For expat coming to live in the Philippines for the first time from a developed country, Bonifacio Global City (BGC) requires the least adjustment, compared to living in other parts of Metro Manila.
There are sidewalks everywhere, and they are very wide; there are more green spaces, as compared to other business centers in Metro Manila. The buildings are relatively new, and you do not see overhanging messy electrical cables hanging above streets, or transformers hung precariously above the sidewalks. You can walk safely and pleasantly to almost everywhere within BGC.
Traffic is decently regulated, and there are marshalls almost everywhere to make sure vehicles are not allowed to park along any busy street. There are many modern shopping malls to meet your shopping needs. A well-equipped tertiary hospital is in the middle of BGC.
But you will be reminded that you are not actually living in a developed country from time to time: Just like elsewhere in the Philippines, when you go into the malls in BGC, there will be security guards to check your bag. In some malls, they even do a pat down of your body. When you cross the street, some pedestrian lights are not working.
You will also not find a few things that you can usually find in developed countries: public playground or sports facilities, or public library. To get those facilities, you have to join a private club, or stay in one of the condo complexes that have a lot of amenities, like One Serendra and Two Serendra.
Expat Community in BGC
Due to the presence of international schools and offices of international companies, BGC has a large expat community for many nationalities, and many expat social groups often have gatherings in BGC. The largest nationality groups, from our experience, are: US, British, Australian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (China and Taiwan), and Indian. The more active expat social groups are American Women’s Club of the Philippines, followed by British Women’s Association. It will not take you long after arrival to find your clubs.
In fact, the Rotary Club of BGC Central has a lot of expat members. See contact information here.
if all fails, you can join internations.org, an online expat organization with chapters in many countries, when they have a meetup in BGC. Note, though, you will likely find as much as 60% of the attendees are locals rather than foreigners.
Apart from the large tertiary hospital (St. Luke’s Medical Center) mentioned above, there are other medical facilities in BGC. See this article.
Schools and preschools
See a list of schools and preschools here.
Housing in BGC
Housing in BGC is mostly in condominium units. The closest areas that offer houses for rent are Dasmarinas Village and Forbes Park Village in Makati City. They are near BGC but quite expensive. Less expensive are San Lorenzo Village, Bel-Air Village and Urdenata Village, all in Makati City, and require spending time in the traffic to get to and from BGC.
We will be updating an earlier article on condominiums in BGC published in 2016 soon.
In general, you can find decent condo units for your family in BGC. The rent is higher than most places in Metro Manila except Makati City. Currently, a 3 bedroom unit with minimal amenities goes for around Php120,000 (USD 2,500) per month.
Eating out and grocery
You can easily find western and Japanese restaurants in BGC. There are US restaurant chains like TGIF, California Pizza Kitchen in the center of BGC, as well as local restaurants that serve decent burgers and other US food. Italian, Spanish and French restaurants are also easy to find in BGC. There are a lot of quality ramen shops in BGC, such as Shiroi Daichi from Sapporo, Kitchitora Ramen, and Mendokoro, just to name three. Use our restaurant map to help you find restaurants by type of cuisines.
For Korean and Chinese grocery shopping, you can read this article.
Recreation and sports
See this article.
The air quality in BGC in terms of particulate matters is still acceptable, although we feel that it has deteriorated over the years as the volume of traffic passing through BGC daily has increased substantially, especially during peak hours. We use a portable air quality monitor to test the level of particulate matters (PM2.5 and PM10) in the air from time to time (See video at the end of this article for the use of our air quality monitor during January 2020).
We do not have means to monitor ground level ozone, nitrogen dioxide and other air pollutants.
Getting around BGC
BGC is a self-contained district. You can get almost all daily necessities within BGC and in Market!Market! mall, and can reach any where in BGC by walking a short distance and the walk is mostly pleasant, given its wide sidewalks.
There is a bus that can bring you to Ayala Avenue, BGC Bus West Route. If you do not have a car and need to go to the malls in Greenbelt or Glorietta in Makati City, you can use that bus. Be warned, though, at peak hours, the bus is very full, and the wait is very long. The fare is very cheap, at Php13 per ride.
Another bus route, Central Route, can take you from one end of BGC (MarketMarket) to the other end (Crescent West). But if weather permits, we suggest you walk. See all BGC Bus Routes in this map.
If you are thinking about driving in BGC, please note that 75% of the road signs and traffic lights are correct and properly installed, and 75% of the drivers follow traffic rules, both rates, although not ideal, are still higher than what you could find outside BGC.
Pets are welcome
Many condominiums allow residents to have dogs, at least the small sized ones. This, combined with the availability of open space for dog walking, makes BGC a popular place for dog owners.
There are also many street cats in BGC, since many people like to feed and play with them. People who are not keen on street cats may feel uneasy passing through some places.
There are other issues that you may have to learn about when moving to any where in the Philippines from a developed country, such as hiring of domestic helpers. You can look up other resources for expats in the Philippines. For traveling within the Philippines, www.DiscoverPhilippines.com is a good site that is also produced by us.