Editor's Note

Best places to live

We hope you already grabbed a copy of the March-April issue of MoneySense. We have an interesting list there — the “Best Places to Live in the Philippines.” Curious? Here’s the top 20:

1. Bacolod
2. Makati
3. Davao
4. Marikina
5. Iloilo
6. Las Piñas
7. Pasig
8. San Fernando
9. Mandaluyong
10. Quezon City
11. Manila
12. Batangas
13. Cagayan de Oro
14. Muntinlupa
15. Angeles
16. Baguio
17. Lipa
18. Calamba
19. General Santos
20. Cebu

If you want to know more, of course, you have to buy a copy. 🙂 But just to give you a short background about we compiled this, here’s what I wrote in the editor’s note:

There Is a Method to This Madness
Compiling a “Best Places to Live” in the Philippines list just screams for complaints and criticism. After we came out with the results, I was actually disappointed, even perplexed, that some of my favorite cities weren’t included or were so far down the ranking.

I have lived in three cities my entire life and about to move to my fourth. Only two of those – Makati and Quezon City – made the list. It kind of bothered me a bit that Antipolo – my future home – didn’t make the cut (more on that later). Did I make the right decision to live there?

As for you, are you aghast that your city is not on the list or is at the lower rung? Sorry, we didn’t hand-pick the list based on personal opinion. How can Cebu and Baguio be at the lower ranks of the top 20? We had expected them to be right there at least among the top 10. Unfortunately, Cebu ranked low in the list of the Philippine Cities Competitiveness Ranking Project (PCCRP) of the Asian Institute of Management (a major basis for our ranking) – 10th on dynamism of local economy, 12th in infrastructure, and eighth in quality of life. Baguio was also at the fringes of the criteria on economy and infrastructure, even though it ranked high in quality of life.

And where are the CALABARZON cities in the top 20 save for Batangas, Lipa, and Calamba? You’d expect to find Cavite, Sta. Rosa, Tagaytay, and Antipolo at least. Well, Cavite, Sta. Rosa, and Tagaytay were ranked really low. And Antipolo? Well, it wasn’t part of the PCCRP (that gives me hope).

You may also be annoyed by the fact that Metro Manila cities dominate the list. While we can say that there’s little difference if you live in Pasig or Quezon City if you work or study in Makati (or for that matter, also live in Makati), since it’s really not that far, it’s unfair to conclude that all Metro Manila cities are created equal and that therefore they should be just lumped as one. Obviously they’re not. Living in Marikina appears to be better than living in, say, Pasay, which ranked lowest in quality of life among metro cities.

There are three key components of what we believe makes a place the best place to live: standard of living, quality of life, and cost of living. You may be earning a lot but if you live in an overcrowded city with too much smog, a high crime rate, bad roads, and few schools to choose from, then it may be better idea to just move. Similarly, you can have fresh air, a peaceful environment, and longer life expectancy, but if you can’t find good jobs or business opportunities, you’ll also move.

What is standard of living? To us, the factors to look at are income (above average family income and per capita income), economy (high GDP and GDP growth), employment (high employment rate), and business (low cost of doing business).

Quality of life includes population (relative low population and population growth), demographics (good gender mix, good number of young economically active people, high ratio of singles), environment (clean air, clean streets), health care (high life expectancy, low mortality rate), education (high literacy rate, high proportion with high level of education), safety (low crime rate, high crime solution efficiency), and leisure (high level of tourist arrivals).

Of course, tracking all these metrics is time-consuming and difficult. So we relied on existing studies that have already done the work for us. We believed those studies sufficiently provided a solid basis for measuring standard of living and quality of life. However, we didn’t bother to anymore measure and consider cost of living as data for this is incomplete and unreliable. Besides, the “Best Places to Live” does mean best, not most affordable. And as the final listing shows, each city offers a whole range of options for every budget.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start.

34 thoughts on “Best places to live

  • What’s the best reason to live in Bacolod? Respondents might have mixed up living and vacationing. No doubt Bacolod is one of the nicest place to stay when vacationing, but to live there and you have some business matters to attend to . . . well it’s somewhat inconvenient.

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  • honestly, it’s funny bcoz im from bacolod city and i think it’s one great place to live! but as a place for vacation? well…. hmmmm…. i really doubt it! of course, if you have business in manila it is better to live in the metropolis, but if you have nothing else to worry about, bacolod has all the necessities that simple yet posh life can offer!

  • i have lived in bacolod for 20 years, pasay for 2 and makati for 4. among the three bacolod is on my top list.

    bacolod has the infrasturcture and the developments just like any modern city, but still has the ladi back “provincial” feel.

    cost of living is much cheaper. lesser traffic jam, lesser pollution = less stress.

  • lourdes a. luzuriaga

    Of all the cities nationwide that i have visited, Bacold City tops my list too because it offers an ideal ‘laid-back’, serene and safe provincial residential setting, within easy proximity to schools of well-reputed standards, from all its many sprawling residential villages, some, by the sea. Other villages offer a distant view of the mountain. From my bedroom, on a clear sunny day, i have an awesome view of the sun rising from behind Campuestohan, a blue mountain from afar that reminds me of Australia’s Blue Mountain. It is blue because it has a beautiful tropical forest, causing a cool breeze to flow through this quiet and quaint residential village that feels like one is living in a farm, within walking distance to groceries and malls. We have lesser traffic. We have some of the best doctors and hospitals too. On week-ends, one may enjoy a drive to beautiful beach and mountain resorts with family and friends. Negros island has some of the best beaches and pristine dive spots that are accessible to Bacolod. That is why, foreigners from temperate countries with love for the tropics love living here! Since the island is mainly agricultural, food is cheaper! We have one of the best airports by international standards, a recently opened one! To me, living in Bacolod is like living in the heart of the Visayas and the Philippines!

  • Yipee! As someone born in Iloilo (no.5)and raised in Bacolod, I consider myself a true-blue Bacolena and a proud one at that. Our city has been voted the Cleanest and Greenest Highly-Urbanized City in the Philippines thrice. An AIM study also showed that we were no.1 in quality of life and in infrastructure in 2003 and 2005. It helps that our city is situated in an island (the 4th largest in RP) blessed with both beaches and mountains so a vacationer can choose his wild. Foodies can have a great time, too, as our cuisine is tops. Chicken inasal, anyone? There’s piyaya, barquillos, fresh lumpia, napoleones, tarts – oh, goodness, are you drooling yet?

    Don’t forget: Bacolod is just the capital of the province of Negros Occidental and not to be missed are its neighboring cities and municipalities – we have 13 and 19, respectively. A tour of our province will show you the land that sugar made (and unmade). Our culture is a gracious and unique blend of the contemporary and the old. You want a familiarization tour, Stephen?

    One Canadian visitor I had asked a travel agent in Manila what’s there to see in Negros and the agent replied “Oh, don’t go there. There’s nothing to see but sugarcane.” Obviously, the agent hadn’t been around and also some Manilans who had asked me if we have taxis and elevators here. Don’t scoff at us, dahlings! Kadto di bala!

  • I live in Bacolod and wouldn’t live in another place. It’s safer than Manila, no smog, cheaper, quality of life is better and quieter. If you eat out, the volume of food is more than what you pay for in Manila. The food in the restaurants can compare with the really expensive restaurants in Manila but they are cooked by local chefs that have studied abroad and come home. We have beautiful beaches where we can go on weekends. You don’t have to go to Boracay to enjoy the sun and dive, we have it all here in the north and south of Negros Island. Life here is more relaxed. Where on earth can you get a 2 hr. massage for P 250.00?

    Bacolod has greatly changed from the past. We have a great airport. Tourists can check out old churches, authentic antique shops, try the local dishes and join in the Maskara Fiesta, Sinulog and many other events.

  • alimaong

    this is totally weird. ok im already partial to cebu being cebuano myself, but i just couldnt understand even in the most absurd fantasy world how the city of manila bested cebu as a ‘better place to live’. im already bitter with my city in the last place, but it’s not like theres no arguing to it…manila is such an overcrowded place even by world standards (43,079 person/km²), with the most polluted bodies of water (manila bay and pasig river), highest crime rates, ugly buildings, poor air quality and squalid housing conditions… the list can go on. is that place ‘better’ than baguio whos just top 16? while im at it, i know cebu happens to receive almost 50% of international tourist arrivals, how in the world did you hocus-pocused such farce ranking and pass on as something real? seriously.

  • Can anyone tell me there favorite beaches to go to on Negros. The people I know from there always want to go to Boracay and rarely any place else. Some tips would be great.

  • duh???!!! as if…
    its not that i live in bacolod… is that those metropolis city is not good to live in because since its not a good environment to live in.
    all you can do in metropolis cities is to do business. thats the reason some people may not call them “a place where they can live” its because it can give them stress. unlike in some cities which is not concentrated in competing in large cities is more capable to house more residents and it has less pollution and a good environment. away from the bustling CBD of matro manila. marikina is 80% residential, means that it is more concentrated in houses to build in the city, away from the busy ones…

  • Hi,I am French and living in Bantayan island for 2 years now and know 80% of the Philippines,I know Manila well but to stay there would be my nightmare,I don’t know yet Iloilo (will visit you soon guy)but hear good things about that city…so far best place to live:1)CDO, 2)Bacolod 3)Dumaguete 4)Puerto Princessa 5)Davao 6)Iloilo?? ,in the province:1)Camiguin 2)Bantayan island 3)Camotes 4)El Nido and maybe tagatay… Well Cebu is ok to visit and spoil yourself,but it look like Manila. That my personal view. Anyway you are all great people,that better than gold. Cheers. Alain

  • Hi,I am French and living in Bantayan island for 2 years now and know 80% of the Philippines,I know Manila well but to stay there would be my nightmare,I don’t know yet Iloilo (will visit you soon guy)but hear good things about that city…so far best place to live:1)CDO, 2)Bacolod 3)Dumaguete 4)Puerto Princessa 5)Davao 6)Iloilo?? the rest no thank you,in the province:1)Camiguin 2)Bantayan island 3)Camotes 4)El Nido and maybe tagatay… Well Cebu is ok to visit and spoil yourself,but it look like Manila. That my personal view. Anyway you are all great people,that better than gold. Cheers. Alain

  • Bacolod is definitely a great place to live! There is no doubt about that! I still don’t think it’s a great place for vacation. Maybe it has something to do with the “familiar” look. As a former resident of the city, I look for places that are “different”… so I can say Dumaguete, Bais, San Carlos and Sipalay as the best cities in Negros Island to spend a vacation!
    Betsy, you can give me a familiarization tour of Negros if you want, but I think I know the island of my birth better than you do. Why… Have you ever thought about buying a property in, let’s say Moises Padilla because you loved the rural atmosphere so much? Well, I already did! That is how I love Negros!

  • dolly garcia

    How could Manila and metro area on the top 20? Dirty, most ugly houses and apartments, a lot of homeless, too much crimes and always flooded on rainy season even in front of luxury hotels. I had walked in dirty water/from canals in the street, every time I come home for a vacation. The only good thing is close to everything, but to live no way unless you have a mansion or rich, but you still have to deal with the smog and bad traffic.

  • I was riding a jeepney when I saw this huge sign that says Bacolod City is the number one in the list of the Best Places To Live in the Phil. I agree! I should know I am a true blooded Bacoleña. I’ve been to almost every major cities in the Phil. They are fine but of course Bacolod is in my number one list. It is so convenient to live here. You are almost near to everywhere. You can experience the laid back life here but not that very rural-ish (not that the rurals are bad). :)) I hope you guys can visit my city. :0

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  • hello,

    where can I get a copy of this issue? Wala na kase sa newsstand

  • Ralph Jason

    I currently stay in sta.rosa laguna, but my province is in bacolod city..it is nice to hear that bacolod city rank 1st on the survey..Im not surpise with that issue because bacolod have a potential to be a progressive city someday…Mabuhay Bacolod City…

  • its great!!!! no doubt that bacolod city is in No.1 rank, this city has more accessible to school beaches restaurant night life..city never been sleep…cybergate, more construction building, good hospital and universities, very clean, no pullution, best international airports and international seaport tallest building, more malls, many riches people, beautiful subdivision, good roads, virgin forest (mnt canlaon) beatiful falls in the mountain it is just like in singapore and milan in europe… overtaking in cebu.. but no flyover.. i think its good to have an flyover for the future preparation.. i think the traffic problem in this city is develop.. this city has good mayor congrats

  • I am so proud that Bacolod city is ranked number 1 in the Philippines!!!
    Although i am studying now here in Manila, i can really say that Manila should be transform into a better city… Roads, traffic jams, air pollution, eskinitas, dirty homes, and etc.. What i really hated most living here in Manila is the traffic jam. Whereas, I would always wake up 2 hours before just to go to school and hoping not to be late for class. I can really say you can do a lot of things if you are living in Bacolod. Am i right or am i right??? =)

    God bless the Philippines.

  • studies like this does not reflect the real condition of the place (take for example the philippines being rated by outsiders as a very dangerous zone, unless you agree with it of course).
    Cebu, Baguio and Davao are major philippines cities that no matter where they are in the ranking, they are still major icons for the philippine economy. Whether or not they are on the list, they will still be remenbered as places of great importance to the philippines. NOBODY CAN ARGUE. PERIOD.

  • Would that be San Fernando, La Union? If it is then this really is ridiculous. San Fernando, LU, is a very tiny city compared to the others. While its true that it is progressive, it has to do a lot of numerous works for it to catch up. It owes its growth to its proximity to Baguio, a major city in Luzon, if its not because of its proximity to Baguio then:
    1-businesses wont thrive
    2-the international airport wont be constructed
    3-the beach resorts will be empty
    and itll just be a small sleepy town.

    On the other hand, Cebu is an economic center, not even Davao and Baguio (it’s closest rivals) can beat it. Whether or not its on the list, theres no question that it is indeed a place to beat.

  • Go bacolod! Really a Best place to live… also the whole negros occidental…

  • dinarman

    Wow bacolod as best of the best in the Phils! I am not a Bacoleno but I’m right on the spot by buying a property lot there(Las Hervias Village) with the hope of “retiring” there in the future. First time i set my foot on that place really made me feel a ‘strange’ aura of peace and tranquility. When I was there, I did not even feel that we are in a 3rd world country in the first place.
    I wish bacolod stays the same, maintains its not too urban, not too rural ambiance. Industrial developments and factories should be kept out of the city, tourism should be developed as well with emphasis on the beaches and wellness industry.

  • Marlin

    Hi! I live in Bacolod I totally agree that it is a nice place to live..but for mr the best place to live will be my hometown which is Kabankalan City (look it up in the map, it is part of Negross Occidental) two hours away from Bacolod… nothing beats the simple life.
    Negros Occidental is totally a great place, if you are visiting the Philippines I suggest you go here, great places, great people!
    Last January, I brought 7 of my Australian friends to go to Kabanakalan City for the January Festival, they loooovve it.. they said it was an experience of a lifetime 🙂
    In general, places here in the Philippines have so much to offer.. I for one don’t want to be a tourist in my own country.

  • Jerald

    To me, this ranking makes more sense.
    10. Bacolod
    09. Sta. Rosa, Laguna
    08. Manila
    07. Ilo-ilo
    06. Marikina
    05. Baguio
    04. Makati
    03. Davao
    02. Puerto Princesa, Palawa
    01. Cebu

  • Elbern


    If they are basing the list on facts, then, I would agree that Bacolod is the best place to live in the Philippines. I don’t live in Bacolod, but, we always go there to shop, eat and enjoy. Yes, I agree that Cebu City is very well-developed, but, it is also getting dirty. Pollution is getting worse. I barely can’t breathe at all when you are in the city itself unless you go to Talamban Family Park near the hills. Crime rate has also gotten worse. I know these to be true because I studied in Cebu and is currently working there too. If possible, I usually go back to Negros almost every month to breathe FRESH AIR and never miss to VISIT BACOLOD.

    Go Bacolod!!! He he he!!!

  • Hello,

    I am just wondering why you did not include population density, consumer price index for selected cities as bases for livability analysis. Well, we have that data at NSO for these five cities. Maybe, there’s differences in the ranking if you include these aspects. Human Development Index, anyway, is understated as the component data (literacy rate etc).are only available in 2000. How would this be a basis in 2008?.

  • Hi,

    I’d like to know the details in livability analysis particularly on the reference period of the survey data because as far as I have learned we have some problems as to the availability of the data. Literacy rates I think is 2000 the latest, income and expenditure is 2000 etc. All these info are available in the regional level.

    I would appreciate any reply. TY.

  • hi, i would say DAVAO is the best place to live, accessible to all, not crowded, local fruits and sea foods not expensive, very affordable…. ive been to all the places mention but nothing’s comparable to DAVAO, i know migrated here since 2002 until now and i love it.

  • Angeles at number 18 & City of San Fernando, Pampanga (not La Union) at number 8? I’m very proud! I agree in the ranks of San Fernando & Angeles City because they’re very progressive right now.. So many Mid-rise and Large Company Infrastructures especially in Clark being build right now.. So many malls to choose from.. The major roads here are now widened, and it is the home of Diosdado Macapagaol International Airport the next Premiere Gateway of the Philippines! Very nice environment too! ^_^

  • achemmings

    Clark, Angeles is the best. I am filipina and cameback to settle here. I looked around several places, but fall in love inside Clark. This place have plenty of trees, big road and big field that you can walk around (you can put 10 basketball court inside the field) where they use for entertainment. This used to be US base and feel like your in different country. Far from pollution and crowd especially beggar that bother you anywhere in the country. Several big malls which is easy to reach. This is a booming place and had an international airport which is very convinient. Love to stay here!!!

  • If you live in Bacolod and never experienced living in any other place, you may find this ranking ridiculous because your mind is limited to what you see in your surroundings. But for the people like me who is a native of Negros Occidental (Silay City – part of Metro Bacolod), and has been living here in Batangas for 10 years, Manila for 2 years, and Japan for 2 years, I can really tell that Bacolod is the best. I’ve been to Cebu, Iloilo, Palawan, and boracay for some months and experienced living there also but no city can beat Bacolod right now. Although Bacolod has a high population, the population density is still low. It is one of the most peacefulplaces and has good climate. Batangas, Manila, Cebu – too hot.

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