Below is some general advice that I typically offer those who contact me, and are interested in coming to the Philippines to retire:
1. Initial Planning: Deciding to make the move
Before liquidating everything in your life and moving to the Philippines live, come here for a visit and see if living in the Philippines is for you.
VERY IMPORTANT: Do not sell everything in your home country, leaving yourself nothing to return to in case things do not work out for you here. You will have time to do that after your initial, or subsequent visits here. So, please don't rush it.
You see, while the Philippines may seem like the "Utopia" many seek in this world (or damned close to it), myself included, it may not be for others. But, some foreigners who live here tend to make the Philippines out to be something it is far from - the perfect place. Unfortunately, there are those who are naive, and tend to buy into what these foreigners are selling, without taking time to do more advance research. So, my very important advice for you is, make it a point to do as much research as possible prior to making the decision to move to the Philippines.
I enjoy living in Cebu and feel it is the best place in this world - for me. But, not everyone who arrives can adapt and adjust to the Filipino culture. This is why it is very important for retirees to come and visit first, spending as much time as is reasonably possible here, before making their final decision to live here. Generally, I advise guys to spend six months to one year on the ground here, before making a final decision to stay here long term.
Here is a first step for you to take in deciding to move to the Philippines. View, join, and ask questions on our Living In Cebu Forum. You can read advice offered by those who live here. The members of the forums, both Filipinos and foreigners who live in country, will give you straight, uncensored information, helping you to decide if this is right for you.
I have taken time to start a fairly good list of links, although far from complete, which is incorporated into the forums. Click on my Links System for direct access to the links I have begun compiling for visitors to the forums.
2. Financial Planning: Banking and investing in the Philippines
I never suggest for anyone to bring 100% of their liquid cash to the Philippines. Keep the majority of your funds in banks in your home country. Banking in the Philippines isn't exactly the most secure in the world.
Open a USD account locally, which will allow you to withdraw USD (or other foreign currency) bills directly, then change them at your leisure when the peso to dollar rate is at its best for you. Of course, there are other options you may wish to consider as well (buying other currencies, for example).
If you desire, you can also open a peso account, and keep on deposit several months of your operating budget as a backup. This would serve in case of urgency or if you are unable to secure funds from an ATM for any length of time. It is always good to have some available cash in country, as you never know when, or for how long, you may lose communications with your home bank.
One bank that I suggest doing business with, is Bank of Commerce. I have been very pleased with the service I have gotten from that bank. Pay a visit to the main branch, located on Fuente Osmeña (Osmeña Circle). A great contact person at the main branch is Mayen. Their current opening balance for USD accounts is $500 USD.
Another bank I know of, which has a $100 USD minimum balance for US Dollar accounts, is Planter's Bank.
3. Romance and Love: Falling for a Filipina
Come to the Philippines and meet a Filipina here. Do not meet them online, because the vast majority of those you will meet through internet dating sites are no good anyway. Typically, guys, especially first timers, feel as though they must meet a girl prior to coming to the Philippines, so they will have someone who can greet them upon arrival. This is western thinking at its best, pure ignorance on our part. They couldn't be farther from the truth. Get on the plane, come over, get off the plane, and walk out the terminal into Cebu. You WILL meet tons of young Filipinas, most very willing to hook up with you and take care of you for a very long time.
There are, quite literally, millions of Filipinas in this country, many who are very interested in meeting foreigners. So, do not for a minute think that you can't come here and meet a wonderful Filipina. These same girls will make wonderful wives and mothers. They are absolutely amazing women. Trust me on this, guys.
Personally, I prefer provincial (country) girls over city girls. But, either one would be head and shoulders above any modern western woman. They have values that western women have lost over the past couple of generations.
Filipinas are very devoted and loyal to their husbands, taking care of the man like a baby. A Filipina will wash you in the shower, make sure you are fed a good Filipino meal (or any western meal you teach her to cook for you), will wash your clothes by hand, and will keep your home cleaner than it has ever been kept by any western woman you have probably ever known.
While some will say, even I have made this statement, "Filipinos aren't the best at budgeting money," you will find some who if given the chance, will squeeze a peso until it screams, for the budget concerning your home. A good Filipina will know if they save you money, they are also saving themselves money.
4. Relations: You and your Filipina's family
Questions regarding what to do about a Filipina's family comes up quite frequently, especially regarding financial or other support. Others on the ground here may have differing opinions, but here is mine. I feel there are two types of Filipino families, just as there are in most cultures around the globe. One family is going to be full of takers, while the other is going to be full of givers, usually anyway.
The first type of family, I have seen fairly often here, although I feel as though they are still the minority. (I believe most Filipino families are good people.) I have seen a number of families here
only take and take, never caring if they give in return. Your Filipina is the primary person who should regulate this, concerning what you do for her family, rather than you. She should be able to handle
her family and tell them no, if need be. If she cannot, you really have no business with her. If she cannot tell them no, she will ultimately cost you tons more money than should cost you to live here.
I'm very fortunate in that my ex-girlfriends family loved me very much. They are the giving sort of people. What I mean is, they did as much, if not more for me than I did for them. Every time I went there for a visit, they always made me feel at home, as many Filipino families will do. They have bought me beer to drink on many occasions, never asking for anything in return.
In closing, make it a point to watch how your Filipina handles her family when asking for money comes up. It won't take long to determine if you are son-in-law material to them, or a milking cow, walking ATM. If you start to feel as though you are producing milk by the gallon, cut ties with the family and with your Filipina. If you can move her some distance away from her family, in that case, you may be okay. But, that will depend on you.
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Revised: 07/28/13 12:36:07 +0700