If you are looking to set yourself up in Manila for a period of time then there are plenty of great rental options that will suit any budget. You always have the option to buy your own condo, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
When new to the country everything will be unfamiliar to you. Thankfully with the rise of AirBNB you can take out a short term rental in your target neighbourhood to get a feel for the place before you commit to a twelve month lease.
If you are planning to commute to work then this step is a must!! Sure it sounds nice to get cheaper rent and a bigger place by moving further out, but the traffic and pollution will be a killer – just in case you didn’t know this already. It is best to do a few test runs and see how you cope with it if you must live a distance from work.
With the continuing construction boom all around Manila you will be able to find something that meets your needs. If you have a family, an older building may suit as they are typically larger apartments. You can find large modern apartments but they come with a hefty price tag.
If you are single then there are plenty of modern buildings full of one bedrooms and studio apartments. With plenty of newer buildings due for completion over the next few years this supply of good quality rentals will only increase which should keep rents from increasing for some time.
New precincts such as Circuit Makati and Century City are self contained clusters of apartment buildings, with shopping malls, bars and restaurants all at your fingertips. They are all very modern and can be a great place to live if you do not have to commute.
You will also find plenty of new and older buildings around the main commercial areas of Makati. Legazpi Village and Salcedo Village are known as established expat areas. I have lived in both and they are very nice places to live.
Terms of a lease
You will come across some very rigid brokers, and landlords. You would think that with the massive glut of rental stock available that owners would be falling over each other to attract a tenant. I never found this to be the case.
Some owners would prefer to leave place sitting empty for months on end rather than negotiate on the price of the rental. Some buildings will have restrictions on the price range you can lease for also. This artificially inflates prices and in my opinion gives the appearance that all is well with the property market, and more importantly for the developer that their stock remains a premium offering.
The above is complete bullshit and i have successfully negotiated a p90k per month leap down to p60k. Which also happened to be the buildings floor on the allowable range. I feel bad for the owners who cannot attract a tenant. With hundreds of empty units in a building and new buildings being built all around you really do have the opportunity to stand your ground and just move on to the next place if you get no flexibility. Of course you need to be reasonable and fair.
Tip: Do not let anyone insist on payment for the full lease upfront. You do not have to do this, and can negotiate a more reasonable two months advance payment plus security deposit. However, if you can pay twelve months upfront then negotiate harder on price.
Be sure to inspect apartments in as many buildings as you are able to in your price range. The quality of apartment furnishings, amenities, and inclusions will vary significantly in each building and it is worth the effort to make sure you find the place that best suits your needs. Most importantly, a place that you are happy to come home to each day. When working away from your home country being able to come home to a place that makes you smile can be important to keep you sane over the long term.
One of the things that has kept me in Manila long term is that you can have a million dollar view for similar rent to what I would pay back in my home country. The Makati skyline and Manila Bay is quite spectacular at sunset, and I will never tire of staring across it when unwinding from a long day.
Aside from the apartment itself, each building will offer its own combination of the following features.
Most buildings will have a swimming pool. If you are planning to swim a few laps for your exercise then you will be able to filter out a lot of buildings on this point alone. Many of the older buildings have older roof top swimming pools, and others are designed more for families. These spaces can get very crowded in the more family oriented buildings (older ones with large apartments).
If the swimming pool can make or break your decision I have a few recommendations for you below:
- Gramercy Residences – Separate lap pool and leisure pool. Not many people use the lap pool and you will have it all to yourself most of the time. I lived here for some time and loved this. The leisure pool also has day beds around the edge for people to relax on and enjoy the view. Did I mention this is on the 36th floor?
- Shang Grand Tower – This is the most epic residential pool you will ever see.
- Greenbelt Residences – The outdoor area connecting the three towers has a nice pool area. Not many buildings have a completely outdoor area like this so if you are after sunshine this is the one for you.
- Paseo Parkview Towers – Another outdoor 25m pool. Older style building, but well positioned and has some affordable options.
This is another feature that is very dependant on the resident. They will range from a small room with a bench in it, to an epic fully equipped space with staff and trainers on hand. I was never a gym guy. The idea of going to a public gym never appealed to me. When I moved into a building with a nice gym I started going four or five times a week. This was a positive lifestyle change for me and an opportunity that everyone has that they may not have before. The building provides the convenience, but you still have to bring the discipline ☺
Recommended fully equipped gyms:
- Greenbelt Residences
- Gramercy Residences
- Paseo Parkview
I was amazed when I saw the in house cinema at the Gramercy. After over two years of living in the building guess how many times I went there to watch something? Never!
This is one of those luxuries that are easy to get excited about. When it comes to leaving your own couch and big screen to go sit somewhere else, possibly surrounded by strangers, why would you? The actual cinema is not expensive in the Philippines so unless you are going there it never seemed worth the trouble to me.
Same as above. The Gramercy has a room full of gaming consoles, another with a pool table. Never went there after the initial inspection.
One for the lazy, or the ill equipped. Not all apartments will allow a washing machine so this would be a necessity if that is the case. Most furnished apartments will have a washing machine included. If you are going to hire help, problem solved.
Internet and Cable
You will be able to get this hooked up easily no matter where you go. Some buildings may have a pre-existing contract for the whole building. This is super convenient because everything is available the day you move in. It is also likely that the cost will be included in your rent. Just be weary of landlords that don’t pay their bills. You could be cutoff without notice and there may not be anything you can do about it.
Believe it or not, some buildings have a running track. The only problem is that they all have the same problem. Clean air…. Run outside at your own risk. I would expect it to be healthier to sit down and smoke a pack of cigarettes.
This is worth more consideration than you may initially think. There would be nothing worse than being in a building long term with poor security. You do not want undesirables wandering around your building, and if for whatever reason you get one someone’s bad side you want to be safe in the knowledge that they cannot get to you 30 floors in the air.
While the concierge is the last on the list, do not underestimate the importance of friendly and helpful staff in the building. You will need their help sorting out water deliveries, maintenance and administrative issues in the building. A friendly concierge with good English skills will save you a world of frustration.
While it can be a tiresome task to go from building to building looking for your next home, it is worth the effort and can make or break your stay in Manila.
Check out the following websites:
Dealing with Brokers
Most of the above websites will lead you to a Real Estate Broker. As with most professions it can be very hit & miss as to the quality of person that you deal with. Many will be incredibly slow to get back to you, late for appointments, or just generally poor communicators. This adds to the frustration of the process if you are in a hurry.
Many of the advertised properties will not be available, or not as advertised. So you are best to just speak to them and explain what you are looking for. They will then provide a list of what options are available and you can go from there.
Some of the better brokers will offer to take you around to a few buildings to view the apartments in a car. This can be a slow process though and you can bypass much of this by being specific in what you are looking for.
As much as i dislike the building management and staff at The Gramercy Residences. It is my top pick in terms of the quality of the amenities, apartments and the view. The view being the clincher there. The photo at the top of the page is from sunset on my balcony when i was living there. It is an amazing view to come home to every day and it makes the shortcomings of the management worth dealing with.
The best building that i have stayed in is The Residences at Greenbelt. Much higher quality than the Gramercy, and in a far better location. You are in a whole new price bracket though and would need a much higher budget. There are new buildings from the Ayala Premier company that will be of a similar standard. You will be looking at p100k per month in these buildings. if you can swing that then you will have a great home.