We’re moving to the Philippines!

Today’s guestblog is from Alan Cole.  Alan is from the UK, and he and his wife have decided to pull up roots and live in the Philippines!  Alan and his wife, Sofia, are in for quite an adventure – lots of thrills, challenges and changes in their lives!  Can they handle it?  Only time can tell, and Alan readily admits that change is coming!  Let’s see what he has to say!

Well as I write this it’s October 2008. I am sitting in my home office and looking out at a typical cold wet English day.

Let me introduce myself.

My name is Alan, I am 47 and Married to Sofia and we have three children 18, 17 and 12 and our intention is to leave the UK and move to the Philippines before the end of November.

What brought this on and why the Philippines?

That is a really difficult couple of questions, for a long time I have wanted to leave the UK, without going on a major rant, it is no longer the country I grew up in.

I also hate the cold dark winters and want to be somewhere warm, my wife also has health issues and suffers in the cold damp English weather.

My Brother in Law moved out to the Phils a couple of years ago with his Philippine girlfriend after many years of living in Singapore and we sent my Mother in Law out to join them last year.

So why the Philippines? I really don’t know, I think, to be honest I would prefer Thailand, but it seems to want to make things so difficult for people to stay without regular visa runs, and most importantly the internet is not as well established as in the Philippines, I will need contact with the outside world if I am to attempt to run any kind of business. there is also a  bigger language barrier and of course finally, we will at least have some family members near by.

So the Philippines it is.

We have made a few visits and I like some things and dislike many others, but I am aware that I have to grow to accept these things as they wont change just because I dislike them.

Makati City in Manila has all the schools, shopping, restaurants and cinemas we could need but we don’t want to live in the city.

My ideal would be a nice seaside town with decent facilities, we want to be able to go snorkling and enjoying a more laid back life.

My son is at the moment doing a 4 month diving internship in Thailand after spending 6 weeks diving at Anilao last year. So he should be able to support himself and travel around the world diving.

Our Daughter is 17 and we fear may be staying in Manila with her Uncle to go to college as the course she wants to do is probably not going to be found in the provinces.

And our youngest is 12 and so will need access to an International school.

My wife Sofia has been through the mill health wise and will need access to a decent hospital as she has to have regular check-ups.

So the reality is we are moving and wont actually know where we will be living!

We will make camp in Makati and travel around trying to find our version of paradise.

The countdown begins and the clock is well and truly ticking.

If Bob and you, his readers would like, I am happy to keep you updated with our travels and travails.

It promises to be a rocky road!

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  1. Randall Jessup says

    Hi Alan,

    Greetings from Canada! I wish you all the best on your move to the Philippines. I can understand your trepidation as it really is a major life changer. My wife and I are looking to do the same in the not too distant future.

    One city that might fit your family's needs if you're looking for a smaller city in the provinces' is Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental province. It has a good hospital as well as several universities and there seems to be several foreigners living there. You could also check out Davao City if you want a bigger city.

    Good luck! I'm one reader who would love to hear about your experiences.

  2. Tyleen says

    Hi Alan,
    I'm from Vancouver and I would love to hear about your trials and tribulations in relocating in RP. I will be moving in about 18 months and would love an honest look at what I will have to deal with.
    I wish you the best and I will keep my fingers crossed that you will find your place in RP without too much hassle.


  3. roy says

    Hi Alan,

    You may want to consider Luzon. Batangas, Quezon or even the Ilocos region. Those are coastal provinces. Still, you are closer to Manila. Really, Phil has better internet than Thailand? But are you aware that it is more expensive in the Phil than it is there in Thailand? Your brother in law who lives in the Phil is your only relative in the Phil? Good luck Alan! Please update us. Of course I wish you & your family all the success for this great undertaking that's why I am interested.

  4. says

    I lived in Manila my entire life and just recently decided to move here in Cebu. I love the environment here, traffic is not as bad as in Manila, and there are beach resorts here that I know you'll enjoy.

    You might want to consider living here in Cebu, too.

    Good luck to you and your family.

    • gemma says

      Blankpixels is right. As someone who grew up in Davao City and went to high school in Manila, I would choose Cebu over any other city in the Philippines if I were to decide to leave the US. Cebu has modern health care facilities, although if it’s serious you would want to go to a modern Manila hospital and, in addition, they also have an international school.

  5. Al Martino says

    Hi Alan,

    I'm a Filipino who moved to the UK 20 years ago. I wish I could do what you are doing. But family circumstances prevent me from making that move back. I understand your apprehensions and they are not unfounded. From your blog I can see that you are well aware of the difficulties you may encounter. As long as yoiu understand that you are moving to a thirld world country and all that means then you should be okay. One word of advice if you pardon the audacity, leave yourself a viable exit strategy.

    I wish you and your family all the luck. You'll need it.

  6. Jim says

    Hi Alan- We also are in the process of moving lock stock and barrel to the Philippines. Like you we will be leaving England actually Durham in the cold North East behind for the warmer weather of Mindanao. We have already built our house in the town of Talakag, Bukidnon which is close to the city of Cagayan de Oro. we will retain a base in the UK for future visits and our son and daughter can use it till they have decided on a place of their own in this crazy world of lending and spending.
    We are in the process of packing all and sundry just now as the shipping container leaves on the 22nd of this month for Talakag. I'll be glad when its all over and we leave this place on the 25th November I have never known the UK economy to be so dire as it is today although I'm sure in a few years time we will all look back and just put it down to experiance.
    All the best with your pending move and keep us up to date with how you get on.
    Kind regards.
    Jim & Marilou Cunningham.

  7. says

    Hi Alan well I made the move in April I'm in the fortunate position that all my children have grown up.I have been coming here for 20+ years and absolutely love it.I'm based in tagum city mindanao,and I dont think you could find a more beautiful country,I have just returned from the UK and to be honest I could have come home the day after arriving there, the country is definately in dire straits with the economy All I can say is nce you have made the move I dont think you will regret it.

  8. ACeRockolla (Alan) says

    Firstly I would like to thank you all for your replies. Some very interesting comments.

    Randall, Dumaguete City is on my list of places to look at.

    Tyleen, Honesty is what you will get from me – sometimes thats not good!

    Roy, Yes the Internet in Thailand at least where I was considering (Hua Hin) is lagging behind the speeds available in the Phils although it is slowly improving, also of course the Thai Government occasionally block sites without notice.
    I'm not sure I agree with the Phils being more expense than Thailand, some things maybe but over all they are close.

    blankpixels – I have looked around Cebu, I spent a week at the wonderful Cebu Waterfront Hotel and Casino earlier this year – I was not keen to be honest, but when I get more comfortable in the Phils I might have another look.

    Al Martino, I may have the ultimate exit strategy, a house back in England! – The market in the UK is really down the toilet at the moment and selling houses is no easy thing.

    Jim, are both you and your wife English? I ask because I believe it might answer the reason why you have chosen the particular area to move to? Or am I wrong?
    And your summing up of the UK economy is spot on, the place is open house to every scrounging east european and everything is going to the jobs, that's why I have no worry about moving to a 'third world country' because I believe that's what the UK has become!

    andy, yep the UK really is not inviting anymore.

  9. portlandbear says

    I'm making the move from UK at the end of October.I too will be starying in Makati probably untill March(the end of the school year),as my fiancees daughter is in school there.I will be looking to move out of Manila to somewhere like Cavite,Tagaytay or Laguna.It seems like more and more Brits are leaving as the eastern europeans move in.Good luck with your move.

  10. Chris P says


    I am from the UK, I moved to the Philippines 5 years ago. I was lucky because I had visited the country on a number of occasions for work purposes. If you have an open mind and are happy to treat people as an equal then and accept that you will not have all the amenities laid on a plate you will have no problems adapting. Look at it as a challenge because that is what it is. Personnaly I am sure that you and your family will love the Philippines.

    You mentioned that you may be looking for an international school. Brentville International School is located in Binan, Mamplasan, Laguna the curriculum I believe is American. The school has an excellent reputation.

    Laguna is approximately 40 minutes south of Manila, the South Luzon Expressway is being modernised and this will ease the passage tremendously and also a flyover is being built leading off the Skyway which will enable a direct passage to the International Airport. The nearest coastal area to Brentville is approximately 90 minutes, that is Batangas.

    Good luck and I hope to meet up with you on.

    All the best

    • Leo Salinel says

      Laguna and Tagaytay (a mountain resort city overlooking Taal volcano and right next to the beaches of Batangas province) are great options for you. Brent International School (formerly an American era school for expat Americans’ kids founded before World War II) has relocated to that part of Laguna province where the highway leads to the mountain resort city of Tagaytay, where you will enjoy cool breezes, lots of greenery, and an overview of Taal volcano, a volcanic lake within a lake. There are beautiful beaches in Batangas which are right after Tagaytay.

  11. Mike K. says


    As many people here have already mention. Cebu is a costal city where you have a lot of good schools, hospitals and even some nice diving not to far away. There is a decent amount of foreigners already living in Cebu because you can live on the beach away from the city and still be downtown within a short time.

    As for diving (for pleasure) I would recommend Bohol. It's only 1:45 min by fast craft from Cebu City to (my home town) Tagbilaran, Bohol.

    Good luck you you and your entire family.

  12. marina says

    hi allan,my name is marina and my husband is also from uk london,my husband arrived here last august 23,2006 and until now he have no plan of going back to london he said that he don't like capital city anywhere in the world because it's very expensive at least here in davao i think its 50% cheaper compare to manila if not more,but since you are looking for international school we dont have one here,but for sure no typhoon here unlike some other cities in the philippines,davao is a major city so not bad if you try to put this in your list i've never been england so i have no idea by comparing it here, anyway its still your choice because people here don't have the same opinion and experienced so for you to know just study hard where you move soon as long as your happy together with your family place and country doesn't matter good luck to you and family..

  13. says

    Hi Alan

    You will love the place, especially the Provinces. If you ever venture to Misamis Occidental, look us up in Plaridel for a chat and a pint.

    Best of luck

  14. Julius says

    Hi Allan- You might consider Cebu or more specifically the island of Mactan.There is an international airport on the island along with numerous world class hotels .There are also plenty of dive sites that are located nearby.The island of Cebu also has an array of good hospitals and schools that may acomodate your needs. Well,there you are ,good luck with your move,hope it works out ..

  15. Jim Cunningham says

    Hi Allan – I'm Scottish and my wife Marilou is from Talakag hence the reason for deciding to live in Bukidnon.
    Kind regards.

  16. says

    Hi Alan and family! Welcome to the Philippines. Your current situation warrants that you settle in the Makati area. The Makati Medical Center is one of the best in the country. Incidentally, it has honored my health insurance from US. The International school is one of the best schools from what I heard. The only drawback is -a little expensive compared to other areas in the Philippines, specially in the provinces, but as they say, you pay if you want the best. Again, welcome to the Philippines!!

  17. Bob New York says

    Best of luck to you Alan and your family. Although I never had the intention of ever actually moving to The Philippines, I never realized so many from other parts of the world are doing this until I came across Bob Martins websites a couple of years ago. So far I have only visited there one time although it will not be the last time.

    I have only been to one small area of the country that i found quite by accident while websurfing. Some good friendships have developed due to this. I spent over 2 years websufing Iligan City and Cagayan De Oro before I even went there to visit in person. I will go back there again as there is so much more I want to see and learn about what is commonly known as " The Iligan – Cagayan De Oro Corridor ".

    Things are many things happening in this area , a new International Airport is now under construction, a railroad is in the works between the two cities and the new airport, as well as many other things. I guess i could just say this area kind of fascinates me.

    If you are not sure where in The Philippines you may want to permanently live, you might want to look into these areas in addition to others. I look forward to visiting there again. As far as it being a place for me to retire, that is not something I have ever thought about in the past. From what I have seen and experienced so far there are a lot of beautiful and nice things there although like any place, it may not be perfect. Additionally I have to be honest with myself, learn more about actually being there in person as opposed to just websurfing the area, and I just don't know if I would have the " patience " with every day things as compared to what I am accoustomed to here in the USA where so many things have become a form of " instant gratification " .

    It will be interesting to me to follow your move there through your continuing blogs on this website. I have been a regular visitor to the UK for many years and I do have a relative that lives there so I understand where you are comming from, to some extent, in regards to wanting to find somewhere else to live. Thanks for posting here and best of luck to you and your family.

  18. says

    Hi Alan, welcome to the Philippines. My family and I moved here (to Davao) for good in 1999 after having visit this wonderful country since 1982. We never regretted our decision. Good luck to you and your family…

  19. says

    Glad that I came across this excellent article and the useful comments. I'll voice my opinion on three of the points made:

    I think it makes very little difference where you live. Your reason for living here and your adaptability to change is way more important than which city you decide to live in/be near.

    When you state International School you are essentially limiting yourself to a particular, high-priced brand name. And the "international really means "US Standard" from what I have seen. There are many, many private (what we would call in the US "Parochial" schools to chose from) and I see no reason one has to limit one's self to an "International" brand school. Quite frankly if I had school age children I would home school them via an approved curriculum from their home country (you could easily hire a degreed teacher as a helper) and live where I wanted, not bound by school availability.

    I do not know where the idea that living is cheaper in Thailand came from, expat freinds I currently correspond with say the opposite, but I'd submit that anyone who makes the move to either country for reasons of economics is headed toward a sad time … there is more to life than cheap. I lived two years in Thailand and two years in the Philippines and there is bno question in my mind that for me the Philippines wins, hands down … but I loved Thailand too.

    Hope you will keep us informed and I urge you to live several places in the Philippines before you put your roots too deep. Best of luck.

  20. JohnM says


    For the amenities you mentioned, the Manila area would be best. We moved to Quezon City in April and that works for us… but I prefer the provinces. Ultimately, that is where we will end up living. If you choose Manila, remember that in only a couple of years, the kids will be grown and you can relocate to that little beachside property everyone dreams of.

  21. Jason says

    I know that it might be too late now, but you should consider moving to Samar. What a great place to be…good times!

  22. Phil R. says

    hang in there alan the way to a good life lays ahead once u cross the rocky road i will be smoother going ,,Just enjoy where ever u go ..Cagayan de oro is a good place to go ..good hospitals and good schools

  23. hill roberts says

    Oh, you folks make me really jealous. As I was telling Bob, Europe is tired and
    wanting. There's recession now, all over Western Europe, and Spain is
    experiencing one of the most badly-affected countries. Jobs have gone, retrench
    ment in many real estate offices, or have shut down entirely, the UK housing is
    in terrible shape, some friends couldn't sell their houses at all, and above all, food prices have shot up tremendously. Nowadays, for groceries in Marbella, Spain, the weekly amount we would pay is now at least 90 Euros–two months
    ago, for the same grocery items, we would only pay 45 Euros! imagine the big
    jump!!!So, my English husband and I have cut down on eating out from four times
    a week to 3 times a week. And we now avoid those so-called upmarket restos
    since they do not offer value for money. Tourists have chosen to stay away, and
    tourism hotel bookings are down. Usually, many Germans and Scandinavians, as well as Dutch would come in winter and spend three months here then go back after Easter. Even my Dutch friend who used to come yearly has also stopped coming. Indeed, Europe is still very expensive but the quality of life has
    gone down too. The caregivers from South America are paid measly, and they work twelve-fifteen hours a day. Many South Americans have also opted to go home, under the Spanish Government Scheme since there are no jobs available
    for them. As for me, I'm lucky because I have no mortgages to pay although the
    measly pension we get fro the British Government leave much to be desired. And we will never dream of moving out of Marbella and live in the UK, never.TOO expensive, poor weather, cold. Your decision, guys, to move to the Philippines
    should be congratulated. That is where the quality of life is, and with many new
    infrastructure and development, well, who could say no to that? Of course, there
    will always be positive and negative in all this, as every country in this world. No country is perfect, and no country is foolproof of perfection. Who wants perfection
    or a perfect life? That would be too boring for everyone's taste. You want some action, some interesting things to happen. The Philippines is the most action-packed country there is, never, ever boring. Just look at those highly educated
    politicians who do nothing but argue, hehehe–they are never boring, right?Above all, the Philippines is so diverse. Welcome, guys!

  24. Bong says


    I`m Bong who live here in Subic Bay, i`m a Filipino and wanted to share my opinion, well i suggest you live here in Subic Bay (Philippines)…..here's what the place can offer you…..a freeport with Duty Free shops, a place for adventures (diving, para sailing, beaches, golf course, Fishing, Dolphin Shows, Biking, trecking, virgin forest…etc). 1/2 drive to Manila via new Subic Express Way (World Class), Brent International School, Restaurants, No Traffic, Peaceful, if you have time you can stay here for a while and explore the place. The place is small but you have all you need packed in small place. Internet is not a problem and its fast and cheap to have one. If you like it here i can help you. If you want to ask something just e-mail me.


  25. Bong says

    …..i forgot to mention…when you go diving, go to market, go to resto, go to movies, go to beaches, go to downtown, go to everywhere here in Subic…..it would take you only minutes to go to different places. its not stressful, if i have time to post photo on my site i`ll inform you, too bad im busy on my job, i have only sunday as my day off…..if you like you can visit http://www.sbma.com to see the place……u can reach me or leave me a message via yahoo messenger my nick is mvcjr

  26. says

    hi Alan,

    Good to know that lots of people all over the world wants to live in our country. my friend Mike who is an American wants to move here as well. First thing that is so hard knowing that you will be coming from a country that is so fast phase. You might have a little hard time in adjusting with the environment. The secret is to be so patient. And like what other said if you dont have patience you can't live in the Philippines but since you have decided to live in here rest assured that you will be alright and that for you have been here many times it means you love it here thats why you want to move here right? :) goodluck to your entire family and I hope you will enjoy your stay here.

  27. David says

    I am a Uk guy working in Saudi but made the commitment last year at the age of 56 to sell my house in North Wales and set up home in Davao ready for my early retirement next June.
    The remnants of my past life are stored in 30 banana boxes in my daughters loft in UK awaiting my final touchdown in RP next year.It's mostly personal stuff that I think I cannot part with but hey I've survived 6 years in Saudi without them so even the need for those items is debateable.(will I really need my WW2 leather/sheepskin flying jacket)

    I have lived in Saudi Arabia for 6 years and it was during this time that I realised that I did not enjoy returning "home" even for vacations.
    I met a Philipina lady in Jeddah 4 years ago and after a couple visits to RP I decided that was the way forward for me.(time will tell)

    I wish you well for the future and look forward to your comments on the pros and cons once you have started to put your roots down.

  28. says

    Hi Alan, I hope you family and you will be settle here in the Philippines soon and don't worry you will be fine in here. I know that the cultural differences is thousand miles away from yours but eventually you will learn to adjust. What you need is a big patience…. For the luxury you used to have I mean the things that make it alot easier to do there is far different in here. You will be welcome here. After maybe yrs you will realized that you want to stay in the Philippines forever rather wanting to move in Thailand :) God bless you and your family.

  29. Letty says

    I am a filipina who lives here in the states, just wondering how westeners be able to live in the philippines knowing how the people drives their jeepneys, cars, motorcycle, etc. The streets are packed with people everywhere. There is no 911 and if there is, how's that works? Europeans, Americans, and Australians are used to easy access and fast action, and my question is, how is that gonna work? yeah, patience.. I know… I am just curious for them.. For Allan and his family, I wish you all the luck.


  30. Les says

    I retired and moved to Angeles in 2004 with my wife who had MS. After living there for about 2 years the company I retired from asked me to come back to Las Vegas and help them out. My two years are up in March and I would give anything if I could go back. Unfortunately my wife's MS has progressed to a point where I can not make that move. However, after traveling to many islands and cities in the Philippines, I found that if I could go back I would definatley go to Palawan. It just seems so much cleaner and more organized than most of the other areas. And one nice thing was that I was not at all intimidated to drive there. Palawan is the only province that does not have any history of vocanic activity, it is outside the typhoon belt and has no record of any tsunamis. Great beaches, fishing and scuba diving too. You owe it to yourself to check it out.
    One thing that I know is that wherever you settle, you will be welcomed by a wonderful people. I hope that you enjoy your venture at least half as much as I did mine.
    God be with you.

  31. Mauro Caballero says


    Based from the replies that your post gets, the more you are confused to where you will ultimately decide to stay for at least a few years of your life. Let me advise you some of the aspects that you need to consider most in finalizing your decision.

    1.0 Your family's security should be considered a priority. By bringing up this issue, this doesn't mean that the Philippines is not the best place to spend the rest of your life and your family, but this should come first. Anywhere in the world including the first world, there are issues about security. To mention a few, The US, United Kingdom, and Spain became victims of terrorism not because they are the target but their security measures are lax because of perceived readiness. Don't you know that the first Al Qaeda plot to blow planes was caught in the Philippines?
    20 Your wife has health issues, you have to consider cities that are capable of treating her not necessarily the ultimate care but has the capability of giving here primary/secondary care greater than first/second or third aid. First Class Treatment is relative, even if you are in the first world say here in the USA, not all hospitals are number one in treating all the illment/sickness there are. One is excellent in one thing and another from a distant state is excellent in doing another. What is important is there is that facility that can have somebody with illness maintain his/her condition until such time reaching the best facility.
    3.0 Schools??- Obviously there are best schools that are found in the metropolis, as in Manila or Makati or Quezon City, but you will spend alot of money also. There are lots of good school outside of Manila that even Manila Universities can not compete in terms of performance. Most of these Universities in the Provinces are located in the Visayas and Mindanao. I will recommend to you Silliman University in Dumaguete City. It is an American founded School and I am proud to be a graduate of that school that here in the USA my education is recognized.
    4.0 Cost of Living- You can study this yourself.
    5.0 Real Estate – I can advise you on this being a Practicing Engineer in the Country, a professional Engineer here in the USA, a contractor and a Designer.

    All for now. you can contact me as you wish. [email protected].


  32. says

    Hi Alan – If your still around. In this new jumbled site that Bob has I have suddenly rediscovered your original post and am curious as to how you are getting on in the Philippines. Did you infact move out here?
    We moved as I mentioned and have enjoyed the change from wet and cold UK to wet and warm Mindanao.
    One thing I did notice however you never replied to any posts, are you a ghost writer by chance?

  33. art w says

    hi Jim—I was wondering where in Mindanao do you live? I am in tagum city. I just moved here 3 weeks ago from USA. I have been coming to the Phils since 2000 and I have been in a lot of places here, but I like Mindanao the best. I like not having typhoons here.



    • says

      Hi Art W – Just got around to reading your post. No Typhoons in Mindanao did you say? Well for the first time they’ve had one here in Northern Mindanao. Fortunately it did not affect where I live apart from landslides closing the road to Cagayan de Oro for the best part of the week. Also I’m currently in the UK on business so we actually missed it thank goodness.
      I hope your settling in to life in Tagum and enjoying life in the south.

  34. Gary Wigle says

    I have never been to Talakag but the main reason for that is that Meriam has LOTS of family there. So I stay away. Hahaha! Really Art you need to make a trip to Bukidnon, you will love it. 😀

  35. GenSan Chris says

    Hi Alan,
    I am a lad from Bradford who moved here 20 years ago. I live on the southern Island of Mindanao in General Santos City where I am a Scuba Instructor. I hale left the country just once in that time when I paid my last ever visit to the UK, this place is my paradise!

  36. says

    I spent over 9 years in Manila. I enjoyed it there at the time because of the ministry I was involved with. But I’m not sure I would want to live there again.

    I really liked Angeles City, where I spent my last two years in the Philippines. It gets a bad reputation because of the red light district (Fields Avenue) but there’s a lot more to the city than the “entertainment.” There is a sizeable expat community with international schools. Most of the amenities of Manila with a lot less traffic (and much lower rent). And Manila is only an hour away if you need to go to the big city for some reason.

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