Over the years, on this site and other places, I have advocated that as an expat it is important to maintain a US presence. If you are not from the USA, then just substitute your country of origin. If you are British, maintaining a UK presence has importance, etc.
The ways that I have advocated for keeping a US presence are through things like maintaining a US bank account, having a mailing address in the USA, having a US telephone number, etc. I have done, and continue to do all of these things. In the past, I have had a stronger US presence than I do now, though, and I feel that I am internally re-evaluating my thinking along these lines. I suppose that the longer you remain outside the USA, the less important that US presence becomes.
I still have my US bank account, and I feel that is important. It allows me to more easily handle monetary transactions in the USA, with US customers, etc. I still feel that maintaining a US bank account is very important, and I expect that I will always maintain that. In the past, I have maintained only one bank account in the USA and that has served me well. However, over the past couple of years, I have actually expanded my US banking presence by adding a couple of additional accounts. Once you are here, especially with very tight banking regulations imposed after the 9/11 terrorist incident (part of the Patriot Act), getting a US bank account while not being present has gotten much harder than it used to be, so getting a bank account before you leave the USA is very important. In the past couple of years, I have been able to add additional banking in the USA through some of the e-Commerce business that I do, some of the credit card processing companies that I use have offered me new banking deals, since I have been a long term, and relatively high volume customer. In my opinion, it is important to take advantage of any banking that you can in your home country, because you never know when such a capability will be needed, and will be a valuable asset to you here. Getting things lined up in advance is certainly preferable to having to travel back to take care of these arrangements, which is becoming increasingly necessary, although not always.
Another important US presence that I have maintained, and will continue to maintain is a US mailing address. I have my US address in the state of Florida, through a company called MyUS. I have been using them for about 8 years now, and have always been happy with their service. I use my US mailing address to maintain a place where people can send me mail, without having to send it through international means. Also, at times, I do not necessarily want to announce that “I am in the Philippines” and having a US address would leave the impression that I am indeed in the USA. To be clear, I don’t do this to be sneaky, or to do anything illegal, I simply do not always want to announce where I am, for privacy purposes mostly. Having my US address also allows me to have my banking information sent there and then forwarded to me here in the Philippines. MyUS sends all of my forwarded mail through DHL or another express service, so it is a very safe way of getting stuff here. Sending through the mail can be troublesome with packages disappearing, or arriving very late. So, having my mail accumulated and send in bulk to the Philippines through a courier service is trouble free, reliable, and frankly, it is not very costly for the peace of mind that it provides for me.
My third US presence that I continue to maintain is a US Phone Number. I can give out my phone number to business associates, friends and family members in the States, and they can call me without having to make an international call. My number is located in the same city exchange where my mother lives, so I can call her for free (only paying my monthly flat service charge), and she can call me exactly as if it were a local call. I use Vonage for this service, and have been using Vonage for 8 years now without a major complaint. Through Vonage, I can call any telephone in the USA, and much of Europe with no long distance charges due. I pay $24.99 per month for the service, and have been very satisfied with the value that they provide to me for that price.
As I said toward the beginning of this article, I am presently sort of redefining my US presence strategy, and I have been cutting back a bit on my US presence. For example, after years of maintaining a US Paypal account, about 2 years ago, I switched over and I now have a Philippine Paypal account. Also, while I still have US banking, as explained above, I am now using Philippine banking a lot more than I use the US accounts. I think that these kinds of changes are natural as a person has been away from his home country for a more extended time period.
So, yes, I am cutting back on my US presence, however, I am still a strong advocate that some US presence is important to maintain. Keep your options open, you never know if you might return home, or if you will need to use these important US presences while living in the Philippines. I know that I have used each of these services regularly in the past decade while living in the Philippines. I expect that you would use them too.