Business is booming for American expat Harry in Metro Manila, Philippines


Harry Fozzard

-Where were you born?
Durham, North Carolina, United States of America

-In which country and city are you living now?
Pasig City, Metro Manila, the Philippines

-Are you living alone or with your family?

emerald place-How long have you been living in the Philippines?
± 2.5 Years

-What is your age?

-When did you come up with the idea of living in the Philippines?
I’ve always been interested in South East Asia and the movement of call center and back office work offshore simply provided the impetus to move to the Philippines.

-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
This was handled by my employer; however, the Philippines has created a package of economic incentives that make application for a work permit relatively simple.

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
This again is part of my compensation; however, local insurance is not hard to come by. Much like insurance in the US, it is less expensive to get when you belong to a group plan.

-How do you make your living in the Philippines? Do you have any type of income generated?
I have two sources of income — I work in the call center business, which is undergoing major growth at the moment. While my position came from corporate expansion in the US, there are a number of executive search firms and placement agencies in the Philippines. Likewise, for searching for jobs in the Philippines two options come readily to mind:  Teledevelopment Services (

The first is really geared more for positions filled by locals and reflects a pay scale commensurate with this. The second, Teledevelopment (TDS), is a well-respected executive search as well as a staffing firm.

My second source of income is a small web marketing firm established for the same reasons that the call center and back office processing industries have become so enamored with the Philippines — high-quality, English-speaking talent. Basically, this business is being developed as a future income opportunity. I also provide occasional consulting work for groups establishing themselves in the Philippines under the umbrella of my local company.

harry and team phillipines-Do you speak Tagalog and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I do not speak the local language, Tagalog or Filipino, very well at all and I’m committed to spending more time learning it. It would be a significant benefit to do so, but English is widely spoken in the Philippines and so it not necessary to function comfortably.

In this regard, acculturating to the Philippines can be tricky since there is a veneer of American and western culture that can seem deceptively familiar. In fact, the Philippines is a very complex cultural mix with elements of Spanish, Chinese, Malay, and American culture. It is therefore important to tread somewhat lightly until you have spent some time understanding how the culture really operates to inform local attitudes towards foreigners.

With that said, Filipinos are enormously warm and friendly people.

-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
I certainly miss the States and don’t really get back often enough — the food is great (hard to get a fresh bagel here) and there isn’t anywhere in the world like it. But the Philippines is a tremendously diverse and engaging place to travel and live.

With so much history, architecture freaks like me are able to travel around and see beautiful churches and Spanish colonial structures. The beaches and diving in the Philippines are, without doubt, the best in the world.

Opportunities for travel to other SE Asian destinations are easy and very affordable with so many destinations within a three-hour flight of Manila.

-Do you have other plans for the future?
In the near future, I intend to remain engaged in the explosive growth of the outsourcing scene here in the Philippines. With this industry growing and the overall prospects for SE Asia unfolding, it’s a pretty exciting moment to be here.

To this end, I believe my ventures will be expanding as more people become aware of the opportunities in the Philippine archipelago.

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
I currently rent space in Metro Manila, located in the Ortigas area, which is quite central. For a 100-meter western-style apartment I pay around $800 or P40,000/month. This is paid quarterly and is at the high-end of the spectrum. One great feature of the building is that it is an office building with a couple of residential units — so I’m the only resident and I get to be close to my Company. The unit has two bedrooms w/maid’s quarters and four bathrooms — two of which include shower, etc.

I pay this quarterly and pay my office rent monthly. It’s worth factoring utility (electric) costs in as well — mine runs anywhere from $150-200 US, depending on if I’m in town much that month. In this regard, I’m not too frugal, so it could be much less with some discipline.

-What is the cost of living in the Philippines?
The cost is much lower than the US, on balance. You can spend quite a lot or a little, depending on your lifestyle and what you think of for fun. The big shift is the ability to afford anything that is man(person)power intensive. So domestic staff, driver, nanny, etc., are something that a middle-class person can afford (on an ex-pat salary at least).

Here’s a snapshot of typical expenditures:
- $150 or Php7,000 per week on groceries to feed myself and my employees
- Vet visit for two cats (without medication) costs $12 or Php600
- Gas for a Nissan Xtrail in-city driving runs $40 orPhp 2,000/week
- A move theater visit costs $2-3 or Php100-180
- Electronics are very costly here depending on the brand and how new they are
- A full-time maid runs around $100 or Php5,000 month

-What do you think about the Filipinos?
Filipinos are pretty accustomed to dealing with Americans and foreigners in general. There are offshore workers from the Philippines in North America and Europe so everyone is related to and has visited relatives somewhere else.

The culture fosters politeness and hospitality, so I find the interactions positive. Occasionally there are cultural disconnects that have humorous consequences. In general, avoid commenting on the standard items like politics and religion and be aware that people will ask you questions as a matter of course that would be considered forward or impertinent elsewhere.

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in the Philippines?
- Everything and anything can be delivered
- Local travel diversity – beach/mountains/resorts
- International travel proximity – Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Macau, etc.
- People
- Music
- All night culture
- Intramuros

-Manila traffic
-Grocery store selection (get ready to substitute)
-Lack of greenspace/uninspiring public space

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in the Philippines?
Partner with an ex-pat guide who has dealt with the issues you’re going to face. The person can help you in ways that a local simply can’t since this needs to come with a frame of reference for the things that will confuse you and can offer advice when you need it.

Remember, as an ex-pat your support group is other ex-pats.

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about the Philippines?

Also, Carlos Celdran’s blog is an excellent resource: Walk This Way

Project Manila is a visual delight.

Looking to Live and work in the Philippines

kurtso's picture

I have owned and operated my own awning and sign business my back round is in sales and business development. I want to go and live there, For someone like me are there real opportunities that I may take advantage of? I am planning a trip In January and in February. I look forward to any response.


Opening a business in Philippines

kurtso's picture

Looking to open an awning and sign company in the Philippines. I have been in the awning and sign business for 20 years, I am looking to relocate to Manila or Cebu area. I am looking for an investor and partner. I have most of the equipment that can be shipped however there are still start up cost and location review. Please email me at if you have any interest. I will be in PI in February or sooner if need be.

I believe this is an untapped market and with all the new franchises investing in PI there is significant opportunity for this industry.


IT Management Opportunities

Bill Busse's picture

Hi All,

It was very nice to find this forum for expats in Philippines! I have been living here now for approximately 13 years and have been working in IT management for some large multinational companies setting up some very successful 24x7 support teams. I recently left a management consultancy position and it seems like the job market for senior IT managers is pretty dry these days. I was wondering if anyone might have some good advice about where to look for some good opportunities? Any help would be greatly appreciated and you can contact me at

Big Thanks!

Employment for a US veteran

ShaneB's picture


My name is Shane and I am currently employed with the US Army. I have spent much of my career in the Philippines as well as the Middle East. Throughout my travels i have always had great stories and memories from the Philippines and have started looking into employment there for when i get out of the military. While in the Philippines i worked in Manila and everywhere in Mindanao. My job in the Army is the equivalent of a advertising manager. I have experience with all Adobe and Microsoft Office software. I am conversational in Tagalog and fluent in English. I'm just curious how my time and experience may transfer over to working abroad. I am very familiar with cost of living and lifestyles in the Philippines but I would look for more than local wages. Any ideas? Thanks!

hi guys im filipino working

leo_villa's picture

hi guys im filipino working here in middle east.. and i love my home country... but i dont want to work there as an employee because my country pays SH*T.. anyways ill be going back there to start my own business when i had enough of my saving working here in middle east... im a graphic designer
best thing to do in philippines is to have business and party but if your just want to be an employee you should think twice about it... if you have a filipino friend to help you with is much better...

my top business choices

1 music bar... all filipinos loves live band and good drinks... many expats already made a life in PI just because of this business

2 rental apartment... this is a basic needs so theres no question about it...

3 internet cafe... five units of computer is not a bad start
4 mini market... basic needs.

5 tricycle rental... tricycle is one of the popular transportation in philippines aside from jeepney... im sure youll never get zero to this.

its not about cheapness... its about easy money while enjoying the tropics , friendliness and beauty of the philippine islands

* tips * try buying a house near a "sunset beach" first before starting a business is the best thing coz setting up a business is a whole lot of work

any questions about my country is free to contact me at

minimum wage is 6,000 pesos

leo_villa's picture

minimum wage is 6,000 pesos to 12,000 pesos per month... but if your on a call center or advertising you can have a minimum up 18 to 20,000 pesos. i dunno about other careers

ill be honest philippines is not a good place to work for salary... except if you have your own small business like restaurant or shop then having money in the PI wont be a problem... but as an employee? well think twice about it... you wont get empty handed when you have a business in PI.

tips for business? * filipino loves foods.

hope that helps

heres my email

im a filipino by the way. and i work here in mid east. i planning to save money here so i can start my own business in PI one day... ive already had bought a a sunset beach house there anyway... im hoping to get bach there soon this summer

im filipino... and im going

leo_villa's picture

im filipino...

and im going to say dont expect to have a good job in PI... they pay sh*t...

start your own business or have a small shop.. thats the only best, cheapest and efficient way that you wont be empty handed while enjoying the beauty of PI.

* tips in business- filipino loves foods. live bands

managerial positions in companies and firms also had a good pay but its very few and the only good ones are in manila...

* tips - cebu, davao, iloilo, cagayan and palawan are the best islands better than manila and its also a good place to start a business while basking in beach while having a margarita..
hope to help you all

any questions email me

I am in Love with a Filipina

kurtso's picture

I am in Love with a Filipina and want to relocate to marry her. I own an awning and sign business here in Boston. I want to move to the Philippines and open the same kind of business. I am looking for a partner and/investor if any one is interested please contact me. I would like to discuss this seriously.

Kurt Maimaron
New Line Products

Hello Folks, I am finalizing

cdnicholson's picture

Hello Folks,

I am finalizing my sale of my land here in Texas within 6-8 wks. I will then be coming to Philippines to live. I will be looking for work in the professional field. I have a bachelors in Technology Management and a MBA (Masters in Business Administration). I have owned my own construction business and I have been a district manager for an AT&T franchise company located in Texas and Florida.
I have been trying to make this move to Phili for a few years now. I have finally gotten my ducks in a row and ready to make that leap forward. I am interested in a managerial type job and it can be in the telecommunications or call center atmosphere. I have both experiences. I have managed several locations and employees.

If anyone has something in the works in and around Mid June 2011 and would like to skype a video interview; I would appreciate the offer.

Please contact me at chuckdnicholson @ gmail . com

Thanks and I look forward to any positive feedback or invitations.

Hello, I'm planning to

enoahgibby's picture

I'm planning to move my family to the Philippines and in need of work. I am an American and lived in the Philippines for 3 years (2002-2005). I was a missionary and speak Tagalog fluently. My wife and I have a home and some land that we would like to enjoy on a more permanent basis.

I am 28 years old, and a Manager of Sales for an established Telecommunications Carrier in the states. I have been in professional/aggressive sales for 8 years, and have proven success managing both call center activities, as well as customer service.

I feel that my strengths could be well received in a call center or sales environment, where my communication and training skills will contribute to a company's success.
If anyone has any contacts or avenues I should explore 1st, I would greatly appreciate it.

Many Thanks,

Mark head down to ORTIGAS

kayb100's picture

Mark head down to ORTIGAS AVENUE. MANILA. its a bustling business district. Theres alot of korean owned english schools here. The pay is around 40,000 pesos for teaching jobs there. + commissions depending on how many classes you do. I know of 2 places hiring right now there but im saving those for my close expat friends here. But im sure theres more.

Theres two fields of work for foreigners in manila right now, call centers and english teaching, english teaching jobs is kinda like a call center job, you would be in a office, on skype with your headset doing one on one teaching, but its more fun and you dont hate going to work as much as you would in a call center.

I had business problems myself in my first year there so i feel your pain.

Hello everyone, im Dennis

dennistbm's picture

Hello everyone,

im Dennis and i am married with a lovely Pinay. i am looking for a job in the Philippines so i can be home and enjoy my family after more than 11 years of travelling worldwide but i do not know any soul there especially expats.
i've been working in Tunnelling and Offshore oil rigs as electrician and superintendent but i cant find any decent job that will let me settle in the Philippines.
of course i do not ask for a huge salary but simply something that will allow me and the family to leave properly.
im good with logistics and other stuff and i love the Philippines especially outside Manila!!
anyone has any help for me? i will be back in Makati next month.
i almost forgot to mention that i was born in Italy.

thanks all

My name is Steve. Two years

ExpatPalayMan's picture

My name is Steve. Two years ago I invested in a few hectares of land and began growing rice. I did not see a huge return on my investment over the years but it provides a consistent income for my family. I am currently looking to invest in more land in the future. The rice farm business profits approximately 200,000 pesos per year, or about 4000 US. Not a huge income, but its a start. I live in the US, but due to economic pressures, will be looking to change direction in careers shortly. I have worked in the construction industry for over 20 years. I began working for a contractor and crawled my way up through the ranks. I am currently working on a megasite project financed at around 1.2 billion in Clarksville, TN. My current position will expire in June of 2012. The US job market for construction work is not looking very promising. I may choose to move to the Philippines after my assignment is complete. I have managed to save a few bucks and am looking to invest in a solid business franchise. I have been searching the internet, reading expat Ebooks and frequenting blogs for any ideas. I would like to begin my journey making a few networking connections on this post. I would like to reach out to any foreign expat who has been sucessful and can offer me good advice. I am also open to a joint venture with anyone who may be looking for an investor or partner. well, good luck to all, and Happy New Year.


Chuck- Let me know if you

ExpatPalayMan's picture


Let me know if you have made the leap and what area of the Philippines you plan on moving to.


I am interested in moving to

Braile's picture

I am interested in moving to the Philippines. I have been with my current job for almost 4 years in the shipping industry with Maersk. Prior to that, I have many years of experience in call centers. I am looking for a company that would be open to hiring an American with my experience, at a good salary, preferably in shipping. My wife is a Filipina, and we have 2 small boys. I want to be able to provide them a good life in the Philippines. Are there any specific companies anyone would recommended? Thanks