Iloilo: Heart of the Philippines (Doc’s Passport Score: 77)

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As you take the first step into the heart of the Philippines – Iloilo – the enchanting blend of modernity and tradition will wash over you. The gentle warmth of the sun and the tang of salty sea air teasing your senses, complemented by the welcoming smiles of the friendly Ilonggos, will make you instantly feel at home. Known for its grand Spanish colonial churches, old houses, unspoiled beaches, and of course, its gastronomic delights, Iloilo is indeed an underrated gem for expats on a budget.


Safety & Security: 14/15

Iloilo City has earned the reputation of being one of the safest cities in the Philippines. Its robust law enforcement infrastructure and active community programs contribute to a low crime rate, giving expats a comfortable sense of safety.

Affordability: 13/15

Life in Iloilo is pleasantly affordable. From renting an apartment to buying fresh produce at local markets, expats are likely to find their cost of living significantly less than in many other Asian cities.

English Language Accessibility: 8/10

Filipinos are among the best English-speaking populations in Asia. In Iloilo, the majority of locals can converse in English, making it easier for expats to communicate and assimilate.

Proximity to a Good Airport: 7/10

Iloilo International Airport, while not a major Asian hub, offers good connectivity to domestic and several international locations.

Availability of Internet: 7/10

While it’s not known for having the fastest Internet, Iloilo City has made significant strides in improving its connectivity. Multiple Internet providers ensure that you remain connected, albeit at a slower pace than you might be used to.

Public Transportation and Infrastructure: 7/10

Iloilo’s infrastructure is improving rapidly. Public transportation, largely composed of jeepneys and tricycles, is affordable and prevalent. Taxis and ride-sharing apps are also widely available.

Cultural, Recreational Activities & Entertainment: 4/5

From the vibrant Dinagyang Festival to art galleries, heritage sites, and music events, there’s always something happening in Iloilo. It’s an excellent place to immerse yourself in Filipino culture and festivities.

Food, Dining & Social Scene: 4/5

Known as the “Food Haven of the Philippines,” Iloilo will satisfy your palate with its wide array of local and international cuisines. The city’s vibrant night markets and restaurants serve delectable dishes that are sure to keep your gastronomic adventures interesting.

Expat Community & Services: 3/5

While not as robust as Manila or Cebu, the expat community in Iloilo is warm and welcoming. There are several expat groups and services that can help you ease into life in this charming city.

Availability of Emergency Medical Care: 3/5

Iloilo has several hospitals and clinics, but they may not be as equipped as those in the larger Philippine cities.

Climate: 3/5

If you love tropical climates, you’ll adore Iloilo. However, the city does experience typhoon season from June to November, which can be a challenge for some.

Natural Beauty & Outdoor Recreation: 2/5

While Iloilo itself doesn’t offer much in terms of outdoor recreation, it serves as a gateway to many beautiful destinations in the Philippines, including the stunning beaches of Guimaras Island and the breathtaking mountains of Panay.

Overall Assessment

With a cumulative Doc’s Passport Score of 77/100, Iloilo receives a solid ‘C’ grade as a budget-friendly destination for expats. It offers a safe environment, affordability, and welcoming culture for those willing to navigate its challenges. Remember, this grade is intended for those seeking a budget-friendly location to live as an expat and may not align with traveler or vacationer interests.

This evaluation is geared towards expats seeking affordable living arrangements and not those looking for vacation spots or other purposes.  If you are younger and would like a more “passport bro” style of evaluation, check out my Passport Bro Score for this city.  

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2 thoughts on “Iloilo: Heart of the Philippines (Doc’s Passport Score: 77)

  1. Hi Doc,

    I appreciate your content on this site. To clear up my confusion, am I seeing correctly that you have two “assessments” of Iloilo here? Which is more up-to-date/truer to your current feelings? Thanks!

    1. Buck,

      Thanks for your kind words!
      The idea of these scores is to take personal feelings out of the process. I got tired of all those guys on YouTube making a “best” list based on a few places they visited. So I created a “rubric” to score every place objectively. I wanted to give folks enough information to make a shortlist of places to visit. You may disagree with some of the score elements, so carefully review each aspect that goes into the score and change it to reflect your values.

      There are two listings. I’ve developed two different scoring models. The Passport Score is designed for traditional expats, who I see as older guys looking to settle down and live comfortably on a fixed income.
      The other score is targeted to “Passport Bros,” who a see as younger guys that are more adventurous and interested in dating and nightlife.

      If you’re 32 and looking for a wife, you probably don’t care about the availability of healthcare as much. That sort of thing is why the scores are different.

      I hope that answers your question!

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