Who are you?
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
We moved from Tupelo, MS to Calbayog City, Samar, Philippines in 2013.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Downsizing and liquidation of everything we didn’t plan on bringing to the Philippines was a major task.Closing two businesses, selling our home and two cars, and securing temporary lodging in the meantime was a major task. Once everything was shipped and packed, it was the traveling with two cats that was the biggest challenge.
How did you find somewhere to live?
We settled in a home we had been building over the last several years prior to our actual move. The location was chosen because that is where my wife’s family is from.
Are there many other expats in your area?
When we first arrived there were less than 20 expats. Today there are well over 100, and many more that seem to be coming and going.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
I have a great relationship because I’m respectful and courteous to the people and their culture.
What do you like about life where you are?
I really enjoy the slow pace of daily living. Nobody ever seems to be in any big hurry. Cost of living is so much better than where we came from. And we have NO bills except for electricity which allows for a more stress-free life.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the language barrier is my biggest obstacle to almost everything. If all I had to do was simply smile and say “Hello” or “Thank you” to everyone, life would be grand. But like most expats, we all long for good conversation.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
There seems to be no sense of urgency with anybody to effect change that would be good for the country and the environment. While most Filipinos admit to their shortcomings, they will do very little about anything to bring about change.
The lack of adherance to the Rule of Law is also a huge negative trait. All that makes for that easy going lifestyle I mentioned earlier.
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
Filipino cusine is not generally healthy and is loaded with fats and sugars. The fact that we can buy much of our fruit and produce at local markets (much of it organic) allows us to create our own healthy menu at home.
My wife does what she calls “hybrid” cooking and combines the best of cooking with local products while consuming less junk food.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Know where you are going and what to expect. Although the Philippines is the most westernized nation of all Southeast Asian countries, it is still a world apart, culturally speaking, from the real western world. While living close to family might seem of paramount importance to your significant other, the location that you choose to settle must satisfy both your wants and needs.
What are your plans for the future?
After living in Samar for nearly 6 years, we are selling our home and will be relocating to the island of Luzon, just north of Manila. This will provide us with more active lifestyle choices, more variety, and easier travel options. We also plan to maintain a condo on the island of Guam, USA, for all of our other lifestyle choices and needs.
Would you like to share your experience of life abroad with other readers? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!