House Hunting Abroad – Makati City
I left work early and walked for fifteen minutes in the still substantial heat to meet RB, a realty broker for NPS. I was nervous, but I can’t remember why. Probably I was afraid of being ripped off, hoping I would be able to stand my ground and get what I wanted out of my apartment search. This was last three weeks ago.
RB was waiting in the lobby of the first high-rise we were viewing. He was eloquent, well prepared and definitely well informed. We looked at a bunch of apartments to satisfy my entire budget spectrum; some beautiful modern studios with new tiles and some slightly dated ones in a huge high-rise. Oddly, I found the apartment I really wanted on my first day.
When I got back to the hotel I was brimming with excitement. I couldn’t sleep. Too busy thinking about how great that place would be… if I could get it for the right price. But I needed to see some more places and get a really good grasp on value. The next day I continued the investigation.
The second realtor I dealt with was the exact opposite of RB. I spent 15 minutes browsing some well below standard dwellings in the shabby Asian Mansion II in Legaspi Village – one I am sure had seen a small fire recently. You can imagine my disappointment after the highs of the previous search. Fortunately, he promised me some more places the following day and although I approached Friday afternoon with trepidation the standard was much higher. Three apartments across Asian Mansion I and the BSA Building right across the road from Greenbelt (Makati’s incredible shopping mall, or rather, one of them!). I took off to Lake Taal for the weekend with a lot to think about.
The third realtor never showed up, and the fourth showed me places way out of my grasp and a long way from everything. I guess I was fortunate to find an apartment – a “condo’ as they call it here – on my first day of looking. It would have saved me a lot of trouble to just go with that one, but my experience in searching has taught me a lot about renting in Makati.
The good news is I moved into my condo last weekend and I absolutely love it. The landlady is a gorgeous older woman who even offered me her driver to take me back to work. Aside from the water heater not working (a quick call to building maintenance fixed that) it already feels like home.
What you should know about renting in Makati (a work in progress)
Getting to Manila: Remember, it’s going to take a while to settle in and start condo shopping. I recommend taking between PHP 5000 – 10000 with you to cover food and entertainment for about three weeks while you get on your feet. In my case, my hotel was paid for by my employer. If you’re not so fortunate you will have to add accommodation costs to that number!
You will then need to make sure you have enough to put down as an advance and deposit. See below
What is a condo? I still slip in an out of the term apartment due to habit, but in the Philippines a place in a high-rise is called a condo. If the building has three/four floors or fewer it is an apartment.
What does a condo in Makati cost? The market for a furnished studio apartment in Makati city runs between PHP 17,000 and 30,000 depending on the area you are looking in and the facilities you require. Make sure those amounts are INCLUSIVE of associations dues.
Size? Don’t expect too much space. My studio is 36m2.
What money do I need to put down? At a minimum, you will need 2 months deposit and 2 month in advance. Alternatively, if you have the money available, you can negotiate the monthly rent down by offering 3 – 6 months in advance.
• Example: For a tidy, 36m2 studio in Legaspi you’re looking at PHP 25,000 per month. That means you will need PHP 100,000 to put down as a deposit and advance.
• You can get much cheaper apartments in the surrounding cities although commuting can be a major hassle! Remember, the rainy season WILL arrive!
Association Dues are a fee paid to building administration to cover things like security, maintenance, rubbish disposal, the pool and/or gym facilities. Dues can be anywhere from PHP 2000-3000.
What is included in my rent? Everything in renting an apartment is negotiable, from the monthly rent to extra furnishings and whiteware. Your landlord can also organise you connection to utilities, internet and cable TV.
What is NOT included? Unless you have a special arrangement with your landlord, water, electricity, internet and cable will be additional to your monthly rent.
• Electricity is VERY expensive in The Philippines. If you are running the air-conditioning 24/7 you can expect a bill in excess of PHP 3000 per month. I recommend investing in a pedestal fan and using that instead.
Installing cable and broadband: if you’re living in a high-rise – and in Makati you probably will be – check with building admin to find out if they have a preferred supplier, and they probably will. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. An advantage is that building admin will organise everything and you just have to be there for installation. A disadvantage is that you can’t shop around for the best deal.