a culture is through their food.
Some said living in the Philippines is not easy for vegans and vegetarians as fried meat is the ‘main actor’ of most Filipino food, but I beg to differ. The Philippines is extremely rich with fresh tropical fruits, affordable and available all year round.
Avocados, bananas, vegetables and fresh fish… One trip to the food market can make up for the whole week!
Filipinos are also known for not wasting every part of an animal.
If you’re the adventurous type, try the barbecued pork blood and chicken intestines. Sounds appetizing? Probably not. But those who’ve tried did come back for more.
How To Get Around
1.Jeepney (jeep-like buses), tuk-tuk and scooter taxis
Although the fares are less than a dollar, the journey might take forever. You can learn to say “Bayad po” to pay for your jeepney or bus fare or “Para” to ask the driver to stop.
2.Trains (MRT and LRT)
There are three Metro Manila train lines:
- MRT-3 (stretches along Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue)
- LRT-1 (from Baclaran to Roosevelt Station)
- LRT-2 (from Recto to Santolan Station)
Refer to this website to navigate your journey better.
In the case of desperately needing the beach for the weekend, you can travel by air too. The rates are cheap especially when there are seat sales. It would cost less than $20 for a round trip flight. But you have to be fast because the seats sell out fast too!
Things You Should Know As A Digital Nomad In Phillipines
- Islands, Islands Everywhere
The Philippines is the land with over 7100 stunning islands – 2000 of them are inhabited and some 5000 are even unnamed! You’ll be spoilt for choice.
- Airport Abundance
Some towns have small airports offering cheap domestic flights.
Travelling by air is a great idea because you can save a full day instead of going through a 5-hour shuttle to another town.
- Grab Your Ride
Before flying to the Philippines, you might want to download the Grab app as it’s more convenient than negotiating a taxi fare. You won’t even have to explain where you’re going.
- Download Coins.ph On Your Smartphone
Coins is a handy app you can use to reload your phone credit and pay bills. Heck, you can even send, receive, or hold cryptocurrencies with this app.
- Tampons Are A Rare Find
If the time of the month coincides with your trip, it’d be best if you stock up on your tampons before departing to the Philippines. Unless you don’t mind using maxi pads… or you can also invest in a DivaCup or an OrganiCup.
- Tap Water Isn’t Drinkable
But most restaurants in the Philippines offer free filtered water.
- Bring Your Own Lotion
The Philippines is probably the only country in SE Asia where ALL TYPES of lotions contain whitening agents. Better to bring your own lotion from home unless you’re ok looking bleached.
- Filipinos’ Undying Love For Karaoke
Filipinos’ undisputable love for music and karaoke translates to KTV bars everywhere. They love to sing so if someone offers you a mic, just grab it. You won’t get judged but you’ll definitely get some new friends.
- Beware Of Money Changers
Money changers in the Philippines have a rather undesirable reputation. They’re strong-headed and hard to bargain with. The tip is to exchange money at your hotel or before you depart.
If the Philippines is the first SE Asian country you’re heading to, this digital nomad blog post will come in handy.
Although it might take some time for you to settle in, but in a richly diverse country like this, there’s always something for everyone.
Urban life, beach life, rural life – you name it, they have it.
As long as you do the necessary due diligence before embarking on your journey, you’re ready to be a Philippines digital nomad.
Before packing your bags, here’s a little secret to happiness – celebrate the lousy traffic, embrace the occasionally crappy internet connection, work hard but don’t forget to have fun!