What are the 10 questions you should ask before you move to the Philippines? After residing in the Philippines for over eight years now, I’ve encountered several expats that sometimes find themselves in dire straits. Whether it be financial, relationship or health issues, take stock of the following questions and determine your own personal readiness for a move to the Philippines.
1. First and foremost, do you have enough money to live in the Philippines?
Personally, my Filipina wife and I moved to the archipelago with a guaranteed source of income from investments we had made prior to our move.
Those investments were a result of working at telecommunications giant AT&T for almost 30 years. My wife worked for years in Singapore and Taiwan as a domestic helper and caretaker. She was able to buy a lot in Guimaras, the island province we call home, and pay for it in full.
On that lot, my wife also had a home built. We moved into that house, which was also paid for, when we retired to the Philippines. We had a guaranteed source of income for five years.
After those five years we used part of our investments to build a new 4,000 sq. ft. house in the Philippines with a swimming pool. Something I would have never been able to do in the States. My Social Security pension has kicked in and we’ve been living a comfortable life in “paradise.”
2. Do you expect to find a job in the Philippines?
You’ve met the love of your life online. She’s the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. Well, you’ve only “seen” her on a webcam. Never mind that wedding ring you saw her wearing one time. That was her Mom’s. She just felt like wearing some bling that day and had no idea she had parked it on the finger reserved for wedding rings.
And you, you bought into that line of carabao crap.
But you’re going to buy some pigs for P3,000 each, 60 US Dollars, and the relatives selling you those porkers guarantee you that you can fatten them up and sell them for P9,000, 180 USD, two or three months later. More B.S., or pig poop, in this case.
If you want to believe in fairy tales and think you can move to the Philippines and open a money-making piggery, I have to wonder what you’ve been smoking.
And, maybe you believe you can find a job in the Philippines? Do you honestly believe someone is going to hire you, a foreigner, over a Filipino? And, unless you’re a Mormon missionary, odds are you don’t even speak Tagalog.
Don’t you think there’s a reason over 10 million Filipinos are working overseas?
Or maybe you could live off of 265 pesos a day, the standard pay for ONE DAY’S wages for our local SM Department Store workers in Iloilo? Wait? I know. You’re a carpenter or plumber back in the States. You’ll make about the same six US Dollars a day as the SM employees.
But don’t listen to me. Keep believing that B.S. your fiancée in the Philippines is feeding you to get your rich foreigner butt over here. She’s hit the lottery by hooking up with you. She’ll be the envy of all her relatives and neighbors alike. Doesn’t matter if you’re rich or not. Everyone here thinks you are.
3. Where will you live in the Philippines?
It’s all about location, location, location. Do you plan to live in Manila, Cebu City or Davao? Perhaps you’ll move to the province where you’ll usually find it less expensive to live than in a major metropolis. But if you like big city life and all its amenities, be prepared to shell out more pesos to accommodate your lifestyle.
We moved to Guimaras, a tiny island province in Western Visayas because my wife, as previously mentioned, already had a house and lot paid for here.
Problem is, we shared her home with my mother-in-law, three nieces and a nephew. We stayed at my wife’s house for 1 ½ years before moving to nearby Iloilo City until we moved back to Guimaras and built our new home.
FOLLOW THE 3-HOUR RULE
I cannot emphasize how COLOSSAL of a mistake it was for us to live in a house that was built and paid for by my wife but was already occupied by the aforementioned relatives.
The main problem? My nosy mother-in-law and blood-sucking relatives always coming by looking for money.
Maybe you are one of the fortunate expats that get along with your relatives and can live in the same household with them.
Many foreigners, however, recommend the three-hour rule; live at least three hours from any of your wife’s relatives.
4. Do you know how much it will cost to live in the Philippines?
Just how much will it cost for you to live in the Philippines? Can you survive on 250 US Dollars a month? $500? How about 1,000 bucks a month? And surely anyone could live on $1,500 a month quite comfortably, right? Depends if you merely want to survive, live comfortably or retire like a king (or queen) in this archipelago. Again factor in location and lifestyle. Throw in how many relatives of your asawa or girlfriend you are supporting.
I’ve known Peace Corps workers in Guimaras that were surviving on $250 a month. They ate a lot of rice and fish. I’ve also known some expats struggling to make it on $3,000 a month. I can assure you that if you want to live a “Western” type lifestyle when you retire in the Philippines, be prepared to pay for it. Those that adopt a more frugal “native” lifestyle will find more pesos in their pockets at the end of the month.
5. Will you have health care coverage in the Philippines?
PhilHealth is the national healthcare system in the Philippines. My Filipina wife can take advantage of this healthcare insurance for 2,400 pesos a year, about 50 US Dollars. As her spouse, I also was covered under her plan at no additional cost. But now, that has all changed, at least for foreigners living in the Philippines.
PhilHealth has now seen fit to stick it to the foreigners living in the PH, no matter if they have a Filipina spouse or not. Now PhilHealth is charging foreigners a hefty 18,000 pesos a year, 360 US Dollars.
While $360 is a small price to pay for health insurance, I refuse to do it. I’m covered by Medicare and my health plan I have access to from AT&T. While I would have to fly to a nearby U.S. territory like Guam to take advantage of my health care insurance, I would rather do that than pay the “skin tax” PhilHealth is charging.
That said, we will continue the PhilHealth plan my Filipina wife has.
6. What will I need for my move to the Philippines?
Check out my “35-Point Checklist for Moving to the Philippines.” It’s a free preview from my e-Book, “The Philippines Expat Advisor.”
7. What will I miss most if I move to the Philippines?
Homesickness might apply to you. It doesn’t to me. Frankly, I don’t miss living in the United States at all. And I certainly don’t miss shoveling snow back in Central Illinois. But moving to the Philippines, or any foreign country, can be stressful. Make sure you’re prepared and have a plan of action.
Check out this blog or any websites that deal with living in the Philippines. My friend, Bob Martin, has a long-running website that offers a lot of helpful advice.
Facebook will allow you to keep in touch with those most important to you. I don’t use it. My wife does. Will that lack of one-on-one personal contact be too much for you? That’s a question you need to ask.
8. Why are you moving to the Philippines?
My beautiful Filipina wife taking a swim in our new pool
Are you seeking financial freedom, a cheaper place to live? Maybe you’re newly divorced, like I was, and want to seek your “dream woman” in the Philippines. I found mine. Perhaps you’re tired of your mundane lifestyle like I was and want some adventure in your life. Whatever your reason(s) for moving to the Philippines, keep in mind that living in a foreign country is not for everyone. Be prepared for some major changes in your life.
9. What kind of obligations do you have?
Sunset at Boracay
Talk about having a routine. I got up at the same time for years. Read the same newspaper every morning. Talked to the same people at work every day and listened to their same stories year after year (as they listened to mine, too!)
It takes a massive amount of ability to learn how to adjust to a new culture. Heavy debt loads, family obligations, and other factors can all add to your stress levels. Try to be free of as many obligations before you make your move to the Philippines. It can make adjusting to your new life in the Philippines that much easier.
10. Do you know anything about the laws in the Philippines?
Lastly, while many rules and regulations in the Philippines are on the books, many of them are not enforced. However, it would be to your advantage to know what laws may impact you as a foreigner. Do you think you have any rights in the Philippines? No matter what you might read or hear, you really don’t.
By the way, if you happen to meet a Filipina who claims to be single, you better make sure she is. Adultery is a punishable offense in the Philippines and is still enforced in some cases. You could spend several years in a Filipino prison, something you would probably want to avoid.
10 Questions You Should Ask before You Move to the Philippines
Ask yourself, are you ready to make a move to the Philippines that will change your life? If so, please review the 10 questions above and start planning your move today. Why wait? The exchange rate for us expats from the States is still 51 Philippine Pesos to 1 US Dollar.
Martial law in Mindanao? Don’t worry about it. Live a comfortable life and mind your own business. You’ll be just fine.