Why would you want to live there?

Whenever I meet somebody new, or if I see an old friend that I have not seen for a long time, inevitibly the talk always seems to touch on where I live. When I tell them that I live in the Philippines there are two different reactions to the tidbit of information.

  • You live in the Philippines? Oh, I wish I could do something like that! Life in the tropics! Free time! Away from the rat race that I face every day! What a great life you must have!
  • Why in God’s name would you want to live in that kind of a place? I will never leave the United States!

There are slight variations, but basically these are the two different reactions when friends or others learn about where I live. I will say that moving to the Philippines has it’s ups and downs. It is not perfect, after all there is no perfect place on the earth, is there? Overall, though, when I look at all of the factors, I love living in the Philippines. I have a better lifestyle, less stress, a nicer climate. The benefits are many. The negatives are only a few – when you live in a different culture there are always little annoyances that you have to learn to deal with. But, deal with them and enjoy!

Why, though, do a significant number of people react so negatively toward living in the Philippines, or basically to living anywhere outside the USA? That is a question that I don’t know the answer to! I do know that some people tend to think that I am sort of “anti-American” by leaving the country. Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. I love my country, I just don’t happen to live there.

What I do believe, though, is that a lot of people are scared or intimidated at the thought of starting a new life in a different part of the world. They cover the intimidation and fear with a wall. That is how they protect themselves from even entertaining the thought of living abroad.

What do you think?

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1354 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.

How to Move to the Philippines Manual


  1. Patrice says

    Hello Bob,

    How long had pass between your decision to move there and the moving itself? Continue the good work and make us dream :)

  2. says

    Hi Don – No, Father Franco is our Italian Priest friend in Bukidnon. He is still safe, no worries. I do pray for the Priest who was kidnapped over the weekend in Zamboanga, though.

  3. ken says

    hi bob… its just my opinion but lots of people have put themselves in a shell and r scared to venture out into the great wide open, as man did years ago , i always say i was born at the wrong time, coz i love adventure i should have been with magellen or marco polo or columbus or the vikings etc… i will be moving to davao in november or december to be with my fiancee. i look forward to chatting to you in person.

  4. kiarizona says

    We move a lot- 3 different states and 5 homes in the last 5 years. And in between those moves, we go home to the Philippines once a year and spend a couple of months there(we only spent 8 1/2 months last year-he,he). Life is a constant move for us. In the next 10 years, we plan to move to 3 more different places and we want to try other countries too. Moving is a pain in the butt- costs you a lot of money, give away a lot of stuff, cable & internet hook up, etc. But we like adventure, so we just take the pain then take a vacation, yes, in the Philippines. And at the end of this journey, we know where to come home- Philippines, our final destination.

  5. says

    Hi Ken – I would agree with what you say, especially after 9/11, people have their own little cocoon where they feel comfortable. Anything outside their cocoon is unfamiliar and not to be trusted. It's sad. I'll be looking forward to that chat with you that you mention when you get to Davao!

    Hi Kiarizona – I have been there and done that. When I was a kid we moved about every two years or so. I lived in so many different States of the USA, and also lived in South Africa. Now, I am settled in here in Davao, and I don't think I'll be doing any more moving! It's comfortable for me to call this place home.

  6. Bill Huff says

    Hello Bob…….Bill Huff here…….in the last 13 months of planning my move to the Phili, as i have told you, i leave in Sept. for my new home in Butaun City……i have experianced the same thing. The number 1 responce is…" oh my God, why would you want to go to that place."…when i tell them that the literacy rate alone in the Phili is higher than the US, that usually shuts them up. Like you, i love the US…..but in saying that, one must remember the stats on a world wide level…….out of the 10 worst crimes commited by man, murder being the worst, the US holds the top 5 spots…..then it holds 2 more spots in the top 15 crimes. I have a better chance getting killed in a car accident here in the states than i do with anything that can happen to me in the Phili. People in the states seem to be in a state of fear on a daily level……it sometimes seems that most things that people decide to do is based on thier fears….even insurances, like medical and life, are fear drivin. I have worked retail my whole life, have always been around people….they seem to have know idea of the great places in the world that one can live. I also wonder if the media has alot to do with incorperating fear to the masses about other peoples of the world..????…..we are all raised after all, to beleave that the USA is the greatest and safest place on earth…….but is it really..??????

  7. says

    Hi Bill – I understand all the things you are saying, and you are right in so many respects. One thing that you wrote really struck me – when you said that "we are all raised to believe that the USA is the greatest and safest place on the earth". You know, I believe that people in every country are taught from their childhood that their place is the best, it's only logical, I guess. But, when I read that, the first thing that came to my mind is that the the lives that we live can be great, meaningful, and important no matter where we live. It's not the country that we live in that makes our lives great, it is our attitude and the way we deal with others in the world. Of course, your country can have an impact (I am thankful that I grew up in the USA and not in North Korea or Cuba), but it is our own inner selves that make the biggest impact on how our lives will be.

    Great comment, as usual, Bill.

  8. Bill Huff says

    Hi Bob….Bill Huff again. You could not be more right. The way you saw through what i was trying to say is nothing less than incredible….you took the feeling right from my heart, i just could not find the words to discribe my feeling as you did……a beautiful insight Bob, that does discribe my feelings. Can't wait to sit at the same table with you, thanks.

  9. Mirella says

    Hello Bob, very nice article. I was wondering how is the life there? What’s the mounth salary, that you need to get to have a good life there? I’m actually thinking to relocate there, that’s why I’m asking you this?
    Thamk you!

    • says

      Hello Mirella – The amount of money that you need to live here is very personal and is different for everybody. We all have different lifestyle expectations. I would say, though, that for a single person a salary of $1,200 to $1,500 would be adequate.

      Enjoy your stay in the Philippines!

    • Justin Thorn says

      Me and my mom live in the city (Metro Manila) and we spend about P1000 a month and that includes going to restaurants at least 3 to 4 times a week, having unlimited cable internet and cable TV service. By the way you won’t miss your favorite American channels in the Philippines because most of them are accessible online nowadays. You can even buy from CDR King (a popular computer-related store chain) their internet TV box which you can connect directly to your flat screen tv and to your internet cable so you can watch all the LIVE STREAM TV or CABLE CHANNELS or MOVIE CHANNELS that you get on the internet. Using the box you can also do your online stuff (mouse and keyboard required). I watch NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, HBO, etc online. Also people stream the newest movies, even the ones still in theaters. The box costs only about P2,900.

  10. liloandan says

    Good Questions Bob – We all live here for different reasons, but mostly we are the adventuresome sort of people. The world is a big place and most people are not comfortable outside their culture. This is true for all cultures. I travel all over the world and although sometimes situations may cause anxiety and consternation it is always a learning experience. It is mostly  meeting new people and I think most LiP people enjoy meeting new people and enjoying new experiences and sharing their vocations and experience. There is no fear in living this life. Have a SuperFantastic Day!! 

  11. AndyW says

    Hey Bob, great article! All your articles are quite informative, and I thank you for posting these, as I have learned a great deal.

    I am a military officer coming close to retirement from the service- (this summer). Of course, I will continue to work and am planning my transition to another career. In the meantime, I set a goal of meeting a woman to give marriage another chance. I was a long time ago, and have a 19 year-old son from my previous marriage. So I vacationed to the Philippines last September. I had been stationed as a young Marine in the Philippines way back in ’91-’92 in Subic Bay. I also went back in 2010 for another exercise, so I have some experience being there. During my trip in September I met a fine young woman. She is 29 and I am 41, so I feel that although she is younger, it’s not so much of a difference and we really get along great…more on that later. So before that September trip, I gave some SERIOUS thought to someday moving and retiring in the Phlippines. After I cam back in late September, I began the K-1 fiance visa for my fiance. I also did some extensive research into all the factors and considerations for moving there. I have read several books…including one by Larry Elterman, “A Man’s Guide to Life in the Phlippines” that I highly recommend, and also read many of the articles here on LIP. Again, your articles in particular have been quite helpful, and offer good perspective.
    Well I went back in December, and proposed to my fiance. I had met her parents during the September trip, but this time they hosted what was essentially an “engagement party” and I met most of the extended family, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. So on my December tirp, I lived less like a tourist, and a bit more like a local. I rode in her father’s trike, spent time and her and her cousins’ houses, etc. After this recent trip, I made a decision that (at least for now) I have no intention on living in the RP. I have nothing against you guys who do live there at all, and in fact most of you offer very frank advice in the form of “this isn’t for everyone”…and I believe it’s not for me. These are my reasons:

    1. Weather. I think for anyone who hasn’t been here, they think of the South Pacific and think “island paradise, beautiful weather”, but we who have been there all know different. I’ve been all over the south Pacific….Singapore, PI, Guam, Taiwan, etc. Hot and humid all around. It just wears on you.

    2. Beaches. I guess I’m spoiled that I live in Southern California. Here’s the deal– all those postcard white beaches you may see from the Philippines do indeed exist, but most, if not all, are on islands where you must fly/boat to as a tourist. Yes, there are a few on Luzon, but they’re all the way north around Bolinao or San Fernando…not an easy trip to get to. Southern California has literally hundreds of miles of coastal beach. The only reason the beaches in the tropics look so lush, is that they’re set against a lush, green tropical background and California’s aren’t. That’s really the only difference.

    3. Traffic. Do I really need to explain this one?

    4. “Rockstar” syndrome. Bob, I read about this in another article of yours, and you are spot on. I definitely felt it the first few times I visited, but on this last trip, I think it was tempered by the fact that I am now engaged, and quite honestly the whole thing starts to fade once you pull away the facade of girlie bars.

    5. Dealing with family. Meet her family was rather awkward, and I think everyone has felt this to some degree in the Philippines. In the US, if you were to bring a new wife/fiance to meet the family, they wouldn’t just crowd around her and stare at her. Then after awhile they throw a Karaoke microphone in your face and wants you to sing. Ok, so I sang a few Christmas carols, but then they play a George Michael song and want me to sing that. Ok, forget for a minute the whole fondling incident, they guy’s a great singer, and I can’t duplicate that. But everyone insists that I sing. Then they keep asking if I want another beer (I didn’t want more than a few, but they kept opening them and putting another one in front of me even though I had two full ones already), but asking “are you ok”? Then saying “so and so” wants to talk to you but he/she is shy to you. OK, so what am I supposed to do? The whole thing was just exhausting. And of course, longer term if I did live there they would want to borrow money, and I have read many articles here that deal with that. I am by nature a generous person, but that would become taxing, and would strain our relationship.

    Ok, so the bottom line is that I make decent money and live in Southern California, and I see that for myself there is no redeeming reason to live in the RP. I love the weather, I love hunting, I love my truck, I love going to college football games. In short, for me rationalizing a move to a developing country on the premise that it’s cheaper is equilavent to saying “hey, let’s move to a slum because the rent is cheaper”. I know that’s not completely accurate, but I think that’s where people get in trouble.

    anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this. And to Bob and all the authors, keep up the great work!

    – Andy

    • says

      Hi Andy – Thanks for stopping by my site, and thank you for your comment!

      1. The weather. I have grown used to the weather here. Yeah, it’s often quite hot, and humid, but it does not bother me so much anymore.

      2. Just 10 minutes boat ride from here where I live in Davao City is Samal Island, which has dozens of beautiful white sand beaches. They are not hard to get to!

      3. Traffic is terrible!

      4. I don’t go to girlie bars, so that is not part of the “rock star syndrome” for me. 😉

      Have a great day, Andy.

  12. Cezar says

    Hi, Mindanao Bob

    I have been reading your articles on LIP, and I see that you are getting the hang of things. I’m a Filipino but have spent most of my adult life outside the country, say the middle east, and now I’m planning to retire, I have been getting good ideas on how life is back home.
    I surely understand how you guys feel about moving out of the comfort zone.

  13. Rod Ward says

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks so much for your website. It provides me lots of insight and thought provoking ideas.

    I have moved to the Philippines after several prior trips to various areas. I came to lead a Relief effort for Typhoon Yolanda. I started the organization called PRAY which was privately funded my me and several of my close friends and business associates. See our website at http://yachtvalhalla.net/pray/pray.htm. We discontinued our efforts on 7 Feb 2014 after serving over 5,000 families and 25,000 of the “most in need” in very difficult to reach locations on Northern Panay Island and the Caluya Island chain.

    I became enamored with the Filipino culture after having large contingents of them working for me in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa. I was amazed at their resilience and work ethic and I decided to learn more about the people and their homeland at the end of a rather difficult tour in Afghanistan. What I learned made me want to stay and learn more so I bought a sail boat in Subic Bay and I have sailed between there and Puerto Galera several times. I hope to make the sail down to Davao this year after a short work stint in Africa and a visit to the U.S.

    I can say that life here is good for me. Between sailing and working on our new rental house in Iloilo, I’ve lost nearly 30 lbs. I’ve not felt better for decades.

    From my experience here, I’d advocate renting in a location before buying. I personally don’t plan to own because I can live quite comfortably in a nice rental house here and if a noisy neighbor or karoke machine moves in next door…I always have an escape!

    Thanks again to you and all your contributors for the insight. I have found it quite useful during my stay here thus far.


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