Advice on being an expat several hundred dollars an hour??

Thing with advice is its easy come easy go, often you give good advice it gets ignored, you give bad advice and they follow it it sticks for eternity then you get the bit in the middle with the he said she said scenario where you didn’t actually give any advice but people are trying to offload the blame for doing something themselves. But how much is advice worth anyway?

I was contacted by someone who was quoted over $100 for a half hour chat with another expat to talk about life in the Philippines and all I would say to that I have a better idea with your money. Grab a box of matches and set fire to it, you have walked into the first trap that many people do on going to move here you have engaged in a conversation with someone right from the word go who is trying to make money from you. Next it will be hey my wife knows a house for sale or I can find you a rental, maybe you should buy an e-book or three? How about some flowers for the girlfriend all via my sites??

Reality check here.. What does the other guy do that makes you think his advice is worth anything more than 25c? How does he make his income? Mainly by the internet? mainly by people like you? So in reality what business setup has he got that is so valuable to you in getting started in the Philippines as it doesn’t seem to be much in the way of solid ground work. Going through TropicalPenpals.com yourself you can find most things are already covered and anything else just email I don’t ask for any money but your welcome to donate purely because of the volume of emails I am starting to deal with as it takes me 2hrs every day to respond to everything before I can even start my own stuff.

But wait.. you rent apartments.. you sell properties too.. although have you written any e-books?

Yep I rent apartments and they are some of the cheapest in the area for the quality. They are all newly built or newly refurbished and in other areas slapping in the TV and a few other bits could cost P15,000 a month where we are renting them out at P7,000 – P8,000 (without the extras). Not a big business for us and I mainly do it for the fact I want the area to develop here most of the property owners are relatives but it also means most of the properties aren’t mine.

I sell properties is another thing as its mainly Expats selling to other expats the reason that came around in the first place was real estate agents in Cebu were adding between P500,000 and P1million extra to each property to pocket the cash plus another 5% commission meaning the Expat seller couldn’t sell as the property is overpriced and if they did the buyer would be ripped off by at least P500,000. I have set it up on the same basis of the legal transaction at 5% no extra parties, no hidden items or fees but simply a fair deal on market value (another kettle of fish asking why one property is more expensive than another but its a bit like buying a house in a social housing estate or in Beverly hills prices are opposite ends of the market in sqm value).

Sell E-books? not yet and its for an entirely different reason to everyone else I am actually in the process of writing a step by step guide for converting containers difference being its solid advice as well as not some drivel that isn’t relevant e.g. writing about “how to survive in the Philippines” where every person is different and each location is which sort of makes that book fairly useless?? The container book is taking me longer than it should but its down to the difference between methods I would prefer to do and materials that are available. As the saying goes beggars can’t be choosers if I started saying about foam injection for the exterior and people buy the book the next thing is all those emails coming back saying Matt I can’t find the foam and also I read in the book you need an injection gun and kit where do I find that?? In most cases the answer is “you can’t!”. Which then complicates the process as I start to add natural solutions as well as experiment. Bit like the plastic pipe with plants which could in theory be hung over the side of a container (not touching) to create a natural heat barrier as it would grow downwards covering the side or maybe a trellis car port doing the same method? anyway still working on it but like I said its not a book trying to sell to the masses but the people who do buy it will find it covers everything they need to build their first container home.

Only thing I can say though is if you think TropicalPenpals.com is worth something your free to make paypal donations that go towards future projects. Currently I am just finishing off apartment 2 before we start the Aquaponics off as I will have a nice dust free location for it to be installed. Hoping I can set it up with a solar panel and battery so its running costs are pretty much none existent except for replacement in the future.

Final note do I think people should charge for their advice? I think people should be able to if its relevant and useful at the same time charging hundreds of dollars an hour seems almost criminal unless your dealing with something that the person has a in depth knowledge that is extremely useful. An “Expat” for me is too loose a term aviation engineer giving advice on a plane repair can understand, doctor diagnosis on the phone can understand, telling someone you have never met how they can live in another country without knowing their background, habits, spending capacity and business ability?? you’ll have to answer that one yourself..

2 comments for “Advice on being an expat several hundred dollars an hour??

  1. Anonymous
    April 12, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Hi Matt, I don’t think anyone would ever pay 100 USD for 30 minute chat with an expat. However, there are some newbies out there expecting expats to spend hours writing e-mails with answers to their detailed questions, back and forth. Then they start argue with you. I’ve had a few of those myself. I am happy to answer a few questions, but I usually tell them to do the basic research themselves, getting different opinions. I’ve also advised them to register on forums to ask there.

    There are also some people who like to take advantage in other ways. They find out you know how to run a website, they want you to do theirs. I’ve given a few advices pointing them in the right directions, but I don’t want to spend all my time as their personal assistant for nothing.

    It’s important to get input from different persons. Life in Cebu is not an exact science! 🙂

    • Tropicalpenpals
      April 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      Agree there isn’t one shoe fits all, most of the guys I have met or contacted me lately are 25 – 40 and already here in most cases. But was surprised that something thinks their knowledge here was worth so much yet they make most of their income online which says it all. Getting wrapped up in sorting other peoples websites out personally I don’t mind helping out but spending hours on it or days time to drop it as everything they need is already online.

      Forums is another kettle of fish as opinions too often end up coming from people outside the country and often advise on things they have never been involved in but “heard” third party if not further afield. Main thing is to take it all with a pinch of salt as areas and people differ same as the big argument on “cost of living” as some say minimum of P20k others would say P250k

      At the same time I agree a service charge is fair especially on things that take up other peoples time as getting a thank you can often be rare which is why I do get a bit tired sometimes as too many people seem to use people as an embassy or customer services instead of the fact people are helping people out with their spare time for “free”.