There are 122 cities in the Philippines and listing down my five best cities in the Philippines where I would choose to live is pretty easy after visiting over 60 out of the 81 provinces in the country.
More than half of my life, I spent most of the time living in Metro Manila. I enjoyed living in the capital. There is no doubt that there are more employment opportunities and high paying jobs in this region. But in case you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, it is good if you have other options.
I already experienced living an island life when I moved to the island of Guimaras for a year. I honestly enjoy it but given more options, I would still prefer to live in the city yet, I have quick access to the beach or close to nature.
In the meantime, these emerging 5 best cities in the Philippines are worthy of checking out.
- Cagayan De Oro City
If there is one city that I enjoy the most in Mindanao, it is no doubt that it is Cagayan De Oro. I only have a quick visit to CDO since I spent most of the time in Camiguin which is just around 5 hours away from the city.
I believe that it is the most dynamic city in Mindanao, it is very progressive and at the same time there are spots where it is very laid back. Traffic and noise are there, it is given. People are very nice, I saw many restaurants to dine in and there is a lively nightlife. On top of it, I enjoy doing whitewater rafting. therefore, given a chance to move to Mindanao, I would highly consider Cagayan De Oro.
- Bacolod City
2 cities in Negros Island landed on my top 5. One of these cities is Bacolod. Why Bacolod? Why not? Those who come to Bacolod would never miss a bite of the delectable desserts that are famous in the city. I don’t have a sweet tooth but Napoleone’s at Pendys is something I could eat every day.
I might be too slim but I eat a lot and talking about food and various restaurants, there are plenty of quality places to find in Bacolod City. I like how organized the downtown compared to another downtown in neighboring cities in Western Visayas.
Although, in my opinion, it is not the most progressive city in the region. Yet constructions are everywhere within the city center. It is an ideal combination of urban progress and country charm. It has a rich history, scenic environment, and a hospitable community.
- Baguio City
I’ll go straight to the point – It’s the weather. For people living in Metro Manila, I know how many times you wish to be instantly transported in Baguio City during the peak of the summer season. I’m one with you.
And it’s just not the weather though. It’s generally the place. The idea of walking in Camp John Hay when I feel so stress or need a place to relax is something hard to find in other cities in the Philippines. I’m not a coffee fan but I love that there is somehow a coffee or a cafe community in Baguio city.
- Dumaguete City
I had my love at first experienced with Dumaguete City. It’s a city but feels like a small town and its location is one of the top reasons why it places on a higher spot on my list. Just an hour away from the city, you can experience nature. There is Apo island, Manjuyod sandbar (where I enjoyed watching thousands of dolphins), waterfalls, and scenic mountain views. Cebu and Siquijor Island are also few hours boat trip away.
The community looks laid-back where there are people who walk and jog along Rizal Boulevard. I noticed that Dumaguete is cleaner compared to other cities in the Philippines. The streets are a little bit wider and better maintained; you’ll see more flowers, gardens, and greenery.
Knowing that it is a university city. I love the “millennial” vibe of Dumaguete. There are various bars, restaurants and it is surprisingly cheap.
I love hanging out at a seafood restaurant along the coastal road and the mixed crowd of young and old, local and foreign in most bars that I visited.
- Iloilo City
And the winner for the best city for me to live outside Manila is Iloilo City. Its a progressive, vibrant and well-managed city.
This is how I envision a better and more organized – like Manila of the Future and in the coming years could overtake other major cities as one of the powerhouse cities in the Philippines.
Development wise, there are a growing number of buildings, BPO offices, international hotels, restaurants, bars, schools, and malls all over the city. Not to mention that Iloilo Airport is an international airport that serves flights to Singapore and Hongkong.
The roads are wide, clean, and well-maintained. There is even a space provided for bicycles. The Iloilo river is clean and the esplanade is a good place to walk, jog or relax.
On the other side of the modernized city is a rich, bold, and colorful history. Iloilo City is a perfect blend of the past and the future. What added to the beauty of the city is of course its loving people.
If you need a city break to spend time with nature, the island of Guimaras is just 20-mins boat away.
I hope my five best cities in the Philippines will help you in case you decide to live outside Metro Manila.