Tacloban: The Unpolished Gem (Doc’s Passport Score: 81)

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Once known primarily as the city devastated by the super typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Tacloban, the gateway to Eastern Visayas in the Philippines, has resiliently risen from the ashes and reshaped itself into a thriving city. An ideal haven for expats on a budget, Tacloban combines affordability with a touch of urban charm set against a backdrop of natural beauty.

It’s a place where the warmth of the locals outshines even the tropical sun, offering an inviting atmosphere to visitors from all walks of life. As an expat, the city presents its unique set of attractions and challenges, which we’ll delve into based on our Doc’s Passport scorecard. Remember, this scorecard is particularly suited for budget-conscious expats, rather than vacationers or temporary travelers.

Affordability (15/15)

Perhaps the most enticing aspect of Tacloban for expats is its affordability. Your dollar stretches far in this city, with the cost of living being one of the lowest in the Philippines. Whether it’s housing, groceries, dining, or entertainment, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you can enjoy with a modest budget. For expats on a budget, Tacloban scores a perfect 15 out of 15.

Safety & Security (12/15)

Despite some dated perceptions, Tacloban has seen considerable improvements in safety and security over recent years. Like any city, petty crime exists, but by taking basic precautions and maintaining a low profile, expats can comfortably navigate city life. The city’s emergency response system is also continually improving. Hence, the city scores a commendable 12 out of 15 in this category.

Proximity to a Good Airport (8/10)

Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport, Tacloban’s domestic airport, provides frequent flights to Manila and Cebu, the main international gateways of the Philippines. The airport is small but functional and fairly reliable, scoring an 8 out of 10.

English Language Accessibility (8/10)

English is widely spoken in the Philippines, and Tacloban is no exception. You’ll find locals comfortable conversing in English, with most signs, menus, and services available in the language, earning the city an 8 out of 10 for English accessibility.

Availability of Internet (7/10)

Internet access in Tacloban, like much of the Philippines, has its ups and downs. Fiber internet is available in certain areas, while mobile data can serve as a reliable backup. It’s certainly workable for most remote jobs or online communication, scoring a 7 out of 10.

Public Transportation and Infrastructure (7/10)

Tricycles, jeepneys, and vans are the lifeblood of Tacloban’s transportation system. It might take some getting used to, but once mastered, moving around is cheap and straightforward. Infrastructure development is ongoing, and post-Haiyan rebuilding has resulted in better roads and public facilities. Thus, the city scores a 7 out of 10.

Expat Community & Services (5/5)

Though small, Tacloban’s expat community is welcoming and tightly-knit. Services catered to expats, like international cuisine and specialty goods, are present but limited, resulting in a full 5 points in this category.

Availability of Emergency Medical Care (3/5)

Medical facilities in Tacloban are adequate for routine care and minor emergencies. However, more complex medical issues may require travel to larger cities like Cebu or Manila. The city scores a 3 out of 5 for emergency medical care.

Natural Beauty & Outdoor Recreation (5/5)

Despite its urban character, Tacloban offers numerous opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Nearby beaches, hiking trails, and the stunning San Juanico Bridge present a delightful mix of city and nature. This gives Tacloban a full 5 points for natural beauty and outdoor recreation.

Cultural, Recreational Activities & Entertainment (4/5)

From the annual Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival to vibrant karaoke bars and a thriving local music scene, Tacloban provides a taste of Filipino culture mixed with recreational fun, scoring a 4 out of 5.

Food, Dining & Social Scene (4/5)

Tacloban’s food scene serves up local delights like Leyte’s famous “binagol” and fresh seafood. A modest array of international cuisine is available too, making the city score a 4 out of 5 in this category.

Climate (3/5)

Tacloban’s tropical climate is hot and humid year-round with a rainy season from November to January. It may not suit everyone’s preference, hence it scores a 3 out of 5 for climate.

In conclusion, Tacloban’s overall Doc’s Passport Score stands at a respectable 81, earning a B- grade. This under-the-radar city offers affordability, safety, and a friendly atmosphere for expats looking to live on a budget, while also providing opportunities for cultural immersion and natural exploration.

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 more interested in a “passport bro” take on Tacloban, check out Doc’s Passport Bro Score for this city.  

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