Who are you?
I am Rachel Farndon. I’m in my twenties and I am a career expat.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
My first big move was as a 9 year old when my family moved from New Zealand to Brunei. I have since travelled all over the world. In 2012 I made my next long term move to Ireland. This was purely spontaneous. I applied for a working holiday visa, picked up and left within about 3 months. I am now living and working in Manila, The Philippines.
How did you find somewhere to live?
In Ireland I had a number of happy coincidences.In my first two days I had landed a live in job in a hostel purely by talking to people and letting them know I was looking for work. In the Philippines I had one month in a hotel to sort out what I would do next. I spent a lot of time looking online as well as contacting rental agents directly.
Renting was itself, rather simple. My agent did all the liaising and I was able to reach a rent amount I was happy with. Setting up cable and internet was also smooth because my building has an administration office that takes care of contacting companies for you.
Did I mention I live on the 25th floor of a high-rise?
Are there many other expats in your area?
My first 6 months in Ireland were surrounded by tourists and expats.
The final 6 months I was living in suburban South Dublin and was the only expat I knew off in my social circle and at work. The Philippines is very different. My area, Makati, has a huge expat community. I work with other New Zealand expats (and one Brit) like me, as well.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Ireland was fantastic for meeting locals and socialising. Because Ireland is all about the craic and the culture is so traditionally friendly most of my social circle was Irish. In my particular area of Manila I do not have a large group of local friends. There are one or two people I know from school growing up and I work with an amazing bunch of Filipinas. Other than that I do not have a lot of local commitments.
What do you like about life where you are?
I love the heat! It is always t-shirt weather in Manila, which is a big change to Ireland and even New Zealand in some areas. My main reason for coming to Manila was for the job, which completely lived up to expectations. I also love being in the middle of Asia with Thailand and China right on my doorstep.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Being away from my partner is the biggest challenge. We are both on separate expat journeys right now and that has been a big lesson in long distance relationships. Manila can be a very isolating metropolis for some people. As a lone female traveller it can be hard to get out of the city sightseeing. The Philippines is comprised of many wonders, but I hardly get to see them!
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Check the pipes in the kitchen. If the place smells musty that probably isn’t a good sign. You will be charged more if you are Caucasian. It’s up to you if that bothers you or not. There is real poverty here and you will be faced with it. Do not brush off a cold – you’re in the third world now, get ye’self to a hospital. Fortunately medical treatment is comparatively cheap. Call you mum. Eat whatever you want. Then join a gym.