Living In The Philippines as an American Expat
I have been living in the Philippines since February 6th of 2008. I have greatly increased the opportunities in my life by moving to the Philippines. The two primary reasons for this are the lower cost of living and my options with women are greatly increased. However, it isn’t paradise; living in the Philippines is life. Life has its good times and its bad times. Also, there are many adjustments one must make in order to happily live in the Philippines. How you see the Philippines isn’t the same for you as it will be for anyone else. How you see the Philippines depends on what is between your own ears.
It doesn’t depend on how much money you have, though more money does help. I know people that live here with no real limits on their budget. Some of them hate it. I know people that live here on $600 a month and love it. I knew one expat that had zero income and he often told me “I love the Philippines”. I don’t know what happened to him though. He disappeared about three years ago. I often wonder what happened to Greg.
Something I like to say is that “No matter how far I run, I’m still there”. All my quirks, all my issues, all my baggage, it goes with me. It will go with you too. If you’re a bitter person that hates where you are now, chances are good you’ll see the Philippines the same way. Not always though. I have seen some people that were very unhappy in their homeland and very happy in the Philippines.
I think it is important to get your mindset right. I didn’t have a clue what to expect when I got here. Most of what I did know was wrong. I was afraid. Afraid every Filipino would try to rip me off. Nothing could go further from the truth.
Filipinos Will Rip You Off
My first few moments in the Philippines was the first step toward my awakening to what the Philippines was really like. I was so distrustful though that it took quite a while to sink in. We went to the UPS office. I entered with two women. The guy behind the desk brought a chair out from behind the desk and gave it to me. Not the two women, to me.
I thought he wanted a tip. I looked bewildered and my girlfriend Jessie said “Get use to it, you’re white.” I thought the guy was trying to get a tip so I asked Jessie. She said no. I just didn’t understand because of all the stories I had been told. How people would try to rip me off at every encounter. Don’t believe it. Its not true.
Now there is something called the kano price. A kano is a foreigner. People will charge you more if you’re a foreigner. Usually, its not a lot more. I have heard of one case, could be true, could be a story someone heard and repeated it.
A guy told me that his wife ordered a cake. When she went to pick it up, he went with her and the woman doubled the price because she was with a foreigner. I’ve been here for more than five years and I’ve never experienced anything like that. I can’t say it didn’t happen though. Usually the kano price is so insignificant that I’m happy to pay it. I have tested that by buying something then asking a Filipina what she paid for the same thing. The difference really wasn’t worth my time or energy to be concerned with. Some though, they think some is taking advantage of them and that extra 50 cents they paid for their dinner just drives them insane.
What you will find is that most Filipinos will treat you better than you deserve because you are white and if you’re not, you will still get preferential treatment if you’re a foreigner. Of course, this varies from Filipino to Filipino. Some will hate you because you are a foreigner and especially because you are an American. The upper class will not accept you into their ranks. I don’t know a lot about the upper class because they don’t intermingle. Your most likely to run into them while you are traveling. The women, instead of signaling with their eyes to you won’t even acknowledge your existence. There are some that want too, especially of the younger generation but they are not allowed too.
The Loving Filipina – Women of the Philippines
The women of the Philippines though, as a whole will treat you like gold. I’m not talking about going to Angeles City or other bikini bar hotspots. Visitors, generally go there, not expats. Of course there are expats in Angeles City but they are the exception.
Of course, women come in all kinds too. Some will do everything they can to depart you from your money. They have no intention of ever giving you anything of themselves. You may think you can spot a fraud, and often you can. However, some of them are professionals at making a living online. It is one of the better paying professions in the Philippines. When you run into those, it may be very hard to tell. There are some danger signs.
Often, these are bar girls that pretend to be anything but a bar girl. There will be several of them you’ll be talking to but you won’t know it, at first. If you find that she doesn’t remember your conversations you’re probably being played by two to six different Filipina.
My suggestion is you keep it light online. You make contacts and get their numbers so you can text or call them once you are here. I recommend texting because the accents of each are hard for most to follow. Maybe have a favorite girl in mind but have a backup plan. Filipinas are often very shy and they may not show up once you arrive.
Once you make that love connection, that woman is probably going to have it high on her priorities to serve you. Yes, you heard me. I know its hard to wrap your head around that concept if you’re from the USA and probably most other Western nations. When a Filipina loves you, she wants to take care of you. She will be hurt if you try to do very much for yourself. She wants to do it for you. It’s not a two way street, they don’t want you to serve them. At least not in words.
I have had Filipina say to me “Let me serve you”. Once I said the same thing to her and she didn’t like that idea at all. This is just one of the ways you’re stepping into a different world. Oh, she might become less serving over time but it will likely always be there to some extent.
If she’s very young or even in her late 20’s she may be rather afraid of romance. You may have to nudge her along in that department but she will get there. Of course, that’s not always true. I’ve met some young women here that are just your average Filipina that love romance.
Oh one other thing common with Filipina, they are mad dog, crazy jealous. Just forget every other woman you ever knew and if you can’t, keep it to yourself. Jessie is different in that regard, she’s different in many ways. In other ways, she’s your typical Filipina and will not be open to what you think of as modern thinking. She may be very superstitious, just accept it. It’s unlikely you’ll believe all the supernatural things she does but you might be surprised how your view on some of it changes.
Low Cost of Living in the Philippines
Sometimes I hear expats say the cost of living in the Philippines is a lot more than in their home country. That might be true for them but I would have to make a seriously strong effort to accomplish the same.
For me, living in the Philippines is much cheaper than living in the USA. In general, Housing here is a lot cheaper. My home is half a mile from the beach. Now, I wouldn’t go swimming there but the view is nice. It is best to get away from the cities to swim. Waste management in the Philippines isn’t quite up to Western standards. The home is rented, it has 10 rooms, 12 to 18 foot ceilings and no three levels. It is an older home and not up to Western standards. I pay about $280 a month for it.
The cost of services here is mind boggling cheap. A doctor’s visit is about $13 depending on the current exchange rate. A stay in a hospital is about $40 for a private hospital. The problem is, you’ll have to pay and pay upfront then file your insurance. That can be a problem. It could very well lead to problems for me. I’d rather die in the Philippines than live in poverty in the USA. I love the USA,I just can’t afford to have any kind of life there.
The cost of travel in the Philippines is very low. You can take a flight in the Philippines for around $150 roundtrip. Sometimes though,they offer a cheap fare getting to a destination and then a higher fare to get back. Hotels that meet Western standards here are often rather expensive yet often lower than Western pricing. If you stay in Filipino style accommodations, you’re going to pay around $15 to $35 a night. You can stay in a hotel here for even less. I usually pay around $20 a night but I’ve been less than thrilled with those accommodations. Usually, I find the air conditioning to be inadequate. There is one place that I have loved to stay but the last couple of times I stayed there, there was a problem with ants and I’m always hot there I think I need to up my price range just a bit.
The cost of electronics and electricity is higher here. It is a lot higher here and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise It’s not the price of the bill it is how you’re using the electricity. I recently had an electric bill here that was about $450. That shocker seems to have occurred due to an excessively warm month in May of 2013. That is the peak of summer in most places in the Philippines. My electric bill has risen quite a bit over the five years and generally runs about $200 a month at the current exchange rate. Its usually right around P11000 a month.
Part of the reason electronics cost much more here are import taxes. It doesn’t explain it all though. High quality gear, such as a Canon 7D prices at around $1000 more than it is in the USA. I think that not many Filipinos can afford such an item. Only a rich Filipino is going to consider such a camera and money to them is not usually that much of a concern. So I think the price is set for those that those kinds of people. The low volume of sales may make it so that’s the only good way to price it. I certainly will not pay that. I will buy it from the USA and ship it via Johnny Air Cargo.
I love living in the Philippines as an expat. I am treated very well by the vast majority of Filipinos. I find Filipino culture too refreshing and remind me of old school USA culture. The pace of living is much more relax with a curious combination of being both casual yet formal.
My opportunities in life as an American expatriate that lives in the Philippines have been significantly improved. I can do things I couldn’t do in the USA and I can dream of doing things that I have not done as they are not hopelessly out of my reach.
However, as nice as it is, it isn’t paradise. I’m sorry but to get that, you still have to die. You’re not going to find it here and part of the reason is you. No matter how far you run, you’re still going to be there. I firmly believe that we are our own source of most of our problems.