What to expect if renting a place in the Philippines

This is mainly aimed at people looking at renting properties or buying property. Simply because most features you expect in the west maybe missing. Why? because price is critical here. Often the roofing is metal due to keeping cost down, electrics substandard to name but a few things. But then again even if you rent locally you could find things like :-

philippines shower

This is what a local shower looks like. A tap a bucket to fill with water and a pot shaped scoop to wash with. Very simple but effective the reason for the bucket is many houses don’t have a separate water tank to store water and its very common for water to be off at certain times of the day. This is the way round it. Disadvantage of this type of system is the water is very cold in the morning. But the big advantage is the bigger the bucket the more showers you can have if the water is off.

The other thing you will notice on this photo and the next is that there is water filters on both taps regardless. I haven’t found anything in the water that I would call a real threat to health but have had several pebbles. Which makes you wonder if a pebble can get into the water what else can.

tap water filter

Electric showers are available and pretty reliable but I strongly advise getting your earth bonding correct and also a full inspection of your electrics to make sure the system can take the strain of the extra current. The other thing you may have noticed is there is only one tap. There is no hot water. The easiest and cheapest way round this is to add an exterior tank to a sunlit area and you will receive free hot water. I’ve noticed the tank at the house we are currently renting has been moved which is why we now have cold water 24/7 instead of hot 50% and warm 50%. But you can’t have everything. There is two ways to receive water to a house generally and most places have access to both. One is a deep well which taps into the underground waterways which has a major advantage its free! generally its low in pollution and likely to be as good if not better than the tap water. We currently have only the deep well water which is pumped up via an electric pump into a tank then we just fill it as we need it. An example of what is called an E-Pump is shown below :-

electric motor and pump for deep well water

Not the prettiest objects but saves using a hand pump each day to get the water out. Add a tank with adapted ball cock to automate the pump and you wouldn’t need to get up to the pump to regular. Cheap to run and if it’s maintained regular will run for literally years. I’ve worked on motors as part of my previous work and to be honest the older ones are better than a new one. Why? Because the internal blades and many other components now are made of plastic where before they were metal. So if you take into account heat generation from the pump in motion its life cycle due to component failure is very much reduced. I’ve worked on military motors which are fully metal many are over 30 years old but the new ones are lasting 1 – 3 years. Although supposed to be direct replacements. So if you find a good motor that looks a little old but all metal components its likely to outlast a brand new one.

Another thing people don’t realise is getting used to Air conditioning in hot climates. But if you use Ceiling fans or wall fans they are much cheaper and also involve less cleaning and running costs. As you find bacteria build up often causes minor coughs and sore throats and at the worst case scenario Legionnaire’s disease if not maintained. The wall mounted ones I find don’t take up to much space and you don’t get the shadows at night of spinning blades next to the ceiling or wobbling of light that you get with ceiling oscillating fans. Either way you should also add at least one small battery backed fan to your list of essential items. Its only when you find you haven’t bought one in a power cut do you realise how hot it gets quickly and how much you miss the item. Try and get one with a larger battery compartment as you should be able to use motorcycle batteries which are easy to come by and also test it regular as a lot of batteries are resold as new here. Something to be aware of. It’s not just street vendors but often where you least expect it. The fan shown here cost less than £10.00 but ideal for keeping things cool during the night if there’s a power cut as well as the fact it has a built-in light and very compact.

Wall fan - Philippines - Photo by Matt WilkieBattery fan - Philippines - Photo by Matt Wilkie

Another thing people don’t realise is Gas is fed from tanks not from mains in the majority of locations its cheap one bottle will last you several months but the big problem is many of these bottles wouldn’t pass safety standards in the West. Currently the one we are using at the moment is missing a seal which is spilling gas when connected. Its been repaired locally with an elastic band. Not the best solution to a very dangerous problem. I’ve seen the damage done with a fire extinguisher would hate to see the damage done with one of these tanks going off. Anyway getting back to my point. These are connected to your cooker via a hose as there is nothing else in the house that requires gas.

LPG fuel tank - Philippines (Photo by Matt Wilkie)

glass blade windows - Philippines - Photo by Matt Wilkie

Another thing people forget to take a look at is security on a property before buying. This is a picture from one of our windows. This is a typical layout in the Philippines “on request” before you rent get them to fit a mosquito grill and security grill. They may ask you for 2 – 3 months rent in advance to cover the costs. But its worth it mosquitos are a major problem not only for irritation but Dengue is still a big problem in Cebu and other parts of the Philippines. Malaria is supposed to be virtually none existent but to be honest I wouldn’t be so sure as many of the figures aren’t accurate due to the majority of population finding medical fees too expensive so the death registry is unlikely to be accurate. Getting back to the design. The metal grills are good security and if designed well look very artistic and in keeping with the house. My father in-law makes them so if you ever want some made please drop me an email. The mosquito mesh is either metal or plastic depending on whats used. Generally it keeps 90% of the pests out but ants are the biggest problem everyone seems to face and an ongoing battle. The Louvre type windows work well especially if you have open fields or above ground level to allow air to flow through the house. Means you don’t need air conditioning during the day and depending where you are maybe no air conditioning at all.

Hope  you found the information useful. But one thing i will add is all western things are available but at a cost. Not only buying costs but running costs. A house without air conditioning can have a bill as little as P500 a month. But a single air conditioning unit can add as much as P2,000 per unit. So if you can get by with fans give it a go. Try for a few days the first couple of days will seem too hot but with the fans your body will adapt. Saving you in the wallet especially if your here long-term.

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