|New Yorker Bruce left the United States to live in Davao City in the Philippines more than a year ago, for reasons he cites in his interview. This American expat also talks about what life is like in Davao for him and his family, the adjustments he has had to make, and his upcoming business plans there.
New York, U.S.A.
-In which country and city are you living now?
Davao City, Philippines
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I live with my wife, Elena, and 3 of our nieces who are attending Nursing School.
-How long have you been living in the Philippines?
1 year, 2 months
-What is your age?
55 years old
-When did you come up with the idea of living in the Philippines?
I had originally wanted to bring my then-fiancee to America. Our plan was for her to come to America and once we retired to then move. Then with the housing crunch, the closure of the builder I was employed with and no jobs to be found for an Architectural Project Manager with a decent salary, I decided to move to the Philippines.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?
The visa was easy, I went to a consulate in America and got a 1 year visa, but have to renew every 2 months. With the tourist visa you're not allowed to work. I now have a 13a Permanant Resident Visa and am allowed to be employed.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
There is PhilHealth available here but I have yet to apply.
-How do you make your living in the Philippines? Do you have any type of income generated?
I have an annuity that I get a small sum from, but right now most of our support is from one of my wife's nephews who is a Marine Engineer.
I worked as a consultant for about 6 months for an Architectural Firm, but I was still on my Tourist Visa so I needed to stop. Right now I am investigating opening a business with someone soon to move here.
You need to remember, a local job pays Filipino wages, which are not enough to cover your expenses. Owning a business or working for an international company is probably what you need if you need income here.
-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language? Please add your thoughts on local customs and whether it's important for expats to respect/observe local customs.
Most Filipinos speak to some proficiency in English. I only know a few words in the local dialect, Bisaya, but I mainly use English.
I think to show respect to the people of the country you reside to learn to speak their language, but I find it difficult for me to learn.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available.
I miss the easier life, some foods and safer traffic from home. Lately both of us have started golf lessons. I played a while back but need a refresher. We also go bowling about once a month.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
As I mentioned already, I am interested to develop a business. I do not have a lot of savings to invest but hope my sweat equity might get me something.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We are in a rent-to-own home right now. It is not something I want for the long term. Rentals vary depending on what you need. Average "comfortable" townhomes rent for about $300 USD a month. House rates also vary greatly depending on location, subdivision and size.
-What is the cost of living in the Philippines?
You need about $2000.00 USD a month to live comfortably. Some do it for a lot less and some spend a lot more. Again it depends on the amenities you need.
-What do you t hink about the Filipinos?
Most of the Filipinos I have met are very friendly and open. They love to talk to you and then apologize they need toget on their way.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in the Philippines?
The positives are the lower cost of living, the loving way a Filipina wife caters to her husband and the relaxed lifestyle.
The negatives are the heat, no seasons, the traffic, the sanitation and the difficulity to earn.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in the Philippines?
Remember you are in someones else's country. Do not act as if you are better than the locals. Accept what you cannot change, it is not the people's fault. It is not the USA or Europe, it is a 3rd world nation.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about the Philippines?
http://www.americanindavao.com: My site where I write about my life, observations and experiences
http://www.liveinthephilippines.com: A huge web magazine with a lot of good information