Moving to the Philippines is not the same as moving to live on the other side of the City where you are now. That statement, and this entire post is meant for people from overseas, of course. Moving to live in the Philippines means going to a new country, a place that is, by definition, not the same as the place where you are coming from. It is important to give yourself time, upon your arrival, to learn how things work here.
Don’t make rash decisions about your life in the Philippines until you have taken the time to learn how things work here, and how you like the way these things work.
Last week, I got an e-mail from a fellow who is planning to move here in the near future. His prime concern that he was asking me about was how to move a large sum of money to the Philippines, from his accounts in his home country. The mechanics of moving money are fairly easy, and there are a number of methods to choose from. However, I wrote back and told that guy that I felt that his prime concern should be more than just the mechanics of moving the money. In my opinion, for somebody setting out on a new life, as I did, the main worry should be how to preserve that money. Further, it is my opinion that you cannot make a decision on how to preserve your nestegg until after you have been here for a while.
Now, I know there are people out there reading this who are thinking to themselves:
Bob thinks that he is so smart, and he knows everything…..
No, I don’t. Rather, I am advising you to avoid the mistakes that I made! I blew a ton of money when I moved here because I didn’t know anything about the place, even though I thought I did. I am just trying to share my experiences so that you can learn from a person who made mistakes and is willing to show you how to avoid the same experiences!
A few of the things that people tell me are on their priority list when they move here:
- Build a house. In general, I would advise against doing this. Come here and rent a house for a year or two before you lay down money to build. There are a number of reasons why this is more practical. First, as a newcomer, you will likely be taken advantage of by the people building the house. The longer you are here, the better you will be able to control “overcharging” on the construction, padding of the bill and such. Secondly, it is my contention that when moving to a new country, you really don’t know for sure where you would like to live (even though you think you do). If you put off house construction for a couple of years you can work all these questions out before dropping a large sum of money on the house. Put your money somewhere that will pay you some interest, and that can cover the rent that you will be paying.
- Starting a business. This is where I learned a lot when I moved here. I had a wad of money, and wanted to start some businesses that would ensure me an income over the years. The problem is that I started a number of businesses serving the local economy, but I didn’t know anything about the people that I was serving! As I learned more and more about my new home, I could see the mistakes that I had made, and the money I had wasted. Take time to learn about the place before you start a business here. Don’t take the attitude that “back home, they did it differently, and if I do my business the way it was back home, it will take off.” It won’t happen in most cases. The people here want to do things the way they do it here. It is you who must adjust, not them.
Of course, there are other areas where you should take time to get educated before spending money, but I feel that these are the primary areas where a lot of people drop large sums of money too quickly.
The next thing that some people are thinking is this:
I’ve been to the Philippines for a vacation 6 times, so I already know the answers.
I am sorry, my friend, but living here is not the same as having a holiday or vacation here. You will learn that after you’ve lived here for a while. I vacationed here around 6 times or so before moving here. I have now lived here for 8 1/2 years too. You know what? I am still learning new things about the place all the time. There are still frustrations that pop up. The difference is that these frustrations and new bits of information come to me only from time to time now, but they still come. So, if you have been here on vacation before, don’t consider yourself an expert yet… if you are like me, you probably will never be an expert, just a little better educated.
Believe me, those early years of living here in the Philippines are the times when it is so easy to waste your money, let your nestegg dwindle, etc. Be vigilant!