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What Are The Pros and Cons of Living in Makati?

So you want to know the pros and cons of living in Makati, Manila? That must mean you’re considering moving to Makati.

How exciting!

Hey there – I’m Mel, a Filipino-British travel blogger who’s been living in Makati for years.

At first Manila, let alone Makati, was quite a culture shock – especially coming from the UK. But it turned out to be an amazing change of scenery, and the move changed my life!

Moving to Makati can be both thrilling and a little overwhelming – it’s one of the liveliest cities in Manila. And while there are many pros to living in Makati, the city has its downsides too.

In this post, I’m going to be brutally honest and give you a balanced perspective on what life in Makati is like, so you can make an informed decision.

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of living in Makati, shall we?

A peaceful residential street in Dasmariñas Village in Makati, Manila - Pros and Cons of Living in Makati - an expat's view of Makati

A peaceful residential street in Dasmariñas Village in Makati, Manila

What Are The Pros and Cons of Living in Makati in 2023?

1. Pro: Makati Is A Very Safe and Walkable City:

Living in Makati has its perks. Firstly, Makati is considered the safest city in Manila.

Crime rates are generally pretty low. The well-maintained, well-lit streets and ample green spaces make you feel safer day-to-day. I could walk around at night alone and never feel scared.

Having a security guard in your condo building or at your community gates also makes you feel safer.

Secondly, Makati is pedestrian-friendly, which is great if you’re used to walking.

Shops, restaurants and more are all within walking distance – which is awesome, especially if you don’t drive and prefer to get around on foot. Makati has lots of walkable neighbourhoods, such as Poblacion, Salcedo Village, and Legaspi Village, which are ideal if you want to go for a peaceful jog or run without running into traffic or pedestrians.

2. Pro: Makati Is For Living the Good Life (If You Can Afford It):

Even though it’s an urban jungle, Makati has got you covered with a top-notch standard of living. You’ll discover upscale residential areas that offer a luxurious lifestyle, complete with modern amenities and stunning architectural designs. From sleek high-rise condos to elegant gated communities, there’s are living options that are flexible for every budget.

It’s all about what you can afford. (Check out my guide:How Much Does It Cost To Live in Greenbelt, Makati?)

3. Pro: Makati Is A Melting Pot of Cultures:

Makati is packed with diversity of culture, food and people. Philippine culture is generally mixed – but in Makati that’s more palpable than ever.

The vibrant community is a mix of different backgrounds, which makes Makati feel like a truly international place to be. The city has a thriving art scene that showcases its residents’ creativity. The best part about Makati? The food! You’ll find all sorts of mouthwatering dishes from around the world right here in Makati. And on that note…

4. Pro: Makati Has Ridiculously Good Food and Restaurants:

Foodies, this one’s for you! Makati’s culinary scene is literally teeming with an incredible variety of cuisines that will make your taste buds dance with joy (though your wallet will take a hit). I lived in the Greenbelt area and was genuinely spoiled for choice every day.

Incredible Greek food at Cyma (hello, mahi-mahi kebab), divine modern Filipino food at The Wholesome Table and Fely Js, and melt-in-your-mouth pork ramen from Ippudo were on my doorstep. I had to actively encourage myself to cook when I lived alone in Greenbelt.

5. Pro: Makati Offers Health and Education Excellence:

Makati takes health and education seriously. The city has top-notch health facilities, leading hospitals and private medical clinics to keep you in tip-top shape. Filipino healthcare providers are generally extremely diligent and excellent caregivers.

Along with healthcare, Manila is a city known for providing excellent education. In Makati there are plenty of international schools and prestigious universities nearby that provide top-notch learning opportunities. So if you have kids, rest assured they’ll get a quality education being based in Makati.

6. Pro: Getting Around Makati Is a Breeze:

Makati is well-connected, making it easy for you to explore the city and beyond. The public transport system – including the MRT, buses, and jeepneys – is fairly efficient and there are lots of options to get you where you need to go.

There are also lots of private transport options like using a taxi or motorbike taxi, or booking a cab on an app like Grab. With major highways crisscrossing the city, commuting is straightforward and travel time is reduced (well, unless it’s rush hour – in which case, prepare for traffic!)

7: Pro: Makati Offers Work Life-Balance:

Living in Makati lets residents have an awesome work-life balance, which is a big factor for many expats and locals.

Makati is only a 2 to 3-hour drive to world-class beaches and dive sites like Batangas and Subic. I was able to earn my PADI Scuba Diving Open Water and Advanced Open Water licenses while working full-time, 9 to 5, in Old Manila. On Friday afternoons I’d be in office meetings, and on Saturday mornings I’d be masked-up and turtle-rolling into the ocean!

I also spent my weekends visiting nearby beaches like La Union and Baler, where I took weekend surf schools to learn how to ride the waves. Then I’d come back to the big city feeling refreshed and inspired.

Check out my guide: 5 Best Weekend Escapes Near Manila

Brunette girl in shorts staring into Taal Crater Lake in Tagaytay, Philippines - a Short Drive from Manila - Pros and Cons of Living in Makati

Admiring the teal blue waters of Taal Crater Lake in Tagaytay, Philippines – a short two-hour drive from Makati

8. Pro: Makati Is The Ideal Base For Exploring Luzon and The Philippines:

If you’re someone who loves adventure, Makati is the perfect base for exploring the incredible landscapes of the Philippines itself! Makati’s fantastic location – a 20-minute drive to the airport (on a good day) makes it a gateway to over 7,000 islands in the country.

Beyond doing day trips to fascinating places like the historic city of Intramuros, or the breathtaking Taal Volcano, you’ll have easy access to local transport and bus hubs and be close to Manila’s airports, so you can easily explore the stunning beaches of Palawan and Boracay for the weekend, or drive up to incredible places like the rice terraces of Sagada and Banaue.

Speaking of which…

9. Pro: Makati Is An International Travel Hub to Southeast Asia and Beyond:

Situated in the heart of the region, Makati offers easy international access to many of Southeast Asia’s top travel destinations.

Whether you fancy a weekend getaway to the pristine beaches of Boracay, a food tour in Singapore, or exploring the cultural heritage of Bangkok, living in Makati makes it all possible with just a short flight. It’s perfect for those who love to travel and explore – which, guessing from the fact you’re reading this, is someone like you!

10. Pro: There Are Lots of Professional and Job Opportunities in Makati:

Makati is one of the buzzing financial hubs of the Philippines, with multinational corporations, international embassies, and thriving start-ups galore. There are so many entrepreneurs based here and creating their own businesses – foreigners and locals alike.

Whether you’re a freelance/remote consultant, digital nomad, or you’re looking to find work, Makati is a good place for networking.

Though there’s a real pivot towards Taguig and Bonfacio Global City (BGC) as “the new hub of business” in Manila, Makati’s legacy means that opportunities are waiting for people willing to find ’em.

11. Pro: Makati Has Several Green Spaces to Unwind:

Even though it’s an urban area, Makati has done a great job of incorporating green spaces into its city planning. Parks like Ayala Triangle, Salcedo Park, and Legazpi Active Park offer peaceful havens where you can connect with nature and take a breather from the fast-paced city life.

There are fun events that happen in parks too, like run clubs or annual festivals, like the famous Festival of Lights at Ayala Triangle Park that takes place every year.

12. Pro: You Can Shop ‘Til You Drop In Makati:

Shopaholics, rejoice! Makati has plenty of shopping malls and markets to satisfy your cravings. As I’ve mentioned in another post, Makati is essentially like a consumerist maze of shopping malls and megamalls linked together. It’s a city abuzz with capitalism.

You’ll find both local and international, high-street and luxury brands to choose from – whether that’s Hermes or H&M. Makati is home to many excellent local Filipino fashion houses, brands, concept stores and boutique shops like Tesoro’s and Kultura Filipino. Again, it’s easy to overspend though, so you’ll need a budget.

13. Pro: You Can Party All Night In Makati (If You Want To):

Makati is famous for its vibrant nightlife. Whether you’re into energetic nightclubs or intimate wine bars, there’s something for everyone after dark. From the raucous (and a little bit sketchy) nightclubs of Poblacion, to party hostels and hotel bars, to the cosy wine bars in Salcedo Village, the city comes alive when the sun sets! You can have hipster cocktails at Black Market, or enjoy a classy cocktail at The Curator. Or go have a cocktail while listening to live music in places like Greenbelt 5.

So those are some reasons why Makati is an amazing place to live. But like any city, Makati has its drawbacks too. It’s important to know about them so you can make an informed decision.

So, let’s dive into the 10 potential cons of living in Makati and get a complete picture, shall we?

Condos and palm trees in Makati, Manila

Condos and palm trees in Makati, Manila

What Are The Cons of Living in Makati in 2023?

There are also a fair few downsides of Makati living – and I promised to be honest with you. So here’s the negatives that I’ve personally found with living in Makati:

1. Con: Makati Has a High Cost of Living:

Let’s be real, Makati ain’t cheap. From housing to daily expenses, you gotta be ready to shell out some serious cash compared to other cities in the Philippines. As a central business district (CBD), Makati caters to the wealthy, to business, and predominantly to foreign income and tourists.

For people on an income that can’t support that kind of spending, Makati can rapidly get unaffordable. It’s tempting to go out and buy a Starbucks for P450 when it’s right across your doorstep. And on that note…

2. Con: Makati Is A Very Image-Conscious City:

Makati is a very image-conscious city and frankly, it’s easy to feel insecure. Money and privilege talk. You’re expected to dress well, behave according to specific social norms, and give off an impression of wealth and success. All of this can lead to spending more on clothes, accessories, and having a busy social life.

Even if you’re heading to town in flip-flops on a chilled weekend, there can be a lot of social pressure to dress and act a certain way. In Makati, there’s a lot of emphasis on how you look, or on how others perceive you. Makati’s strong beauty culture too can push people towards unrealistic beauty standards.

Another troubling pressure is the obsession with fair skin, a widespread issue in the Philippines. It sucks to see how colonial mentality still affects Filipino beauty standards, even though the country is, ironically, a tropical paradise. That’s why it’s important to find and surround yourself with supportive friends and family who accept you for who you are – and to remind you that success and happiness don’t depend on external validation!

3. Con: Makati Has High Property Prices:

Brace yourself for some serious sticker shock in the real estate market. Makati’s prime location and high demand make it one of the priciest places to own property in Manila. So, be prepared if you’re planning to buy here.

Some of the most expensive suburbs and condo buildings in Makati include Forbes Park, Dasmariñas Village, Rockwell Center and Ayala Triangle Gardens. Make sure to consider these areas if you’re looking for luxurious and upscale properties in Makati.

Jeepney in Traffic in Metro Manila, Philippines

Jeepney in Traffic in Makati, Manila, Philippines

4. Con: Makati’s Traffic Congestion Can Be Pretty Terrible:

Traffic can be a pain in the neck, especially during rush hours! To this day I have pre-Skyway traffic PTSD. Even now, with the Skyway finished, and a pretty decent transport system, Makati suffers from heavy traffic jams. The kind of traffic jams where you wish desperately you had a jetpack to strap on and get away from the madness and red tail lights.

Unless you game the system and leave for work or trips at the crack of dawn, you’ll encounter some soul-destroying traffic.

All part of the experience!

5. Con: Makati Is Noisy and Polluted:

Brace yourself for some noise and not-so-fresh air. Makati is a bustling city, so unless you’re in a quiet gated residential community like Dasmariñas Village, you can expect a fair bit of noise and poor air quality that might not be top-notch due to all the traffic and high-density living.

Makati is smoggy, so if you’ve got any asthma or respiratory issues, think twice.

6. Con: Makati’s Wealth Disparity Can Feel Jarring:

Despite its flashy skyscrapers and high-end shopping malls, Makati has a stark wealth disparity. It’s a place where the rich and the poor live side by side, often with a wide gulf between them. You’ll find luxurious condos and swanky restaurants within a stone’s throw of simple houses and street food stalls.

This contrast is a stark reminder of the socio-economic divide that exists, not just in Makati, but across much of the Philippines. It’s something to bear in mind as you navigate life in Makati.

7. Con: Makati Offers Limited Outdoor Activities:

If you’re all about outdoor fun, Makati might not be your ideal spot. It’s more of an urban jungle, so outdoor recreational activities can be a bit limited. I’d recommend going further out to Taguig (Bonifacio Global City) or Alabang for more chilled and nature-filled living areas. Alabang is also closer to places like Tagaytay and Cavite, which have fresher air quality.

8. Con: Makati Can Feel Overcrowded:

Makati is popular for a reason, but that means it can get pretty crowded. If big crowds ain’t your thing, it might feel a bit overwhelming at times. That’s like any city, really. But the roads and infrastructure of Makati can feel cramped and a little bit claustrophobic at times – which is a nice thing, if you get comfort in that.

9. Con: Makati Can Feel Pretty Lonely – Lacks That Traditional Community Feel:

Makati is all modern and cosmopolitan, which is cool, but it might lack that traditional community vibe you find in smaller towns or rural areas. There are pockets of community, but you have to work at finding your tribe – like any major city. But it can feel harder sometimes in a place like Makati, where rich and poor mingle with very interesting socioeconomic results.

Adding to that, as with any big city, it can get really lonely sometimes. In my first few months I struggled to connect with anyone.

Makati really lacks a lively and active expatriate community. Locals tend to stick to their own friendship circles.

There are lots of foreigners and people from other places, but they’re either high-end professionals, retired or dating a local, or travelling through the country on a temporary basis.

So you have to work extra hard at finding a community – that’s why I really recommend group tours, taking up a sport or hobby like scuba diving. I met some great friends on those trips that I’m still friends with today.

10. There’s High Competition for Jobs in Makati:

Job opportunities? They’re there. But let’s be honest, there’s some stiff competition, which can make job hunting a bit of a challenge. Unless you’re a digital nomad, or a remote worker, or have an existing job opportunity established with a foreign or local company, then you’ll be competing with highly skilled locals who can speak the language.

Smiling with friends on a white sand beach in Siargao Island, Philippines

Smiling with friends on a white sand beach in Siargao Island, Philippines

11. Makati Has Expensive Healthcare and Education:

The healthcare scene in Makati is top-notch, no doubt about it. But just a heads up, medical services tend to be pricier compared to other cities in the Philippines. So, it’s wise to have a good health insurance plan if you’re thinking of making the move. Equally, if you’ve got a family, education costs can be a bit of a headache.

International schools and even local private institutions in Makati charge premium tuition fees, reflecting the city’s fancy lifestyle.

12. Makati Has Some Security Concerns:

Like any big city, Makati has its fair share of crime. Don’t worry though, security measures are in place, but you gotta stay vigilant and street smart.

To sum it up, Makati has its upsides, but but it’s always good to keep the potential downsides of Makati in mind when considering a move in 2024.

Smiling in Binondo, Manila - the world's oldest Chinatown!

Smiling in Binondo, Manila – the world’s oldest Chinatown!

Did I Enjoy Living in Makati?

Moving to Makati was quite the adventure, and I’ve got to say, I absolutely loved living there. To me, there are more pros than cons.

One of the things that made life in Makati so special was being close to some seriously amazing places. Every weekend was a new adventure. Learning to scuba dive while living in Makati will always be one of my favourite memories.

But it wasn’t just about the diving.

Getting to experience Philippine culture and stumble upon hidden gems that the world didn’t know about added so much more excitement to my life in Makati. And every weekend was a chance to escape the city buzz and see more of the breathtaking beauty of the Philippines.

Saying that, having easy and strategic access to such diverse experiences and destinations near Manila is one of the many reasons I wholeheartedly recommend making the move to Makati.

The Cost of Living in Makati in 2023/2024

One of the key considerations in moving to Makati is the cost of living.

Living in Makati comes with a slightly higher price tag compared to other cities in Manila.

But the value you get in return is incomparable: luxury residences, top-notch public services, and the city’s overall liveability account for the slightly higher cost.

For a detailed breakdown of the living costs in Makati, check out my post: “How Much Does It Cost to Live in Makati in 2023/2024?”

Sunset in Makati at Century City Mall Viewpoint - Pros and Cons of Living in Makati

Admiring the sunset and the city skyline of Makati at Century City Mall

Is It Worth Moving to Makati?

If you’re contemplating whether it is worth moving to Makati, the answer (from me) is a resounding yes. If you have the energy to give it a go, do it for the experience.

Despite the higher living costs, the city offers a lifestyle full of opportunities.

From career growth to leisure activities, you’ll never run out of things to do and places to explore. Even though you might sometimes run out of patience for things moving slowly or bureaucratically. (Here’s some related reading: 15 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting The Philippines)

To know more about why it’s worth moving to Makati, read my blog post: “Is It Worth Moving to Makati? An Expat’s Perspective”

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.