Today we will share an interview with John Coldwell. I have known John for a number of years now, over the Internet. I had a chance to meet John a few years ago as well when he visited Davao City. At that time, John was vacationing here. Now, John is living here in the Philippines, so I wanted to check in with him and see how he is liking it here.
What is your name, and can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi Bob, My name is John Coldwell and I retired early from my job as a lighthouse keeper 12 years ago. I have spent eleven years of that in Austria, and the past year in the Philippines. I have just turned 67.
I would imagine that the weather here is pretty nice compared to Austria!
How long have you lived in the Philippines?
At the end of February 2013 I have been here exactly one year, but I have visited numerous times before.
Visiting is always good, but still different from living here, though.
What do you like or dislike about living in the Philippines?
I like everything about living in the Philippines, but especially the heat – I have no more problems with aching bones! I love the access to fresh food, the people, the weather, and the adventure. I do a lot of bicycling. It is a great way to get around and meet people. Dislikes??? Maybe slow internet service, but it can be improved. Lack of some supplies, but they can be found in another town. I really can’t complain about anything too much.
Oooh, one bad thing is the limits on withdrawals from ATMs and the fees that are charged both here and in my home country. Once I get settled down I will open a bank account here and have some money transferred here monthly from my pension.
I know what you mean about the ATM Machines. I am lucky that I have a special bank account where I don’t have to pay any ATM fees. Even the fees by the Philippine banks are refunded to me by my US bank, which is very nice. I have bank accounts here and in the States. Another thing you might keep in mind is that HSBC allows up to P40k per transaction, which is very handy. However, I know they don’t have a branch up there where you live. But, if you are in Manila, Cebu or Davao this may come in handy for you.
What made you decide to move to the Philippines?
My move to the Philippines has always been on my mind – especially when cleaning off snow-covered car in the parking lot in Austria. I was lucky, a friend of mine from Canada was moving back and needed a caretaker for his house until it was sold. I left the girlfriend in Austria, grabbed 20 kgs worth of needed things like my computer and accessories, and moved down here to help him out.
The house took longer to sell so I ended up enjoying life so much I decided to stay and ended up getting married.
Ha ha, you mean that snow is not a good thing? Seriously, though, that is a great deal that you fell into, getting to take care of the house for your friend!
Did you encounter anything unexpected when you moved here? What was your biggest surprise?
I did not encounter anything unexpected because as I said I had been here three times before to visit. My biggest surprise was how friendly everybody is. When you travel as a tourist you do not meet the locals very much, but when you live in among them, then you find out they are very friendly and very helpful.
I understand what you mean about the people here, they are very friendly indeed. I am a bit surprised that you didn’t have other surprises, though. When I moved here, I had visited 5 or 6 times prior to the move, but still found surprises. In fact, I would say that even after living here for 13 years, I still run into surprises regularly! 🙂
Where do you live in the Philippines?
My friend’s house, which has now been sold is situated on the seashore just west of the town of Candon, Ilocos Sur, Luzon, about 370 kms north of Manila, or eight hours bus travel!
That’s a long bus ride, my friend!
Are you happy there?
I love it here; weather has been good, lots of fresh fish and lobsters, interesting neighbors etc. But, I will be happier down in Dumaguete when I move there this April. That is my wife’s home town and one of my favorite towns too. It will be sad to leave all the friends I have made up here in Candon though.
I have heard good things about Dumaguete too, I hope you enjoy life there!
Do you have any regrets that you can share with us?
No Bob, I do not regret anything. I feel healthier, eat healthier and going out in the midday sun biking is not only “for mad dogs and Englishmen”.
A good bike ride helps clear the mind! Glad you are feeling well living here!
Is there anything else you want to tell us about your move to the Philippines?
My advice is just “DO IT!” Since retirement I have moved three times – once from the lighthouse to a town in BC. Second move to Austria. I gave all my personal stuff (tools, camping gear, books, etc) to my two kids in Canada. When I left Austria in 2012 I again left all my accumulated books, tools, etc. in Austria. It costs too much to move them – easier to buy new. As I said, I moved with 20 kgs (one duffle bag) – I haven’t regretted or missed anything yet!
John, I want to thank you for the time that you gave us for this interview, and sharing your thoughts and stories with our readers here! I am sure you inspired some people to make the leap and move to the Philippines! Keep enjoying life in the Philippines!