I’m moving to Manila, Manila, Manila…
Every time I say that, LL Cool J’s epic 1980s song, “Going Back to Cali” pops in my head, and for good reason. For me, moving to the capital city of the Philippines, one of the biggest and definitely one of the craziest cities in the world, is as stark a contrast as when LL took his gritty and cold New York show to the land of sunshine, palm trees, and bikini-clad women back in the day, inspiring him to write that song.
Of course. I’ve enjoyed plenty of nature and sunshine living in the small coastal city of Dumaguete in the central Philippines islands the last couple of years, but I’m ready for the big time now – and Manila will provide that in spades.
What it won’t offer so readily are easy answers to the question, where will I live? I don’t know the city that well at all (I always just stayed at the Best Western Oxford Suites in Makati when I visited), and you pay about three times as much for an apartment that’s three times as small in Manila. (With 25 or so million people in their metropolitan area, it’s one of the most densely packed cities in the world, so space is at a premium.)
So, I’m super appreciative that my local friend, Laarni, told me that there was a place opening up to rent soon in her building, McKinley Suites.
Officially, McKinley Suites is located in the McKinley Hill area of Taguig, a sub-city in Manila. But most people either associate it with Bonifacio Global City, a dazzlingly-modern work and play neighborhood ten minutes away, or the Grand Canal Mall, which is a super cheesy but well-done knock-off of a canal in Venice, complete with gondola rides.
And that’s one of the big reasons I chose to get an apartment there – the location. It’s only 15 minutes or so to the airport when it’s not rush hour, walking distance to Bonifacio Global City (BGC), and the Grand Canal Mall offers an endless lineup of coffee shops and stores, as well as the Gold’s Gym I’ve started hitting. But McKinley Suites is also sufficiently tucked away on a side street that it’s manageable. In this area, you’ll find the streets are wide and spotless, with none of the crime, beggars, or chaos that comes with most of Manila’s roadways, especially Makati.
Step inside the McKinley Suites building and you’ll notice that the lobby is something out of a luxury hotel, and the rest of the structure isn’t lagging far behind. In all, McKinley Suites has three towers, each one of them sixteen floors if I remember correctly. Residents enjoy access to both of the pools that sit atop towers 1 and 2, a gym on the ground floor that is surprisingly spacious and has all of the basics you need, a modern laundry room where you can do it yourself, a laundry shop on the back of the building where you can pay to have it done (my choice), a conference room, and a badminton court/hangout area at the top of the third tower.
The apartments, too, are pretty modern, since this building is only seven years old or so. I’m renting a studio unit that’s about 34 square meters, which is incredibly spacious for a place in Manila. My friend, Laarni’s unit is only about 25 square meters but even more modern and well-decorated, and that’s plenty livable for one person.
In all, McKinley Suites is a great first abode for me in Manila, offering all of the safety, convenience, and amenities I want with an almost-perfect location – and a perfect price.
I might not be here forever, but whether you get an Airbnb at McKinley Suites or move there, you’ll be singing, “I’m moving to Manila…,” too.