Choice of where you build your house.

Our friends George and Lyn with twin girls and a new child star in the making chose their 4 lots whilst abroad, built a large house and were enjoying life here in San Pablo. There house is only the second in a large subdivision surrounded by open land and poor housing behind 2 meter wall.
Sunday evening they were attacked by 4 armed young men who shot George in the shoulder and wrist and Lynn in her chest and leg, over 100 hundred shell cases were collected by the police. the twins heard the noises and locked themselves in their bedrooms and called police. Security was not around, dogs didn't bark no doubt because the robbers were local and had visited to make friendly.
One of the robbers was caught and the police seem to know who the others are. Credit cards, cell phones and jewelry was taken before the police arrived. a very traumatic experience.
the family are recovering in hospital and the wounds are not serious but it could have been much worse.

Wow sorry to hear that, I am always leery of living where my house is the biggest and i am possible a target like your friend. They have my prayers glad they are okay,but this is always a problem when you build in an area where most are poor and you look rich. They do not understand that for whatever you have "YOU WORKED FOR IT HARD" . We are planning to move to a house in a sub-division around Cavite or Laguna. I keep telling my wife the 1st thing after the house is a AR-15 lol,since I am an NRA/police rifle instructor. She will learn how to use it to protect our family,when I am not home.  Hate to have to arm her but my family is more important to me than anything. I will give if people ask or I see they need help,but no-one is going to take without having some problems. Again our prayers for your friend thanks for the post.

Hi Peter,
Very sorry to hear about what happened to your friends. Where exactly is San Pedro. Is that in Metro Manila?

It is really so sad.

Unfortunately, according the law foreigners are not allowed to own weapons in the Philippines. … te-simple/

dinky2408 :

Hi Peter,
Very sorry to hear about what happened to your friends. Where exactly is San Pedro. Is that in Metro Manila?

It's in the province of Laguna.

These kind of incident makes me more scared going back to my home country with my Husband and 2 kiddies. :((.

Just make sure that your house in near others of similar size and appear average. OK sounds strange but do things like everyone else like use jeepneys and tricycles, walk around some times try to make contact with the locals. There is also the choice of selecting an upmarket subdivision but of course the living expenses will reflect the protection and you neighbors status.  There are some good subdivisions on the outskirts of Manila that we've visited for friends parties that would be okay but its traffic mad and hotter there. I should repaint our false shutters on the windows but leaving it to avoid too much attraction. We also own an Avanza as a runaround. George and Lynn had three cars one of which was the Toyota MR2 ??

George and Lynn both had pistols but didn't have time to get them.  If you want to own a gun then have it under your wife's name.

Good to have a couple of dogs and ours make a fuss when visitors arrive that is a pain but after Georges escapade we will put up with it. Our pets we love and "talk" to them, they are each with their own personality. Some of the neighbors have them in cages too small and we pity the dogs life, hosed down each morning and in all weathers.
We don't have steel grill windows and a wide open front patio area to feel the breezes flow across the room. We need to have one of Milas family in the house if we go out. Luckily for us their is no financial burden that is the case with other expats.

ielyn :

These kind of incident makes me more scared going back to my home country with my Husband and 2 kiddies. :((.


First with regard to the couple who were shot, our deepest sympathies and prayers for healing.

With regard to your concerns, family safety is always a concern and caution wherever you live is prudent and maybe more so in the Philippines, though I grew up in Detroit and literally watched the city set aflame in the 1968 riots and gunfire and chaos were the norm for quite awhile.

My wife and I researched for four years before building our home near Tagaytay. We have met with the barangay officials and the area while about 10 mins off the main road is clean and quiet and in our two years here we have had zero occurrences as far as crime and the barangay captain laughingly states that the worst he sees is the occasional loud drunk.

We have met many people locally while building our home and the craftsman were all hired locally and we wound up making a few friends in the area because of it. We have neighbors who occasionally bring us fruit and fresh buko and just drop in on our porch or ring our gate bell and hand it over with a smile.

The house is one of two in a very small subdivision, one house the owners, the other house is ours. The owner ran short of funds to complete the roads and utilities, though the property is gated and maintained by three maintenance people and a night guard. We paid for the installation of the electric lines and 5 / 2 inch galvanized poles to support the wire to our home. The owner supplied labor on the Meralco approved installation, cost about $400. The border is a deep ravine with a wide running stream and three waterfalls and developed amenities. It is peaceful and beautiful and we are very fortunate to have found the place and purchase a small lot with a clear title / deed.

As Peter states unless you are uber rich in a high end community, fitting in and not drawing attention to what local people would consider an extravagant lifestyle, in our opinion, helps to not draw attention to our home.

Our house is a single story, 88 sq meter home, just right for the two of us and while many of the local homes in the area are simple and traditional, many more are much bigger than ours and obviously cost a lot more than ours. Our car was purchased used from a source recommended by more than one family member and was low mileage and well maintained with documentation proving the same. At his time the car is 10 years old with only 74,000 km and draws little attention.

We do not have a maid and hire help locally when needed including cutting the grass around our home.

I believe that you can live relatively safely in the Philippines just as you can in other parts of the world and in our case the locale, our neighborhood and a relatively simple lifestyle, we believe, helps to keep us safe.

We looked at more exotic areas, rural and closer to the beach areas where the land was cheaper in most cases and more remote. We chose our area because or its convenience, rarely a power outage, a very dependable water supply, three cellular towers providing very dependable internet and close to shopping, hospitals, malls, markets and entertainment. While about 45 mins from beaches and within our budget.

Hope this helps to allay your concerns about safety.

Thanks for you information we may be moving in that area later this year,may i contact you then for help. Thanks in advance

What a very unfortunate incident. Those bad people should be in jail for what they did to that family. They did not rob them only of physical things but of their future. Sympathy to the family.

We have a Canadian friend with Filipino wife living in there new house on a Landco site on the outskirts of San Pablo and they had an unfortunate experience when arriving from abroad a year or so ago. They were burgled, tied up and personal stuff taken and as Peter said afterwards they could have done anything to them.
The gang had a key given to them by a young boy whom Peter had befriended and supported with school training. The police caught the boy who had the wife's cell phone and taken rude pictures of himself with it.
As lots of people say most of these jobs are arranged from the "inside". .....the moral of the story is be careful who you help out.
Actually they had become close to the boy and were upset at the findings.

That's actually scary. You never know who is the weed in your lawn unless it attacks you. Please be careful everyone.

Hi TeeJay,
Thank you for the encouragement, it’s just hard to make some decisions when you have children. My husband is from Germany and we had a hard time contemplating which place is best for us. In Germany we could get a comfortable life but the weather is not really good plus with all those issues regarding migration right now. We thought about going back to Philippines my husband prefer to live there. There’s lot of risk with regards to safety, health and etc. I am the one who are more decided to stay here in Europe but the thing is it is really difficult being here without any relatives around especially when you have 2 kiddies. We want to have a normal family like while raising our children, since we are both working and the both children are in the childcare its really devastating not seeing your child for almost 13 hours a day. When weekend finally there it is just for household work and preparing food for the coming working week.
We thought moving to my hometown which is Puerto Princesa Palawan, But you know we’ve got a headache looking for some property to buy there because it is really expensive now. I hope we could have enough money to buy some property soon, I hope so. :D. Cebu is another option but I guess Cebu were already over populated right now. I am happy for you and your wife because you both already found the perfect place to stay in Philippines.


Hi Lelyn,
We have a German chap as a neighbor called William who visits the gym every morning and is sssoooo tall. He met his wife in Germany as a nurse and we chat when we meet. another German we know is Eugene who works on line as an interpreter and rents a place nearby, we often spend time over a coffee chatting.  We also bumped into a man from North Germany in SM who lives about an hours drive away. A decent 3 bed house will cost about 3 million if on a good subdivision. Lipa is half an hour away and a larger city than San Pablo if want some where else as a choice, it has Robinsons and SM Malls plus a large market.  I spent 3 years in Germany near Moeanchangladbck (spelling) and enjoyed the experience.

Whether you are a foreigner or a local, if you build a large house occupying a 4-lot parcel in an almost empty subdivision, you are sure going to be a target for criminals.

I think one of the keys to living safely here is to try as much as you can to blend in, like being a quarter dollar in a bunch of 1 peso coins. You can build a large house, but don't make it stand out from the rest of the other houses in your subdivision.

You can move about safely, but you must avoid wearing high-end brand clothing or accessories. The same applies to your "entourage". You might be wearing non-brand clothing, but if the wife wears jewelry, designer bags, or clothes that leave nothing to the imagination, you will stand out and become a possible target. (Or some guy could steal your wife. LOL.)  Nannies should never be in uniform when you go out with them.

Us, we live in a house one can consider as big, but it's around the same size and look as most houses in our subdivision. There are 2 other Filipino-foreigner couples / families in our subdivision, and we all have yellow / creamish 2-story zen-style houses with a terrace, black gate and brown roof, which also can be used to describe more than half of all the houses here.

In the last 4 years, there had been just 1 break-in at our subdivision. It was at that large elegant house along the perimeter wall of the subdivision. It occupied 2 lots, had stained glass windows, gold painted trimmings on its high gates and other detailings that makes it stand out.

We do not require nannies to wear scrubs uniforms whether at home or outside, unlike my brother's wannabe elitist sosyal wife (I don't like her.)  Her purse along with cash, designer wallet and cellphone inside it were stolen while they were at SM with the nanny in scrubs.

So, try to blend in.

It is scary! We feel  sorry for those affected so badly. Fortunately or not, we don't have resources to buy a better house. We live in run down, abandoned empty house, then restored by ourselves, in small subdivision. After loosing deposited money on other property (not being able to pay on time next duties), there was no other choice.
      Yes, I would love to have garden, terrace, live near forest and waterfalls even in the mountains... dream. I would live in the province where my wife came from - Mindanao - but she admits that anythings could happen over there. We don't have car. Motorbike in front of the house stands rusting since I had an accident on it (an old man in even older van turned left from small side road, when I was passing on high-way). Rules of "who is bigger and stronger" where unknown to me at that time! I have passed my road driving test in UK, with full respect to European rules and standards.
      If a miracle happen, we would love to have even small garden and I would prefer slightly cooler place than overcrowded hot Imus in province Cavite.
      But thanks to being rather poor, we have a lot of friends around, they share their food, drinks, always say "hello" and smile when I am walking by. I walk everyday for at least one hour and some neighbours are just expecting me at usual time. If I change timing, they say "Wish, You are late...!"
Very often I am being invited for a glass of Fundador or Red Horse, but I have to find   at the spot a lot of excuses to get away. Simply, for health reason I cannot drink.
      During my 7 years here... well, lets no prize the day before the sunset... Hopefully, with my wife constant vigilance and warnings, all goes well.
      Perhaps not the big house, not the sack of money or golden account in the bank is most important. Whom You have, who loves You and cares for You this is the biggest treasure !!!

Reading all the replies makes my decision to live in a very rural area of Leyte seem more and more like a good idea.  We built a very small house in a mountain range surrounded by terraced rice fields and sparsely populated.  Everyone assumed we were rich until they noticed our house was a small as theirs...  apprx. 900 square feet.  We made the outside fit in with nature by using light colors.... once inside it is elegant.  We can leave the house open and unlocked while working in our commercial garden or the piggery without fear of anyone stealing.  When we leave all of the local people keep an eye out for us and our two Rottweilers protect the inside.  I think the key is to fit in, talk to people, let them see you working and know how much you love being there.  Otherwise....  live a huge modern castle behind high walls with well trained security.  Either way, enjoy your life to the fullest  :)

What are you looking for and what is your budget?  If we can supply any helpful information we would be happy to do so.

In our travels to the market, etc. We pass by a lot of areas with a sign showing something for rent or for sale.

We are both homebodies, though when we are out if we see something you may be interested in we can relay the info.


I agree with most of the comments here, they are sensible precautions....
When you move house/live in a new area, whilst it is wise to be 'selective' when making new friends, you should be careful to not appear elitist. We moved to Amlan (21km north of Dumaguete, Negros) and lived in a nice (rented) place on the beach happily for a year. Even though it was a big house, we made many friends with locals and I always 'shared a beer' with the men at the sari-sari store once or twice a week and my wife got to know other women with children (we have a baby boy).

We decided that although a nice place, Negros still lacks many conveniences and education/hospital options. Its OK for older, retired expats who laze around, but very boring unless you are a tourist. The main coastal road is a death trap - and I was not prepared to risk my son being killed later in life by all the double overtaking and head-on collisions that are a weekly occurrence. No way!

The above is 'background' and getting back to the topic of this thread....
A retired Australian couple moved into our house after we left, did not ingratiate themselves with the locals, got the local beach dogs 'moved away' by barangay officials (poisoned I suspect) and lived like hermits, only socialising in the centre of town with other expats. What happened? They got burgled in their sleep and everything stolen.

Although not this couple's fault directly - the local dogs always barked at night if someone was wandering around near the property and were excellent 'look outs' for us, as were the local residents who we became friends with.

Just like any place in any part of the world. If you know your neighbours - everyone looks out for one another. If you don't give a sh*t about them - they aren't going to give a sh*t about YOU!

(I had a puncture in the dark and one of my neighbours walked 3 miles in the rain to meet me and help me push the motorbike back home - en route another neighbour passed us, reversed his truck and loaded the bike, took us to 'his friend' who he woke up at 11pm and got him to fix the tyre). NO MONEY accepted. "Just a beer in the shop sometime Andrew maybe?" HELL YES!

Luckily, there's nothing like those here in Coron, Palawan.

Hello Jim, here is Wish from Imus. A few months we didn't speak. How are You? We are still stuck in this hot place, despite a lot of rain recently. We still cannot think about moving to Silang, waiting for better times to come... ha ha ha...
You can  see my pages on FaceBook, if You are there. The link to my FaceBook is
I have there a few pages on various topics.
All the best and best regards to You and family
(Wieslaw Seredynski

Nearby where we live is SM San Pablo and at the rear is Riverina subdivision. the area is gradually filling up. Security is good and building restrictions keep the place nice. We have 2 titled lots for sale and another 2 awaiting titling if anyone is interested?

Our story.
Seeking a nice place to build a home we settled on Landco’s Leisure Farms, just up the hill from Lemery,  Batangas and although cooler than the lowlands is certainly not as chilly as Tagaytay.
Everything went well, built the house of our dreams on a large plot of 1000 sq mts and enjoyed the landscape arrangements.  Interested in boat building we built a beach house in San Luis Batangas just 30 minutes away, again all went well and I built 4 boats from marine ply.

3 years on we began to regret our choices. The shops were either 30 mins to Lemery or 45 mins drive to Tagaytay. Expats we befriended on the site passed by and waved. Other expats we found were over an hours drive away. Life on the beautiful subdivision was extremely quiet and we felt isolated. Weekends at the beach house were fun whilst I built the boats but otherwise no one made the effort to speak or say hello, except our Filipino Neighbour. Local barangay social habits could be offensive, our kindly lady over the road thought nothing of clearing her nose out on our patio and old nappies appeared floating on the foreshore amongst other stuff.

Milas home town is San Pablo city and we’ve been here for 4 years, walking distance to SM and Puregold, even the central market. Close to the town we experience sounds and sights to keep us interested and alive. Being part of a subdivision we know almost everyone and Mila became Treasurer for 3 years. Having said this we do miss the quiet countryside and are this week constructing a small bungalow at Hacienda Escudero about 30 mins drive and amongst beautiful scenery and Birdlife. Prices have changed over the years and 7.5 K pesos per sq mt is what we paid for our new lot.

I’m not a city type but I cannot live without some “goings on” with daily life and I hope this story may be of some use to others considering a retirement home in the Philippines.

...and another thing (like the old Columbo films haha). many of the large houses on "up market subdivisions" such as Landco, Ayala, Filinvest are owned by large families that share the costs and time during the weekends or whatever.
Los Banos Calamba area is known for its hot spring resorts but there are many private resorts owned by families that rent them out when available. Our new builder showed us two that he's built and impressed we were too. Usually they occupy a double lot over 500 sq mts and one end is taken up with the pool. All entertainment equipment is there, billiards, Kareoke, even kiddies slides into the water. On the second floor are family bedrooms with aircon and sat TV. Living among properties such as this can be like living in a ghost town?

San Pablo was the place mentioned, not San Pedro; although both are in Laguna, if not mistaken.

I'm so sorry to hear of this, I hope so much that there recovery is swift and they live a happy life into the future!

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