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Criteria for best Philippine cities to live in

/ 11:51 PM March 30, 2012

THE IDEAL city to settle in is its proximity to your workplace. Photo by Tessa R. Salazar

Inquirer Property recently asked top analysts: What, for you, would be the criteria for a most liveable Philippine city? And based on such criteria, what are the top five cities? Here are the results:

1 Cost of living index. Enrique Soriano, Ateneo program director for real estate and senior adviser for Wong+Bernstein Business Advisory, and Lui Matti, executive director for asset services, CB Richard Ellis Philippines, chose the cost of living index as their top priority for the quality of living variables.

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2 The affordability of rental and home ownership ranked second for Soriano, as he explained that amortization should take up 20 to 30 percent of the household income.

3 A well-masterplanned community is the most important item for David Leechiu, country head of Jones Lang LaSalle Leechiu.

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“This means the developer has a viable, sustainable, credible, long-term development plan for the city. The developer is not going to just cram buildings on the land without considering the traffic, access, drainage, parking and other infrastructure. This also includes the ratio of developed land versus open spaces such as parks, church grounds, events clusters and covered walkways. The city needs to have intense and reasonable regulation governing its districts, e.g. zoning, building guidelines, restrictions; that are not just fair but also enforced,” Leechiu said.

Claro dG Cordero Jr., Jones Lang LaSalle Leechiu’s head of research, consulting and valuation, has a similar view, placing as his second priority the well-organized land use and development plan (as well as preventive programs that will mitigate effects of both natural and man-made adverse events).

4 Accessibility. Easy access to basic services (food, water, medical care, general security and safety, and education) is Cordero’s first priority. Matti lists as his fifth priority accessibility to schools, hospitals and recreational/entertainment centers including the presence of hospitals. Soriano’s third is convenience to and from the workplace and average commute time.

Lifestyle factors such as places to socialize like bars, movie houses, supermarkets, malls and convenient access to leisure destinations is Soriano’s fourth top priority. Soriano cited the presence of wellness facilities as his seventh.

Soriano said adult education or business schools and schools for children with a higher concentration of teacher-to-student ratio is his fifth priority.

5 Job opportunities. This would be Cordero’s eighth priority—the availability of employment/entrepreneurial opportunities.

6 Connectivity. Infrastructure support and facilities such as IT infrastructure (secure Internet and telecommunication networks), road networks, connectivity with other cities through airports and seaports is Cordero’s third priority. Matti’s second priority is infrastructure, including roads, public transport system and telecoms/Internet.

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7 Low crime rate, rapid emergency response. Leechiu’s third top criteria of an ideal city would be security: not from crime, but that the city should have infrastructures for rapid responses to emergencies, services such as hospitals, ambulances, fire and earthquake, flooding and the like. High in education and low in crime is Soriano’s sixth criteria. Cordero’s fifth is a stable peace and order environment; Matti’s seventh would be a low crime rate.

8 Right of property buyers. Leechiu’s second most important criteria would be property rights of buyers being upheld and enforced: that the titles are clean and clear; and that there are no disputes to ownership due to conflicting claimants.

9 Environment and air quality. Low pollution levels is Soriano’s eighth priority. Matti’s eighth on the list is low pollution, as well. Cordero’s sixth is good balance of environmental preservation and urban development. Weather is a high factor for Matti in choosing the city to settle into.

10 Diversity for global market. Leechiu’s fourth priority is diversity: “The district should have elements catering to the global market: so to not just have multinational office locators and residents, but museums and other mediums of culture and education.” Cordero’s seventh is the presence of programs/developments that will support free exchange/discourse involving religion, culture and the arts; Matti’s third is language. He said it should be somewhere where this won’t be an issue for the person living there. Matti’s ninth priority is somehow related: friendly people.

11 Policies to attract outside capital. Leechiu chose this, but with a qualification: “I don’t just mean foreign capital, but capital from other local sources. The city developer has to allow other developers to put up projects provided they conform to the build guidelines. This will ensure that other ideas flow into the district that will benefit its stakeholders. By attracting capital from third parties, whether foreign or local, to develop projects, it will ensure diversity of ideas that will build character for the district,” Leechiu said.

For this, Cordero’s fourth priority is needed: a credible, trustworthy and organized government (which would support the ease of doing business).

What’s your own criteria of an ideal, most livable city? E-mail the author at [email protected]

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