Why Manila is a Haven for Digital Nomads


The long-term effects of globalization, digitalization, and (perhaps most notably) the COVID pandemic have led to a brave new world of remote working that looks like it could be here to stay. In 2023, there are approximately 35 million self-identified digital nomads worldwide, a substantial increase of around 37% since last year. 

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Although the largest community of digital nomads is currently said to reside in America (the USA is home to around 23.2 million remote workers from overseas), more and more countries worldwide are enhancing their infrastructures to cater to the new wave of digital expats. Most recently, we've seen the Philippines get in on the trend with the announcement of legislation designed to issue eligible remote workers with visas. But why is the country and its capital city, Manila, becoming such an attractive option for digital nomads worldwide?

What is the Digital Nomads Act and How Does it Work?

This year saw the signing of House Bill No. 8165, commonly known as the Digital Nomads Act, which will enable remote employees from overseas to legally settle and work in the Philippines. According to the guidelines put forward by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration in May, foreign workers who meet the designated income requirements can be issued with an initial 12-month visa, which may then be renewed for a further period of 12 months. The Digital Nomads Act has not been fully enacted or introduced yet, but it's still possible for citizens from a diverse list of 157 countries to get the ball rolling. 

Because visas are not required for tourists visiting from countries including Canada, New Zealand, or Australia (as well as those based in the EU and USA), it's possible for prospective digital nomads to travel to the Philippines without any paperwork. Once they arrive in the country, they will usually be issued a 30-day visa, which can also be extended for a further 59 days. The impending introduction of Bill 8165 is fantastic news for expats looking for a welcoming new country to explore, put down roots in, and work. But why has the Philippines (and particularly the capital city, Manila) become such an attractive option for remote workers from all over the globe?

Manila is the Perfect Starting Point for Expats

The Philippines has a strong sense of cultural identity that should be immediately apparent to digital nomads who arrive in the country from overseas. From colorful traditional cultural festivals to music, nightlife, and unique local cuisine, there are plenty of things for new arrivals to sink their teeth into in the Philippines. 

As the country's capital city, Manila is a true melting pot that could be the perfect choice for new arrivals looking to get their first authentic taste of life in the Philippines. The bustling Metro Manila region is home to an estimated population of 14.7 million people, including a substantial community of expats from all walks of life. 

A wide variety of languages are spoken in the city, with English being widely used alongside both Filipino and Talagog. This means that you won't feel like too much of an outsider if you're unfamiliar with the local language, customs, and culture as a newbie in the country.

Manila Attractions

Although Manila is a huge urban center, many new residents from overseas claim to enjoy a much better quality of life in the city than in their previous countries. Most notably, this includes a healthy work-life balance, which has become increasingly important for those looking to escape the rat race. Of course, how well you manage to achieve this can depend on your sector, job title, working hours, and personality, but generally speaking, the odds are stacked in your favor. 

There's plenty to see and do in the city, with many new digital nomads choosing to spend their free time exploring Manila's multitude of tourist-friendly attractions. These include Casa Manila, the Manila Cathedral, and the UNESCO World Heritage site, the San Agustin Church. The good news is, because rental rates in Manila are generally lower than those in Europe and America, Western visitors may find that they also have more disposable income to play with each month - this is especially true if you're receiving an offshore wage.

The Perfect Digital Nomad Careers You Can Pursue in the Philippines

Manila stands as a haven for digital nomads pursuing creative careers, particularly artists and designers, owing to its rich cultural tapestry and thriving art scenes. The city's vibrant energy and diverse influences provide endless inspiration for those in the creative field. For game developers, Manila offers a unique blend of tech innovation and artistic expression, making it an ideal playground for crafting groundbreaking gaming experiences. Additionally, gamers find Manila exceptionally enticing due to the burgeoning iGaming industry in the Philippines.

With ample opportunities for research and exploration, this community thrives as it delves into the dynamic landscape, benefiting from the city's ever-expanding gaming networks and resources. The Philippines is home to an extensive range of top-quality online casinos. If you're an expat gamer in search of the best gaming sites, don't hesitate to check out this list of the Top 10 Philippines online casinos rated and reviewed. However, it's important to make sure it's legal to play in your jurisdiction before you put down any cash and to seek reliable and top casino choices for the Philippines.

Manila's Infrastructure is Extremely Digital-Friendly

The announcement of the impending Digital Nomads Act indicates that the national government is taking offshore remote workers seriously and that the potential for mutual economic benefits is vast. While many new arrivals in the country choose to settle in the digital-friendly locations, including Cebu City and the so-called "surf capital" of Siargao Island, the infrastructure in the capital city is perfectly suited to remote working.

Countless bars, cafes, and restaurants welcome laptop remote workers with open arms in Manila, which means it shouldn't be too difficult to find a new workstation for each day of the week. The city is also home to an extensive range of purpose-built workspaces, many of which are cheap, luxurious, and highly collaborative environments that are well-suited to a productive working day. The proliferation of digital workspaces in the city will only continue to flourish as more digital nomads arrive and call Manila home, even if it is only for a matter of months.

Take a Break and Soak up Stunning Natural Beauty

When you're not out on the town, brushing up on the local language, or enjoying real money casino games at the best 10 Philippines online casinos, you could find that this beautiful country offers a wealth of tranquil locations both within and close to the Metro Manila region. Whether you're looking to make the most of your downtime away from the computer relaxing at remote island beaches, surveying ancient grand volcanoes or getting wet and wild with a vast array of underwater tourism activities, you'll be spoilt for choice in the Philippines. 

You'll find majestic natural beauty all over the 7,000 islands that make up the country, so why not get away from it all whenever you get a chance? The natural wonders on offer here are a major attraction for remote workers, especially those who may have come from more urbanized locations in the EU and the USA.

The Future for Digital Nomads in Manila and the Philippines

A wide rane of at least 54 countries worldwide have already introduced their own digital nomad visas for expat workers including Germany, Cyprus, Portugal, Brazil and Mexico. As the processes and preparations for the implementation of the Digital Nomads Visa get underway, there's increasing optimism amongst Filipino lawmakers and citizens that the change will work in the country's favor, both in terms of boosting international reputation and fostering economic prosperity overall. 

Only time will tell if the now-widespread remote working culture is here to stay, but chances are that Manila and the Philippines will soon be placed firmly at the forefront of the digital nomad craze. If you're planning on moving to the country, double-check all information related to the terms and income requirements for the Digital Nomads Act to avoid disappointment.