A number of foreigners have asked me where the largest expat community is located in the Philippines. There are more than 300,000 US citizens living year round in the Philippines, however, many of those are Filipino-Americans, who retired to the Philippines. That group usually retires near their hometowns in the Philippines before they immigrated to the USA. Supposedly, Americans make up the largest number of foreigners who retired to the Philippines, living here year round. The only other actual statistic I know is that there are around 95,000 South Koreans living full time in the Philippines but this number does not include the tens of thousands South Koreans students who study full time in the Philippines from 1-4 years.
The Bureau of Immigration is probably the only reliable source as to where most registered foreigners live in the Philippines. I know where there are large expat communities in the Philippines but it would be anyone's guess where the largest expat community is located unless you had access to the BI records. For expat security and safety, BI will not release that information.
Stars and Stripes
There are many US military retirees in the Philippines and there are two popular locations for them. Angeles City and Subic. Many are familiar with those areas, as they once served at either the USAF Base or at the US Navy Base. Many of their wives are also originally from those two areas or else they lived in those areas for years.
I have a word of caution for you if you are thinking about Angeles City. It is the # 1 killing zone for foreigners in all the Philippines! Is it because there is such a large number of foreigners concentrated in one area or is it because they have been profiled by their killers. Good questions! Either way, during the last 10 years, more foreigners have been murdered in Angeles City than in any other city in the entire Philippines and it is not even close!
Where Is Hillbilly Central?
The Visayas! The Visayas are located in the central part of the Philippines, between the other 2 Regions, Luzon and Mindanao. The Visayas are divided into Eastern, Central and Western Visayas. I live in the Western Visayas, which includes Negros Occidental.
My friends from UK and Australia agree that those who complain most about the Philippines are Americans and I will not argue about that! I also agree, however, there is one group of Americans who complain the least about the Philippines and seem to fit right in. The Americans from the Southern USA! Most in my age group, who are from the South, know what it is like living in a rural area or in an area that was not as developed as other parts of the USA. As an adult living in the South, the nearest I got to LA was in Lower Alabama!
The families in the South are usually close knit, so we can easily relate to the closeness of Filipino families. Most people from the South hold to a faith or religious belief, same as the vast majority of Filipinos. We knew our neighbors in the South and we helped one another, same as you will find in the Visayas. Filipinos here know their neighbors and none are strangers! Filipinos in the Visayas are laid back, taking things slowly and enjoying life. Same as we from the South! Here, you will often hear, in English, “Take your time! There are many other similarities between the SE part of the USA and the Visayan Region of the Philippines but I think you get the idea, di ba?
I have met so many guys here in the Visayas from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana. We agree, this is Hillbilly Central of the Philippines!
I am not saying that expats who are not from the Southern part of the USA cannot or will not adapt to the Philippines, however, based on my personal experience since I first began spending time in the Visayas in 2007, guys from the South seem to appreciate the Islands and the Mountains more than some others. I have noted that many from other parts of the USA prefer the big city life in Manila to the Visayan way of Life. Not all, of course, but many.
A friend from Tennessee has lived in Baguio for many years and he always says there is not much difference there from back home in the Tennessee mountains! For sure, that area of the Philippines has much cooler climate than the lowland. Baguio is famous for growing strawberries and many wonderful vegetables that will not grow in the flat lands of the Philippines. Baguio is more than 5,000 feet above sea level. In that general area is Benguet, famous for vegetable plantations. Last January, I saw on the ABS-CBN TV News where the cabbage had frost on it! Imagine that!
Yes, the Philippines is more than just bikinis and Speedo! Jackets and light winter clothing may be needed in the cooler climate areas. How does this sound to you?
Former US President Ronald Regan and his wife Nancy spent time in Tagaytay, Philippines when Marcos was still President. They stayed at a Swiss style villa in Tagaytay. This is another cooler climate area.
On my island, Negros Occidental, the Summer Capital is in Don Salvador Benedicto. It is often referred to as “Little Baguio!” Every year, Canlaon, also found in Negros Occidental, lays claim to “The Other Summer Capital of Negros. I think they have a claim to stake!
There are some other locations in the Philippines which tout being cooler climates but I have never been there, so that will give you something to do during your visit to the Philippines. Please give us a full report!
You will find foreigners most everywhere in the Philippines. Yes, even in Mindanao, where their mama would tell them not to go! For me, I like Hillbilly Central and I am staying!
Y'all come back real soon!!!