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Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Expat?

Expatriate. Expat. "A person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence." That's a definition from Wikipedia.    It fits. I'm from a small town in Central Illinois. I'm an American expat. I've decided to permanently reside in the Philippines with my wonderful Filipina asawa for the rest of my life. Do I hate America? Not at all. Why leave the United States after 57 years of living in the land of the free and move to a Third World Country where the majority of people act and think differently from me? Fair question.DSCFinancial considerations, boredom with my old job at AT&T and a thirst to do something different with my life were my primary motivations for moving 7,000 miles to a home that I share with my wife,  mother-in-law, a 13-year-old niece and 11-year-old nephew. Did all the changes I've experienced in the past two years of living in the Philippines come easy to me? Absolutely not. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) years ago. I had a rigid routine at home and on the job which, if disturbed in any way, made my blood pressure shoot up.

My Filipina wife, who spent years working as an OFW, Overseas Filipino Worker, in Taiwan and Singapore, was adept at change. She's resilient. How in the world she has put up with me for 11 years is beyond my human comprehension. But me? Change? It wasn't in my DNA.  If my newspaper wasn't at my front doorstep at 5:15 am when I left for work, I would track down our carrier and got the paper from her so I would be sure to have my copy of the Springfield Journal-Register and can of Diet Coke  at my desk by 5:45 am. Didn't start work until 6:30, but I had my routine.

But after almost 30 years with AT&T after spending the last couple of years in an extremely boring job of working in the billing department of the communications giant, when I saw my lump sum payment amount that the company would give to me when I retired more than double, I started seriously thinking about retiring and moving to the Philippines. Did a lot of online research, checked out expat forums related to moving and living in the Philippines. Exchanged emails with American expats already living in this archipelago of 7,107 islands and realized that if we sold our home, converted my lump sum check into a T-72 IRA where we have a fixed monthly income, it would be possible to live in our own little slice of paradise without my wife and I ever working again. So we did. And we're here.

We certainly aren't rich. We don't live a lavish lifestyle. But as I noted in an earlier post, we are content. But here's my question for you readers  out there contemplating moving to the Philippines? Do you have what it takes to be an expat? You don't have to be rich. You don't need any special skills. But what you do need is a desire to change your life and be able to roll with the punches and the ability to "stick it out." Arm yourself with knowledge. Get a hold of eBooks like my "Expat Guide to the Philippines."

The more information you have before you make your move, the better off you will be. Please don't come over half-cocked and think you'll find a job right away or start up a business and get rich quick. Chances are,  that's not going to happen. And don't be too concerned about the fluctuating US Dollar to Philippine Peso exchange rate, either, and say to yourself that you'll move when it goes back up to 50-to-1 or higher. Don't think of a million different excuses about why you couldn't join the rest of us expats in the Philippines. Just get off your butt and do something. Or stay perched in front of your television feeling sorry for yourself and do nothing but whine. The choice is yours. It's called free will. 

So do you have what it takes to be an expat? Take up all your roots, move to a foreign country and live an adventure? I don't know. Only you do.  But my guess is that if you're already checking out this website, you already do. Dare to dream. Come on over. We're waiting for you.

8 thoughts on “Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Expat?”

  1. A bad day here is still better than my best day in New Jersey.
    The Philippines is one of the few places left in the world where you can Retire and live comfortably on a military pension. I retired at age 40 and have been living the dream since 2002. It wasn’t easy making the adjustment without the benefit of having a friend like Dave or a book filled with what I needed to know. I made it and you can too.

    Paul in Iloilo

  2. My reasons for coming to the Philippines were the same as yours. After four years of finding excuses for why I shouldn’t come to the Philippines I packed 56 years of living into two suitcases and a backpack. I’ve been here ten months, still adjusting to the lifestyle. It hasn’t been easy but I don’t regret my decision.

  3. 1 year 9 months and 20 days before retirement then my Filipina wife and myself plan to move to the Philippines ! I have been to Manila, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro (my wife’s hometown) each time I find it harder to leave. The Philippines may not perfect but it sure is close at least I will finally be able to live a lot slower pace life and probably a lot longer life. I have lived in many a city in the US from my hometown Chicago to San Antonio, TX., Wisconsin, New Orleans , Virginia and I also Lived in Vicenza, Italy for 3 years, next and last stop Cagayan de Oro.

    Thanks for the News Letter Dave…..CJ

  4. Thanks John….I’m ordering A Guide to Moving & Living in Paradise today also a good source of information is Bob Martin’s webpage. I just learned that another friend of my is moving soon to Dipolog, I’ll have to recommend this book to him also. Save some SM for me!

  5. Dave….Thank you, Thank you ! I have not laughed so much in awhile as I am reading your ebook. I recommend it to everyone, also being from Illinois I can share some of that mid-America thinking, the way you have to move around your mother-in-law is why in the States they build those mother-in-law houses out back, and chapter “Peeing in Public,”I could not stop laughing because I knew exactly what you were talking about when I first saw this on our last vist I couldn’t believe it and in a crowded street market but it was as if he was invisible no one paid him any mind. Well I won’t give everything away but I just had to stop and share, back to reading 🙂 Well worth the money….CJ

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