How To Live In The Philippines As A Foreigner: One of the most common questions asked is how to live in the Philippines as a foreigner? Are there any set rules and important things when you are moving to the Philippines as a foreigner? Today we will be addressing this very question by going over 15 powerful tips on how to live in the Philippines as a foreigner.
Table of Contents
How To Live In The Philippines As A Foreigner
1. Choose The Perfect Location
One of the most significant categories when moving to the Philippines as a foreigner is what location you will be living in. The great thing about being an expat in the Philippines is that there are several locations that are stretched over 7000 islands. But when looking at how to live in the Philippines as a foreigner, how can you decide what location is best for you?
Many foreigners live in the major cities of the Philippines, such as Manila and Cebu. This is because these areas often have many essential facilities for foreign visitors. For example, if you are an entrepreneur or interested in business, Metropolitan Manila offers fantastic opportunities.
So when you are moving to the Philippines from another country, one of the first considerations is what facilities are important to you? Here are some considerations you may wish to consider when choosing the perfect location to live in the Philippines.
- Are There Any Alternative Areas?
- Does this Location Have Access To A Beach?
- Does This Location Have Access To A Nearby Hospital?
- Does This Location Have Everything That I Need?
- Is The Place Accessible?
- What Are The Three Most Important Facilities I’m Looking For In A Location?
- What Is The Overall Cost Of Living In This Location?
- What Is The Rental Cost For Condominium In This Neighbourhood?
Feel free to add any of your own questions to the list above. When looking at how to live in the Philippines as a foreigner, you may already have a location in mind, so in that case, let’s move on to our second most important area to focus on, which is money.
2. Focus On Your Income Sources
The title of focusing on the income sources can be elaborated on. This means how you will be getting your money (from a business, pension, online job, etc.) and includes how you will withdraw your cash.
Let’s first address the income sources. Later on, we discuss how much you will need to live in the Philippines as a foreigner, but at this stage, we are finding out what income sources are available and if they will be enough for the Philippines. If you believe that your income sources will not be enough, this is the time to plan your options.
The second area is how you will be withdrawing your funds (in other words, the method). For example, will you be using a local Philippines bank account as a foreigner, or will you be using services such as wise?
It’s recommended that long-term foreign visitors living in the Philippines obtain a local bank account and an online international transfer service such as Wise. Local bank accounts are perfect for day-to-day transactions but can be extremely expensive for international transfers. Thus using a service such as wise is often the wisest decision.
3. Obtain A Suitable Visa For Living In The Philippines
Another significant category for expats living in the Philippines is obtaining a suitable long-term visa. Naturally, this will depend on the individual. The great thing about the Philippines is that most foreigners can live for an extended period without applying for a more permanent visa.
However, if you want to live in the Philippines long-term, you have plenty of options. One of the most popular options for foreigners at retirement age is the Philippines ‘ special retirement visa.
But there are also several options available for those not of retirement age. For example, for entrepreneurs wanting to do business in the Philippines, it is possible to obtain a business visa, which can be obtained once in the Philippines.
4. Calculate Your Cost Of Living In The Philippines
Apart from how to live in the Philippines as a foreigner, the second most common question asked is how to calculate the cost of living in the Philippines as a foreigner?
The total cost of living as a foreigner in the Philippines ranges between $1000 – $1700 on average. However, if you live in an expensive area such as Makati or live in a cheaper area such as Davao city, you will find that the cost will be higher or lower depending on your personal circumstances.
Based on my experiences and the feedback of other expats living in the Philippines, most foreign visitors living in the Philippines do not spend more than $2000 per month. Some can even live on an economical amount of only $800.
Naturally, when exploring how to live in the Philippines as a foreigner, calculating the cost of living based on your expenses (gym, food, hobbies, tours, etc.) is always a wise decision.
5. Build A Social Network
Building a social network is important for any foreigner living in the Philippines. This is one of the most important when looking at mental health. Still, unfortunately, with everything else going on, building friendship and building connections are not priories in the very early days.
Loneliness from expats living in the Philippines is a real occurrence and many expats who have lived in the Philippines during COVID-19 experience loneliness on a different level. Therefore making friendships with other foreigners and the local community is always recommended if you are looking to live well in the Philippines as a foreigner.
6. Research The Philippines Before Moving As A Foreigner
When moving to the Philippines, you will naturally be interested in many different topics. These can be topics such as how to find cheap flights to the Philippines, how to find a wife in the Philippines, or anything else in between.
The great thing is that there is plenty of information about living in the Philippines online. You can find hundreds of articles about living in the Philippines as a foreigner on this website. Still, several other experienced experts have shared their stories, tales, and feedback about how to live well in the Philippines as a foreigner.
Even though we all aim to give honest and relevant information, just like so many things in life, you must experience it for yourself to truly understand and appreciate it. For example, the Philippines is a beautiful country beyond belief, but only until you experience it for yourself can you grasp the uniqueness.
7. Get Involved In The Local Culture
Getting involved in the local culture of the Philippines is a very important area to consider when starting a new life in a new country. But why is this important, and how can you get involved with the people of the Philippines?
The great thing is that most locals are extremely friendly and welcoming to foreign visitors. So even if you are a shy person, you will find plenty of opportunities to meet all kinds of people from all parts of the Philippines. As mentioned previously, getting involved and building a network is important to all foreigners moving to the Philippines.
An extra tip for those who wish to build a friendship network in the Philippines is to sign up for local meetups that are happening all across the country. These meetups can be a financial seminar or a volunteer event. If you can’t find an event, how about hosting your own meet-up in the Philippines?
8. Accept That There Will Be Challenges
Unfortunately, as much as I would love to say everything will be ok, there will be surprises along the way. This is the same if you are living in the Philippines or your home country. Therefore it’s always best to approach situations with no expectations and to understand when living in the Philippines as a foreigner; there will be challenges along the way.
When I first arrived in the Philippines all those years ago, I was unfortunately involved in a real estate scam. Stupidly at a young age, I paid the deposit for a condominium without signing the deeds. Thankfully my money was returned after justifying I would have to take strong legal action. But even though the story had a happy ending, it still wasn’t something I planned for.
I know you will not be as foolish as I was, but… what is guaranteed is that challenges will come into your life living in the Philippines, and it’s best to accept these for what they are and move on.
9. Be Wary Of Scams
Some scams target foreigners in the Philippines, but in most cases, scammers target foreigners and local Filipinos. There have been several government announcements and websites detailing potential scams across the country, and I have linked to the relevant pages if you are looking for further resources.
10. Obtain Health Insurance
Previously, I have spoken about obtaining health insurance as a foreigner in the Philippines, which includes everything you need to know about your health insurance options.
But to summarise a few points, similar to other types of health insurance, you will have different options based on what type of plan you are seeking.
The Philippines has a locally funded health insurance plan – PhilHealth. Foreigners can become members of PhilHealth, and many choose to sign up to PhilHealth and purchase private health insurance. Of course, there are pros and cons to both options. But the benefit of PhilHealth is that it is incredibly cost-effective and well recommended for foreigners.
11. Become Open-Minded When Living In The Philippines
Why do you need to be open-minded when living in the Philippines as a foreigner, and why is this important? These are two very good questions. First, one needs to be open-minded as a foreigner in the Philippines because culture and understanding can sometimes be different.
For example, if you are dating someone born in the Philippines, they may see situations differently to you, and most of the time, these are little things. Still, if you can be open-minded in this situation and other situations, you will enjoy your life in the Philippines so much more.
12. Give Back To The Local Community
Giving back to the local community is, of course, an optional option when looking at how to live in the Philippines as a foreigner but provides foreigners with a great sense of purpose and fulfillment, resulting in a win-win situation.
There were several opportunities around the Philippines, as even with the ongoing developments, there are still areas that can be improved. Nevertheless, I believe that the Philippines will be a very strong, robust country in the years to come, and now we are seeing the years of opportunity.
These opportunities can be in the business world, the financial world, or the volunteering world. Several organizations around the Philippines aim to help the environment, the local people, and many other causes.
13. Aim To Be Respectful Of Difference
Respect can come in many different forms. When living in the Philippines as a foreigner, you will notice that many things are done differently in the Philippines compared to other countries, and it’s always best to be respectful of the difference.
Unfortunately, I have seen some times where foreign visitors have blown up and got angry at something completely common in the Philippines. Therefore, if you experience a displeasing situation, it’s best to handle this appropriately and respectfully. In most situations, anger will not result in anything positive in the Philippines.
14. Understand Word Of Mouth Packs A Punch
This is often not spoken about by foreigners living in the Philippines, and I don’t understand why, as this is one of the biggest truths of life in the Philippines as an expat.
This essentially means that word of mouth is incredibly strong in the Philippines. The Philippines is the world leader in terms of social media usage. Filipinos are kings and queens of social media, and word of mouth travels extremely fast.
There are several different groups depending on the communities. For example, many real estate agents have their groups in real estate. Thus if you are being noticed for the wrong reasons, you may find that word of mouth travels fast.
15. Keep An Eye Out For Changing Food Habits
One of the great things about living in the Philippines as a foreigner is that the food is delicious, and you will find many different herbs and spices available all across the Philippines. However, unfortunately, some Filipino food can be unhealthy.
Some expats report that while living in the Philippines, they found their food habits and diets changed, and because of this, they noticed slightly more excess weight and a sluggish feel compared to when they were eating healthily.
Naturally, Filipino food is much cheaper than western food. Unfortunately, much Western food tends to be unhealthy, such as pizzas and burgers; thus, keeping an eye out for changing food habits is always wise when living in the Philippines as a foreigner.
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