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Why I Don’t Plan To Go Back To Manila, Philippines


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Ulrikaumeko Roe



The Philippines, with its rich culture, picturesque landscapes, and warm-hearted people, is a country that holds a special place in the hearts of many. However, as an SEO expert who has spent a considerable amount of time in the bustling city of Manila, I have come to a personal realization: I don’t plan to go back to Manila, Philippines. While this may sound surprising to some, it is a decision I have made after careful consideration of various factors that significantly impact my quality of life.


Living in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, can be both exciting and overwhelming. From the never-ending traffic jams to the high levels of pollution, the city presents its fair share of challenges. The cost of living is also a concern, and safety issues can’t be ignored. Overpopulation and urban sprawl have resulted in the lack of job opportunities, while the quality of education and healthcare leave much to be desired. Moreover, there can be a cultural and social disconnect that I find difficult to overcome.


In this article, I will delve into these reasons in greater detail, shedding light on why I have made the conscious decision not to return to Manila, Philippines.


Traffic and Pollution

One of the primary reasons why I don’t plan to go back to Manila, Philippines, is the overwhelming traffic and pollution that plagues the city on a daily basis. Navigating through the streets of Manila can be an arduous task, with hours wasted in gridlocked traffic. The congestion is not only frustrating, but it also takes a toll on one’s productivity and overall well-being.


Additionally, the pollution levels in Manila are a cause for concern. The heavy traffic, coupled with the lack of proper emission control measures, leads to poor air quality. The constant exposure to pollutants can have detrimental effects on respiratory health and overall quality of life. The smog-filled skies and the constant smell of vehicle emissions are not conducive to a healthy and enjoyable living environment.


Moreover, the deteriorating infrastructure exacerbates the traffic and pollution woes. The road systems are often inadequate to handle the growing number of vehicles, which results in bottlenecks and major delays. The lack of efficient and reliable public transportation alternatives further contributes to the congestion on the roads. This not only adds to the frustration of daily commuters but also hinders the city’s progress and development.


While efforts have been made to address these issues, such as the implementation of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program or UVVRP (commonly known as “number coding”), it is evident that more comprehensive and sustainable solutions are needed to combat the persistent traffic and pollution problems in Manila.


The combination of heavy traffic and high levels of pollution significantly impacts the quality of life in Manila. It is a constant source of stress and frustration, making daily commutes a daunting task. With a strong desire for cleaner and more efficient transportation systems, I’ve concluded that Manila is not the ideal place for me to reside.


Cost of Living

Another major factor that has led to my decision not to return to Manila, Philippines, is the high cost of living in the city. While it is true that the Philippines, as a whole, offers more affordable options compared to some Western countries, Manila stands out as one of the most expensive cities in the country.


From housing and transportation to groceries and entertainment, the prices in Manila can be overwhelming for many individuals, especially for those on a modest income. Rental prices for apartments and houses in prime locations can be exorbitant, making it difficult for individuals to find affordable housing options. Even basic necessities, such as food and utilities, can be more expensive compared to other cities or regions in the country.


Furthermore, the cost of healthcare and education in Manila is considerably higher compared to other parts of the Philippines. Accessing quality healthcare services can be a financial burden, especially for those without comprehensive health insurance. Likewise, private education institutions in Manila often come with hefty price tags, making it challenging for families to afford quality education for their children.


While it’s true that there are more affordable options available in Manila, they often come with sacrifices in terms of quality or convenience. Many individuals find themselves living on tight budgets or having to cut back on certain expenses to make ends meet. The constant need to keep up with the high cost of living can put a strain on one’s finances and can limit the ability to save for the future or enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.


Considering the cost of living in Manila and the limited financial opportunities it presents, I have made the conscious decision to explore other cities or regions within the Philippines that offer a more affordable and sustainable lifestyle.


Safety Concerns

Safety is a paramount concern for anyone considering their place of residence, and unfortunately, safety concerns have played a significant role in my decision not to return to Manila, Philippines. While the city has its own charm and beautiful neighborhoods, the reality is that it also faces some safety challenges that can negatively impact one’s peace of mind.


One of the main safety concerns in Manila is the issue of crime. Like many other major cities around the world, Manila has its fair share of criminal activity. From petty theft and pickpocketing to more serious crimes such as robbery and even incidents of violence, the city can be unpredictable when it comes to personal safety.


Another safety concern is the prevalence of traffic accidents. Manila’s chaotic traffic situation, coupled with reckless driving and inadequate road infrastructure, increases the risk of accidents. Pedestrian safety can also be a concern, with limited pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and drivers who sometimes disregard the right of way for pedestrians.


Furthermore, while it is important to note that safety can vary across different areas of Manila, there are certain neighborhoods that are known for their higher crime rates and less secure environments. This can limit one’s options when it comes to finding a safe and secure place to live, especially for individuals or families who prioritize a sense of security in their daily lives.


While safety concerns exist in every city to some degree, the combination of crime rates, traffic accidents, and certain unsafe neighborhoods in Manila has influenced my decision to explore other cities within the Philippines that offer a more secure living environment.


It is crucial to note that personal experiences with safety can differ, and some individuals may have a different perspective or have found ways to mitigate these safety concerns in Manila. However, based on my own observations and priorities, I have chosen to prioritize safety in my decision-making process.


Overpopulation and Urban Sprawl

Overpopulation and urban sprawl are two interconnected problems that have contributed to my decision not to return to Manila, Philippines. With limited land resources and a growing population, the city has experienced rapid and uncontrolled urbanization, leading to numerous challenges.


Manila, being the capital city, attracts people from all over the Philippines in search of better opportunities. However, the influx of people has resulted in overcrowding and the strain on resources and infrastructure. The city becomes congested, and public spaces feel cramped, making it difficult to find solace in the midst of the hustle and bustle.


Furthermore, the high population density leads to increased traffic congestion, longer commute times, and limited open spaces. Parks and recreational areas are scarce, and the lack of green spaces affects the overall quality of life for residents. The concrete jungle that Manila has become is in stark contrast to the beauty of the natural landscapes that the Philippines is known for.


Urban sprawl has also contributed to the problem of overpopulation. As the city expands outward, it encroaches upon neighboring towns and provinces, causing strain on their resources as well. This phenomenon leads to the loss of agricultural land, deforestation, and the destruction of natural habitats.


The consequences of overpopulation and urban sprawl extend beyond the environmental aspects. The strain on infrastructure, such as transportation systems, water supply, and waste management, becomes more apparent. Inadequate resources and services stretch thin, impacting the overall quality of life for residents.


While efforts have been made to address these issues, such as urban planning initiatives and the promotion of sustainable development practices, the challenges posed by overpopulation and urban sprawl in Manila are not easily resolved.


Given my desire for a less crowded and more sustainable living environment, I have decided to explore other cities or regions within the Philippines that offer a better balance between urban development and preserving the natural beauty of the country.


Lack of Job Opportunities

One significant factor that influences my decision not to return to Manila, Philippines, is the lack of job opportunities in the city. While Manila is the economic and commercial hub of the country, many individuals still struggle to secure stable and fulfilling employment.


The intense competition for limited job openings in Manila poses a significant challenge for job seekers. With a large number of graduates and professionals vying for the same positions, the job market can be fiercely competitive. This leads to a saturation of talent in certain industries, making it difficult for individuals to find suitable employment opportunities that align with their skills and qualifications.


Moreover, the disparity between job availability and the growing population exacerbates the problem. For every job opening advertised, there are often countless applicants, resulting in a high unemployment rate for the city. This further limits the chances of finding stable employment and hinders career growth prospects.


While Manila does offer opportunities in certain sectors such as business process outsourcing (BPO) and the service industry, these jobs may not necessarily align with everyone’s career goals or interests. Many individuals are forced to settle for jobs outside of their desired fields, compromising their professional aspirations and personal satisfaction.


Additionally, the cost of living in Manila, as mentioned earlier, can make it challenging for individuals to support themselves financially without stable employment. The combination of limited job opportunities and a high cost of living can create a cycle of difficulty, leading many to explore alternative cities or regions within the Philippines with greater job prospects and career advancement possibilities.


While Manila may still hold promise for certain industries and professions, the lack of diverse job opportunities and the fierce competition for available positions have influenced my decision to seek other cities that provide a more favorable job market.


Quality of Education and Healthcare

The quality of education and healthcare is another crucial aspect that has influenced my decision not to return to Manila, Philippines. While the country as a whole is making strides in enhancing these sectors, Manila, being the capital city, still faces challenges in providing accessible and high-quality education and healthcare services.


In terms of education, while there are reputable educational institutions in Manila, the overall quality of education can vary. Overcrowded classrooms, high student-to-teacher ratios, and limited resources can impact the learning experience for students. Furthermore, the disparity in access to quality education between different socioeconomic backgrounds is a concern. Some families may struggle to afford private education or access high-quality public schools, further widening the education gap.


Similarly, healthcare in Manila faces its own set of challenges. While there are well-regarded hospitals and medical facilities, overcrowding, long wait times, and limited resources can affect the quality of care. Access to specialized healthcare services, particularly in rural areas, may be limited. The cost of healthcare can also be a burden, especially for those without comprehensive health insurance coverage.


Moreover, the brain drain phenomenon, where highly educated professionals seek better opportunities abroad, can impact the quality of education and healthcare in Manila. The loss of skilled professionals in these sectors can lead to a shortage of qualified educators and healthcare providers, affecting the overall competence and capacity of these systems.


Recognizing the importance of quality education and healthcare in ensuring a prosperous and fulfilling life, I have chosen to explore other cities or regions within the Philippines that offer better educational and healthcare prospects. By prioritizing these factors, I believe I can provide a higher quality of life for myself and my loved ones.


It is essential to note that efforts are being made to improve the quality of education and healthcare in Manila, and there are still great schools and hospitals in the city. However, considering the current state of these sectors and my own priorities, I have decided to seek alternatives that align better with my needs and aspirations.


Cultural and Social Disconnect

The cultural and social disconnect in Manila, Philippines, is another factor that has influenced my decision not to return to the city. Despite being a melting pot of cultures, Manila can sometimes feel fragmented and lacking in a cohesive sense of community.


One of the challenges that I have observed is the prevalent socioeconomic divide within the city. The disparity between the wealthy and the economically disadvantaged can create barriers and hinder social cohesion. This divide can also be evident in the physical segregation of neighborhoods, where gated communities and exclusive enclaves isolate certain segments of the population.


Furthermore, the fast-paced and competitive nature of life in Manila can sometimes overshadow the importance of community and interpersonal connections. The hustle and bustle of city life often leave little room for meaningful interactions or a sense of belonging. The lack of opportunities for communal activities and shared experiences can contribute to a sense of detachment and social isolation.


Additionally, the diversity of cultures within Manila can sometimes create a fragmentation of identities. While diversity is undoubtedly a strength, it can also lead to a lack of a unified cultural identity that binds the community together. This can make it challenging to forge deep connections and foster a strong sense of belonging for individuals from different cultural backgrounds.


For me, creating meaningful connections with others and feeling a sense of belonging to a community are essential aspects of personal fulfillment. The lack of a cohesive cultural and social fabric in Manila has pushed me to explore other cities or regions within the Philippines that offer a stronger sense of community and opportunities for cultural immersion and integration.


It is crucial to note that cultural and social disconnect can be subjective, and some individuals may have had different experiences in Manila. However, based on my own observations and longing for a stronger sense of community, I have chosen to prioritize these factors in my decision-making process.



After carefully considering various factors, including traffic and pollution, the high cost of living, safety concerns, overpopulation and urban sprawl, lack of job opportunities, and the quality of education and healthcare, as well as the cultural and social disconnect, I have made the decision not to return to Manila, Philippines. While the city has its allure and positive aspects, the challenges outlined above significantly impact my overall quality of life and personal fulfillment.


Manila’s infamous traffic and pollution levels make daily commutes a frustrating and exhausting experience. The high cost of living poses financial constraints, and safety concerns add to anxieties about personal well-being. Overpopulation and urban sprawl have resulted in overcrowding, limited open spaces, and strained resources. The lack of diverse job opportunities and the quality of education and healthcare further influence my decision.

Moreover, the cultural and social disconnect in Manila, where there is a fragmentation of identities and limited opportunities for a strong sense of community, leaves me longing for a more cohesive and inclusive environment.


While this decision is personal and based on my individual circumstances and priorities, I acknowledge that Manila may still hold promise for others. The city continues to attract tourists, professionals, and entrepreneurs who see the potential and opportunities it offers.


However, for me, the desire for a better quality of life, a more sustainable living environment, and a stronger sense of community have led me to explore other cities or regions within the Philippines that align more closely with my aspirations and values.


Ultimately, the decision not to return to Manila, Philippines, is a reflection of my desire to seek a place that provides a better balance of opportunities, affordability, safety, and a greater sense of belonging. It is a decision that prioritizes my personal well-being and aims to create a fulfilling and prosperous life.