Living in the province and moving out of Metro Manila has been my goal since I started running away from the rat race and maintaining a simple lifestyle which I achieved in 2019. I have lived in my home province since.
However, as much as there are advantages to living in the province, there are inherent disadvantages that you’ll need to reconcile so you’ll not regret your decision.
In this post, I’ll try to compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of living in the province that you need to consider if you ever move to the province.
Also, please note that this post is about my experience living in my home province of Camarines Norte in the Bicol Region, so some of the things I write may differ from some provinces.
Table of Contents
Advantages of Living in the Province:
Living in the province has been amazing compared to living in Metro Manila. However, this is mainly because my temperament aligns more with provincial living than city living.
Here are some advantages you’ll probably get once you return to your home province.
1. Slower Pace of Living
Living in the province has been a great change of pace in my life, both figuratively and literally.
Comparing the fast pace of living in Metro Manila has been the opposite of the slow pace of living in the province, allowing me to take things slow.
This gives me more time to pause and reflect. Living in the province has also greatly brought me greater peace of mind since I don’t have to face the daily nightmare of the Metro Manila commute.
2. Cheaper Cost of Living
The cost of living in the province compared to the city is relatively much cheaper, particularly for rent, transportation, and food, which take a huge chunk of our monthly budgets.
For instance, P10,000 will bring you a decent small apartment a little further away in the business districts. However, P10,000 in the province may already afford a good two-story rental house.
Another example of the difference in the cost of living is the cost of fish and seafood.
If you’re familiar with the province of Camarines Norte (location of Calaguas Islands), then you’ll know that it faces the Pacific Ocean, which means access to a wide variety of fish and seafood.
So, if you have P1,000 and you go to the seaport of Mercedes Town, then you can already buy a few kilos of various fresh fish, squids, shrimps, crabs, and more. It can even be cheaper during the low tide nights.
Now think about what fish you can buy in Metro Manila with P1,000. Maybe you can get a few pieces of fish.
Similarly, if you have P100 in Baguio or nearby towns in Benguet Province, you can already buy a few kilos of various fresh vegetables.
On the other hand, P100 may not even be enough to buy a decent amount of chop suey mixed veggies in Manila.
Finally, your transportation cost will probably be cheaper than you normally spend in Manila.
3. Less Traffic
Transportation in the province can be both an advantage and a disadvantage, but I will place this in the advantage column because of one crucial criterion – traffic.
Personally, the Metro Manila traffic is one of the main reasons why I left the city, and it is also one reason why so many Filipinos are stressed going to work every day.
So, having relatively less traffic in the province can be a great relief for many.
I can still remember my two-hour commutes from Mandaluyong to my night shift job in Eastwood City, QC, which can even reach up to three hours during payday Fridays or heavy rains.
So when I returned home and was granted an opportunity to teach in our local state college, my two-hour bus ride to work became a six-minute walk or a two-minute bike ride.
4. Larger Living Spaces
In connection to renting costs, the same amount of money for your rent will largely differ where you are located, in favor of the one outside of Metro Manila.
So living in the province allows you to live in a relatively larger place or even much larger than what you can afford in the city.
This is a great consideration for people with pets that require a large living space.
Another observation that I had was regarding green spaces. When I was still living in the urban jungle of Manila, green areas such as parks or even trees were rare, but they can be much more common in the provinces.
5. Cheaper Cost of Land and Properties
The cost of land and buying property in the provinces is much cheaper compared to the cities.
For instance, you can buy a 200-square meter lot in some locations for less than P1M, while the same one million will not even afford to buy a lot for a hut in Manila.
Then there are also the opportunities to buy agricultural lands, which you can buy by the hectares, that will not cost you a fortune.
The cheap cost of buying property in the province is also one reason why many OFWs and retirees still prefer retiring in the provinces for good.
6. Access to Fresh Food
The top choices of food in Metro Manila are usually fast food, processed food, canned goods, or over-flavored karinderia cuisine, which are not the best options for a healthy diet.
Unfortunately, many city dwellers have no choice but to have a less healthy meal because they need more time to allocate in their commute, which could have been allocated to cooking.
So, eating fresh and home-cooked food in the provinces are a great privilege that I learned to enjoy every now and then.
7. Fresh Air and Access to Nature
Even with the less threat of COVID-19, I will still wear my mask in Metro Manila because of the terrible air quality in the city. However, that is not the case in rural provinces.
I currently live in a place where a fine sand beach facing the sunrise across the horizon of the Pacific Ocean is only five kilometers away.
Then, less than ten kilometers in the opposite direction of the sea will bring you to the mountains and rivers.
Fresh air and easy access to nature are among the best things about living in the province, especially in the countryside.
Unfortunately, nature is sometimes taken for granted by the locals. I find it ironic that tourists flock to the mountains and beaches in the provinces. At the same time, the locals sometimes are unaware of the beauty of their hometown.
8. Less Light and Noise Pollution
Metro Manila is already a sleepless city ever since the BPO industry conquered and entered the country, so it is only natural for light pollution due to lights to drown the natural skyline, blurring the moon and stars.
However, in the provinces, especially in the countryside, you can still experience and appreciate the darkness of night and witness the twinkling stars, and if you’re lucky, you may even see the Milky Way Galaxy, which is an awesome experience.
No noise pollution is also one of the best things about living in the province.
The sounds of vehicles rushing about are rare. And if you’re in rural areas, you may even still experience sleeping with the sound of crickets.
9. Relatively Safer Than Metro Manila
I think we’ve all been there when you place your bags closely on your chests in Divisoria or Greenhills because we are cautious of pickpockets.
It is also common to hear holdup stories and experiences from people, especially in Manila (even I have an experience with holdups).
However, that fear of getting mugged quickly faded after returning to my home province because the likelihood of holdups or snatching drastically decreased because of the low crime rate in the province. Though it is still important to always be careful.
10. Living Closer to Your Family
Living in the province makes it possible for me to be closer to my parents and family, which is also one of the main reasons I returned home.
However, that is not the case for some people who think living in the province with their family is toxic, and that is why I only added this as a bonus to the advantages I already enumerated.
Disadvantages of Living in the Province:
If there are advantages, it is only natural to have disadvantages of living in the province.
However, some people find the things listed as deal-breakers in relocating or returning to their hometowns.
Here are some of the cons of living in the province.
1. Less Access to City Amenities.
The biggest disadvantage of living in the province is the less access to the conveniences of the city, like one-day deliveries, food and lifestyle choices, a wide selection of activities, and many more.
When I first returned to the province in 2019, it was a culture shock to learn that it can take a week on average to receive a delivery, which would normally only last up to two days in the city.
The food choices are also limited, and many establishments are already copying each other’s products, so there is less diversity, which compared to Metro Manila, will give you a plethora of food selections.
2. Limited Career Opportunities
There is a reason why Filipinos all around the country flock to the National Capital Region after graduation, and that is the opportunities that working in the city provides.
So, if you’re planning to return to the province and don’t have a backup plan on how you’ll earn, then you will be in a lot of trouble because the jobs in the province are quite limited.
For instance, the job market in our province is mostly on the government service, health, and education side. There are also opportunities in agriculture and fisheries, and entrepreneurship.
However, if you don’t know how to find career opportunities online, then it will be harder to earn a decent salary in the province because, for one, the minimum wage in the province is much lower than in the city.
As a comparison, the minimum wage for non-agriculture workers in NCR is P533 – 570. On the other hand, the minimum wage in Region V, where Camarines Norte is located, is only P365.
So while the general prices of goods and services are lower in the province, the prices of Jollibee and SM are still similar throughout the country. Thus, the buying power of provincial workers is much less.
But if you’re earning a Manila rate through remote jobs or even dollar rates through freelance work, then living in the province will be very comfortable because everything is cheaper.
3. Less Access to Quality Healthcare
At this point, we all know too well that health is wealth, and must take care of it. However, if you live in the province and contract a disease, your hospital choices can be limited.
For instance, many people love the idea of nomadic living in Siargao, but many people learned that health care on the island is not enough, though there have been plans to build a better hospital.
Therefore, healthcare in the province, especially in the countryside, is one of the sad disadvantages of living there.
On the other hand, in Metro Manila, you can choose which hospital or clinic you want to get consulted with as long as you have an HMO card. Unfortunately, that is not one of the privileges of living in many places in the country.
Though there are still government and private hospitals in the provinces, they often don’t accept HMOs, even if you have one, forcing you to go to the closest major city or Metro Manila.
4. Tendency to Adopt a Small-Town Mindset
If ever you’ve lived in the city for a relatively long time, then you probably adopted a city mindset, and once you return home, you will likely experience a culture shock in the province.
This has been my experience after spending the first few years of my working life in the city. After returning to the province, I realized many people here are too relaxed and complacent.
Some of the small-town mindsets that I realized are:
- Gossip Culture – I realized that gossiping is more rampant in the province’s small, tight-knit neighborhoods than in Manila.
- Personal Finance – loans are rampant, and financial literacy needs to be improved.
- Investments – most people’s idea of investment is in real estate, particularly housing, which is why some people would buy multiple houses in the hopes of selling them in the future. Financial investments are rare, especially for the older generation.
- Career Opportunities – sadly, many locals have a limited idea of career opportunities, especially in rural areas. Many still think that government work is the best career because of its benefits upon retirement.
- The Idea of Success – many people still associate a large house and car as the premier status symbols of success, and titles, degrees, and job descriptions are all that matter.
5. Less Access to Quality Education
The consideration for education in the province is a lesser concern for young adults. It is more important to parents but still important to look into, especially if you’re planning to start a family in the province.
Though the government tries to plant state colleges nationwide to bring quality education to the masses, it takes more work to attain.
First, there is only a fixed number of students state colleges and universities can take in every school year, so the rest of the incoming college students and their parents have no choice but to enroll them in a private school.
However, there is still a huge gap between the quality of education regarding technology, accessibility, faculties, and facilities a student can get in the province compared to the schools in Metro Manila and other major cities.
6. Fewer Events and Activities
Another major disadvantage of living in the province for me is the lack of exciting events and activities, especially if you’re living in a less popular area like our sleepy province of Camarines Norte.
I was accustomed to joining hiking activities, seminars and conventions, music gigs, running events, and many more weekly lifestyle activities.
So, if you’re looking for excitement, there are better options than the province. But if you’re looking for peace, living in a quiet town will change your life.
7. Bad Weather (If Applicable)
I placed this as an “if applicable” in the disadvantages of living in the province because it will unlikely apply to all of the Philippines.
But the weather in the province is also one important consideration if you’re planning to move into an unfamiliar location outside your hometown.
Since I live in the typhoon-prone area of the Bicol Region and the northern part of the Philippines, strong, devastating signal typhoons are almost an expected annual occurrence, then this is crucial.
On the other hand, some provinces have relatively better weather than Metro Manila.
Returning and living in the province is one of my best decisions because it compliments my personality and is aligned with my personal goals.
However, if you ever decide whether to live in the city or live in the province, you need to look into the advantages and disadvantages first before making a decision.
May God guide you in your decision-making and escape the Metro Manila traffic.
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