Davao: The Jewel of Mindanao (Doc’s Passport Score: 83)

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Davao, the third-largest city in the Philippines, is a place of intrigue, culture, and rich natural beauty. This southern city serves as the commercial and trade center of Mindanao, yet it retains the charm of a town that’s been untouched by urban chaos. Here, you’ll discover an intriguing mix of metropolitan modernity and provincial simplicity.

Its location offers an array of outdoor adventures, from beaches and mountains to wildlife reserves. Davao’s fascinating history, delicious food, and the warmth of its people make it an interesting place for expats seeking a place of residence.


Safety & Security (12/15)

Davao is often dubbed as one of the safest cities in the Philippines. Thanks to its disciplined community and rigorous local policies, the city maintains a low crime rate. However, its location in Mindanao can be of concern due to some historical conflicts in the broader region. But rest assured, Davao itself remains a safe haven.

Affordability (11/15)

Living in Davao is significantly more affordable than in major cities like Manila or Cebu. Rent, utilities, groceries, and dining out are quite cheap compared to Western standards. The city also offers a range of housing options, from upscale condos to budget-friendly apartments.

English Language Accessibility (10/10)

Like most of the Philippines, Davao is highly accessible for English speakers. Most locals speak and understand English, and it’s widely used in business transactions, signage, and education.

Proximity to a Good Airport (8/10)

Francisco Bangoy International Airport, Davao’s primary airport, offers numerous domestic flights and several international flights. It’s conveniently located and well-connected to the city center.

Availability of Internet (8/10)

Internet service in Davao is reliable in most areas, especially in the city center. You’ll find numerous cafés, malls, and public spaces with free Wi-Fi. However, connectivity can be a challenge in more remote areas.

Public Transportation and Infrastructure (7/10)

Davao’s public transportation primarily consists of jeepneys, taxis, and the relatively new Bus Rapid Transit system. Infrastructure development is ongoing, and the city is becoming increasingly pedestrian-friendly.

Expat Community & Services (4/5)

The expat community in Davao is small but growing. There are several organizations and meetups for expats, offering a sense of community and networking opportunities.

Availability of Emergency Medical Care (4/5)

Davao has several hospitals offering high-quality medical services. Emergency medical care is usually quick and efficient, although it’s recommended to have health insurance as an expat.

Food, Dining & Social Scene (4/5)

Davao boasts a vibrant food scene, with an array of options ranging from local delicacies like durian and tuna dishes, to international cuisine. The city’s social scene is lively yet laid-back, with numerous bars, clubs, and cafes.

Cultural, Recreational Activities & Entertainment (3/5)

Davao offers various cultural and recreational activities. You can visit museums, enjoy local festivals, explore outdoor markets, or embark on eco-adventures. However, the city’s entertainment scene may not be as diverse as larger cosmopolitan cities.

Natural Beauty & Outdoor Recreation (3/5)

The city is rich in natural beauty, surrounded by a diverse ecosystem of beaches, mountains, and wildlife reserves. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, diving, or simply marveling at the majestic Philippine Eagle at the local conservation center.

Climate (2/5)

Davao’s tropical climate is characterized by high humidity and temperature year-round. While it’s ideal for those who love warm weather, it may be a challenge for others.

Overall, Davao gets a grade of B (83/100) on the Doc’s Passport Score for expats living on a budget. Remember, this score may not reflect the city’s appeal to travelers or individuals with different living requirements.

This evaluation is geared towards expats seeking affordable living arrangements and not those looking for vacation spots or other purposes.  If you are younger and prefer a “pasport bro” take on this city, check out my Passport Bro Score for this city.  

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