Hello. My name is Lars and is freelancer here on Upwork. I am Norwegian, but now lives in Cambodia. I think very highly moving to Philippine. Some places that are best to live? especially as a freelancer, and meet Philippine culture.
Best regards Lars
It all depends on what exactly are you looking for. Whatever you do, DO NOT rely on things you see provided by the Discovery Channel. Wow did they ever mess that up!! Stupid Discovery Channel might one day decide to share the details behind "NO, it's NOT all remote villages, handicrafts, and traditional dances" here. There are places that are VERY immaculate here. And you also have places that are total dumpsites here. Make no mistake about it !!
Most people that decide they want to reside here in the Philippines do so in Angeles City. It's a mixture there of "not so bad" and "go crazy... ACTIVATED" there. A lot of retired people reside in Angeles City. There're people from all over the world located there.
If you were looking for "go crazy..... ACTIVATED", aim for a place like Manila. Personally, I do my best to avoid that place and anything near it. "Go crazy" went really too far there (IMO)!!
If you were looking for "not bad at all really", go for places like Tarlac City and Nueva Ecija.
If you were going for "remote", try the Capas and/or Bamban mountain areas.
The thing to remember the most is that the further north OR south you end up from these places (Nueva Ecija in the north and Manila in the south), the further away you'll be from an Embassy or one of their branches. Keep in mind, there are a LOT of places where the drivers are using vehichles with little to no brakes and even less brains. But they sure do honk their horns a lot!! The sign says slow down, constructions area. They don't seem to realize this simply means BE CAREFUL.... Don't hit someone or something in this area. But sure enough, they slow to a crawl and take a nap here and there throughout the area. As negative as this may sound to anyone, it IS in fact the unfortunate truth. As such, it's not like you want to spend a lot of time on the roads here.
As a freelancer, even with a sucky pocket Wi-Fi device, you can swing being a freelancer here. But I would heed the ^warning first.
As for the culture......
You'd end up meeting people that differ greatly from even short distances. For example, my friends here in this area.... I'd say "let's go do.... whatever". The usual reply = "I have no money". But I say the same exact thing to my friends in another area, just 10-20 mins ride from here, and they're already way up the street yelling "Hey dude..... why are you back there?? What's the delay??" even before I finish the sentence!!
There are a LOT of people that will tell you "it's more fun in the Philippines". It's one of the jokes floating around the country. Usually it's pretty funny stuff too. Unfortunately, the part they left out is that it depends on who you ask or who's saying it? You ask the person you were drinking with.... SURE, much more fun here.... having a great time!! Ask the person that just watched their house get destroyed in a large storm.... NO, not so much fun here.... very miserable here now. Large storms are very common here.
I posted this stuff here so hopefully you can get the general idea as to what's really involved in being here. But this is just the short list. <<No joke, no lie. There're a LOT of things that can make a person pretty happy here. There're also a LOT of things that can cause a variety of nightmares here too. Stupid Discovery Channel won't be so nice as to give you both sides of the story.
I know how you feel, and as a fellow from the north of Europe let me tell you, just go with your gut.
I've travelled and lived in a lot of cities here in Asia until I settled for the Philippines / Metro Manila. It did help that I am a German - Hawaiian - Filipino mix so blending in for me and adjusting might be a bit easier for me.
If you are coming from Cambodia you will appreciate the Philippines- except the constant traffic jams- that is... IF you choose to live in Metro Manila.
I moved here from my last consulting job in Tokyo and it's not too bad. The culture is easy enough to understand, the people predominantly speak American English and the culture itself is heavily influenced by the American media. So just like any other major city I'd say it's pretty international.
There are a lot of us Europeans here. For example, we Germans have our own club. On a daily basis, I run into an average of at least 2-5 Americans and 2-3 Europeans here.
I suggest to maybe get in touch with your Embassy here if you want to know more about your visa restrictions, work permit, taxes, etc. Here just in case: Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila
Wishing you all best and good luck moving!