American Expat living in Davao, Philippines

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.

Bruce Linder
-Where were you born?

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? My site where I write about my life, observations and experiences A huge web magazine with a lot of good information

American in Davao

DavaoBruce's picture


I want to thank everyone who has read my interview and visited my site. I try to keep my articles informative and interesting.
I have received my best new viewers from this site.
Thank you all.


Sweat equity

nh3 doctor's picture

Hey Bruce, I read your blog here and I liked it. I am from Colorado but live and work in Alaska. I am a refrigeration operator working in the food industry(seafood). I am a little younger than yourself(25) but either dumb enough to go into business or have a passion to retire by age 35 or earlier, preferrebly earlier. I have been to the PI 4 times in 2 years for a 3 to 6 weeks each. I have decided this is were I want to retire and start my "empire". I have 2 businesses in the works under my fiancees name, a boarding house and internet cafe. I guess to keep a long story short I need to be in the philippines or have someone there, doing some foot work while I am here working, mainly getting with lawyers and CPA's or learning the best way for an expat like ourselves to do business in the PI. Either using a U.S. corp. or having everything under a PI citizen, best way for taxes and to minimize liabilities. If you would like to talk more just email me at If your interest in talking let me know, hope to hear from you soon.


marietta's picture

Good Afternoon,

For those who would like to secure medical insurance I can help
find a package that suits your need and your budget both in peso and in dollar
denomination for local and international coverage. I also cater to
senior citizens. My mobile number is 09192720502

Looking for Business Partners in the Philippines

michaelb's picture

Hi Bruce,

I spent time in the Philippines while in the viet nam era military so familiar with the country and the people. Now I'm a distributor with a company doing a major product launch there in mid July. I'm looking for ways to make contacts with either established Americans or Filipinos who might be interested in working with us as partners. Many of the distributors here in the US are making very good incomes and as a new product in the Philippines, people there should do as well or better. Just by way of letting you know I'm not selling used tires or something like that, I have 40 years of corporate exec experience running companies, took 2 multi billion dollar companies public and have built a handful of companies as well. By email or offline, I'd be happy to send you the bios of our team’s management. I feel sure from the reading I've done that there are Americans there who would love to be able to build their own business by making quality business contacts there in country. Any thoughts you could share would be appreciated.

Thank you for your blog comments

Michael Bartholomew, Loomis, CA

Business partners

DavaoBruce's picture



I defiantly looking to make some money since I have 7 years until SS pension.

I do not have much money for investment, but maybe you can find a way for me to help you while you are helping me. My honesty and dedication is something I can give plus hard work.

You can contact me at

Look forward to hearing from you.

Bruce Linder

I liked your interview.

BudBrown's picture

Hi Bruce, I was surfing the net on "all things Filipino" (I've been happily married to a Filipina for 37 years!) and came across your interview. I've been back to the Philippines in 2003 but only stayed a month. Now that I'm retired I want to return and stay longer. Hopefully, our paths will cross one day. Cheers!
Bud Brown

Wow! Great Read

davestack's picture

I have not been to PI, but I have my workers there. To tell honestly, these Filipino people are really knowledgeable and I am shock that they knew English and USA more than I do.

Keep up Bruce, you are one of the kind.

Glad you liked it

DavaoBruce's picture


Dave Stack,
I hope you visit my site and enjoy my articles. Please comment when you have something to add.


my first visit

clair folckomer's picture

Bruce,good information,I visited the Philippines mid Aug.09 to end of Oct. 09,I stayed in Cebu City and did go to Bohol for a few days of course stayed around Tagbilaban, I liked both places and had a good time,in Cebu I stayed at Alpa City Suites for awhile but wanted to get closer to downtown so went to Pacific Pensionne close to Fuente Osnena Circle,Robinsons store,not far from SM city mall,had a very good time where ever I went,and like you say,the people are very friendly,I was impressed by the ever present smile,and the helpfulness of the employees at Pacific Pensionne , while at SM city mall I did meet Curt Cooper of Davao,we had a good discussion about living in Davao,I plan on returning and will make Davao my destination, this is from Hermiston,Oregon.Thanks for sharing..


alvinyork's picture

I am a 46y.o. Filipino born Australian Citizen (just got my dual citizenship) who has decided I've had enough and will be going back to the Philippines to start a new life and a new business - bar/coffee shop, beach resort, whatever. When in the Philippines on holidays I am based in Ortigas(Metro Manila) and Cagayan de Oro City. If you are in Australia-Sydney you can call me on 0449 530455 or e-mail: for a beer or cuppa.