Top 3 Places to Live & Buy Real Estate in the Philippines

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The Philippines is big in terms of population. Still, there are not as many options available when buying property, compared to Thailand or Malaysia, for example.

Investors tend to go to the capital Manila, while other foreigners look for more relaxing places, located more towards the South. You’ll notice that the real estate market and prices differ much between different areas.

If you plan to buy property in the Philippines, but not sure where, this article is a must-read, where I list some of the best places to buy a property.

1. Metro Manila


Metro Manila, also known as the National Capital Region (NCR), and sometimes only Manila, is the capital of the Philippines. Being a country with one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, Metro Manila has indeed seen great growth in the past years.

Not surprisingly, it’s the biggest metropolitan area, consisting of sixteen cities:

  • City of Manila
  • Quezon City (former capital and most populous city)
  • Caloocan
  • Las Pinas
  • Makati
  • Malabon
  • Mandaluyong
  • Marikina
  • Muntinlupa
  • Navotas
  • Paranaque
  • Pasay
  • Pasig
  • San Juan
  • Taguig
  • Valenzuela

With a population of more than 24 million, Manila has become the fifth most populous urban area in the world. Designated as a global power city, Metro Manila is the hub of diplomatic, commercial, and financial activities. The metropolitan area contributes more than one-third of the total GDP of the Philippines.

The government currently works on a future expansion plan where San Pedro City can be included in Manila Metro.

Even if Metro Manila is the financial and commercial hub, tourism is still the biggest contributor to the regional economy. In fact, more than 6.5 million tourists arrived in the Philippines in 2017, making an all-time high record.

Manila real estate market

Metro Manila is the most prosperous region in the Philippines, with the highest GDP per capita, increasing the demand for high-end property. In addition, the population growth rate is higher compared to the national rate. Naturally, this drives up the demand for new housing units.

Giving you some notes regarding the commercial market;

a. According to reports, Metro Manila is the most affordable capital city in Southeast Asia for office space

b. It’s also ranked as the third-best global destination for business process outsourcing in the world

c. Metro Manila also has some of the lowest vacancy rates for office space in the region

Competitive office rents

A report was done by Knight Frank also claims that Manilla will outperform other regional commercial hubs like Singapore, Bangkok, and Hong Kong, in terms of office rents.

The government works on a mega infrastructure program known as “Build, Build, Build”, to improve public transportation, healthcare, and education. These infrastructure projects include Mega Manila Subway, New Clark City (a smart city currently under construction).

A steady economic growth, increased tourism, robust financial activity, and population growth make Metro Manila a good option to invest in both commercial and residential property.

According to Colliers International, the supply of new condominiums will reach 27,000 units in 2018, compared to 10,000 in 2017. This is due to high demand from both locals and overseas buyers.

Manila property prices

On average, you can buy an apartment for around USD 3,200 per square meter in the city center, and around USD 1,500 per square meter in the outskirts.

According to the country’s central bank, BSP, property prices rose 8.8% in 2017, and the areas outside of Metro Manila only experienced a 3% price rise.

Where should I buy in Manila?

Below I’ve listed some key areas to invest in Metro Manila.


Makati is the 9th most populous city in Metro Manila with a population of around half a million people. It’s the financial center, with major global corporations, like Google and HSBC, outsourcing business to the city.

You’ll notice that Makati is a prime area and a prime spot for many foreigners.

Makati experienced massive developments in commercial and office space in the last few years, with more international companies making it home to their regional offices. The biggest business district is now located in Makati and a leading hub in Asia.

You can find some of the tallest skyscrapers here, with office spaces, mixed-use projects, various condo projects. Makati is famous for having a high number of condominium projects.


Expats love Makati. Being tidier and with higher standards makes it one of the most expensive areas, nationally.

However, the price growth is also the highest. According to Colliers International, the average price of a condominium increased by more than 10% in 2017.

Worth mentioning is that Makati is known for its high-end villages and exclusive gated residential suburban communities.

Property prices in Makati

Below I’ve listed some popular areas and the average prices per square meter for apartments and condos:

  • Ayala Avenue: USD 6,500 – 7,000
  • Legaspi Village: USD 4,600 – 4,800
  • Salcedo Village: USD 4,600 – 4,800

Quezon City

Quezon City is the most populous city with three million people and the biggest in terms of land area.

As mentioned above, this city once served as the capital, from 1948-1976. It’s an educational hub with many of the top schools and universities like the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University.

Cubao serves as the financial center of Quezon City, with a lot of new developments. Commonwealth and Balara are two densely populated residential areas with many gated residential communities.

Below I’ve included a list with popular areas and the average prices per square meter for condos:

  • EDSA: USD 900-1000
  • Aurora Blvd (Cubao Area): USD 750 – 900
  • C-5 (E. Rodriguez Ave.): USD 750 – 900
  • East Ave: USD 600 – 900
  • Quezon Avenue: USD 600 – 900

Taguig / Bonifacio Global City

Taguig is a recently developed city, especially Fort Bonifacio Global City. Thanks to its proximity to Makati, the area has seen a surge in financial and commercial activity in the past years.

Fort Bonifacio Global City was previously under the use of the army but has emerged as a crucial business hub. You can find many high-rise condominiums and luxury villas in this area.

The city is close to Makati, Quezon City, and the airport, which contributes to its fast growth.

Property prices

Property prices are comparatively lower than Makati but still higher than other cities within Metro Manila. The average price per square meter in popular areas is around USD 2,500 – 2,600.

Pasig City

Pasig has mainly residential properties, located in middle and upper-class areas. But you’ll find some commercial activity as well, Ortigas Center is located here, a quickly growing business district.

Many global companies decide to open offices here, the area also has a high concentration of hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and commercial space.

The average price per square meter in Ortigas Center is USD 2,200 – 3,000.

2. Cebu


Cebu is the biggest province in the Philippines and consists of the main island, as well as 167 smaller surrounding islands.

The most interesting place is the Cebu Metropolitan Area, the second biggest metropolitan area after Metro Manila, that consists of seven cities:

  • Carcar City
  • Cebu City
  • Danao City
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Naga City
  • Talisay City

It’s one of the most developed regions in the country, with a population of around 3 million people.

Tourism is the major industry, as the area consists of several beautiful islands. In 2017, there was a 14% rise in the number of annual foreign visitors to Cebu.

In addition, trade and manufacturing, like shipbuilding, are major contributors to the thriving economy.

Cebu real estate market

Thanks to strong economic growth and a rising number of tourists, the real estate industry are one of the fastest-growing.

Other than wealthy locals, more and more expats live in the areas surrounded by beaches.
The real estate prices are way lower compared to Metro Manila, but the standard of living is almost the same.

In fact, Cebu is less crowded and more beautiful, according to many. The continuous development of infrastructure, competitive labor costs, and English-speaking people make it an attractive destination for global firms.

Vacancy rates

Cebu has a comparatively low vacancy rates according to a report issued by Knight Frank. Overall, prices of commercial and residential real estate continue to increase, it’s expected to remain like this for years to come.

Due to rising land prices, you’ll see more and more vertical developments (condos, apartments). In 2017, 5,600 new condos were developed in Cebu compared to 1,100 houses and lots.

There’s also a surge in the development of real estate in the hospitality sector. With the new Mactan Airport all set to resume operation, you can expect a rise in the number of tourists.

If you buy property in Cebu, you have plenty of options to choose from.

Where should I buy in Cebu?

Below I’ve listed some interesting areas to invest in Cebu.

Cebu City

Cebu City is the biggest city and the capital city that once served as the first capital of the Philippines. It’s a center of education, trade, industry, and commerce.

With a population of almost a million, it’s the most populous city in Cebu and the fourth most populous in the country.

The city is also experiencing fast growth with many international companies opening offices.

A recent report from Knight Frank claims that Cebu will soon become a global city. According to the report, Cebu city is expected to see a growth of 47% in office space.

Property prices in Cebu City

The average per square meter price of an apartment in Cebu City is around USD 1,800.

Hence, prices are lower than in Manila, and a half compared to Makati. However, Cebu City is still expensive compared to other cities in the province.


Mandaue is a relatively small city but serves as a manufacturing hub, primarily known for the production of furniture.

The real estate prices in Mandaue are lower than Cebu City’s, in 2017 prices grow with an annual rate of 1.5%. The average price per square meter is around USD 1,600, making it the most affordable urban area in Cebu.

Lapu-Lapu City

Lapu-Lapu is a modern city located on Mactan Island. The size of the city is almost the same as of Mandaue, both with around 400,000 inhabitants.

Worth mentioning is that Lapu-Lapu has comparatively better infrastructure.

According to Knight Frank, Lapu-Lapu’s real estate market was the fastest growing in the region in 2017 with 5.5% year-on-year growth. The average price per square meter for condos is currently USD 1,800.

3. Palawan


Palawan is the biggest province in the Philippines, in terms of area of jurisdiction. In total, more than 850,000 people live in this Province. It consists of several islands, where Palawan Island is the biggest.

Surprisingly, the population increase is higher than the national average, mostly because of migration from other parts of the country. This keeps the demand for new housing units high.

Unlike other industrial parts of the country, Palawan’s economy relies on agriculture and fishing. Other than that, tourism is also on the rise, contributing to its fast developing economy.

Palawan is famous for its astonishing, paradise-like islands. This region is greener, more peaceful, and has a lower crime rate compared to Cebu and Metro Manila.

With an annual growth of 20%, Palawan makes the fastest-growing region in the Philippines.

The real estate market is also expected to grow with the completion of a new international airport.

Where should I buy in Palawan?

Below I’ve included some of the most interesting areas to buy property in Palawan.

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa is the capital city of Palawan province. Also known as the City of Puerto Princesa, it’s rated as a highly urbanized city with a population of more than 250,000 people.

Known for its beautiful beaches and high-end beachside resorts, it attracts thousands of tourists every year. In fact, Puerto Princesa ranks as the cleanest and greenest city in the country.

Due to the high growth rate of tourists, as well as the population (2.6%, which is much higher than the national average), there’s a higher demand for new housing units. There’s also been a surge in the development of recreational homes and hospitality properties.

Property prices

The average price of a condo in the city center is USD 1000 per square meter, and USD 800 per square meter in the outskirt areas.

Hence, property is significantly cheaper compared to Cebu and Manila.

Other interesting areas

To know more about other interesting areas in Palawan, I recommend you to read the interview I did with Jonabe Daquer, owner of Palawan Properties.

She gives a lot of helpful advice to foreigners who wish to buy property in Palawan. Jonabe mentions the following places:


Famous for diving sites and its clearest lake, Kayangan Lake, which is part of Busuanga Island.


The Calauit Safari Park is the home of African giraffes and zebras. Busuanga has many beautiful islands and beaches.


Cuyo has great beaches and winds for kite surfers.


Has the clearest water in the world.

Tubbataha Reefs

A world heritage site located in Cagayancillo.


Has beautiful beaches and is well-known for high-grade silica.


Has the magnificent Lake Danao.

Port Barton

Located in San Vicente and has astonishing.

I also recommend you to read my previous article, where I explain how foreigners can buy property in the Philippines.

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  • 2 Responses to “Top 3 Places to Live & Buy Real Estate in the Philippines

    1. Louis at 1:52 pm

      I’m Louis Strauss from Namibia and would like to invite your office to invest in property development in Namibia, constructing hotels and housing project’s.
      Please do make contact for more information

      1. Marcus Sohlberg at 4:36 am

        Hello Louis,

        Thanks for introducing yourself, unfortunately we only cover APAC.

    Comments are closed.