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.Financial 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.