La Union: A Hidden Gem (Doc’s Passport Score: 82)

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Welcome to La Union, a province located in the Ilocos Region of the Philippines. This serene coastal province is known for its breathtaking beaches, excellent surfing spots, and an untapped bounty of natural beauty. However, it isn’t just for surfers and beach bums—La Union is steadily gaining recognition as one of the best cities for expats seeking a laid-back, affordable, and culturally rich lifestyle. But does it meet all the criteria for a great expat city? Let’s dive in.


Affordability: 14/15

La Union’s cost of living is one of its most attractive features for expats. Housing, food, and other expenses are significantly lower compared to major cities, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a budget-friendly yet comfortable lifestyle.

Safety & Security: 13/15

Despite its developing status, La Union maintains a relatively safe environment. While petty crimes can occur, as in any city, the overall crime rate is low, and the locals are generally friendly and helpful.

Proximity to a Good Airport: 10/10

With San Fernando Airport within its borders, and Clark International Airport a few hours’ drive away, La Union scores high for airport accessibility.

Availability of Internet: 9/10

Although the internet may not be as lightning-fast as in larger cities, it’s reliable and widely available. This makes it an attractive choice for digital nomads or remote workers.

English Language Accessibility: 8/10

English is widely understood and spoken in the Philippines, and La Union is no exception. Whether it’s at the local market or an upscale restaurant, communication won’t pose much of a problem.

Public Transportation and Infrastructure: 7/10

Public transportation is adequate, with jeepneys and tricycles being the common modes of transport. However, the infrastructure could use some improvement, especially in rural areas.

Availability of Emergency Medical Care: 4/5

La Union has several hospitals and clinics, providing adequate emergency medical care. However, more complicated health issues may require travel to larger cities.

Expat Community & Services: 3/5

La Union boasts a growing expat community, although it’s not as large or as established as in other popular expat cities. Services catered specifically for expats are also emerging but are still limited.

Natural Beauty & Outdoor Recreation: 5/5

From surf-ready beaches to scenic mountain treks, La Union is an outdoor lover’s paradise, scoring full points for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

Cultural, Recreational Activities & Entertainment: 3/5

La Union provides a decent mix of local cultural activities, beachside recreational spots, and entertainment venues, though it may not be as vibrant or diverse as larger cities.

Food, Dining & Social Scene: 3/5

With a plethora of local food markets, cozy cafés, and beachside eateries serving local and international cuisine, La Union’s food scene is deliciously appealing, if a bit limited in diversity.

Climate: 3/5

La Union experiences a tropical climate, with a dry season from November to April and a wet season from May to October. While the weather is generally pleasant, the rainy season can be a bit intense.

Final Results

To sum it up, with a total Doc’s Passport Score of 82 (out of a possible 100), La Union receives a letter grade of B-. This hidden gem offers an intriguing blend of affordability, safety, and natural beauty, making it an excellent choice for expats, especially those on a budget. Do note that this score is intended for expats seeking permanent residence rather than tourists looking for vacation spots.

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 prefer a more “passport bro” view of things, check out my Passport Bro Score for this city.  

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