What’s Your Plan for Moving to the Philippines?

cabaling beach guimaras

Chances are if you’re reading this article, there’s a strong possibility you’re considering retiring to the Philippines. What’s your plan for moving to the Philippines? I hope you have one. Moving to this archipelago of 7,107 islands without a detailed strategy once your boots hit the ground is about as smart as tugging on Superman’s cape. If you believe you can find a job in the Philippines, even though you might have a skill such as a carpenter or a plumber, I want whatever you’re smoking. Moving here with unrealistic expectations and no guaranteed source of monthly income is a gargantuan mistake. Frankly,  you can save yourself a lot of grief and stay put.

Raymen Beach in Guimaras


My asawa of almost 15 years and I had a plan over five years ago after I retired at age 57 with almost 30 years of service with telecommunications giant, AT&T. Without the generous lump sum payment I received from Ma Bell in lieu of a pension and invested in a IRA which we have drawing from for the past five years, my wife and I would still be living in Central Illinois. I would have missed out on the adventure of my life, where now, at age 62, we are finally reaping the benefits of our own five year plan.

Five years? Seems like a long time, right? At times, especially during financially tight times and three kidney stone attacks, the five years have dragged on. But with the construction of our new home and the upcoming purchase of our new vehicle, the wait is almost over.

But what can you do in planning your retirement and firming up your own plan for moving to the Philippines? The fact that you’re checking out this website is a good start. I read expat blogs about living in the Philippines on an almost daily basis once the decision to move here was made. Two websites provided me with the bulk of my information: Don Herrington’s “Living in the Philippines,” the first Philippines Expat site on the Net, since 1989,  and Bob Martin’s “Live in the Philippines.” 

I’ve gleaned a ton of useful information  from both of these sites and have had the pleasure of exchanging emails with each of the aforementioned expats. I would strongly advise you to read all you can online about the Philippines but don’t believe everything you read. The Philippines is neither a paradise nor a hellhole. Somewhere in between, depending entirely on the following:


Not what “The Kano” has made of it. Not what other expats living in the Philippines have made of it, but what YOU, personally make of it. I would venture to guess that if you’re not happy and always complaining in your present location you’ll probably do the same if you move to the Philippines. It’s easy to find imperfections anywhere you live. It’s all about your attitude. 

If you can embrace change and accept the fact that you are a VISITOR with absolutely no rights (despite what you might hear otherwise) and don’t mind living in one of the least expensive countries in the world, you might make it here. If you don’t mind being surrounded by some of the most beautiful women on the face of the planet and be treated like a celebrity, you will do fine.A View from Raymen Beach in Guimaras

But, please, for your own sake, have a plan. The U.S. Embassy in Manila is NOT, I repeat, NOT, going to bail you out of trouble or help you if you run out of money. So having a guaranteed source of income and doing your homework can help you immensely in formulating your own plan for moving to the Philippines. Books like my “Philippines Expat Advisor”  can help in your planning and I encourage you to keep checking out this website along with the ones I have mentioned. Getting different points of views from other expats can greatly benefit you.

With COMMON SENSE, CAREFUL PLANNING AND A GUARANTEED SOURCE OF INCOME, you can successfully make your  own move to the Philippines and live out your retirement years comfortably. Again, it’s what you make of it.

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

10 thoughts on “What’s Your Plan for Moving to the Philippines?

  1. Dave,
    You are absolutely correct. If you do not have a guaranteed source of income you should not even consider moving here. I know I worked hard, saved a big chunk of money and read up all I could about the Philippines, which helped me prepare for the move.

    1. You had a good plan, Papa Duck. I know you sacrificed a lot and paid your dues. Now you’re reaping the rewards of all your hard work. And what could be better than living the good life in the Philippines? Not much, in my books.

  2. I have a plan, but only time will tell if it will be the right plan I guess.
    Yours website was the very first one I did find, and have read every article you have written ,thus far Dave, and I feel I have learned quite a bit from just this website, plus I read many others also now, as I find them. I do question as to if I will be able to adapt to living there. When you were living in the house for 2 years that only had water a couple days a week, I strongly felt, I could not adapt to living like that, so it will be interesting if ever the day finally comes, that I can move there. Things are just done so different there, and things that to me, could be done so easily, policies there seem to make them almost impossible to accomplish at times.

    I have closed my business already, and am in the process of selling almost everything associated with it. I was also a part time builder, but heavy equipment prices for used equipment have gone up quite a bit in the last couple years especially, so selling it was pretty easy. My main business was commercial millwork ,but some of the large industrial woodworking machines, are quite specialized, and only a very small amount of shops use this kind of stuff, and they are proving to be quite a different matter finding buyers for them. Once apx. 80% of everything is sold, the house and shop will go on the market, but I have a feeling its going to be hard to find a buyer for it, but am hoping I will be wrong.

    We will have a source of income, but it will be based mainly on what the interest rate on CD’s are, and those rates are slowly rising a little but are still quite low as you know.In a few more years SS will also kick in, assuming it is still around in a few more years.

    So thats our plan, as of today I guess, of course it changes daily it seems.

    1. Well, Bill S., it sounds like you have a very workable plan. Good luck on selling the rest of your equipment; I hope you get a ton of cash for it. Melinda and I sincerely appreciate your support and knowing you have gleaned some useful info from the website makes it all worthwhile to me.

      Everyone doesn’t adapt, Bill. I was ready to return to the States after a month. My mother-in-law’s constant snooping, the heat and humidity, the utter lack of privacy with 13 people at “The Compound,” (only six at “The Farm,”myself included) almost led me to a complete breakdown. But with my asawa’s help and my pastime, “working” on my first blog, “The Rooster Crows at 4 am!,” I somehow managed to regroup and stick it out. And I’m so glad I did. What I’m trying to say that despite my diagnosed OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and typical American lack of patience, I made it. So can you. I’m sure of it.

      Stick to your plan. Take more cash than you think you’ll need and budget for more you’ll think you need. Try to ignore what you can’t change here, because you can’t change it. Keep doing that research and maybe one day we can share a beer or two before you know it.


    1) SET A MONTHLY BUDGET – IM IM MINDINAO $2000 GETS ME A long way.. your milage may vary..ask around.

    2) come, stay 90 -120 days etc ( 21 wont do it! ) get a feel for the way things REALLY are THEN go all in.

    3) ALWAYS ( AND I MEAN ALWAYS ) have the following:
    – more than one bank account from your home country (if you lose your primary one or develop problems youre in for a HELL of a lot of problems ) – while youre at it x-link them to make moving money easy

    4) keep a BUG OUT fund – really. Sh*t happens ( everywhere ) do you want to be trapped in a foreign country with no way out if it hits the fan? what if you have a medical emergency that cant be handled here? – my rule: $2000 on tap in a separate account that’s OFF LIMITS

    5) get a magic jack internet phone… if you are in usa pick one up in walgreens or off ebay. and regester it in your home state that way loved ones can call local any time. the newest and coolest thing is their new phone app that allows you to route straight to your smart phone – I have a Samsung mega ( world phone ) that serves as a local AND usa phone at the same time with no long distance! very cool

    while we’re at it set up a Skype account – its free as well

    and lastly, remember this: Leave your expectations of the way things SHOULD be back home. this ISNT your country and things don’t work like they do back home… but then again, when was the last time when was the last time a stranger asked “how are you my friend?” and REALLY ment it? – nuff said

    1. Great advice, Danial. You echo a lot of the advice I give in my book, “The Philippines Expat Advisor.”

      A monthly budget is essential and at 2,000 bucks a month a guy can quite live quite comfortably as long as he stays out of the KTV bars.

      Again, I completely agree,it’s best to scout out an area first. A lot of guys that come here with their Filipina wives live in the area the wife comes from. Not always the best move, as evidenced by the troubles and travails we’ve had with relatives here in the past. So your best option IS to to check out a place first, See if you like it.

      An exit plan is essential. Not everyone loves it once they move here. If you don’t have the cash to get out don’t expect your local embassy to help you out.

      Thanks so much, Danial. All of us expats are visitors in this country. I find that most of the foreigners that complain about living in the Philippines probably complained about the country they came from. Don’t expect the Filipino to have the same customs and traditions you have and don’t expect them to do things the way you do them.

  4. This a is very good information and I agree planing is a key for a move to the philippines. I myself have been reading a lot of blogs about living in the philippines. and even that I have been happily married to my asawa for 30 years and traveled to the islands many times and also was stationed in subic bay for many years. I still believe that I have a lot to learn and information to acquire before making it a full time retirement home. but with that said we have tried to do things in advance to make are transition easier ( built our house, own a 2 hector rice field, and own a boarding house, plus are retirement.) I still believe you have to go into it with a positive mind and realize there is going to take some time to adjust.
    thanks for posting all your experiences. as I will continue my reading and gather all the info I can.

    1. You’re a smart man, Roger, to have planned your move to the Philippines so far in advance. And the fact that you are still willing to learn and are continuing to do research, is another big plus. A positive mind set is essential. I was talking to a group of expats at a BBQ yesterday and one of them mentioned a certain man in nearby Iloilo who continually complains about the Philippines and does so in front of his Filipino help. We were all in agreement that if the man is so unhappy about living here he should return to his home country.

      I’ll be posting a new update on our house soon, sorry for the lack of recent posts. My wife and I have been to nearby Iloilo to buy kitchen sinks, toilets, granite counter tops and such and have hired a crew to install our ceiling. Our lead man for the ceiling install comes highly recommended and did the ceiling installation at the new Marriot Hotel at the new MegaWorld complex in Iloilo. We have accepted a bid for a local company to install our windows and screens and have been working with our foreman who will do concrete precast and the installation of our floor tiles. It’s been a busy time. Take care.

  5. Glad to hear that the progress of your house is moving along. If your asawa is anything like mine i’m sure she’s enjoying herself shopping for the house. When my asawa was purchasing the things for the house All that I had to say was yes sweetheart that looks great. saved on any arguing because I know who would win that decision lol….
    Hope you had a great time at the BBQ with the expats. The guy that they were talking about complaining must have not spent enough time in cold nasty winter weather maybe he can take a trip to Illinois next winter then he will stop complaining…
    Did your wife have any adjustment back to philippine ways? Because I have to keep reminding my wife that it will be a adjustment for her also. my wife has also gotten used to western standards she owns a business and is used to things being on time and schedule. sometimes when she talks to her sister there she gets frustrated with things taking time to get done. I have to laugh and remind her that it is the philippines remember filipino time…
    they say you can take a ” filipina out of the philippines but you can’t take the philippines out of a filipina” but I do know that my asawa has become quiet accustomed to some of the western style. and the older she gets the shorter the fuse. especially when they see that ATM stamped on her forehead LOL>>>>

    1. I have followed your plan from the very start, Roger, in regards to my asawa’s purchases for the house. She picked out the roof and the doors and had a hand in the general design of the house. We haven’t purchased any appliances yet for our new home but we are both on the same page when it comes to the purchase of the new TV: the bigger, the better.

      The particular complaining expat comes from Germany and I know that winters there can get pretty cold, too, just like Illinois. I have never met the man and it is possible that he has already gone back to Germany by this time.

      It was an extreme sacrifice for my wife to move back to the Philippines and after nine years in the States, she had become Americanized. She has had to do without a lot of the luxuries she had back in Illinois and misses shopping on Saturdays with her Filipina friends. She has found no shopping buddies here in the last five years. She asks me on advice on clothes or shoes she buys. Anyone who has ever met me will tell you I have no fashion sense whatsoever.

      It was a period of adjustment for my wife but she has made the transition without any complaints, unlike her crusty old expat of an husband. She grew up barefooted deep in the jungle without running water and electricity and made the move to Singapore and Taiwan to help support her family. I have no doubt that your spouse, too, will make the adjustment just fine, but it will be an adjustment. Indeed, your asawa will have to fend off relatives and “friends” looking for a “loan” who always seem to have a sick relative in the hospital.

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