Whenever you move to a new place, the first thing you obviously have to do is to find somewhere to live. In Manila, and more specifically Makati where I live, you have to make a very clear choice of whether you want to live in a house in one of the various gated communities that exist, or in an apartment in one of the many high rise condominium units dotted all around. I, as a single man, chose the latter.
Finding the right apartment is not as simple as it sounds since, unlike the UK, there doesn’t appear to be one agency which has hundreds of apartments on offer, but rather many individual agents who will all have a few different units in different blocks around the city. Thus, despite what they may advertize on their websites, when you actually talk to them you will find that they will usually only be able to show you two or three apartments at the most.
The best and most convenient way to find a condominium is a two-headed approach; first, ask anyone you work with or are friends with if they know of any nice places, and people will usually have some good recommendations of either where they live, or where one of their friends lives. The other way is to choose an area (for example, I chose Salcedo Village because it was equidistant to my work, the bars I prefer to venture to in the evenings for dinner, and the shopping malls of Greenbelt and Glorietta), and then simply walk around and go into the condo blocks you like the look of and ask to speak to the building admin office. It may involve a bit of leg work but it’s worth it.
When looking at the different units, it’s important to check out the gym and the swimming pool (which almost all the condominium blocks will have) to make sure that they are to your satisfaction. It is also worth trying to speak to someone already there to ask about any potential black outs (known locally as “brown outs” and very rare these days) and or any other problems which they may have encountered, like slow lifts or bad maintenance service. You should also consider what floor you are on as, if you’re too low and too close to other buildings, your privacy may be restricted.
As far as costs, the price of units will vary greatly depending on location and the lavishness of the property. However, you should always ask about ‘Association Fees’ (whether they’re included in the rental price or not), whether you have an allotted parking space, and how much extra the internet or cable TV will cost (this is sometimes included in the rental price).
They will normally want you to sign a year’s contract, they will ask for two months deposit and two months rent up front, and they will also want post-dated checks to cover the term of the contract. All this is usually negotiable and you should always remember that, with more and more buildings being built, there is more supply than demand, so you are usually in a pretty good bargaining position.
Finding the right condo is easy enough but it does involve a little bit of legwork and perspiration, but the longer you live here the easier it gets.