Some of the people reading this site are Filipinos. Probably a few more than that are foreigners who live in the Philippines. But, the vast majority of LiP readers are people who want to move to the Philippines. Many people looking to move here think that the Philippines is paradise. I have always written that it is not paradise. There are lots of problems here. Many things that you won’t understand. So many things that you won’t be able to figure out. Paradise it is not. I always tell people that there is no such thing as paradise anywhere on earth, and the Philippines is no exception.
Truth is, for most of you who move here, you will look forward to the move for several years. You will be excited and that excitement will grow the closer your moving date is. There is one thing, though, that you won’t believe when I tell you. This is something I have told you many times in the past.
You won’t like living in the Philippines
If you are like the vast majority of others who move to the Philippines, it won’t take long, you will hate it here. Everything is so inconvenient. Pretty much anything you set out to do involves hassle. Sometimes when you see the way things are done you will mutter to yourself… it’s idiotic. It’s crazy. It makes no sense. You may or may not make it here. Don’t burn your bridges back home, because you may end up returning. Right now, when you read this, in your mind you are saying…
It will never happen to me.
I have heard that so many times, only to see the people who said it heading off to the airport for their return “home,” unable to make it in the Philippines. Recently, I had a friend move to the Philippines. At first he was very gung ho about living here. After just a few weeks passed, when I saw him at the mall, he had mostly bad things to say. He was not happy. I thought to myself that he had only been here a few weeks, and was not giving himself time to adjust. But, you can’t really speak negatively to a person like that, it will only drive him away. He won’t be a friend anymore. So, I encouraged him to hang in there, and give himself time to adjust. About a month after that chance meeting, I heard through the grapevine that my friend had already booked his tickets to go back to the States. I was sad to hear it, but I had already come to expect it. My friend later told me that he would be coming back to the Philippines at a later date, and I hope that is so.
When I talk to other long term expats and the topic turns to new guys moving here, we all have experienced the same thing… so many people leave the country before they have given life here a chance. There are usually a few reasons why this happens.
- These folks were looking for paradise, and quickly figure out that the Philippines is not paradise.
- Financial reasons, these folks quickly figure out that the Philippines is not nearly as cheap as they thought it was.
- Cultural reasons. Philippine culture is vastly different than western cultures, and it’s a difficult adjustment.
The bulk of the “leavers” fall into one of those categories. Of course there are other reasons too, but these are the main ones that I see.
One of our other LiP writers, Paul Thompson, always says that when he hears complaining from expats here, he always offers to give them a ride to the airport, so I am quite sure that Paul knows what I am talking about here.
How are you going to deal with it?
You don’t have to be one of those guys who leaves the Philippines because you can’t make the adjustment! Not at all. The thing is, you need to come here with a plan. Come here prepared for things to not be perfect. Come here armed with information. Fact is, since you are reading this website, and likely reading other sites too, you are probably better armed then the average person who moves here. You are getting information, and hopefully using that information to help you better prepare for your move. Fact is, though, a lot of times I write similar articles to this one, and I hear from people who always say things like “that will never happen to me.” Know what? Those are the people who it ends up happening to!
I have written many times on this site that when Feyma and I moved here in 2000, we made a commitment to each other that no matter how we felt about the Philippines after moving here, we would stay for a minimum of 5 years. That amount of time would give us plenty of opportunity to make the adjustments that would be required of us. As it turned out, we were right on the mark, because for most of that 5 year period, we had a tough time adjusting. But, once we made the adjustment, we loved living here, and we still do.
So, is it paradise now?
Yes, we love living here now. Is it paradise? Not even close. Just like every other person in the world, we have problems. There is nobody who has a perfect life. It doesn’t matter where you live, your life will have problems for you to deal with. But, if you arm yourself with information, and if you allow yourself the ammunition necessary to deal with the problems you will face in the Philippines, you can and will adjust to life here. I know, because I did it. You can too, I know that as well.
So, come and live a comfortable life in the Philippines. Just don’t come looking for a perfect life, because you won’t find that anywhere. Remember, though, I told you… you won’t like living in the Philippines…. at least at first. If you give yourself time, though, you’ll like it just fine!