Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans look to move abroad. Some do so because they're relocated for their job, while others relocate overseas looking for a slower pace of life and to live among natural beauty. Even more, people approaching retirement age in the U.S. are adding up their piggy bank and realizing that between the high cost of living, the sky-high cost of healthcare and medicines, and diminishing social safety net, a comfortable retirement at home is untenable.
Whatever the reason, expats have more options than ever these days, from Costa Rica to Colombia; Mexico to Madrid; Thailand to Vietnam, and, yes, the Philippines. Whether young or old, pulling up deep roots or just intrepid wanderers, they’re starting their new lives in those countries. If they do it right, their remaining days are filled with sunny skies and smiles, new friendships and enjoyable experiences with twice the standard of living for half the cost.
But the Philippines is also distinctly unique from other expat destinations, as well as different than any country on earth. It should be on any expat's short list, but also have an asterisk next to it since it's not for everyone.
Like no other new home nation, the Philippines can be a tropical paradise for expats, filled with scenery so amazing you have to pinch yourself to see if it’s real, laughter, good vibes, and a sense of community.
But just as many people who move to the Philippines flame out very quickly, frustrated by the inefficiency, chaos, and shoddy infrastructure. Best case scenario, they leave and try an easier – but less rewarding – country like Thailand or Vietnam. Worst case scenario, they stay, grow increasingly cranky and curmudgeonly, and poison the vibe for everyone else.
I’ve experienced a bit of both, if I’m honest with you, having first visited the country extensively way back in ’99 when I was a young buck backpacking around the world. I was both shocked by the impoverished, grimy conditions, and awed by the jaw-dropping natural beauty and genuine gregarious nature of its people.
The awe won out, and I moved back to the Philippines in 2013, settling into Boracay just in time for a super typhoon to hit (that’s another story!). In the years since, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, had a bumpy learning curve, and often questioned my choice to live here.
But you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. I fall in love with the majesty and magic of the Philippines every day, as she still reveals her secrets to me little by little – once I earn them.
And I feel like I'm a better, happier, and definitely more patient person for it. Life is not dull (that's for sure!) in the Philippines, but life is also beautiful, and those statements need no asterisk.
So, is the Philippines right for you? What is daily life like for expats here? (Is it truly more fun in the Philippines?!) And how can you get to the beautiful, happy part with the smoothest transition?
Basically, what is it you should know about living in the Philippines?
Let’s find out!