Honestly, do you really want to live here?

Learn Bisaya/Cebuano

I have a lot of websites, more than 200 different sites, and most of them are related in one way or another to the Philippines. Because of this, as you can image, I get a ton of e-mail from people who profess to me that they want to move here. Funny thing is, even after years of saying this, very few people make the move. And, of those who do make the move, more than half move back after only a short time here.

Why is it that few people make the move? I remember when I was in their position, still living in the USA, yet having a deep desire to move here to live permanently. The thought of moving here seemed to consume my mind 24/7. I was actually quite obsessed with it. However, when the day finally came that I sold my house, suddenly at first I was scared to death with the idea that I was actually going to take the leap and move half way around the world! I wanted it so badly for so long, but when the day actually came that I could do it, it finally sunk in on me just how huge of a step this was! It took a few days before the fear started to subside, but right up until we stepped on the plane, we pondered whether we were doing the right thing. I feel that this is a factor for many who want to move here, but never take the step. Another huge factor is financial. A lot of people simply don’t have the financial ability to make such a move.

Do you really want to live in the Philippines?

Do you really want to live in the Philippines?

Now, how about all the people who move here from abroad and end up going home after a relatively short time? I would estimate (although I know of no official figures) that more than half of those who move here end up leaving within just a few years. Why would this be the case? Well, I would say that the number one reason would be that they can’t adjust to the way things are here, compared to where they came from. Society is different here than in the States. Everything works differently here. If you are here on Vacation, you don’t get the feel for that, because people give you more leeway. If you are just here for a short time your Filipino acquaintances can put up with you for a few weeks until you leave. They make adjustments and give you leeway with your different ways. However, when you come here to live for good, it is YOU who must change. In the beginning, people realize that you are a foreigner and they give you the benefit of the doubt. However, after a while, they expect you to conform to societal norms here, and that is not always easy. A lot of Americans who have vacationed here always tell me that Philippine society and culture is “just the same as ours.” Well, I am here to tell you that it is not the same, my friend, it is not even close! If it were the same, incidents like what Feyma wrote about at the Bureau of Immigration wouldn’t happen. A friend of mine, Dave Starr had a similar incident recently. What about the things that AmericanLola wrote about Losing Face? These things are just the tip of the iceberg too, so please realize that you will have plenty of adjustments to make when you live here.

Another reason why people end up going back to where they came from is often a lack of income. One very common thing that I hear from people who e-mail me is this: “Hey, I am planning to move to the Philippines, what kind of job can I get when I arrive?” Well, first of all, depending on what type of legal status you intend to set up for your stay here, most likely you won’t even have the legal right to work here. If you just get off the plane and have a tourist visa, you cannot legally get a job here! If you want to work here you need a work permit. If you are a tourist, the odds of getting a work permit are somewhat small. You are supposed to be vacationing here, not working! If you get a resident visa (like a 13 series visa or a retirement visa) the work permit is automatically included with the visa.

OK, so now you have your work permit, right? What kind of job can you get now? Well, are you willing to work for local wages? Maybe P200 per day or so (that’s about $5), and that is PER DAY not per hour. If you are like me, you aren’t willing to work for that type of wage. But, don’t fret, you can still make a good living here. You need to start your own business (also read here, here, here) of some kind.

Learn Bisaya/Cebuano

In addition, if you decide to live here, I recommend that you follow one thing that Feyma and I did when we moved here. Before moving, we made a commitment to each other that no matter what, we had to stay for 5 years. If we hated it here, or if we loved it, no matter, we had to stay, and could not consider leaving until we had been living here for 5 years. The thing is, if you leave when the going gets tough, you are not giving yourself adequate time to adjust to life here. You must take time, learn from hard knocks and force yourself to adjust to life here. If you leave after 6 months or so, you are selling yourself short, and you are really wasting your time and the money that you spent to set up life here. Hang in there, and force yourself to give adequate time for the adjustment.

So, what do you think, are you really ready to make such a commitment? If you are willing to go through some hard times in adjusting, and if you have enough money to ride out the storm, I think that moving here is a great thing. Feyma and I have talked about this in recent years and we agree that at this point in our lives we would not even consider moving back to the States, or anywhere else. We rode out the hard times, and we worked out the financial side of things too.

We’ll be staying. How about you? Will you be joining us?

Post Author: MindanaoBob (944 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

Author Info


  1. brian says

    Ditto ! Good advice…I think when the time comes I will use it !
    I’ll also take a few pictures of me snow blowing my drive for the 5th time that day and save a few receipts of our entertainment bill for a reminder of why I left the USA. Hope I can adjust…I yern for a simpler life ! Again great write Bob.

  2. says

    Excellent points there, Bob, and thanks for the link. Even long before I made the permanent move I was noted for that very line … do not expect the Philippines to change around you, you must be in a position to change to suit the Philippines.

    If I had a dollar for every guy I’ve heard from who was planning to come to the Philippines and teach them how to do things I’d be a rich man. There are many things in the Philippines that Filipinos don’t want to change … and it doesn’t matter if we as foreigners just ‘know’ we know how to do better … we’re not here to change ‘them’.

    (incidentally, I find an excellent gauge of how well someone will do adjusting here by noting how often they use ‘they’ and ‘them’ in their conversation … or how focused they are on living in enclaves with other foreign residents … if you’re focused on staying away from Filipinos and the Filipino ways of doing things, you have a long row to hoe).

  3. says

    I agree with what you wrote. Only living here 1 1/2 months I feel the differences.
    Traffic is the hardest part. You, John and I have written about the driving.
    Eating for me is not so hard. At home we cook filipino foods and I eat most. I have a problem eating the Heavy dinner foods for breakfast but coffee and oatmeal is enough for me.
    Language is hard, at home, if I do not call out “HUH” they all talk bisaya.
    Since they all know english I would like them to talk it so I feel part of the household. 3 out of 4 have come around and still working on the last one.
    I have made contacts about something to do to make some income, but nothing yet.
    Over all, I miss the easier life back home, but it would have not stayed easy with the lose of job oppertunities in my industry in the states.
    So I do not think about what I left but how to make it work here.
    Overall with my new loving family, I am happy here.

  4. says

    Hi Brian – Be sure to keep that snow blower photo… it will be a savior for you! I bet just looking at that once per week will make you life here much happier! :lol:

    Hi Dave Starr – Yep, a dollar for everybody who wants to come and save the Philippines would make a lot of us rich! You are so correct – a lot of “us” foreigners do feel like they have the knowledge to turn the country around. Of course, they don’t realize that if they turned the country around, it would no longer be that place where they wanted to live! :lol:

    Hi Bruce – I am glad to hear that everything is moving forward for you. I hope that you continue with your adjustment, and find life getting easier as each day passes. Good luck on the income earning front!

  5. says

    My answer…….a definite yes.

    My situation was slightly differently though I suppose. It wasn’t a case of up all roots and make an on-the-spot change, those roots were mostly up anyway because I have been working abroad for a lot of years. But we made the decision about 14 yrs ago and Philippines is now my home and my base, I dont have or need another one.

    Another plus on my side I suppose was the fact that I have been working with Filipinos OFW’s for most of my working life abroad so I had experienced their culture through work and gained a lot of knowledge there.

    But taking the time to learn all one can about the culture (and in fairness to you Bob, you are certainly a great source and a lot of credit is due to you for your work here) and if possible several visits, not to stay in tourist destinations but with the people is a requirement I would think. And of course the major prerequisite would be on the financial side, like you say it’s a business thats required here and forget about looking for a job. Planning is everything in this case.

  6. says

    Ah, I agree with what David Starr said! I cringe when I hear expats, even missionaries, use ‘they’ and ‘them’ referring to Filipinos. I remember hearing one lady say, “One of these days I’m gonna HIT one of them (with her car)!” I knew she would not last, and she didn’t. It reflects an “Us versus them” mentality that pretty much guarantees problems.

    Living in constant fear of being ripped off is another way to make your life miserable. If you tend to be that way, don’t bother to come.

  7. sid says

    hey Bob, superb topic! you are a daily stop for me to see whats going on over there as i get closer to my target date. How did you do upon arrival there? Did Feyma stay by your side and watch over you so you stay out of any uncomfortable situations. I’m sure you remember how things are here in the states, the pace of life seems to be getting faster and harder everyday with work and personal times with family. my wife is getting things ready there, we already have a house built and a busness going among alot of other things. i worry about trying to communicate. how long did it take you before you started to do things on your own? how did your children cope with the change? from what i’ve read tourist time is alot different than living there, after your newness wears off and the expat grace period is gone…what then?
    i tell my wife when we get there you better stay by my side! even here some of our filipino friends kind off mis-read me at first, and then i go back and explain to them they misunderstood me. i understand the fact that i need to change myself and that is my target, i want them to change me. i want to know how so many, have so little, but yet they always seem to smile and make anything out of nothing.
    i thank you so much and the rest of the crew at LIP for all you do i hope to someday meet you and your family there. keep up the good work!

    • mark says

      hello bob,,,,,i married a phillipino lady in canada,,, we want to live there,,,lol,,,,,im a well rounded dude with a great mind,,,,just a quick question,,,,do you think a painting company / home reno business would make the cut there??? i have been a business owner of a painting compant here in canada for 31 years,,,,what do you think,,,mark

      • says

        Hi Mark – Renovations are always needed, no doubt, but you are going to be competing with people who are making a couple hundred Pesos per day. It is probably not something you will make a ton of money doing. But, you never know unless you try.

  8. says

    Hi Jack – Thanks for your kind words, and for sharing your ideas. Having lived abroad in various places for several years sounds like it has really given you the right outlook that is needed to live somewhere like the Philippines!

    Hi AmericanLola – That whole “us vs. them” mentality is never a good thing!

    Hi Sid – I’m glad you like the topic today. You bring up an interesting topic when you ask if Feyma stood by me. You see, Feyma and I had a talk before we moved here. On past trips here for vacation and such, no matter where I went or what I did, I had somebody with me to sort of watch over me. It was always either Feyma, or some member of her family who had this job, and there was never a time when I was on my own to discover my own way. When Feyma and I had our talk before moving here, I explained to her that I am a big boy,and I do not care to have somebody guarding over me on every move that I make. I needed some independence to move around, learn the ropes, make mistakes and learn from them. I personally feel this is critical. I know that if I had to live my life always with somebody watching out for me, I’d go crazy. So, pretty much from day one, I was on my own to learn how to live here. I love my wife dearly, and when I needed help, I didn’t hesitate to ask for it.

    Regarding communications – even if you don’t learn the language right away you will still find ways to get the message across.

    Kids? They are easily adaptable, and can start to fit in quickly, and much easier than adults!

    Take everything that you learned as a tourist here and throw it out the window! That is nothing like living here. Living here is a whole new game that you must learn. When the expat grace period wears off, that means that YOU have to adapt to the local culture.

    Thanks for reading our site, Sid! We are happy to have you around, and look forward to your further contributions! :grin:

  9. says

    SURE I WANT TO LIVE HERE, Bob. And i do so since more then nine years now. How many years adjustment did I need? I am still learning to adjust myself better and better, and I am sure, I will never stop learning. As I mentioned in my today’s post “Lost chances” – yeah, but in my present situation I would never go back to Germany. Bob, you are talking about 50% surrenders regarding US-figures? I would even say MORE. Just today i talk with a German friend about it. he lives since 18 years in Davao City and he told me: I saw a lot people coming here, but 3/4 (yes, 75%) gave up… Believe it or not!

  10. says

    Hi Klaus – That 50% figure is no kind of official statistic, and not just Americans. It is just my general feeling that 50% or more of all foreigners who come here to live, end up leaving before much time passes. Sort of confirms what you say too. For myself, like you, I am quite happy here! I don’t have plans for leaving!

  11. Paul says

    Hi Bob – After the last month & a half in Ilocos Norte, my asawa and I are definite on making the move. :cool:

    One of our many reasons is something that happened most unexpectedly our last night “home.” Neighbors and relatives gave us a large, surprise farewell party (complete with lechon & other local delicacies) that featured a large, printed banner asking that if we must go, “please return as soon as you can”! We felt like first-time OFWs being given a send-off. :cry: :oops:

    Regardless of finances, abilities, jobs or other elements that would help an “immigrant”; making conscious efforts to adapt and fit in with those who will surround you daily in your “new” life and receiving their acceptance is certainly paramount. :idea:

    We are so very fortunate to have discovered this in a most positive way. :smile:

  12. Guy says

    Hi Bob & All Sorry I’m a little off topic,but I am going to get my feet wet in the Philippines in the near future. Probably 3 or 4 monthes,much longer than my previous visits. Then lengthening my stays from there. I don’t want to rely only on bank & credit cards. I would like to bring 5-10,000 with me. Where do I keep it. Obviously not in my pocket. I think this must be a common problem,unless I have missed something. Thanks. Guy

  13. Luc says

    Honestlly I don’t think I could live permanent in the PI.
    I like to go to the PI for a vacation but I’m also happy when I can go home.

    What worries me the most, if I decide to live permanent in the PI, I lose my medical insurance. I can only keep my medical insurance if I don’t stay longer than 6 months. Especially when you become older. As long as your healthy no problem. So for me a long vacation during winter is enough.

  14. John Culbreth says

    Well as you know Bob I have not made the move yet, but expect to in the next month or so. As I get closer to that day I too am feeling everything you felt just before your move to the Philippines. After all its not just your life but your entire family that you are affecting. Everything you wrote is so right on it, but I would like to add a little more.

    I am a member of a few online chat groups that were developed for people currently living in the Philippines and hoping to living there. It amazes me how many foreigners are living in the Philippines yet do not seem to enjoy it. From their post they always seem frustrated and bitter. The profess to be experts yet they have only succeeded in my opinion to develop an uneasy truce between themselves and their adopted country. They just don’t seem to understand that this is not their country. They don’t seem to understand it is they who need to change not the Philippines. It really does not matter how they do it back home, ONLY how they do it in the Philippines.

    When I hear stories of Feyma’s experience at immigration, I just cringe from embarrassment, hoping the other guys behavior will not be held against me.

    My biggest fear is that I will embarrass my wife by being a stupid American. For instance on my last trip I made the rookie mistake of pointing to a waiter with my finger. I knew better, but it still slipped. I was so embarrassed by it, and the waiter was very gracious about it. I am sure there will be more incidents like this and I can only hope that my Filipino friends and family will be patienct with me as I learn the ropes, but at the same time I hope they do not hesitate to point out to me when I am behaving badly.

    The Philippnes is such a wonderful country in so many ways, I just hope they don’t get tired of me.

  15. zois says

    Hi Bob your article very I like very much. You know I like
    come in philippines but I no finis the problem the sister of
    my wife come in greece and work.
    But the best age go for philippines if you are 38 year old.
    because if you are young you ar’not strict.
    The old people it’s little strict for custom of the in philippines.

  16. Ron LaFleur says

    Bob as always a great article. Its my plan to live there once I get life in order here. I am sure like many we have issues that need resolution prior to moving. As you know I spent almost my entire adult life in the Marine Corps and I am confident that experience has prepared me for living outside the U.S.. I actually prefer not to live in the U.S. and since you don’t you and others will understand that preference. I also read the other blogs and agree with one of the comments made that most don’t seem to enjoy it there. That reminds me of a story. Having spent all of those years in the Marine Corps I spent many years at sea with our Navy. The older sailors usually complained about having to go to sea-never could figure that one out. The older Marines complained about having to deploy or train in the field-never could figure that one out. Now I teach school and it amazes me how many teachers complain about teaching-that one I have figured out. What does this say-I would think its a manifestation of our dreams and when our dreams become reality they sometimes just don’t measure up. Freezing here in the Midwest and doing ok. Not only dreaming but making preparations to join you all soon. Ron

  17. Patrice says

    Thanks Bob for this article,
    My last vacation gave me the chance to go around with my filipino family and I had the chance to live with them and participate to the work in the house and yes it’s true it’s way different than here in Canada but I think if somebody plan to do the move there, he has to have an open mind and be ready to let go a bit o the way to do things and I have to admit that I also learned from them too Life is easy here but there if you have to built a house with only a tread…they will find a way….where I stayed was a poor rural area but I’ve learned and it just gave me more reason to do the move. Something I noticed, my wife had more hard time…I think she will have more work to do…to let go the comfort she has here. We now have a time frame to move there and we already put on some bussiness there to help for the income and I take the advice of the commitment you had with Feyma and I think it’s a great idea and will apply it when we’ll move.

    Thank again for the article…great one

  18. TV says

    just a little break from the usual….. where did you have that caricature done? who did it? its really nice and funny. . i like that sculpture hair line ha ha ha !!!!!!

  19. Jim says

    Hi Bob- Are you on a mission to frighten us all from coming to live in the Phil’s so you can have it all to yourself?
    Only joking, we will be around soon to annoy you like it or not.

  20. TV says

    bob, the philippines need somebody like you and feyma to run the dept of tourism .at least your transparent in what you doing … NO hokus pokus…….that another business you should venture to.it looks like you on the right tract.lol…..

  21. says

    Hi Paul – Great to know that you are ready to make the jump! I wish you nothing but the best of luck!

    Hi Guy – Well, I understand that you want to avoid banks and such, but if I were in your position, I would bring a much smaller amount of money, and then use my ATM card to withdraw from my foreign bank as needed. I feel that is the safest thing you can do. If you decide to actually bring the cash, as you want to now, I don’t know how you would hold it safely. What about putting the cash into your bank account (not all, but part of it) and using a debit card to pay for purchases, perhaps that would be a solution. Good luck!

    Hi Luc – Good to consider things like Health Insurance. Keep in mind that health care is quite inexpensive here, so that should be factored into the mix. But, if you are happy with the situation that you have put together already, you are doing great!

    Hi John Culbreth – Hey, just the very fact that you are worrying about these things, and that you even have them in mind puts you miles ahead of most of the people who move here. The vast majority are, frankly, blind to these types of happenings, and are in for a rude awakening. You are coming here with your eyes open, and willing to learn from any possible mistakes you might make. You are doing great!

    Hi zois – Thank you very much for your compliment! Good luck with your Sister-in-law!

    Hi Ron LaFleur – Thanks for your continued support of the site! I appreciate your comment.

    Hi Patrice – You said one thing that sums up almost any thoughts I have on the subject – Come with an OPEN MIND. That is the best advice that anybody can get!

    Hi TV – The caricature of me that you see in some ads here for another site of mine was drawn by my friend Macky. Macky is from Davao, but lives in the USA now. He is an illustrator of Children’s books, and does other drawing. He is quite successful! Often, you will see Macky leaving comments and participating on this site, and other sites of mine as well.

    Hi Jim – I won’t try to scare you away, my friend! If I did, I might lose out on that hammock in Talakag that I am so looking forward to!

    Hi TV – Thanks much for your nice words. I appreciate them highly!

  22. Eric says

    Hi Bob Basically, foreigners who are planning to live in the Philippines should do their homework very well and think it over many times like you wrote a few times before. Your website is one good source of info.They should expect the worst. They should always remember that the Philippines is a third world country and a poor one too. Is that very difficult to comprehend? I have posted this reminder before somewhere in this site. They see the poverty, corruptions, etc., the first time they set foot in the country. I don’t know why after they come and live for a while, they will still feel too bitter and regretful. Do they expect the same amenities, standard of living, efficiencies, customs, etc., that they have gotten used to and left behind in their home countries? I commend your website Bob for being objective in presenting the good and the bad of living in the Philippines without pulling any punches especially the bad side.

  23. says

    Hi Eric – That’s sage advice – come here expecting the worst! It may sound like a negative way of looking at things for some people, but it really is wise. If you are expecting the worst, almost anything that happens will be a pleasant surprise for you!

    Thanks for visiting, and for participating in the discussion, Eric!

  24. says

    Wow, another great discussion started here, Bob. I think I learned something from every single comment, and as those who surf around a lot no, that doesn’t happen in every group, to be sure.

    To American Lola, thanks for your reinforcement that it isn’t just ‘me’ sensing the continual us vs them undercurrent. I am no saint, I get mad at things like any other normal person does. I lose my temper at times as well … but when I look at the overall balance of my life, I am lucky to feel pretty happy to be here. And I certainly value foreign friends I have made every bit as much as Filipino freinds. I have yet to be ripped off in any noticeable way, but i am not naive … I’ve been ripped off a time or two in my life and it’s quite likely I may get crooked again, someday. I just don’t spend my day waiting for it to happen … life’s too short.

    To Sid, regarding the ‘watching over’. Like Bob, this would drive me crazy. What would I need someone to watch over me for? One of the only downsides I have found to living so close to my wife’s family is that it can be stifling at times … people are continually trying to do things for you, making up their own ideas of what you do and don’t want to do, etc. If you travel with an open mind and watch what those around you are doing you will have no problem. I was here only a short time when I went to the corner store to get some carrots and potatoes for a stew. A sister-in-law wandered by and came running up to ask “Are you out here all alone”!?, with a shocked look on her face.

    I realize upon reflection that she meant well, but it really ruined my day at the time … I’ve been buying vegetables since I was a little boy, I think I can manage a buying a couple carrots on my own at my age … and if you make the move, you certainly can too, Sid. Nice hearing from you.

  25. Alan Mark says


    A couple of amazing things we have here in Davao. One is called insurance agencies. Second is called the Yellow Pages.

    This ain’t Kansas, but it isn’t Mars.

  26. says

    Hi Dave Starr – I liked your story about buying veggies! It is right on target! :lol:

    Hi Alan Mark – Honestly, I don’t know what you are talking about. Yes, there are insurance agents in Davao, no doubt. Don’t count on the yellow pages, though, they are usually years out of date. :roll:

  27. Eric says

    Bob this is indeed a good topic for discussion and I agree that when you expect the worst, almost anything that happens will become a surprise. It’s better to hear “Hey it’s not that bad to live here than I have been warned about and anticipated” than “Living in the Philippines sucks. I didn’t expect this. I’m out of here”. No offence to anyone but hello who’s fault is that? When things did not work out for them, they apparently blame the country for it and make a hasty retreat. For a few months of stay or less as a visitor in the country, everyone can already gauge whether life in the Philippines is for him or not. No need to make the actual move to find out.

  28. sid says

    hello to all, this is just an awesome. thanks for your reply Bob and Dave. that was very nice. what John wrote on #16, hit another good topic, “the finger point”. Man the fear of that simple wrong scares me too, i don’t do the finger point thing, I’ve accustomed to point with my lips. But a short story, a year ago my wife and I were doing a food distribution for one of the barrio’s in the hills in Pampanga, we had the Barangay with us, the Mayor, and the Pastor from the Church along with family. Anyway handing out food was so gratifying till I came to the house where the man did not want anything to do with our presence, and he was pissed off. That was a very uncomfortable feeling to say the least, and believe me I was not even going to try and calm the situation, but the point and or question is have you ever encountered a situation like that? For a forener here in the states I’ve never seen my wife be in a situation like that here. Another thing was when I was at the local pool/resort when I walked in the whole facility felt like it came to a stop, i had a couple of family members with me, but it didnt change till the wife came and i guessed they put one and one together and it all changed like a light switch, another weired feeling. Did you notice any of these feelings or situations like this and how do you overcome this? or is it just me?
    Again I thank all who come to this site, you all are great! Semper Fi Ron! What part are you planning to move to?

  29. says

    Hi Eric – Yes, I agree with you. Too many people come here and end up thinking “it sucks” without giving it a chance. I must disagree, though, that people can make a judgment after a few months. It can take years to fully make the adjustment.

    Hi Sid – Interesting about your experience at the swimming pool. You are saying the people were concerned that you had family members with you? Were these small kids or something? I have never experienced this kind of thing before, although I tend to not really care much what others think, so perhaps I just didn’t notice.

  30. Ken from SC says

    Neat discussion!

    My Sweetie and I were talking about the finger pointing, and she says I do it to her all the time. (I didn’t even notice!) She says she is used to it now, but if I do that around her parents, they will think I don’t respect her.

    Regarding moving to the Philippines ……. in our case, it is something we will do because my wife is a Filipina, and we want to raise any children we may have around her family. Whether I want to live in the Philippines or not is irrelevant. I will have to make the best of it!

  31. sid says

    hey Bob,
    that pool thing no they were family between 18-20 yrs, it was just a weird thing, and things went to normal once the wife came, funny she ended up knowing the manager/owner of the facility. They grew up together. But I notice other things to, like when I was at the market walking around its funny that you hear people ask who’s husband is that? (in a good way) It’s hard for me to speak Tagalog or Kampanpangan, but “think” I can understand most of what they are talking about. You know the thing about being scared to make a mistake let me give you another example. While attending a Fil-Am church here in the states, one Sunday I went in with a new haircut, I was trying so hard to be a Filipino by speaking Tagalog, I kept saying the wrong word about my hair to everyone including the Pastor, after a short while before the service started, my wife came to me and told me to shut up! about my hair cut. All that time I was using a bad word about my hair. I ate a lot of crow. Thats another situation that when I was “trying” to fit in and totally screwed it up. So I think I will have a “wingman” for a little while so I don’t start any wars. I hope your next reply Doesn’t say Sid maybe you should stay in the States and save us all. I’ll be standing by. Thanks, Sid

  32. says

    Hi Ken from SC – I think that being in a position where what you think about where to live is irrelevant is not a good position to be in. It’s not good for you or your wife. I am not sure if you are just kind of joking with that comment, or if you are serious. If you are indeed serious, I think that you and your wife should talk about it a little more and try to find a balance that is right for you. If you are feeling “forced” to live here, I believe that you will come to resent that, and it will be hard on your marriage in the long term. If you are actually open to the idea, and if your opinion does matter in the decision, I am sure that you can work through it and come to love the place, though.

    Hi Sid – I will never say that you should stay in the States! I believe that it is a personal decision between you and your wife to decide where you should live. What I will say is that I think you need to lighten up a bit, and go with the flow. If you make a mistake and use a bad word in describing your haircut, just laugh it off. Also, when you said that you were trying “so hard to be a Filipino by speaking Tagalog” I think it is very important to remember that you are not a Filipino, and you will never be a Filipino. That is how I am, I know that I am not a Filipino, and I don’t try to be one. I try to make adjustments in my life that help me fit in better, but I also tell people that I do things differently, because I am not the same as they are. I think that most people are very accepting of that, and actually it puts them at ease for you to point out that you are aware that you are different. For example, I have been taking lessons to learn how to speak Bisaya. When I speak in Bisaya, so I make mistakes? You better believe it! But, by taking language lessons, I should be able to minimize the number of mistakes that I make over time.

    Just remember, Sid, there is nothing wrong with not being a Filipino, don’t try to become one if that is not who you are! You’ll be happier, and the people around you will accept you as you are, as long as they know that you are sincere. If you make a mistake in the language, people can accept that too, because they know that you are making your best effort. :grin:

  33. sid says

    Hey Bob, thanks so much for the info, we’ll try and throttle back. I just want to make this move happen, and not be another who runs back home. Thanks again!

  34. Joe Parisi says

    I guess I have a simplistic way of looking at things. Whenever we go to the Philippines, I am very happy to just follow my wife around with a San Miguel in my hand. She knows the language and the customs, and I am very happy being the dumb American. My wife comes from a relatively poor family, and the lack of amenities really doesn’t bother me that much. Now if I can only get them to stop force feeding me that damned Ube…Yuck.

    I probably haven’t spent more than four months total in the Philippines, but I think I would really like to live there permanently, as long as I wasn’t struggling financially.

  35. says

    Hi Joe Parisi – For me, simply following my wife around would not be a happy life. I want to have a purpose in life besides drinking beer. Everybody is different, but I would get bored quickly with that kind of life! :lol:

  36. Mike says

    Great article Bob. I have only been to visit, but I spent a lot of time with my g/f’s family and have seen the daily routine. Quite different than here in the states. Enjoy all that you and Feyma have to write about. Thanks, and hope to meet you both some day soon. :grin:

  37. Joe Parisi says

    I also want to have a purpose in life besides drinking beer..pass the Fundador please. Seriously Bob, I do think it has a lot to do what you are looking for. Personally. I feel like I have too much going on in the United states. It is very stressful, and I’m looking at life in the Philippines as a way to decompress. You are probably right though, after a few months of relaxation, I would probably be looking for new projects to start.

  38. says

    Hi Joe Parisi – Yes, I think that you will find yourself looking for more to do after a few months of relaxation.

    Regarding the appeal of the Philippines for me… well, that is kind of what every post on this site is about! Feyma and I decided to re-locate here looking for a strongly family oriented environment for the family, a bit of adventure, an easier and less stressful life, etc.

  39. says

    Hi Mike – I’m glad to hear that you enjoy our site! Any time you have a question or comment, don’t hesitate to jump in with it! :lol:

  40. says

    Hi Bob,
    I have to say your recent posts have talked about a lot of things my wife and I have been talking about the past few weeks. This site is not only helpful to potential expats but Filipinos like me who are now seriously considering returning.

    It’s been a back and forth and we have been weighing the pros and cons EVERYDAY. what you said about being obsessed about moving back and then feeling that sense of dread when the time comes… that feels right on.

    It’s really been a back & forth for us. But your site has really helped weigh our options. Breaking down your categories to housing, expenses etc…Well, you’ve done a ton of work for us.

    I’ve been living in the US for a decade now (and a third my life), so I can relate to a lot of statements made in this blog. But with me, instead of assimilating to a new culture, it’s re-assimilating to an environment that I used to a part of but now will be a struggle getting used to. I was barely 21 and alone when I left and I’ve now built a career and identity in another country.

    I’ll let you know how things are going. But right now, It’s looking we’re slowly heading towards that big move.

    I know when we move, there will be things about ‘Pinas that will bother me and I don’t have the convenient excuse of being a foreigner. I’m going to have to deal it head on. But the beach life, the less expenses and slower pace and durian! …such a lure.

  41. says

    Hi macky – Well, well! You have surprised me! I thought that the issue of moving back here was already sort of “off the table” for you. Hey, if you decide to make the move back, that would really please me. I’d look forward to forging a nice friendship with you, and getting to know you even better.

    Good luck! If there is anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask!

  42. says

    hi bob – it came out in left field. the financial aspect has been quite tempting. i save so much more if i move my work there. but it’s not all money too, i get to take less work and have more free time with my – gasp – hobbies.

    still, there are major pros and cons on both sides that concern me, that is why i understand many of board comments. thanks for the kind words,bob, and i’ll make sure to keep you informed. i have a feeling once we transfer, we’ll be bumping into each other a lot while mulling time in the cafes doing some…um, “work”.

  43. says

    Hi macky – I hear you, my friend! I will caution you just a bit, though….. be careful about thinking too much about the cost of living here. Over the last couple of years the cost of living in the Philippines has really skyrocketed. Almost every day when I talk to other expats in the Philippines I hear it from them. They are shocked at the rising prices here and such. That said, of course I know that prices increase everywhere. Is is still cheaper to live here than the USA? Of course it is! But, it is not as cheap as it was just a couple of short years ago. So, just keep that in mind during your decision making process.

    Hmm… “bob tab”… you mean up along the nav bar at the top of the page? I just checked it, and it seems to be working OK. Let me know if you are still having a problem with it! :lol:

  44. says

    Hi Bob – Thanks for the tip. Like you, i’m bit of a news guy, so the current rates there won’t be a surprise. I also make a good living here so that just translates to better living there. Heck, even if the dollar hits the 20′s (i’m exaggerating for conversations sake), we’d be ok. I still remember the country panicking when the peso broke 40 during the Asian crash.

    No prob with the site now. Must have been a temporary glitch somewhere.

  45. says

    Hi Macky – I should have been more clear…. it’s not the falling dollar that I was talking about, but inflation in Pesos. The inflation is very high, then add that to the falling dollar and the impact is huge. Some expat friends and I were talking the other day about groceries, and we all agreed that we spend more money on groceries here than we did in our respective countries! Of course, being expats, we are not sticking to strictly local products, which drives our bills up! :lol:

  46. Justin says


    This is a really great article and I must say I descovered this site by accident but have since become a fan of it as I find the articles extreemly interesting and not written from the rose colored glasses perspective that is so common on some other sites , forums and groups.

    I think allot of expats go to PI thinking they are going to live the same quality of life in PI for a lesser ammount than they spent in America and get really deprssed when they see thats just simply not possible because like in many other things you get what you pay for. I meen if you wanted a house with truly American Amenitys and built to American quality youd need to spend the same if not more on the said house as it would cost you in America. This is the same with many other things as well as you get what you pay for.

    At same time I think others have the impression they are going to go native, live off fish, have a nipa for a house and a banig for a bed etc. They think this sounds exciting as its as far from the ratrace of working life as one can get but it soon gets old as the newness wears off and they want to live in more civilized manner. Granted some people can go totally tarzan but it takes a special breed of person and not to many westerners could be happy for a prolonged length of time with the tarzan lifestyle.

    Also, I feel boredom at times is a real problem for many expats as they are used to working, being able to accomplish things in a way they know and etc but in the end they get extreemly bored since they generally cat speak local languge which limits their social intereactions, they cant work legally and if they could theyd not want to work for slave labor wages, etc etc. I also think that this boredom leeds many to vices which are destructive instead of constructive.

    Other problem is I think some expats rush into things to fast which generally ends them up flat broke. I meen I cant count number of times Ive seen a expat swindled by his “soulmate” and family, lead into bankrolling really silly businesses and investments by people who have never ran any business and have no experience in the business they are advising the expat to gamble his money on them to try. etc etc etc. In end they could have avoided most these situations by doing their due dillegence but for whatever reason some expats are opt to trust any local with an idea.


  47. Justin says


    I couldnt live the tarzan lifestyle either but like you Ive known some who have, a few did it with no problem but most got tired of it rather quickly. You know though some years ago ABS-CBN had a excellent expose called Pooriegners that was quite interesting, was about really poor foreigners i the Philippines who had gotten down on their luck by one way or another and either didnt have the ability to go home, didnt want to go home or more likley than not had nothing to go home to. It was in many ways a sad show and I remember it because there was an American on there who slept on the street and had no money for food and subsided off of “tomato soup” which he made very cheaply by combining ketsup and hot water. Was just a sad show and was quite eye opening to see that we had fellow countrymen living in PI under such dire conditions.


  48. Justin says


    I forgot to add, I doubt you deal with that boredom issue much as your sitesmust keep you extreemly busy. I cant figure out how youd keep comming up with new topics on a daily basis without re-hashing old topics. This seems like it would be especially hard when taken into consideration that you compose the articles in such a proffessional manner despite churning them out on a daily basis, I think most members of the traditional press would be envious of your talent. I dont know why but for whatever reason I find it quite amazing and think you surely must not be bored.


  49. says


    Out of curiosity, what percentage of people who returned to their countries do you think do so because of finances? While I am sure that many just can’t adjust to the culture, I wonder how many just can’t make it money-wise.

    And Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and Feyma, Chris, Aaron, Jared, and Jean Jean!!!

  50. says

    Hi Bob, I give it much thought and yes, like you way back when I think about it 24/7. I am an optimistic person and know I can stick to it once I make the move. I would imagine much of the problem that makes newcomers leave after a short attempt is they hold onto their past lifestyle vision. Really, for me I can live very modest and I will be marrying into a large family so I am sure I will adapt and even prosper. Luckily, I have been self-employed since 2002 and do not expect a job to take care of me, that is even something that even here in the USA holds people back. I know I have to earn a living by myself. I have from a very young age dreamed of moving to a tropical land and after my visit to PI in 2007 I knew it was the place. I will be there for my 2nd visit in just a little over two months.

    Merry Christmas to you and Feyma and the kids. Jessica received the Christmas BOX I sent and all are enjoying it.. right now they are all playing Monopoly one of the presents for the kids.

    take care and enjoy the holiday!

  51. Paul says

    Hi Bob – UPDATE: Construction of our “retirement haven” has finished (of course, no house in the Phils is ever “completed”) and we’re projecting the final move to occur in Sept ’09. :smile:

    Asawa-ko will first attend a “mini-reunion” of her high school classmates living in the USA and Canade in early Sept ’09 in Las Vegas. Then, the big move. She is quite willing to let me make my move in July, if I want to! :D

    Don’t think there’s much of a choice for me to make (outside of airline). :lol:

  52. says

    Hi Bob- Its almost a year since I last replied to your original post and as you know I have arrived.
    I agree coming here to retire is not like coming to make a living as you have done so you have the extra burden of supporting your family and you have proved it can be done with good planning,contacts and determination.
    The internet will one day change and it will be interesting to learn what provision you have made for such changes.
    To be honest I’m still in holiday mode and I have to pinch myself to remind myself that I’m not on holiday but rather I live here permanently and this is my home and adopted country now.
    I hope I can still write on the blog in a positive fashion as you do Bob by this time next year taking one day at a time.
    Kind regards.

  53. says

    Hey Bob,

    You know, it wasn’t that hard for me. Now I’m still some what of a newbie. Only 10 months under my belt. At your age I doubt you had a pension backing you up though. Coming here without that would have been truly scary.

    It took me a year and a half to get here once I decided to come. I think about a year and 4 months of that I was putting it off out of subconscious fear.

    Shortly after getting here, while taking a tric in Talisay, I was wondering if I had lost my mind but before the ride was over, I decided I just needed to get use to it.

    I had a couple of months where I was hungry most of the time. I lost 20 pounds, which I badly needed to do, no danger of starving or anything lol.

    I would enjoy going back to the states for a visit, but I can’t imagine anything causing me to want to leave here. The biggest thing I’m scared of now is that I could make a mistake and find myself deported. Loose my temper at the wrong time. We American’s are not use to some of societal demands. I suppose my dry whit could also get me in trouble. I had to fire a helper, that too could get a reprisal and get me thrown out of the country. I don’t think it matters if the allegations are true.

    I can’t say what tomorrow holds, at 50, I’ve come to realize, bad times are ahead. It is just unlikely that within the next five years something wont go horribly wrong. That’s how life is.

    I don’t think I’ll leave though. I think the only thing that could possibly get me to leave is my health. I fear that I’ll be faced with a life and death decision at some point. I think, I’m going to stay here. It is hard to know though until one is actually faced with it.

    Someone said the language is the hardest part, I agree. It limits your interaction and understand of the . I’m working on that.

    200 sites? geesh dude! LOL

  54. Phil R says

    Yea Just go with the flow Rusty You should do all right .. … I belive i’m going tarzan ..a small farm in the forest way back in the sticks …I’ll be a filipino hick … :) I’m ready to move there now , no questions asked … Phil n Jess

  55. Andy Wooldridge says

    Hi Bob

    I only found this site about a month ago while looking for driving laws in Davao City. Now this is daily reading for me. I am only coming for the second time in 4 months on the first to stay with my wife to be. This time not in a big Western Hotel but in a rented house. That is because I came there to get the necessary photos of Joselyn and I together so I could bring her her on K-1 visa like my brother did over a year ago, she and her family decided that a wedding there was better. She pent most of two weeks talking of living there. Knowing my brother is already having a house built there and knowing I like most that do live there wanted out of here, I talked with family here and this time Josey and I are going to look for home in Davao City. No tarzan here but I will be able to ( if I do not blow wad like you in two years hehe ) be able to live. After adjustment period, then open business. Thank you so much for your site. I have been reaserching your area for almost a year and have found more here than anyplace I have searched.

  56. Andy Wooldridge says

    Thank you Bob

    It was a lot my Brother that reminded me that growing up, and both of us are older than you, that we were poor. He picked his wife after visiting her and her family and saw that they were like we were when young. I did the same. The very happiest days of my life were when I did not NEED two cars, three tv’s and everything else. I know it will not be easy, but at least I did not meet a rude person there. In fact as soon as I landed back home and asked an employee how to get from international to domestic I was told ” not my job go ask someone else ” I laughed and said great to be home. That made my decision final

  57. Andy Wooldridge says

    Final word on this is thank you so much for the most informative site I have found. I know I have really found paradise. Oh and off subject but I will help with your Christmas food for poor next year. Hopefully from there

  58. Andy Wooldridge says

    Thank you Bob, it will be in 6 days your time. I will contact you and I would like that very much. And oh I have never pointed fingers hehe at anyone but I now know not too hehe

  59. hill roberts says

    Maayong buntag, Bob! This topic is close to my heart. I left my beloved Philippines in a huff—so to speak—after three decades of living in Spain, I am dying to return there for good. However, only time will tell. Although I love this adopted country of mine, there’s something about Pinas that makes me miss it sooooo much. There are hundreds of thousands of ex-pats living in Spain, but the truth is, many of them have successfully formed their own version of “ghettos”, in particular, the Brits. Hardly any of them even speak Spanish. They have their own bars to go to, or a handful of restaurants, an odd school or two for their kids—but really, majority of them have no understanding whatsoever of the language, customs, traditions. They are happy doing what they do best. Stick with their own kind. And this is no exaggeration. And they have room to talk about the Sub-continental Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshies, ) living with their own kind. So, should we blame those who create their own “ghettos”? My husband and I are fully integrated here. Our neighbours are Spanish, Arabs, Germans, Belgians, Brits, Rhodesians, Swiss, Dutch. And we all get by. The reason is mainly because we have bothered learning the language. Still, there’s something special about Pinas, and hopefully, someday, I’d be able to explore it properly and enjoy the sites, sights and sounds of the new Pinas. I know there have been many, many changes, and I couldn’t wait to be able to appreciate all these once again, in my own time. My husband is not able to travel long-haul anymore due to DVT (deep vain thrombosis which almost took his life in 2000 when we traveled to the USA), hence, my only wish is to be able to do so next time. Meanwhile, Bob, enjoy the best you can over there! Regards, Hill

  60. says

    Hi Bob &all I am very pleased that this versitile issue is being readressed. The last time this was brought to light I was asking about accessing money,if you recall. I should have explained myself better last time,so here goes. I have been told that it is difficult for a foreigner to open a bank account there. I have asked my bank here if they would transfer money to an account there for me, for also identification reasons. They wouldn’t touch it. Of course with no bank account also no security box. I hate to just rely on bank & credit cards. If they were lost or stolen I can imagine what a mess I would be in. I don’t really know anybody there, & nobody knows me. With no ID & no access to money. This is a big fear of mine. Is their an answer to this possibility? There! I think I said it right this time Sorry for the confusion last time. Great site Bob. Thanks Guy

  61. Michael says

    Hi Bob,
    I have experienced some of the unusual aspects of life there when on vacation.
    For example during a stay at a nice resort on Mactan Island I went for a swim in the pool on a very hot day. Being fair and having has a few brushes with non lethal skin cancers I make a habit as many aussies do of wearing a t shirt when swimming to protect the skin from sun burn. I was surprised when the guard came over and ordered me out of the pool. When I questioned why I was told that I was improperly attired and that I must remove my t shirt if I wished to swim in the pool. When I pointed out that there were a number of korean ladies with t shirts on that he was allowing in the pool he said no that was different. When I explained why I wear a T shirt he just shrugged and repeated improper attire and please leave.
    I have to be honest and say I had to really struggle to contain my anger at what I thought was an ignorant stupid rule very crudely applied.
    I applaud your self control and maturity Bob in being able to cope with such frustrations. I really would like to be able to rise above the trivial annoyances referred to here and those I have experienced but I think it would take me a long while to mellow out and let filipino ways just wash over me without raising a yelp. Leaving western society behind should lower stress levels but don’t these little annoyances just keep winding you back up again?

  62. markus says

    Hi Bob, I need some help, I love my Filipino girlfriend, love the Philippines and Red Horse and the Filipino people and I never had difficulties with the culture during my many visits there. But there is one problem, FILIPINOS CAN’T COOK. and I love eating sumptious asian food. Only once in Moalboal, I remember quite vividly because I was surprised at the good taste and presentation of the dish, that I could give the food about 7 on 1-to-10scale. I do not know if it is only me , or other expatriots think similar but compered to coulinary mecca of lets say Peneng in Malaysia, Pattaya in Thailand The Philippines is a real dissapointmant to me. The Spaniards had a bad inflance on Filipino cooking and presentation. Maybe I should start my own restaurant there?, but I do not like cooking, I only like eating. So what you people would say to that?

  63. Alvin says

    Hi Bob,

    This website is amazing! I was looking for information on the web about living and working there in the philippines and I came across your site. I tremendously enjoyed reading your columns. I love the comments too. I use to live there in davao for 2 yrs. I graduated HS from UM and attend Ateneo Davao my first semester in college. My family is not from Davao but we lived there for 3 years because my dad was assigned there. I love Davao. I miss that place. I love it so much that I took my wife (american) there during a vacation to meet my HS friends.

    Congrats on your decision to pursue filipino citizenship. I am thinking of re-acquiring my filipino citizenship here in the states as well. more power to you.

  64. Alvin says

    Hi Bob,

    so i’m curious? i’m assuming that you have a permanent resident visa while living there. did your visa allow you to work or start a business there with no problems? how long is it good for from the initial approval? was it good enough document to prove that you are legal to work or engage in a business there in the phils.? i have been trying to decide whether to get a permanent resident visa or just do dual citizenship. what do you think? Thanks.

  65. Alvin says

    Thanks for the recommendation Bob. about the 1 year probationary, does this apply to the 13g visa as well that is issued by Phils. embassies/consular office here in the US? I think 13g visa is what the consular office here in SF will give my wife and kids since i am a former filipino citizen.

    another question bob. what if my wife gives birth there in the phils, what options do we have to legally declare and register the citizenship of our new born?

    thanks again.

  66. Kier says

    Hi any1 here Canadian citizen, if a Canadian decide to migrate and live in other country. do you need to informed the CRA that ur not going to file tax return? or do you have to? also does worldwide income let say if a Canadian like to reside in the Philippines and do business. Will he be paying taxes also to the Canadian government?

    Thank you

  67. Martin says

    Hi Kier,

    I am not an expert in this by any means, but here is some information.

    If you want to become a non-resident Canadian citizen living abroad for tax purposes, you need to follow a number of steps to do so. Most have to do with severing ties with Canada in a number of tangible ways — no real estate unless it is a rental property, cancel provincial health insurance, etc. The CRA website will give you much of the information. You will also need to file a special form with your final tax return that you submit to CRA.

    If you are unsure if your status as a non-resident will be acceptable to CRA, it is best to talk to an accountant who has filed the paperwork to CRA before. They can help you work through many of the steps that helps demonstrate you are really moving abroad to be a resident in a different country and not simply trying to avoid paying Canadian taxes.

    Again, if possible, please seek the aid of a qualified accountant as it is not expensive and they really can help you navigate through the process. I am sure if you do so you will have greater confidence in your filing and know that you are doing as much as possible to make sure you have followed all the proper procedures.

    I hope this is helpful.

  68. Rudy & Ivy says

    Dear Bob!
    My wife and I follow nearly every day all your very interesting comments about any matters concerning LiP. You put a lot of personal feeling and experience in it, we really believe your honest comments which come from your every day living there in the “true Philippines”.

    We have also been already in contact a lot with Klaus. We would like to mention that all your LiP writers are excellent.
    Excuse my English writing – in case of a mis-spelling, both of us are German nationals, my wife was Scottish by birth. We still live in South Germany but we have very serious intentions to one-of-these-days to retire for good and “depart” in Davao City.
    We love the PH people/culture/behaviour/etc. and everything with it – positive or negative.
    Our son is married to a Filipina since 2001 from Davao City – both of them live near us in Bavaria. However, they want to buy a house in Davao within the not too distant future, in which we very much want to retire. Our reasonable pension should do the job for a fairly good existence in Davao City, although basic commodities have gone up a lot according to our daughter-en-laws opinion.
    But this will not pre-cancel our plans and dream to come to Davao.
    NB; we both are quite fluent in English, presently healthy, and at an age of 64 & 61 :-)

    Therefore again, we are extremely happy that we found your very useful website some time ago. All these information is very useful for us considering our plan to immigrate for good to Davao City.
    (Bytheway, we lived/worked many years abroad, in West Africa & Middle East – we experienced sub-tropical climates and non-European hard living conditions).

    Please keep on with your site & magazine – it is a really an excellent one :-) Regards to all writers of the LiP!
    PS Perhaps looking forward to meet you “Mindanao Bob” in person one-of-these-days in Davao City for a cool beer :-)

  69. says

    hi bob its mike agane here i just red the 13g visa has change for one year may i ask thenafter that year do have to aply for another and were i have go to aply for i planeing getthe 13g here in states out from chicago phil immigrtion so if thay change this do i have to to manila usa immigrtion or to phil immigrtion and may i ask how muc can my wife to be and i can live on monthly for she lives in one bed room and big liveing room and bath with washer and drying furnesh there she only pays $50.00 month rent and then i ask her in tottle of of all with rent and lites and water bill on an high gues what of totle it be the cost she sand with high gues it would be in al of 135.00 monthly that is dart cheap come pare liveing in the usa for all so i no the ways there are defront and cucher of things but i no and filli can fit right in with them there but only thing trubel with is an income monthly for i am 57 now and plane to retire of age 62 so that gives me another 4 some what years i can retire early age but bob i dont what to wate that lone to reside there i no at times you have to be pashut but here i am trired stugerly ever day month to make ie here things here gone up so much of all things and places going out of busnes pepple loseing there jopss by laying off and i am suer here of all this over there but pepple there seem more relax more setel and thay help one other more there for any thing but here its not like that here its dog eat est dog every man for hem self abd same famelys has change all so from a brother or sister things not like it use to be here i am sorry i seem much her etalcking about here but bob its i am tired liveing in such a fast pase here and wondering one day or not i can make it here for yes i come there its an chance but we all dont make a chnce then hwo we no it be better on the other side of the feance i no i am not to exspeck roses there but here its same way i am sorry of some of my spelling but i hope you can under stand what i am saying so any thing you can berfide me on the visa i thanck you and may i ask one other to statr a bunse there what typ visa i have to aply for so bob i thnack you and may god bles your and famely from mike t.

  70. Doug Varney says

    I too planned on moving to Davao after meeting and marrying a truly wonderful woman with two children. I married July 2010 and about every 3rd month fly back and spent a month with my new family, pending retirement this year. After about a year and a half of back and forth I decided that the Philippines was just not for me. There is no future there for most people who are born there. There is in the Philippines a lack of employment that can allow anyone to plan for future financial stability. Difficult for locals to earn enough in a lifetime to have any type of long term security. Then there is the matter of “family”, meaning extended family who feel entitled to be taken care of because they are related or know someone who is related to your new family and feel entitled to a better life because of that. While my wife is absolutely brilliant, she can’t overcome those family pressures and is made to feel guilty because she is living a “life of convenience”, and the rest of her extended family want that from her. So, the kids are in college next year and my wife is coming to America. I am much older than she and must do my best to make sure she is safe and secure financially when it my time to meet the big guy at the pearly gates. Can’t possibly arrange that for her in the Philippines. What a shame that when you are not born into money there, or are one of the very few who can acquire wealth starting from scratch, you live such a difficult life! I understand the “simple life”, but boy, that can be a bummer when you want so much more for the people you love. Besides, living like a foreigner in the Philippines with comforts we consider “necessities” in America is actually as costly and without the quality of life we have here. Also, far less demands from relatives!

    • says

      Hi Doug – While my life in Davao is quite a nice life and very comfortable, I can also see your side of the fence. The key to the employment/money situation is self employment, but that is not for everybody. Good luck to you.

  71. jiji says


    What particular part of the philippines is that photo taken? looks like a relocation area to me, never seen it before, kinda scary with too little land but densely populated.

  72. jiji says


    May I ask what part of the Philippines is the photo taken? looks like a relocation area to me, never seen it before and pretty scary with too little land but densely populated. The government really needs to address the uncontrollable population explosion here.

  73. Todd says

    Hi Bob!

    I’m one of them guys who has ask you about what it would take to live there in PH even bought one of your books as well! hopefully by the time my family and i are ready to move there we will have everything in order for the move. I think most problem will be my impatience? I seem to be in a hurry all the time,watch my money closely and not get ripped off! I have learned a lot from just this web site of yours and i think you have helped a lot of others as well not just on here but there in the PH The people on here and the native Filipino people there! I do have a question what are some of the other sites you have being you said something about having 200 of them? I’d like to check some of them out too! Thanks and God bless.

    • says

      Hi Todd – Impatience can be a big problem here, because you have to wait for just about everything here. This is something I had to deal with myself. I think that it made me a better person, though, because to some degree I have become a much more patient person.

      In the past, I have had as many as 200 sites, but these days, I have pared it back to only about 40 websites.

      Thanks for your kind words, Todd.

  74. meg says

    I’m still looking for a blog on a woman’s perspective. I would love to live in the Philippines. I am a single middle aged american woman looking to set up optometry care. I just have to research how I can work there as a doctor. I’m tired of the health care politics in the USA

    • says

      Hi Meg, I am sorry to tell you, but you will not be able to practice medicine here. Philippine law allows only citizens to practice medicine in the country. Sorry for the bad news.

  75. Bob in DC says

    Hey Bob, I just found your website. Enjoying the articles. I am married to filipina but we live here in Washington DC area. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines back in the 80′s so I know the place and culture failry well. We are planning to move to there at some point but not sure when. We actually own some properties in the Philippines and are planning to build/buy a house in Cebu. For sure it wont be easy but we feel its a better situation for us than anywhere else.

    Bob in DC

    • says

      Hi Bob – Thanks for visiting my site! I hope you will be a regular here! :-)

      Your plans sound great! You are right that it is not an easy move. You have to be prepared for whatever might happen. But, since you lived here before, I think you will be just fine!

      Good luck!

  76. says

    Hi Justin – Thanks for your comment, and for becoming a regular reader of the site!

    In reading your comment, I honestly think to myself “been there, done that” to almost every point that you make! Well, I never tried the tarzan lifestyle, but I know people who have. I wouldn’t want to live that kind of life, myself.

  77. says

    Hi Justin – I had not heard about the “Pooreigners” show (I love that title, btw, it really plays into the way that Filipinos use the language), it certainly is sad to hear about such people, especially the guy living off of ketchup soup.

  78. says

    Hi Justin – It’s funny, because I rarely have trouble coming up with things to write about. In fact, usually I have too many things in mind, and it is hard to decide which one to write about that day. Generally, I use day to day incidents in my life, items in the news, etc. to come up with stories for the site. It is something that I enjoy, because I know that the site helps a lot of people who wish to move here.

    You are very right, I am certainly not bored living here.

  79. says

    Hi Tom – I think that your question is very tricky, and answering it can lead one down a road that is very rocky. What I believe is that the financial “excuse” is used by many for leaving. However, the way I think it works is this:

    Many people have a very hard time adjusting to the culture. Because they can’t adjust to the culture, they have trouble making money here. Because they can’t make money, they decide to leave. So, I really believe that the two issues are closely related, even intertwined.

    There is something about the Philippines, though, that draws people. I know a number of people who leave to return “home” and say they hate it here. Two or three years later, they are wanting to come back and try again. It’s something that I find amazing.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Tom!

  80. says

    Hi Dave – I am sure you can stick it out, since you already are going into it knowing that everything is not all peaches and cream. For me, living in the Philippines is great, but it takes some sacrifice and adjustment.

    Thank you for your greeting, Dave. All of my family would also like to wish you, and also Jessica a very Merry Christmas!

  81. says

    Hi Jim Cunningham – Nice to hear from you, and I hope that you and Marilou had a wonderful Christmas. You have been coming here for many years, and I think you will make a smooth adjustment.

  82. says

    Hi Rusty – Nah, I didn’t, and don’t have any pension. When I moved to the Philippines, I was 38 years old, I am now nearly 47. I did have a wad of money when I came here, but I blew through that in only 2 years because of my own stupidity. We all live and learn, though.

    For me, I don’t have any desire to go back to the States – been there, done that. I don’t think you should worry too much about deportation, just try to control your temper. I still have a problem with that from time to time, but not nearly like before.

    Yep, I used to have more than 200 sites, but I’ve cut way down now!

  83. says

    Hi Andy – Good luck with your plans, I hope that everything works out for you just the way you are planning it. It probably won’t, though, as it rarely does. Still, it can turn out good for you, probably just different than you expected. I know that my life here turned out much different than I thought it would.

    Thanks for becoming a regular reader! I enjoy your input!

  84. says

    Hi Hill Roberts – Sorry to hear about your husbands problem with long travel! I too hope that you and he could travel the Philippines and appreciate the beauty of the place!

  85. says

    Hi Guy Fennell – Getting a bank account here in the Philippines is not hard at all, as long as you are here legally. I have several Philippine Bank Accounts, and all I’ve ever had to do to get one is to walk into the bank, as to open an account and fill out some papers. Very easy, no hassles.

    If you need an ID, you can use your passport. Or, if you are living here, you will be issued an ACR I-Card, which is a photo ID (similar to a green card in the USA). Alternatively, you can get a driver’s license or go to the Post Office and apply for a Postal ID. All of these are very easy to get, and there should be no problem at all getting an ID.

    I understand that moving to a differenc country can be a scary thing, but these issues are simply nothing for you to worry about.

    Good luck!

  86. says

    Hi Michael – Don’t be too quick to applaud me! I’ve been there, and there have been plenty of times when I lost my temper, only to regret it later. If Feyma read you saying that you “applaud” me, she would have a good laugh! :lol:

    Seriously, I am not nearly as bad as I used to be, but from time to time I still lose my temper, and say things that I should keep to myself.

    Learning to live with it, and let it roll off your back is just part of learning to live here. It is much different than your culture or mine, and it takes time and effort to change your habits.

  87. says

    Hi markus – there are a lot of good Filipino foods though. In my opinion, a lot of Filipinos overcook food to the point that is is dry and tasteless. But, maybe you can train your girlfriend to cook things the way that you enjoy them. It’s worth a try!

  88. says

    Hi Alvin – I have a 13g Resident Visa. From the day it was issued to me (May 2000) it ws good for the rest of my life. Now, they have changed that, new resident visas have a one year probationary period. This visa makes it easy to get a work permit, but you cannot own a business as a foreigner. Since you can get dual citizenship, I’d recommend that highly, because then you have the best of both worlds.

  89. says

    Hi Alvin – Yes, any type of resident visa in the 13 series has a 1 year probationary period now, regardless of where it is issued.

    Regarding the birth of a child in the Philippines, it will be a Philippine citizenship due to birth, and also you can file some papers with the US embassy to get US Citizenship for the child as well. It is all very easy to do.

  90. says

    Hi Rudy and Ivy – Nice to meet you, my new friends! Thank you for your very kind comment. Whenever you are in Davao City, we can all get together – you and Ivy, Klaus and Rosanna and Feyma and I! It will be a great visit! I’m looking forward to it. Maybe your son and his wife can be around to join us too!

  91. says

    Hi Mike – You would not go for a 13g visa, but rather a 13a. 13g is for being married to somebody who is a former citizen, but your fiance is currently a Philippine Citizen, right? So, it would be a 13a.

    After one year, you just need to go to the Bureau of Immigration to remove the conditional status of your 13a visa, after that you can stay here forever, never need to leave.

    The cost of living here varies widely, Mike. We all have different preferences and desires. In general, I usually advise people that they should budget around $1,500 per month to live a nice life here. It can be done for much less, but I would not be comfortable on less than that.

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