If one were to ask about Metro Manila’s population, the best way to answer this is to think like Charlene Gonzales back in Miss Universe 1993. On the weekends, the capital’s population is around 12 million. However, during daytime hours, particularly on weekdays, it can swell to 3 million more.
The reason: workers from nearby provinces like Bulacan, Rizal, and Cavite head to the Philippines’ major trading hub. But knowing how traffic can be insane in the metro, many now prefer to live here.
Here’s the problem, though. The cost of living here, especially rent, is high. Makati alone is over 30 percent more expensive than other urban areas. Rent here is almost 90 percent higher than in Cebu, according to Numbeo.
To save on money, families may decide to live in smaller spaces like condos. But many offerings can already qualify for shoebox size. From 2015 to 2018, about 75 percent of one-bedroom and studio units were actually at least 18 square meters. Around 40 percent of the condos for rent or sale in Metro Manila are 50 square meters or less.
While Filipinos can choose to live in these places while they’re still working, in the end, they do need bigger spaces, especially in residential communities, for the following reasons:
1. The House Should Have Enough Space for Everyone
A house & lot for sale usually have an average floor area of 50 square meters, but this may be expandable, especially if one wants to convert the garage into something else (perhaps an outdoor laundry area).
Based on the layout, a typical home can have all the basic living spaces, like a kitchen and a living room, and accommodate up to three bedrooms. This is the norm because a house needs to have ample spaces for all members.
The average home size depends on many factors, such as the availability of land, number of potential household members, and property location. But the space must be sufficient that people will use their space to rest without interruption and even enjoy some privacy.
2. Private Yards Can Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
These days, many condominium buildings offer various public amenities such as swimming pools, gardens, and roof decks. But nothing can still beat being able to chill right in one’s private yard.
And the higher level of privacy may encourage Filipino families to spend more time outdoors, which, in turn, may help them stay healthy.
For one, being outside early in the morning can help boost vitamin D. Contrary to popular belief, even if Filipinos live in the tropics, about three for every five people here are vitamin D deficient, according to Unilab. This health problem is more prevalent in urban areas like NCR because more are engaged in an “indoor lifestyle.”
Second, having space for a private yard may inspire homeowners to perform more physical activities like gardening. This helps combat obesity, which is another growing problem in the country.
Based on the data by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), almost 10 percent of adults are already obese while over 25 percent are overweight. However, the major cities in Manila have a higher prevalence rate than the national average.
3. Living in Communities Can Boost Mental Health
In the Philippines, a growing number of bigger home spaces are in master-planned communities. In a way, that’s a good thing because it means one may build better social relationships. Having someone to talk to or get engaged with can do wonders for one’s mental health.
In the 2013 article by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, social isolation may be a potential risk factor or trigger mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
Meanwhile, a 2014 research by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology revealed that meaningful relationships could help one thrive—that is, enjoy a higher quality of life, one that’s satisfying and happy.
Two years later, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seemed to have corroborated the 2015 study by saying social networks are just as essential as diet or exercise regardless of where they are in their lives.
Many Filipino workers desire to live in urban areas like Metro Manila to save money and time on transport. But other provinces are also doing better in terms of infrastructure. The coastal road connects Cavite directly to Manila.
The expressway that links some parts of Cavite and Laguna is also over 90 percent complete as of April 2021. There are at least ten ongoing “Build, Build, Build” projects in Calabarzon.
With these developments, one can choose to work in Manila and go home to a bigger space in the province.