Do you know what a “snowbird” is? It is an American term, which I don’t think is that widely used in other countries. Probably it is also used in Canada, but maybe nowhere else, although I am uncertain of that. A snowbird is what we Americans call a person who lives in two different places. For example, they might be from New York or Ohio, or someplace up North where the winter weather is cold and rainy or snowy (mostly from snowy areas). Snowbirds generally are retired people. During the winter months they generally fly south to their second home in a place like Florida or Arizona, where the weather is warm and sunny through the winter months. So, by doing this, they live summer months up north, where the weather is nice during the summer, and they flee the cold weather by heading south.
This is quite a nice way for a retiree to spend time in two different places, enjoy nice weather, and generally have a comfortable lifestyle. I often hear from people asking me what I think about living 6 months of the year in the Philippines and six months in the USA. I don’t really know why for certain, but in recent weeks I have been asked about this much more frequently.
So, what do I think about snowbirding with the Philippines as your winter home?
Well, personally, in many instances, I feel that this is not necessarily a good idea. Why? Well, there are several reasons for that, but one very important reason.
The main, very important reason why I think this is not such a good idea is adjustment or acculturation. You see, no matter what you may think, adjusting to life in the Philippines is not an easy or quick task. Once you make the adjustment, life here is great, but it takes time to make that happen.
You see, I do not believe that most people can become adjusted to Philippine life in just 6 months. It took me several years to do so. Some people don’t take as long, but I think it will take more than 6 months to make the adjustment for anybody who tries it.
So, what happens. You come here for your 6 month “snowbird” stay. You never quite feel that you fit in, and you are somewhat unhappy here. You then go back home for the summer months, or the warmer weather months. After 6 months there, you come back to the Philippines again. You have to start over from the starting line in terms of making adjustments. Another six months, you still won’t make the adjustment. Every time you make the trip, you have to start trying to adjust all over again. If you come here and live for a few years, make yourself understand what it means to live in the Philippines, and how to do it, then you can make some trips home, and return with full understanding of what kind of life to expect.
Living the snowbird life is a great way to live as a retiree, I am sure of that. But, going for a few months in Arizona or Florida is much different than coming to spend a few months in the Philippines. Largely, Arizona or Florida are still the same, or a very similar culture to what you are living “up north” and making the adjustment is very easy to do. Coming to live in the Philippines, though, is a totally different experience than you’ve ever had before, if this is your first time to come and live here. You need more than 6 months to make the adjustment. If you don’t give yourself enough time, you won’t be happy with your life here.
I know, I know… some of you are saying, “but I’ve come there for 3 weeks vacation, and I loved it, I adjusted fine.” My friend, a 3 week vacation is not the same as living here. As a vacationer, you don’t have to face some of the life choices that you will face as a resident. It is simply not something that even is comparable. It is apples vs. oranges, so don’t fall into the trap of considering it the same.
You can indeed build a happy life for yourself in the Philippines. I know that, because I made the adjustment myself, and I know that you can do it too. Don’t make it harder on yourself by spending only limited time here before going back home. Make this your home instead.