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10 dumb mistakes foreigners make in the Philippines

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Expat Mistakes

Expat Mistakes

Expat Mistakes

Ten Big Mistakes that Expats Make

Hi, Bob Martin here, owner and publisher of this website.

Get Relocation Consulting and Coaching from Live in the Philippines

John Miele, a former writer here on LiP, wrote this article way back in 2010. Even though the article has been around for a long, long time, it remains one of the most popular articles on the site. John’s article really does point out some very common expat mistakes

I decided that I want to update the article, provide the information that John wrote, and also add my own insight on expat mistakes. Sometimes that might mean a rebuttal, sometimes just adding to his thoughts. So, let’s have a look. Take it over, John!

I have been writing on Live in the Philippines for two and a half years now, living here nearly three years. Before coming here, I lived in the Middle East and traveled extensively in the developing world. In that time, I’ve seen several patterns in the questions that people ask. There is nothing wrong with asking questions. In fact, I’m a big believer in that old cliche, “There is no such thing as a stupid question”.

An international move is a big undertaking, no doubt about it. Coming to the Philippines is probably one of the most significant events in most people’s lives, ranking right up there with marriage and death. The decisions one needs to make are not easily answered and are complicated by the fact that for each question, you will receive fifty different answers from other expats, websites, books, and family. Everyone has their own standards of living, and what standard is acceptable to them.

However, after living here for a while, writing on this site for a while, answering questions sent to me, and traveling all over Asia, I have come up with the following list of mistakes that I see people making. I am not so rude as to tell someone that they are wrong, nor am I some “all knowing” being floating above the Astral Plane. However, I notice the patterns and people’s concerns, I have made many mistakes myself, and I can make the following generalizations. I know everyone is different. I know many of you may have breezed through these issues, or they were of no concern. But these issues come up again, over and over.

For sure, John, we all make mistakes, those reading this site have probably made expat mistakes, the key is to use those mistakes as a learning opportunity. My policy on this site has always been “I make the expat mistakes so you don’t have to.” LoL

So, in no particular order:

Thinking that you will find a job here

You need to survive in the Philippines, but, more than likely, it will not be by working for someone else.  Yes, some expats manage it, myself included. But the vast majority of people who move here will not find employment standards much to their liking. This is stressed by myself and the other writers on this site over and over, yet I still receive many job inquiries.

For most, if they have a “job” it will be with a foreign company. Like you, John, almost daily I get inquiries from foreigners who want to move here and ask me to give them a job They should think it over… I can hire a local person for a fraction of what they would want to be paid, so why would I hire such a person? The best thing they can do is to start some kind of a business and then employ local people. Bring some money into the local economy, that is the best path forward. For those looking for a way to make a living in the Philippines, check out my book, 49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines.

Thinking that you can buy land or work around the land laws

The obsession expats have with buying land is truly perplexing to me. Given the legal climate and prohibitions on foreign ownership, I simply cannot fathom why people would even consider doing so without, at the very least, living here for a year or two first. Yet there are dozens of sites on the net giving “ways” to own land, will land, form corporations to control land, and so on. There are almost always vehement, passionate disagreements about it, most of which I either ignore or say, “You can’t say that you weren’t warned”. This is perhaps the biggest and most financially damaging mistake that expats can make.

Yes, land is always a big issue with expats or even people who are not yet expats, but feel they are “planning ahead”. This makes land issues, in my view, one of the most common expat mistakes. A lot of people buy land and build a house before they move here, and some before they have ever even visited the country. This is a huge expat mistake. In most cases that I hear about, this does not work out. Best to come here, live here for some time and then make such a decision. In my experience, more than 50% of foreigners who move here end up leaving in a few years, they can’t make the adjustment. Those who have bought or built property end up losing their shirts on it. Think things over carefully.

Jumping in and falling in love too soon

Can you REALLY know someone by chatting on the Internet? Yes, I know there are many successful Internet relationships. Yes, I know love is blind. I also know many, many horror stories here from guys that come, fall in love and get burned. EVERYONE in love says, “Yeah, but that won’t happen to me!” Right. Go on thinking that. Again, there are dozens of websites filled with stories of people getting scammed. Most of the guys who got burned thought the same thing. It can, and does, happen frequently.

I agree, and also disagree. LoL I got married to my wife, Feyma, in 1990. Back then the Internet was so young that it really was not used much by the general public. Feyma and I wrote letters (snail mail) to each other. After months we talked on the phone a couple of times (that was difficult to do back in those days, and very expensive too). I came to the Philippines and we got married. It was quick, no doubt. Most people would say it was stupid, too quick. I might agree, but we have now been married for nearly 3 decades. Best thing I have ever done. We have 3 great kids (all adults now) and Feyma is my wife and my best friend. I can’t say I was wrong in how it worked out! Did I make an expat mistake? I don’t think I did, but I did leave myself open to the possibility of an expat mistake.

Thinking about the same old business ideas

How many people have invested in sari-sari stores? In jeepneys? Thinking they know the market better than the Filipinos themselves? Thousands. How many have earned a living? Very, very few. How many people even bother to learn the rules of business here?

Again, you are correct, John. The Sari-Sari store is a staple business idea for foreigners. How about the piggery business, that is a close second to the Sari-Sari stores. It is another expat mistake. Especially in today’s tech environment, it is easy to make a living using the Internet and technology to work from the Philippines but be working for people half the world away. Another way to avoid a common expat mistake.

Thinking things will be “different”, but “no big deal”

Not so fast. While here on vacation, the cultural differences are very subtle. Things tend to take on more importance when you live them every day.

This is a topic I have talked about frequently on this site over the years. Thinking that being here on vacation and living here is the same is a huge expat mistake. Fact is, they are nothing alike. When you are here for a few weeks, Filipinos will overlook your expat mistakes. They will adjust themselves to accommodate you. But, if you move here to live permanently, people won’t be as forgiving of your expat mistakes. It is you who has to adjust then. Believe me, when you make expat mistakes, 100 Million Filipinos won’t be making adjustments to suit you. You are the one responsible for making adjustments to fit in here and avoiding such expat mistakes.

Underestimating the cost of living

There are so many books on the net about living like a king with only $500 per month that it is easy to get the perception that the Philippines is cheap. That belief is easily compounded on vacation or visits where things like hotels are cheaper than in the States. Stories of cheap rent abound. However, many things are more expensive here, and attempting to live a western lifestyle can get expensive very quickly. Overall, the cost of living is generally cheaper, but the Philippines is not the cheap bargain that some make it out to be.

This is one of the big expat mistakes, John. Your thoughts are right on the mark. One huge expat mistake is that tons of people will email me and ask one question – “How much money do I need every month to live in the Philippines?” That question is impossible to answer. Every person has different tastes and tolerances. For one person living on $1,000 would be easy, for another person that would be hell, because they are used to a different type of lifestyle. One budget does not fit every person. To think like that would be an expat mistake. One thing I can say for sure is that when you first move here as an expat you will spend a lot. Give it time, and learn from your mistakes and a year later you can live comfortably on a fraction of what you spent when you moved here.

Realistic expectations

This is perhaps the toughest to nail down. For instance, there was a question in the forum about international schools near “paradise” beaches. Needless to say, there aren’t many. Now, is this a deal killer? Perhaps. Should the person asking the question look into it? Certainly. However, the fact of the matter is that most of the international schools are in Manila, not near beaches. The question itself indicates a fundamental lack of the realization that the Philippines is a developing nation, with 40% of the population living below the Asian poverty line of $2 per day. Yes, schools are here, but the demand and ability of most people to pay the tuition is not here. The Philippines is not Switzerland, Holland, Singapore, Hong Kong or a developed nation with large, wealthy expat or diplomatic community with small children.

I would say that the vast majority of people who move here do so with unrealistic expectations. It usually takes a few years to adjust expectations to something more realistic. Many expats can’t make the adjustments needed and end up leaving the Philippines after becoming disillusioned due to their inability to adjust to the Philippines. My advice would be to keep your options open and keep your expectations open. Don’t come here with the expectation that you are going to change the Philippines. If you want to avoid expat mistakes you need to let the Philippines adjust you, even if it is just a little. If you are not open to adjustment you are making an expat mistake by even considering making such a move.

Over-thinking the visa

Yes, visas are important and necessary. However, the visa process in the Philippines has perhaps more options and flexibility than most other countries. Again, it is so easy to live here on a tourist visa and convert, there really is no reason why anyone (from most countries) should stress over it.

Again, I totally agree with John. A lot of expats make the common expat mistake of complaining about visas here. Truth is that the Philippines has one of the most liberal visa policies in the world. There are so many ways that you can avoid an expat mistake, live here, and do it easily! Probably the biggest expat mistake you can make, at least in terms of visas, is to overstay your visa. That is asking for big trouble!

Worrying about exchange rates

You can’t control them. If you are not able to absorb currency fluctuations, then you cannot afford to live here. Exchange rates are also cyclical. They can just as easily become beneficial.

Exchange rates go up and down. As John said, they fluctuate. Not a problem to follow the rates and try to make exchanges at times when it is most advantageous, but don’t let it control your life, that would not be good, and you want to avoid expat mistakes, right?

Not learning about the culture

Everyone here has encountered the “Ugly American”. Everyone here has encountered cultural ignorance. Read and learn as much about the culture and language as possible. Get out and about. Don’t believe that you are a wealthy target everywhere you walk. Leave the walled, guarded compound once in a while.

Philippine Culture Manual for the Foreigner

Philippine Culture Manual for the Foreigner

I am a big advocate of learning the culture. I learned the language here where I live (Bisaya), and as part of the language learning, my teacher taught me a lot of cultural things too. This turned my life around in the Philippines and made me a happy expat. One of the expat mistakes that I made early in my life in the Philippines was not learning about the culture, and thus making cultural faux pas that got me into trouble and made me unhappy. In fact, now I even have a book about cultural issues called the Philippine Culture Manual for Foreigners. This is a valuable resource if you want to avoid expat mistakes related to the culture.

Great article, John!

If you are thinking of making a move to the Philippines, check our complete guide!

JohnM

John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.

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Tom Ramberg
Guest
Tom Ramberg

Hi John, As usual your observations are spot on. A mistake that I see being made is that foriegners think that they can move here and insulate themselves from the culture and people by living in gated communities and only having expat friends. I think that maybe this scenario is the breeding ground for the ugly American. I went out of my way to form friendships with local people and am very happy with the results. I became a member of a motorcycle club where we go to places of interest together and also meet other groups. I encourage others… Read more »

John Miele
Guest

Tom: Thank you. I agree that the gated communities insulate people from integration. In my opinion, it makes the move more difficult, rather than easier, despite being more like “home”, because you don’t develop any relationships on the local level.

Bill
Guest
Bill

I’m not sure how it’s possible to integrate here. We’re friends with sari sari owners, street vendors, and the barangay patrol. We live in a Filipino subdibision. It’s not western by any standards. Many people appreciate that I can talk to them in their own language(as FIlipino is a worthless global language that no one learns). I get filipino prices wherever I go. Ha, ha. In fact, I often get cheaper prices than my wife! And other Pinoys. I especially get good deals when I buy in bulk. The rule here is buy big and save. I can get 5… Read more »

Ricardo Sumilang
Guest
Ricardo Sumilang

So far, Bill, throughout your successive postings on various topics in the past several hours, I have been impressed by your passable knowledge of several Filipino languages and your familiarity with the culture. Many of your observations about life there and your interactions with Filipinos appear credible, until this: “But making real friends here? Or going out? There’s a reason why Filipinos never go out. It’s not because they had too much Tanduay and sleeping in the hammock makes you lazy(well, it might…). It’s the thieves. I’m sorry, but it seems like 99% of the people here are thieves, robbers,… Read more »

Ricahrd
Guest
Ricahrd

Well, I sort of know where Bill is coming from. I think they see an American and think, “$$$”. They will try to pick you for what they can get. HOWEVER, do Like I did: go without cash, get your plastic shut down by your bank; have your Girl Friend defend you to her family, the whole neighborhood knows your business. NOW walk down the street. “Thirsty sir?” “Sorry, no money.” “No Problem, you take.” These people can be as nice as they are cunning. I think a lot of it has to do with how you treat them too.

James
Guest
James

When I went on my first trip to Singapore 18 month ago I stopped in to Manila on my way back to Seattle for 14 days. I met several fellow Americans , my age 42 and older than me. Most told me what to watch out for (scams) I felt safe but I was told by ALL after you come to the Philippines your 3rd 4th etc visit you will stop having fun and feel LIKE a CREDIT CARD. I thought they were all wrong. I was having a great time ,the local have to make money too. Well my… Read more »

bob schmuck
Guest
bob schmuck

its true. my first day in the philippines i had a knife pulled on me, witnessed a chair being stolen from an internet cafe and hookers and lady boys offering me samples of their diseases – at discount of course. 🙂 lifes better in the philippines. now after 13 + years of dating a filipina and over 20 years of visiting, including month long stays similar things keep happening. i speak some tagalog but its pointless unless youre fluent.

Dj
Guest
Dj

Actually its kinda true i was robbed a few nights ago by my neighbor who used their own daughter to break in. Do i have proof no, but desperate people do desperate things then they smile at you and act innocent. Ive been here 9 months one thing i know is that there will be 1 honest to 10 bad people here. Luckily i have a phillipine wife teaching me the ropes..

John Miele
Guest

Bill: Having travelled throughout a good portion of the world, I have come to realize that most people in the world are honest, and just want to live their lives, regardless of culture or nationality.

I have made plenty of Filipino friends here, and most are just like that.

Yes, beggars, pollution, petty theft are here, but there are millions here who are honest and hard working, just like anywhere else.

Bill
Guest
Bill

I honestly try not to be bitter. I’ve lived around the world myself. I’ve found this place to be…. well, exceptional. In bad ways. My family is Filipino. And I try not to hate the people here. I actually fight racist thoughts daily. I don’t want to be that way. But to be honest, I’ve never had a good day out in 3 years since being here. Just can’t go anywhere. I mean, there are days where I don’t have any issues with money. Beggars are not bad. A little “Paumanhin bata. Hindi ngayon. Walang pera.” Seems to be enough… Read more »

Ricahrd
Guest
Ricahrd

LOL… Bill… I know EXACTLY what your problem is, but you’re not going to like it. LOL… You’re too ostentascious. No seriously, think about it. You’re very generous. In the States or other fairly affluent places (ie Bohol, fils) that goes a long ways in most places. But poverty striken areas like Harlem NY USA or Barangay fils everyone will want to be your “friend”. Of course that frienship will result in your giving. Stop giving, and start living “poor”. This means you give of your time and labor, but not product. When you buy in bulk, do NOT let… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

Obviously Richard has not been to Harlem recently. Some of the most expensive real estate in New York. Harlem is booming. I am guessing you pointed Harlem out as it was once a Black ghetto.

If you really want to point out a poverty stricken area in America, point out a place like Cleveland, Lexington KY, Elmira NY, Lynn MA, Springfield MA,
Antioch CA. All mostly white populations by the way. And in case you were curious, i am not black. The largest poverty levels in America are among the poor whites. A huge population.

Phil
Guest
Phil

There are bad and good people everywhere. There are good Americans and bad Americans as well good and bad Filipinos. Please don’t generalize Filipinos as bad because you have a bad experience.

Doc Riley
Guest
Doc Riley

Bill, I lived there for 5 years between 2001 and 2006 and can’t wait to get back. I don’t know where you live but it sounds like a different country from the one I lived in. Neither myself nor any of my friends have been mugged or approached in any way more threatening than a street beggar. How you managed to get into over a dozen fights in 3 years is beyond me. I have pinoy friends who watch my back as well as anyone. I’ve trusted them and not been let down. I’m 6 ft 4 and my wife… Read more »

trrr
Guest
trrr

Just for everyone you cannot compare Manila Philippines to any of the rest of the Philippines it’s a major city filled with poverty there’s not a major city in the world anywhere in any country that it’s safe to walk back streets or alleys in the dark none it don’t matter where that you cannot be somewhere there’s 40 million people and walk around and think you won’t get robbed in the middle of the night for you who keeps talking trash about Philippines I’m American I’ve been to the Philippines I’ve spent time with Philippine people and varieties far… Read more »

Ricahrd
Guest
Ricahrd

Bill, I went there with no cash, and even though I told my bank about my trip, they saw “suspicous activity” and shut my plastic off in 3 days. My Girl Friend had to defend me to her family. Since her Father is a Pastor and we were not married, there were conditions to my staying with them. I got the only room with the AC. He, his brother, his son, and Her best Friend’s Husband stayed with me in this small room. I got the bed. I had to work every day. I went to where her Mom worked,… Read more »

James
Guest
James

I married my Girl friend I met in Makait on 2/16/12. We knew each other for 3 months we have a year now and things are great. 10 years age differences but I agree with Bill you piss her off and she will ignore me for 2 days and it can be over a little thing or even a misunderstanding and she does not say a word. But I have learned that the 2 days of quiet is ok I like peace and quiet. LOL

Verlon
Guest
Verlon

Wow! two day’s of quite? I’ve been married for 12 year’s and my wife never shuts up, I offered her 50 dollars if she would not speak for 15 min’s and she didn’t earn the money for sure. Opinionated, bossy, nags but says she is not nagging but only just saying (Ha Ha) never wrong on and on. We have twin boy’s who are 9 and with all I’ve said I would not take a Billion dollars for her. The Love of my life. By the way! it is true when you marry a Filipina, you marry the whole family,… Read more »

Phil
Guest
Phil

@ BIll: Everywhere we go, EVERYONE IS ALWAYS STARING AT US, pointing, smiling, talking, taking pictures and video, and shouting things at us. In my culture, this is rude. If they pick up one thing about us, they should learn this one rule. You are living in the Philippines, it’s a foreign culture to you. Don’t let the culture adjust to you; you adjust to the culture. And, don’t feel rude when “EVERYONE IS ALWAYS STARING AT US, pointing, smiling, talking, taking pictures and video, and shouting things at us”.because its rude in your culture. In Filipino culture, doing so… Read more »

Stephane S
Guest
Stephane S

OMG!! You’re so @ Bill Stop thinking like if you where in the US and think as a filipino, since you’re living there.with him I’m clueless how you didn’t learn more then that from them and with them. Are you talking with your wife, I mean real conversation, about the culture? Phil is so right about why they act like that with him. Since he act like he’s the Boss. For some filipina, they see white men as the opportunity of a lifetime and of course will be very persistent, even if it’s just in the way they look at… Read more »

Randy
Guest
Randy

WOW! It was if I had wrote it… LMAO! I hope many read and realize.

I enjoyed thanks.

Randy, Dianna, RJ, Josh
Cagayan De Oro

Marxel
Guest
Marxel

LOL Bill I enjoyed reading your facts living in the Philippines. I am.a.Filipina, married to an American, and We couldn’t wait to live in the Philippines soon. We are saving enough money to have our own house, and buy our own car there with out the risk of riding on a thieves taxi ? We already purchase a land, we paid for two years in an island where we wanna retire soon. We are a young couple at early and mid 30s working our asses hard right now here in AZ to retire early in Philippines . Three more years… Read more »

Michael
Guest
Michael

I experienced that a heck of a lot in Manila, Taxi’s, food, drinks, the whole shebang. However in Davao I rarely experience it, certainly the taxi’s here always put metre on because the law in the city is strict, with a direct line to report any wrongdoing from taxi drivers. I have a boyfriend here who I met through a quiz night, he’s a part time lecturer, qualified accountant, and final year law student, very intelligent and we split bills 50/50 when we go out. I think the problem with many foreigners is they marry women half there age who… Read more »

Sonya
Guest
Sonya

Bill, with your many complaints, why are you still living there? I’m incensed and insulted that you call us “thieves.” Where are you from? Go back, go back, we don’t want you in the Philippines.

Bob
Guest
Bob

I have not lived in the Philippines,however I have gone twice for holidays,one month each time.I met the locals,were invited to their homes,ate with them,and I loved the people!!! Yes I managed to find a few,(because I was a foreigner ),that tried to get a little extra money…you find that in every country.I was always treated with respect and politeness.I found the people overall,to be very friendly and helpful,not once did I even feel threatened,and walked wherever I could,most of the time I may get a smile from someone,or even a local coming up to me and starting a conversation.I… Read more »

terry
Guest
terry

I’m glad I got to see the site here n I followed comments here thru. Cos it’s overwhelming pleasant to hear views of peeps from other countries. I am half filipino, n I jst came here n it has been hard n this has nothing to do with survival or finances, I got to filippines nov 29,2012 n I have had it difficult in terms of dealing with people. I didn’t see anyone mention it here, I jst wud be glad to know ur views on the filipino people and empathy. Now I am not talking of the routine smiling… Read more »

John Power
Guest
John Power

Terry, I notice that Filipinos like abbreviations!

YlocanaBelle
Guest
YlocanaBelle

hi Terry
correction pls…it’s Philippines not Filippines. despite having lived abroad you sound more like a Filipino with the way you write and your sentiments. you would be branded as having ‘crab mentality’ here virtually puling down others (your own fellowmen!). I hope you learn more about our culture (I’m Filipina) from the good and kind gentlemen who shared their real life experiences about living in the Philippines. I’m glad Bill brought up those negative aspects too cos I’m happy to hear those who came forward to say nice things about my country. mabuhaykayo!

YlocanaBelle

Rick
Guest
Rick

I have been living in the Philippines since May 27th, and I like it here even though it takes some getting used to. I am going to marry my fiance, Ella soon. Can you tell me why is it that no matter where I go I get made fun of and rediculed? Is it because I am a foreigner? Before I moved here my neighbors were Filipino and they were the best neighbors I ever had, they were so quiet and respectful, unlike the many here including my neighbors where I live here in Gen San! Why am i constantly… Read more »

nelia
Guest
nelia

Hello john,i have a few concerns and i think could be related to you and hope i can information from you. I am Filipino,have a British boyfriend who is now base in Bali Indonesia and we are planning to live together here in manila.We want to have baby first before thinking of getting married,I have a small business as sole proprietorship and so we are wondering if am i capable to sponsor him a working visa to make him stay longer and at the same time i can consult him further learning,my nature of business is a web-app developer. Ive… Read more »

Francis Moore
Guest
Francis Moore

Im an American whom is engaged to a lady living in Manila…..I have been to the PH one time so far…but I intend to be married by spring in a civil ceremony…. My fiancée will apply for a spouseal visa to enter the US affer we are married….it may take up to a year for that to be approved….in the mean time I will stay with her in the PH during that time frame….I Can stay in the PH on my US passport for up to 59 days….but then I have to leave the country for one day…ie go to… Read more »

MindanaoBob
Guest

Your information is incorrect, you can actually stay in the Philippines for up to 3 years by extending your tourist visa at the appropriate times.

Chip
Guest
Chip

How do you extend your stay beyond the 3 year period?

JamesM
Guest
JamesM

i concur with MandanaoBob

neville
Guest
neville

wow my friend sounds like you have been through the mill ..i must be the lucky 1 coz i have been going to philippines for 30 years and never been mugged, i can speak there lingo and i have many phil friends there and yes i drink with them ,,but i tell them i dont shout all the time,, the best thing to tell them is WALLA PERA NO MONEY,, Itravel there public transport and ofcorse get a look or two ,,best thing is to smile at them or better still talk to them,,i have a gf there and will… Read more »

dwolfy
Guest
dwolfy

Actually I don’t think you have to leave to renew your visa… as long as you have money they will keep extending it indefinitely.

MindanaoBob
Guest

You cannot extend indefinitely. You can extend for a maximum of 3 years.

Richard E.
Guest
Richard E.

Hi bob! How are things in the Philippines? I too have a nice woman waiting for me in the Philippines, and we want to get married! I already know how to do that, my question to you is, “what kind of a visa will i need to get in order to stay in the Philippines”? And will I be able to eventually become a pilipino citizen, and if so what kind of a time frame am i looking at for that to happen!

MindanaoBob
Guest

Most likely, based on the limited amount of information that you gave me, just enter the country on a tourist visa waiver, then after you marry apply for a 13a resident visa.

You can become a citizen after 5 to 10 years depending on your marital status.

Richard E.
Guest
Richard E.

Thank you for that information Bob! Can i get the tourist visa when i get to the philippines? Or, do i need to have it before i leave the usa?

My understanding is i can stay for 21 days, but like i said earlier, i want to stay permanently!

So that is where a 13a visa is needed! Is there another way to stay there permanently once i am married?

Richard E.
Guest
Richard E.

Thank you for that information Bob! Can i get the tourist visa when i get to the philippines? Or, do i need to have it before i leave the usa?

My understanding is i can stay for 21 days, but like i said earlier, i want to stay permanently!

So that is where a 13a visa is needed! Is there another way to stay there permanently once i am married?

Richard E.
Guest
Richard E.

Thank you for that information Bob! Can i get the tourist visa when i get to the philippines? Or, do i need to have it before i leave the usa?

My understanding is i can stay for 21 days, but like i said earlier, i want to stay permanently!

So that is where a 13a visa is needed! Is there another way to stay there permanently once i am married?

YlocanaBelle
Guest
YlocanaBelle

I’d like to add this info on applying for Philippine visas for the sake of those who are still planning on getting one… (Since 1st August 2013, visa free entry into the Philippines is now for 30 days. pls click on the link below for any further questions.) New 6 month Visa extension This information is subject to change as new information comes to hand. This is what I have learned so far. It is not a visa you can apply for in advance outside the Philippines. It is only a visa extension It is a visa extension for 6… Read more »

Ian Rees
Guest

that information is in correct you can also get your visa extension in Davao

Boris
Guest

One can also avail the tourist visa and remain in the Philippines for 16 months, with extensions of this type visa. Before the 16 months expire, one can take a short vacation to a nearby Asian country, re-enter and start the process all over again. Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Macau are popular short vacation destinations.

The tourist visa is now 30 days upon entry and it can be extended for 6 months in one extension or it can be extended every two months over a period of time, according to one’s budget.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Boris, the law was changed a couple years back. You can now stay up to 36 months on a tourist visa.

John Power
Guest
John Power

John & Tom. I don’t see any problem with “Gated Communities” as you call them. Where I live, I thinks qualifies as what you’r referring to. To me it’s the same as any other subdivision, only with very strict security. We can have a conversation out in the garden, without too many tricycles or jeepneys passing. All my friends are Filipino. I think there are one or two ex pats here, but I haven’t met them.

Nicole
Guest
Nicole

I haven’t read the email threads as they are too long but I’ve read some of them. Yes, I do agree with most of them. By the way, I am a true blooded filipina and sad to say most of these stories are true. In fact, I am ashamed with some of my fellow kababayans who are doing these shameful acts. I am a housewife and I live in the province. We have an apartment in Quezon city Manila but we chose to live here, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, away from the chaos, pollution and… Read more »

Tom Martin
Guest
Tom Martin

I spent two miserable years in a gated community. I was ready to pack up and go home and I got the courage to try a normal filipino subdivision off Bacaca Road. Everyone told me I was a fool. I would be robbed, killed, beggars would drive me craze, roosters and dogs would prevent sleep, etc. The happiest day for me in the Philippines was getting out from behind the walls of that gated community and stop living with other expats and filipinos who thought they had made it in life (they had arrived) and were taking advantage of other… Read more »

John Miele
Guest

Tom: That is why I don’t live in one.

Ricahrd
Guest
Ricahrd

amen! I loved the noises too.

Abraham Digan
Guest
Abraham Digan

It’s not really that bad. The noises, I mean. I’m from Manila but now I live in Nevada. I miss home, at the same time I love the States.they start at 5 in the morning when the jeepneys begin their usual route for students. and loud noises last from 6 to 8 in the morning rush. then It gets steady, until 4 to 9 at evening rush. then exactly at ten it gets quiet. so you can get exactly 7 hours of good sleep. I have live in taguig city. When moved to the states, I visit my family every… Read more »

kerry
Guest

Hi all,,just came upon this site,,i have traveled africa,,england etc,,some asia,,,coming to my 5th year visiting phps,,1st trip,,ripped off,,2nd the same,,and every time i go ,,i lose a few hundred or more pesos,,they do it to survive,,for me personally,,i find php culture great,,the heat,,warmth,,cost of living,,but so many stories here and elsewhere moaning about crap,,,appears most want western ideals in developing countries?sorry,,why come then?lots of foreign men come here for the sex,,angeles city,, manila etc,,me?i go to the islands,,palawan mostly,,met some great php people,,keep in tch,,visit when i go there,,i will live there eventually,,but not in a condo,,just basic hut… Read more »

Steve Bailey
Guest
Steve Bailey

“I been all around this great big world And I seen all kinds of girls Yeah, but I couldn’t wait to get back in State (Phils) Back to the cutest girls in the world” I’ve never gone for sex tourism. My lady friend did want to take me that that section of Manila, near Makati, where it all takes place. I am NOT prudish by any means. I just can’t see grovelling in some bar in Manila, after paying for, and flying 5000 miles to visit another culture. However, if one is willing to get out and about on one’s… Read more »

heyjoe
Guest
heyjoe

You address a person that is so rare that it is erroneous argument. No expat decides to never make a Filipino friend. They do decide that they have a lot more in common with other expats than many locals. It might be “rewarding” to have Filipino friends, and undoubtedly you will meet and have some be friendly with you, but few will have the leisure time you have, the discretionary funds you have, the international viewpoints you have or the English skills needed to understand idioms, irony, or your perspective.

Dr. Robert Weinlood
Guest
Dr. Robert Weinlood

I don’t know how any guy goes to the PI to retire It is expensive to live good I have a very good job and make $2000 dollars a week paid in the bank direct deposit as a doctor of chiropractic I have a condo provided and pay for electric maid and water I have my own jeep and motorcycle and I give out food every week I’ve never been mugged and have never been cheated never let people borrow money have given some I don’t fool around with gf or a wife if I need a girl I go… Read more »

dr wiiliam wright
Guest
dr wiiliam wright

dear doc,
i’m a chiropractor planning on moving to Philippines in several months.did you bring your equipment from the US.how did you decide on your fee schedule in the Philippines.do i need any special license to practice here. is malpractice insurance necessary.have you required much marketing to build your practice.ps what school did you attend.thank you

Randy
Guest
Randy

Ugly American? I have been here many years and have met only a few American’s? Lying, deceit, scamming, jealousy, crab mentality, racism, are part of the Philippine culture, part of our daily activities. A nation 40 years behind the most other nations, were its allies have chosen first non-allied nation to invest in because the Filipino some how cannot get it right, no doubt in-breeding has infected our gene pool, as we are still allowed to marry our cousins “five” from our blood. Pedophilia, incest, rape, reported against people that have peso only, as our equity or law encourages this.… Read more »

tom frisch
Guest
tom frisch

My question is…can an American rent an apartment in the Philippines without having citizenship?

Roselyn
Guest
Roselyn

Hi John,

A very well-written and well-thought of article. I wish that Expats would read your article with depth before taking the plunge to move to the Philippines. Most Expat men look at the prospect of young and beautiful women before anything else. As a Filipina-American in the U.S. , I’m rather weary of inquiries about Filipina women (even among my academic colleagues). I should be flattered, but I feel insulted. Thanks again for a most informative article.

John Miele
Guest

Roselyn: Thank you. You should feel insulted. You touched on something that hits a nerve with me… The idea of Filipinas as commodities rather than people. Unfortunately, that attitude is all too common… On more than one occasion I have been approached by someone asking. I tell them to go to the mall.

Randy W
Guest
Randy W

John Totally agree with you and Rosalyn. I hear it all the time that there looking for a pretty filipina above all other things. When I first met my g/f I looked at if she was family oriented, honest, caring and didn’t ask for anything. My g/f meets all the above with alot of intangibles that I can’t mention and is pretty to boot. The most important things I’m worried about when I will live there are cost of living and health care. Good job with providing useful information for future expats. Hope your family has a nice New Year

John Miele
Guest

Randy: Thank you… Have a good holiday too.

macky
Guest

So true. Roselyn is right & I’m glad you hit that point as well. I too am exhausted by seeing Filipina commodification being implied casually everywhere.

I hear creepy casual remarks by expats at areas like the gym. That wink/macho quip about Filipina conquests among us guys isn’t as witty as it seems.

John Miele
Guest

Macky: 100% correct… I avoid that kind of talk if I hear it.

Ricahrd
Guest
Ricahrd

LoL, tell them what I tell them (people always ask me if she has a friend): There’s TONS of sweet beautiful young ladies over there; but I’m not going to guarantee that she wont be over 200 pounds in 10 years. They usually ask what I mean by that, and I tell them that a lot of older people get heavy. This is true in almost every culture; and if you marry anyone you better be marrying for what’s INSIDE rather than outside. If she’s beautiful on the outside but ugly on the inside she will only want your money;… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Well said Richard,I have had the same conversation many times.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Good post again John…I think some of the key words you said ..”Realistic expectations”, “culture” are probably the 2 most important things to understand…after reading every post on here on LIP that is what I come up with…Not that other things you and others have talked about here are not important, because they are…Before I started reading LIP I did not know if you married a Fillipina you were per say marrying her family in a way…way different than here in USA…and as far as expectations goes….I would say a person needs to put the word expectioan in ther pocket… Read more »

John Miele
Guest

Thanks Dan. The cultural adjustments are really tough to pinpoint, and you really can’t learn them solely by reading. Some things are minor and no big deal, but there are many really difficult differences. That is why I mentioned the falling in love bit up above (I expected to hear gripes on that one)… It is a really easy trap to fall into here, and by not understanding the culture, you are exposing yourself to big problems. I really think that the conflicting advice is a big issue also… Everyone seems to have an opinion (myself included), but not all… Read more »

John
Guest
John

I never knew I would be spending 75K a month at SnR or that Meralco easily hits 15K a month. Compared to Canada it is double.

John Miele
Guest

John: Exactly my point. When I first visited (on a trip for work), it was easy to think that costs would be lower: the 5 star hotel was half the price of Hong Kong. Restaurant meals were so much cheaper. Rent is how much here? You must be joking! However, the daily expenses add up, just as anywhere else. In my estimation, overall, I’m guessing that I spend around 30% less on day-to-day stuff than I did in the States. Savings on one thing are often eaten up by increased costs on other things. Mind you, a big part of… Read more »

Bill
Guest
Bill

I do appreciate all the talk of how expensive things are here. Far too often people say how cheap it is here. I even read on a site the other day that it’s so cheap in the Philippines, anyone can go on a “shopping spree” at SM anytime they want. Ha, ha, ha! We only go to SM to grab a 1.5 of Coke when we’re out(magastos, pero mura if you do the math on those little glass bottles), and the free wifi.

John Miele
Guest

Bill: Easy to fall into that trap.

Bob
Guest
Bob

I went on a “shopping spree” once or should I say my girlfriend did…..I thought nothing of it until I saw my credit card bill…Not cheap!!!

Dwayne
Guest
Dwayne

I can’t find anything to buy in that S&R store. 75 a month WOW!!!

Heinz Schirmaier
Guest
Heinz Schirmaier

What are you buying there John, Filet Mignon? Lobster? all foreign food? My asawa spends 5k for 5 people on food. Granted, native foods, not high priced foreign food. The house is 3k for rent, 2br. 1cr, elec is p1500, shellane p1000, kids transportation to school p 2000, philhealth p1500, misc, p3000 That’s P17000! I send her $$500 a month and they do just fine. Btw, they live in Mactan.

ian
Guest
ian

John- I think it is outrageous how you always only refer to ‘ugly Americans ” !! We Ugly Canadians demand equal time !!! lol

John Miele
Guest

Ian: Ok… Ugly Canadians! Seriously, though, I’ve found that most Canadians tend to be much more culturally aware than Americans. Whether that is due to schooling, or not having the superpower mentality, I’m not sure. But you just don’t see the blow ups quite as often, in my opinion.

ian
Guest
ian

John- I just didnt want my American brothers to think they were being singled out. lol Of course you can not generalize about things based on nationality, but you may be right in the ” more culturally aware” part. The US was very xenophobic for many years, and i think that maybe some of that still lingers. In fact it may be gaining strength. But more on topic I think that Canadians are just as likely to make the same mistakes as our American neighbours when they come here. Our cultures are very much alike and thus we are equally… Read more »

Ricahrd
Guest
Ricahrd

Actually, having travelled a lot myself (Iraq, Kuwait, Dubia, UAE, Japan, Okinawa, Singapore, The Philippines, many places I can’t even remember right now) I find that MOST people think Americans are the MOST EVIL PEOPLE on earth, and that Canadians follow a close second. Most Canadians DETEST that statement, but it’s true. And to be honest with you, I think maybe there is some truth to that. We’re an arrogant lot, we are. (I have to catch myself all the time, and the older I get, the meaner I get…)

Sonya
Guest
Sonya

Randy, who do you think you are, and where did you come from? I can guess that you’re a stupid idiot and that’s why maybe you didn’t get the royal treatment you expected, so you’re so angry at us Filipinos. If you’re so angry, then leave. We don’t want you here. And by the way, you spell the possesive word as THEIR and not THERE like you’re pointing out a place. GOT IT? Most of us are better educated than you think. GET OUT OF OUR COUNTRY!

Sonya
Guest
Sonya

Richard I disagree. Americans and Canadians are actually the best foreigners in our eyes. You treat us with respect and are kind. Except of course for the pedophiles and sex tourists. The ones we don’t even want in the country are those from other countries who think just because they have money, they can treat us and our country like dirt. They’re gross, they leave their dirt around, and talk down to us. I don’t know if I’m allowed to mention those countries but they are very oil rich but the tourists who come here are low class.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Americans got yo school? Just kidding all. I am a Brit living in Canada since 62. Married a Filipina 22 years ago (in the Phils). Took 8 months to get her to Canada. Things were great. Had 7 kids with her. Point being…. Love is where you make it. I’ve had Canadian relationships. Most sucked. I’m getting divorced now… she grew up and I didn’t. Best friends though, and always will be. I’m going back to the the Phils in Sept (2015) for 6 months. The country is a haven. The people are, for the most part, very family oriented….… Read more »

brigitte
Guest
brigitte

Kevin; How can you afford holidays so soon, to retire fairly soon when at best out of 7 kids 4 may have finshed college and be fully independan by then?

Plus re divorce you’d have had to split some assets.

Were /are you exrtra wealhy? Then if so why on earth would you retire there? Understand the holidays here! Some great beaches etc..

Doesn’t it bother you to not see your kids much if you retire there?

John
Guest
John

Ian, as another Canuck I prefer something better than ugly……..

John Miele
Guest

John: I’m staying out of that argument!

Tom Ramberg
Guest
Tom Ramberg

Panget?

John Miele
Guest

Works for me!

JIm Hannah
Guest
JIm Hannah

Think a good general rule would be: “…if you’re broke in your own country, you’ll be broke in the Philippines too”. Why wouldn’t you be?

Great points John. We recently moved internationally too…but with the clear picture in our heads that things would be much the same, except the sun would shine more. Sure enough, still have to eat, work, exercise, buy clothing, etc. Don’t pay big heating bills though, they are big AC bills instead. But the sun does shine more, and there’s no snow…tropical flooding instead!

John Miele
Guest

Jim: You are absolutely correct… Plus, when you leave your home, you are leaving behind many of the social services and support network to which you may have become accustomed to or relying on.

Paul
Guest

Hi John – That “cheap” cost of living rumor is mostly self-induced. One has to be cheap in order to survive on insufficient, limited income.

The cost also seems cyclical in a way. Up north, the weather seems to dictate produce prices. A bad storm at sea will also hamper fuel supplies, and with everyone topping off their tanks prior to a “big one,” things can get sparse and costly.

Still, I can’t think of a better place to be (personal opinion only – no recommendations valid without extended visiting).
😉

John Miele
Guest

Paul: I put that in there because I saw several sites online with people bitching and moaning about the exchange rates and the same old tired “I’m on a fixed income” arguments. Bottom line is still the same: If your income is that tentative, then you probably should not be moving. Eventually, exchange rates will move down, as they will also eventually rise. Exchange rates are based on supply and demand… They will always change unless the Philippines were to move to a dollar peg. Even then, the impact on inflation and so on is still variable on a “fixed… Read more »

Ron LaFleur
Guest
Ron LaFleur

Informative article John. As always you and the other writers do a great job delivering necessary information. Ron

John Miele
Guest

Thanks Ron.

Dwayne
Guest
Dwayne

Excellent read on things. About the best short list I have ever read on this country and expats coming to settle.

John Miele
Guest

Thanks Dwayne.

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