Forget Singapore, forget Hong Kong. Manila is the best place to be an expat — and 10 expats will tell you why.
We’ve all heard that Manila has increasingly become a center of economic growth and foreign investments, and with great foreign investments come a great number of friendly neighborhood expats. In 2010, the NSO stated that almost 200,000 foreigners were living in the Philippines. I don’t know what the current number is now, but based on observing the pedestrians of Makati, I would boldly say that 2 out of 20 pedestrians are not Filipino.
A lot of people might ask – why is Manila the best place to be an expat where are so many opportunities for them in the urban jungles of Singapore and Hong Kong? Here are some expats from the Netherlands, America and even all the way from Colombia who all settled in the Philippines once they saw the great opportunities waiting for them here.
Jacqueline Van den Ende, Managing Director of Lamudi Philippines
Jacqueline, from the Netherlands, arrived in the Philippines in 2013 as the managing director of Rocket Internet’s Lamudi, their online real estate marketplace. Since she’s arrived, she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. She loves traveling around the country and even goes surfing for weekend escapes. However, she loves living in the cosmopolitan city of Manila.
“Manila is a great destination for expatriate employees,” she said. “Cost of living here is not very expensive unlike Hong Kong and Singapore, though the city provides a quality of life that’s comparable to Bangkok or Jakarta.”
Jacqueline believes that one of the best attributes of Manila is its openness to different cultures as well. “It will be easy for expats from all types of backgrounds to settle in Metro Manila. Filipinos are world-renowned for their hospitality and their friendliness is definitely unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”
Mauro Cocchieri, Managing Director of foodpanda Philippines
Mauro comes from Italy, a country known for its great cuisine and accommodating people.He worked at Lazada before becoming the managing director of foodpanda, an online food delivery platform.
Despite his country’s solid culinary reputation, he claims that the Philippines has amazing food and amazing company which goes hand in hand. “The people are very accommodating and they go out of their way to help you. The food, hands down, is one of the best I’ve had.”
Mauro, however, cannot help but crave for some homegrown Italian food from time to time. When asked if he often orders through foodpanda he said, “Of course! With my busy schedule, it always pays to have an alternative.”
Bryce Maddock, CEO of TaskUs
Bryce Maddock arrived in Manila in 2009 from the United States. He started TaskUs because he was determined to connect the rapidly growing American startups with incredible talent at prices that would enable them to scale. He found what he was looking for in the Philippines.
“When we just started TalkUs, I wouldn’t have been able to find the Philippines on a map if you asked me. We went on a search for affordable talent to support our friends’ startups. We hired people in 16 different countries, but were consistently impressed by the results and work that Filipinos were delivering. We were so impressed, that we opened our first office here, in Bacoor, Cavite and have not looked back since.”
Today, Bryce has 1,600 employees and counting. TaskUs is the secret behind the rapidly growing customer support and back office operations for startups like Tinder and HotelTonight.
“Almost all of today’s most successful startups depend on the talent that exists in the Philippines. Simply put, it’s the people. The people of the Philippines are some of the kindest and most talented people on the planet. Historically, the country exported its people as OFWs. But today a homecoming is happening,” says Bryce. “The next decade is going to be very exciting as talent repatriates and reinvests in the country.”
David Margendorff, Co-Founder & Chairman, PawnHero Philippines
Our third European on the list, David Margendorff hails from Germany.
He praises Filipinos for their fun culture and hospitality, but emphasizes that Filipinos are some of the most ambitious and talented professionals he’s ever met. David started PawnHero in 2015, and has chosen Manila as the first city to launch it in.
PawnHero is the first online pawnshop in Southeast Asia. The company promises to give Filipinos a cheaper alternative to existing pawnshops which charge extremely high interest rates. “We want to solve the problem of expensive credit for consumers who might not be able to afford it,” he says.
David has lived in 7 countries for the past 6 years, but he eventually chose to settle in the Philippines. He plans to stay here long-term, mainly because he can see how much impact he can create through PawnHero.
One of the Philippines’ biggest exports is its own people. Everyone was leaving to work abroad because they believed there was no opportunity for them here. All that amazing talent went into making prosperous countries even more prosperous.
Today, we should acknowledge that that is no longer true. The best opportunities for business are here in the Philippines. Foreigners are flocking here to start their businesses in the perfect Asian beta market. They happily leave their first world countries for what the Philippines has to offer.
We, as Filipinos, should all find it in ourselves to see the beauty of our country the way they do; to finally discover the diamonds that have been waiting to be found for decades.