Top Ten Tips On Moving to the Philippines. Pt. 2

My last post dealt with a personal list of my "Top Ten Tips" on moving to the Philippines and advice on what to do once you arrive. I covered the first five points previously. Here's my take on the next five tips. Remember, if you have any tips of your own, please feel free to drop a comment.DSC


Again,  keep in mind that this is my own personal bit of advice, but I feel there is absolutely no need for my asawa and I to own a vehicle in the Philippines. I don't have to pay for gas, maintenance, insurance or deal with the stress of driving here because of the abundant sources of cheap public transportation available.

I have no problem at all with using the jeepneys to travel around our new home outside of Iloilo City. My asawa and I can go to any shopping mall or area on a jeepney. The usual fare is 7.5 pesos (17 cents) and 15 pesos each for our longest trip (a single jeepney ride to SM City; usually takes two jeepney rides otherwise for the same total cost for two, 30 pesos.)

I  have traveled in these vehicles on a solo basis many times and have never had any issues with personal safety whatsoever. The drivers are usually helpful and can tell you what PUJ to take, and the passengers, too, are always eager to help with any questions you might have.

A tricycle, a motorcycle with a sidecar attached and a third wheel, are useful for short trips that are too far to walk on a hot or rainy day. We took a lot of tricycle rides when we lived in Guimaras where the going rate for places around town were seven pesos each if you had two passengers. Don't use them at our present location even though it is a 30-minute walk to our main subdivision gate from our home. We occasionally use a shuttle, a small multi-cab type vehicle which operates in our subdivision,  and also costs only seven pesos each for a ride.

Pedicabs, a people-powered bicycle contraption similar to a tricycle, are prevalent in our area, but we don't use them. They seem to slow down when they have a large kano like me in the back.

We occasionally, have to to take a taxi cab once a month when we do our main grocery shopping (I don't see the need to make several smaller visits for groceries) and pay 300 pesos (6.91 US Dollars) since our home is located quite a distance from the big shopping malls.


I personally don't want to travel out of the country once a year on the Balikbayan privilege or renew my visa at the local Bureau of Immigration Office in Iloilo City every one or two months. For the cost of around 7,000 pesos, 161 US Dollars, I obtained what is called a 13 (a) Permanent Visa Resident Visa which means I will never have to go to my local B.I. office to renew my stay in the Philippines (I do have to report to our local office for my Annual Report as a  foreigner, but that's relatively painless and only costs P310, around seven USD.)

My Alien Certificate of Registration, ACR card, was also included in that above-quoted cost of 7,000 pesos and is good for five years before I have to renew it, versus the usual annual renewal.

Since a monthly or two month renewal of your visa can cost from P3,000 to P6,000 each trip, why would I want to hassle with going to Immigration or paying a certified agent to go for me, when I can take care of it by obtaining a Permanent Resident Visa? My asawa and I don't live in the Metro Manila area where it might be cheaper and more convenient to get a cheap flight out of the Philippines and return using the Balikbayan, but even if we did live in Manila, I still would have opted for the Permanent Visa and not worry about having to get my visa renewed any longer. That's my personal preference. Just have to be married to a Filipina who will be the one that sponsors you for it.

In my eBook, "The Philippines" A Guide to Moving & Living in Paradise!," I've written in great detail the process we went through this past May in obtaining the Permanent Visa.


We've personally lost about 100 US dollars in monthly income since moving to the Philippines in July 2009 due to the weakening dollar versus the propped-up Philippine Peso. When you're on a fixed income, that's a big hit on your budget. I'm in the process of putting together a budget  that I will post that will reflect our new living expenses since moving to a subdivision outside of Iloilo City. But I can tell you that even with the generally lower cost of living in the Philippines versus the States, be prepared to pay out more money for monthly expenses than what you might have expected.

It really all comes down to location and lifestyle.You could probably expect to have a higher cost of living in the Metro Manila area versus the provinces, such as where our asawa and I reside. Just make sure you have an adequate source of monthly income.


Keep that sweat towel handy, brother, you're going to need it. You can take a shower and be sweating like a pig that is getting ready for a fiesta five minutes later. I hated the summers, the heat and humidity in Central Illinois, but it can't compare to the constant humidity and temperatures I encounter in the Philippines. It takes some time to get acclimated, but I have.

That said, I need an air con in our bedroom to sleep at night. Didn't have one the first ten months we lived here, and I was miserable. Our high temperatures for December, our coolest month in Iloilo, averages 87.5 Fahrenheit for the high with an average low of 73.9 degrees Fahrenheit. High temperatures in April and May, our hottest months,  will average 93.0 degrees Fahrenheit (33.89 C) and 92.1 degrees Fahrenheit (33.33 C) respectively. The lows for those months average 76.1 F (24.5 C) and 76.8 F (24.89 C.)  Humidity  for December averages 87.3 % and 92.1 % in May.


Don't need a watch in the Philippines or a clock really. That may be an exaggeration, but you'll be on "Filipino Time." What exactly is "Filipino Time?" "Wiki Answers" has some interesting theories. One theory is that they inherited this from the Spaniards when they were colonized for more than 300 years. It was told that whenever Spanish royalty would go to a gathering, they would always enter last. Thus, Filipinos followed suit to get a feeling of importance.

Another theory would be that traffic and travel times are invariable. The number one excuse a Filipino would give you if he/she arrives late would be "traffic". Traffic is really bad in urban cities like Manila.

Not having a standard time is also another possible cause behind "Filipino time". It is quite rare to find three clocks with the same time in the Philippines — there's usually a 5-10 minute difference. That's the truth. I've been in some doctor's offices in the Philippines with three clocks on the wall, all with significantly different times, 15 or 30 minutes difference.

The last theory given by Wiki is that Filipinos are quite shy; so when going to gatherings they don't want to be seen as overly eager; or their easygoing nature which switches off their sense of time and give them the mentality that their friends will  understand and accept.

In other words, don't try to impose your own Western standards in the Philippines. I arrived at work an hour early every day and typically arrived for any appointments at least 30 minutes ahead of time. Now? Doesn't really matter. I'm retired and have all the time in the world.
So those are my "Top Ten Tips" on moving to the Philippines and some advice once you arrive. Everyone has their own ideas and information, and it's good to check out other websites and see what  you can glean from them. Do some research, buy my eBook, and be prepared to adjust once you make your move. As long as you are willing to adapt and embrace change, you'll do just fine. If not, best to stay where you are.

26 thoughts on “Top Ten Tips On Moving to the Philippines. Pt. 2

  1. Hi Dave, I been reading your webpage for quite sometimes now. It’s interesting and funny. I am an Ilongo who lives in San Diego, CA for almost 8 years now. I go home to Iloilo City once every 3 years but honestly speaking, I still miss my city and province. That’s why I always visit your website to see what’s the latest in Iloilo. A few years from now, I plan to invest or do business in Iloilo. Life is becoming very hard here in United States, the government can’t seem to get their act together to solve the economic recission that’s getting worse. Thanks a lot and Godbless.

    • Thanks so much for checking out my site, Reynaldo, it’s greatly appreciated. My asawa and I love living in Iloilo, and I plan to do even more stories about our life here and maybe give you a little taste of home. I follow the news back in the States very closely, and it does seem that things aren’t going very well. Much cheaper to live in the PH, as you know, and I’m so happy we moved here. Thanks again and take care.

  2. Dave,

    A couple of other points. Expect boredom. If your on a fixed income and out in the province, you will have lots of time on your hands and not much to do. The Intenet and TV might be your closest companions. If not, the local pub might be a big attraction, which brings the next point. Be in moderately good health. If not, find out about medical issues. You may or might not have medical insurance to assist. And if you hang out a the pub, expect to start smoking and drinking a lot more than you did at home.

    • Excellent point, Don (Bob points out the boredom factor, too, in the next comment.) I can only stand so much time in the house in front of the computer or watching television (which I do in the evening.) I suggested to my asawa this morning that we go to SM City just to roam around and get out. You absolutely need something to pass the time. I’m not much for hanging out at the pubs but don’t mind sharing a few brews with Paul from Iloilo or Jeff occasionally, but the boredom can drive you loco loco.

      Also, I was in good health before I arrived but did have a kidney stone attack last year. I would strongly advise anyone with any medical issues to thoroughly check out what kind of health care facilities are available in the area you plan to be moving to. We have some excellent hospitals in Iloilo City like St. Paul’s and Doctor’s Hospital, but make sure you have some kind of health care insurance that can be used here. If you are married to a Filipina you can apply for PhilHealth which does offer some minimal coverage for a low monthly cost.

      • Dave,

        Kinda of funny. I actually work in the Philippines and hope to one day pay off my retirement home in the States – actually in Hawaii, so its another sort of paradise, albeit a bit more expensive. But I figure I can work hard in the Philippines, make better money than in the states and retire in comfort on the beach sipping mai tais, just a different beach.

        My wife works in Singapore and only comes over 1 -2 weeks a month; So I find it pretty boring as well but do have a bike so take long rides to get out of metro Manila.

        • Really, Don, you’re kind of doing the reverse of what a lot of expats do. But it’s good that you found a job in the Philippines. That’s extremely interesting. So your plans are to spend those retirement years back in in Hawaii? Sounds like a great plan. I don’t blame for taking long rides to get out of metro Manila, though, too many people and too much traffic for me. Good luck on the plans! 🙂

  3. Yo Dave,
    Not much to do,thats why i think if you found a place on or very very close to the
    beach you would catch the breeze,could take a dip and cool off and maybe just
    get out of the house and walk the beach at a very slow pace of- course haha

    • Good tips, Bob. We’re a lot farther away from the beach than we were in Guimaras, but like I just replied to Don’s comment, we’re headed out to SM City to roam around. I’ll get a couple of slices of Pepperoni pizza at Greenwich, and the “boss” will do some window shopping. You’re headed out this way pretty soon, aren’t you? Take care.

      • Yes Dave,i am planning on sometime late in February to come out for a few months
        to see if i like it enough to retire there.Bantayan Island,Siargao Island,Palawan
        Bohol and some places outside Iloilo like Santa Barbara,Oton Etc might work
        I will just have to spend sometime at these places and see how it all goes,my main
        worry is being to far from a good hospital if ever needed.Also i enjoy getting on-line
        playing with small stocks in the market not that i make any money yet haha but its
        fun,i just dont want to end up sitting in the house to much i do that now living in the
        desert i thinking even if i had to buy a small motor bike of some kind i could go down
        the slower roads and see new things and places,dont really want to sit in some dark
        bar drinking in the day time.

        • Well, Bob, you’re smart to be checking out a few places to see how you like things. No sense of retiring somewhere if you don’t like the area.
          A good hospital nearby is absolutely something to consider along with Internet access if you like to go online. I just got back from a shopping adventure at SM City with my asawa. It’s way too boring to stay home all day. And you’re right, no sense of sitting in a dark bar all the day time. You can already do that in Vegas 24/7 in the casinos where as you know, there are no windows and no clocks, and pass the time playing the slots and drinking all day long (or until you run out of money.)

  4. Hi Dave,

    I see that some of your many fans have brought up the boredom issue. If they thought about it they would realize that it is not a geographic issue but merely a retirement issue. Before retirement you have most of your waking day consumed by work and you run around furiously during your off time to complete household chores and other obligations. Sound familiar? When I did my 10 year stint as a machinist I had a co-worker who was very old and already retired from 20 yrs of service in the Air Force. He was divorced and his only child was grown. I asked him why he endured sixty hour work weeks in conditions that would make Satan salivate. His response was that he would become bored just fishing all of the time. He became sick and died after a two week hospital stay so basically the hospital was his retirement.

    I am fortunate since I live in the country and have many projects. I could not imagine living in a subdivision. Like Manila they are a great place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there! My perception is that when foriegners live here they tend to insulate themselves from their surroundings. It is partly because of the language barrier and partly because of repeated warnings from the wife and family that everything is dangerous and people just want to exploit you. From some of the accounts I have heard it is the family members that you should be wary of! haha!

    Within my first two months of living here I bought a motorcycle. That was my ticket to independence. After all my paperwork was in order I went riding on asawa approved routes and maybe some unauthorized routes. Whenever I can find time or their is some lame festivity that I can avoid I will go riding. I have found many out of the way businesses for the things that we need in our businesses. I have made many accuaintances by sitting outside random sari sari stores or eateries drinking a coke. Because of the type of motorcycle that I purchased I was invited to join a riding group. I am currently the esteemed vice president. When I was first invited to a meeting my wife almost forbade me to go. She said that it is not safe because I don’t know those people. As luck would have it she was campaigning for kagaward at the time so since she was in a large group of people she could not display her displeasure. So off I went into the darkness on my motorcycle to meet with a group of thugs and killers. When I arrived I was introduced to the group. I asked them if there were any kidnappers in the group tonight. Since only a few hands were raised at the question i decided to stay. As a result of my daring venture I gained many good friends. My wife joins us on some rides. We have gone to many places that I might not have gotten to see.

    The other night I was accompanied in the sky kubo by my good friend the Colonel, my brother in law Vic, and his brother in law named Mario. I quickly christianed Mario with the name Mario Buddha since he had the Buddha look. We all rubbed his stomach and wished for more San Mig. I know I did not consume that much but there were three cases of empty litros when we were hands up as they say. I explained to them that I did not buy a billiard table for myself. I rarely play. I did not work hard building the sky kubo for myself. It is pretty big for just me and Marie. I built it for my friends. Without friends it doesn’t matter what you have.

    So now with the agonizing sermon behind us; I will state the obvious. Find a hobby and get some friends! The ordinary Filipino is generally a friendly person. If they do not seem that way it is because they are shy. I am often told by people that I will randomly engage in conversation that they would have approached me first but they have heard stories of foriegners with bad attitudes. You can be the exception.

    • Tom, your astute assessment of the situation is stunning. Yes, it is not so much a boredom issue as it IS a retirement issue. My late grandfather worked in a coal mine for 25 years under “conditions that would make Satan salivate” and worked another 25 years, also as a machinist, for the Shell Oil Refinery in Wood River, Illinois. Grandpa took early retirement, though after his so-called retirement, he was busier than ever. My Grandma, God bless her, had a list of projects that she wanted Grandpa to do around the house, and it took him years to finish those various construction projects around the house.

      That said, I’m not at all handy (my asawa does all the small repairs around here), and if it wasn’t for this website, I would absolutely be going loco loco. I’ve never attempted to ride a motorcycle, because even though I did have a bicycle as a kid (that was equipped with a baseball card attached on the wheel with a wooden clothespin that would make a cool sound against the spokes when riding; probably some old Mickey Mantle rookie card I had laying around), I figured I would be dead within 24 hours if I ever tried to ride one. But since I was a creative person in school that enjoyed drawing and writing, the blog I started a month after arriving in the Philippines was a lifesaver for me.

      I don’t hang out with friends that much, though my asawa and I are meeting some new expat friends this afternoon. My new expat friend’s Filipina wife loves to garden as does my own spouse, plus we also like to drink San Miguel, so we should get along just fine. Haven’t seen my expat friends Paul and Jeff recently, so I undoubtedly must have pissed them off in some way. I’m a fairly antisocial guy (my asawa would laugh at that remark! We were invited inside someone’s home in our subdivision last night because I made a remark in passing that I really liked their Christmas lights and spent the next two hours on a grand tour of the place.)

      But you’re absolutely right. Find some kind of hobby. Meet some people and make friends. You’ll go absolutely nuts with boredom if you don’t. Great advice, O Sage Of GenSan.

  5. Howdy Dave,

    Concur with all your “Top Ten Tips”, gotta have a plan and stick with it. Almost there with no debits except our house which will be paid off in 9 months…then will use the funds from selling that to rent or buy some place there. O and the motorcyle thing like Tom….oh yea, drove one for a few years over there…all over luzon and then some. So when we retire there, not living close to relatives, steady income will be set at approx 4g a month, buy a new cycle and then hook up with the discovery channel, have some preplanning with SMG products, and then go on the search for the “ANO” 🙂 . I know it’s there cause the wife always ask where her “ANO” is, I’ve even heard the locals ask about it. I’ve heard about it from the the early 70’s while living there up till now. So look out “ANO”, we’re coming. 🙂

    • John D, you are indeed a wise man. You’ll be moving here debt-free, not living close to relatives, a large monthly income and the Discovery Channel (not to mention the occasional SMG products as you stated. :-)) But what is the “ANO?” (“ano” is “what” in tagalog, so it’s like I’m asking, “what” is the “what?”) Anyway, a good plan is essential, and I applaud you, John, for having one and sticking to it.

  6. Great advice Dave and should be republished every so often. Like the others I worry about boredom a bit. But unlike the others I will be living in Metro Manila (Paranaque, south of the Mall of Asia). I dream of buying a sailboat, but that might not come to pass. There is a nice gym not to far away, plus the normal Barangay gyms. SM Sucat mall crawling is an option (as long as husband benches are available) . However on our frequent visits when i feel the sense of restlessness upon me, I get up and roam the Banagay, visit the wet market or just wander around. There seems to always be something new around the corner. It might just be our family, but noone ever seems to do “american shoppin” Go once a week and thats it. When we are there it seems an hour never goes by that I am not sent out for 1 kalamansit, or a roll of toliet paper etc etc. But the bottom line is,,,,,,,,,,,I am sure looking forward to the oportunity to get bored there, lol.

    • I can honestly say Scott, that one minute of boredom in the Philippines is much more enjoyable than one minute of boredom back at my old job in the States. Good luck to you on the move, and it looks like you’ve got a good plan to conquer the “boredom factor.” As for shopping, I confess that I asked my asawa yesterday if she wanted to go roaming around SM City to do a little shopping. That’s like asking a crackhead of they want another hit. 🙂 But I got some great pictures which I’ll be sharing later.

  7. Dave,

    Boredom can be a killer.Some Retired Military and Law Enforcement die within a few years of retiring if they don’t keep busy doing something. They are so used to a routine and when it suddenly stops there body can’t adjust. I plan on staying busy doing something. Running a business, roaming around exploring, spending time with family, exercising or whatever. I want to get a motorscooter to ride around in first. They even have 3 wheel motorscooters for the older geezers lol. Staying busy helps keep your mind and body sharp. Thanks for sharing more good info.

    • A tricycle would also work out, Papa Duck. You could ride around while giving folks a ride with the kano. That would probably get you a lot of looks and give you something to do. It is essential to have some kind of activity to keep you busy once you retire, be it in the Philippines or in the States.

      • Love the comments. I am 9 years from retirement. I look forward to moving there. This blog really helps me think about all there is to think about. I have heard from others that boredom is a problem. This is why it does seem necessary to have an income. I can’t imagine being bored as long as there is sufficient funds for toys like a boat,and ATV plus plenty of gas money.

        • There’s a lot of factors involved in moving and living here, John, and I always get some good input and info from my readers. Hope the next nine years to retirement pass quickly for you. Doesn’t sound like you’re going to be bored when you get here.

  8. Hey Dave, very good point’s on your list, here’s one of my personal tips which probably won’t make most top 10 lists but I think should be noted. Avoid assoication (visual/communication) with your wife,family or friends when purchasing large/small ticket items or paying bills, especially hospital bills. The site of a billionare cano will double or even tripple your final bill. My case and point, our nanay was just released from Mission hospital after a week stay suffering from numerious problems, we paid less for a week at Mission than it would have cost for one day at Saviour or St Pauls, mind you they never seen me and I also urged Paul to please stay away from there because of the dreaded cano surcharge, I stayed in our SUV everyday out of site while my wife had her visit, just a thought, hope it might help someone in the future, it really paid off for me.

    • Hey, Jeff, good to hear from you. Your tip is excellent advice and deserving to be put on any new list I put out in the future. I had the “pleasure” of staying at Saviour’s during a kidney stone attack early last year. Our attending surgeon charged us more than 10x the going rate. Why? It was a case of yes, the dreaded “cano surcharge” which you talk about. No doubt about that whatsoever. I’ll keep your advice in mind, and appreciate the tip. Hope nanay is feeling better. Take care.

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