Iloilo City Living: a Leading Economic and Cultural Hub in Western Visayas

As one of the most urbanized cities in all of the Visayas, Iloilo City has garnered the attention of expats, investors, and even residents in the Metro for years now. It’s more than just a tourist destination these days. The city has become an attractive location for homebuyers and a great place to raise a family, too.

Of course, the new Iloilo Business Park (IBP) has added to its appeal, as well. Recently, the city even bagged the “ASEAN Clean Tourist City Award (2020–2022)” for being one of the cleanest cities in all of the region. All these are pretty good indicators of the city’s development.

Iloilo’s innovative public policies, breathable spaces, and an influx of new infrastructure projects have also contributed immensely to its economic growth and popularity over the years. Investments and local government efficiency have also kept it afloat amidst the pandemic.

Local Heritage and Identity

Iloilo City was founded in 1566 upon the arrival of the Spanish settlement. It’s the second Spanish colonial center, trailing only Cebu and the last capital of the Spanish Empire in Asia and the Pacific. As one of the Royal Spanish Cities in the Philippines, it got a head start in terms of local economic development and opportunity.

In modern times, the entire province of Iloilo itself still possesses many strong Spanish influences in terms of its local dialects and architecture. Heritage houses like Molo Mansion and Casa Mariquit, characterized by neoclassical, art deco, and colonial elements, are tourist hotspots today. 

Museums such as the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Museum Western Visayas are also some of the best museums in the country.

The city happens to be an academic center in the Visayas, too. Institutions like West Visayas State University, Central Philippine University, and the University of the Philippines Visayas have consistently attracted both foreign and local students and researchers alike.

Hiligaynon is primarily spoken throughout the area, so that might be something home seekers should learn before settling in.

A Free, Breezy, and Easygoing Lifestyle

Traveling to and from the city goes through the Iloilo International Airport, which even offers direct flights to Singapore and Hong Kong.

World-famous beaches like Guimaras, Boracay, and the Gigantes Islands are easily accessible within the area, too. Iloilo City’s transportation system mostly consists of jeepneys, taxis, tricycles, and mini-buses. 

The area also has five major Major Integrated Transport Terminals within the city’s perimeter. In 2019, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said that a new Premium Point-to-Point Bus Service in the city would be coming soon, with direct routes to airports in Kalibo and Boracay.

Iloilo City is also known for being the “Bicycling capital of the Philippines.” Its roadways and urban planning have shifted towards walkable spaces and open lanes. In addition, the Dutch government also lent support for the city’s cycling initiatives. The fresh air, tropical breeze, and scenic views definitely help, too!

Economic Revitalization

Iloilo City has certainly evolved from relying on fishing and agriculture alone. Its service-based economy, infrastructure investments, and business tourism have all helped facilitate its growth, as well. 

Though its tourism and service industry was hit badly by the effects of the pandemic, real estate development and construction projects, particularly by Megaworld Corp., persisted throughout the lockdown. 

This is in spite of the fact that the local Gross Domestic Regional Product of Western Visayas dropped by 9.7% in 2020. The interest for more BPO investors and project developers within the IBP is still relatively high. The city has seen the worst of the crisis and 2021 has brought about better opportunities for Iloilo.

In 2020, the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index still ranked Iloilo City 13th out of 33 highly urbanized cities in terms of local economy size, 3rd in regards to the cost of living, and 7th in the cost of doing business. 

The city was also praised for having a strong capacity for health services. It was also ranked 17th in its increase in employment, despite having had 11,534 workers affected by the closure of establishments in the area. 

Investing in a Property in Iloilo

It cannot be emphasized enough how affordable a house and lot or condominium in or just outside Iloilo City can be. Housing developments like Camella Savannah and Amaia Scapes Iloilo each offer investors and homebuyers the opportunity to own a property in a first-class city for just P2 million to P3 million. 

Condominiums and lots in close proximity to the IBP can go for great rates, too, which can serve as homes for young professionals or can even be converted into an air bed and breakfast for tourists.

With its significantly lower cost of living and local economic progress that rivals only Manila and Cebu, Iloilo City relies on its local heritage, tourism, and investment opportunities to supplement its continued success and development. More investors have taken notice of its potential and progress. You should, too.

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