Don’t waste your time and money in the Philippines

A statement you are probably a bit surprised to hear or maybe not? But its something you will hear time and time again “don’t waste your time and money in the Philippines” yet so many of us do live, work or retire here. In reality if you take me for example I work contracts in the UK and often there can be gaps of 2 – 3 months. There is also the tax threshold that once reached makes it pointless to continue working for the year same with the threshold on car millage all these big taxes add up to a value of 6 months in the UK. Because more than that it starts to become expensive. So generally after my 6 months I will fly back to the Philippines, dont buy a house in the Philippines many will tell you but in essence the trick is to buy a cheap house.. or rent keep your money ticking over in stuff that makes money rather in a financially dead concrete structure. Land is cheap and unlikely to change, buying a condo or a sub-division house in a major city may seem like a good investment but my current concern is the quantity being built and the fact I cannot see it being sustainable especially with so much owed in mortgages. Buying a cheaper piece of land (you will need to be married to a Filipina). If you take a condo in Cebu city for example expect to pay P3m+ for a shoe box of a property.. Yet if you head 45mins south you can get 2 hectares of farmland for P1m – P2m for me its no real competition as I can build a house I want on the farmland and still generate a localised income that keeps the house maintained as well as views of greenery over that of a skyline of concrete. Don’t get me wrong here there are good reasons to live in a condo as well but out of personal choice and value for money I wouldn’t buy one. The other thing is you can own the condo 100% but with the 2 hectares of farm maybe you can get a lot of your money back within a few years so even if your marriage did go sour you have recouped some of your investment already anyway. If you have kids at least your leaving some form of sustainable income as well. Just my perspective on it. Or another similar option below which is our lot not far from Minglanilla town which reside at the top of one of the hills. Its a bit cooler up there and  lot1this would be the view from the garden as its taken from the end of the lot overlooking the greenery below. The lot is for sale at the moment purely because we need the money from this lot to buy another lot nearer where we are doing our projects. But the point is the lot is for sale at P370,000 which is around 370 – 380 sqm. We have plans from an architect friend for building a house on the lot which is another P500,000 so for less than P1million you have a lot at least twice the size as most sub division lots and a house that comes in for around 1/2 to 2/3rds cheaper than you would get in any sub-division. As well as the advantages of the views instead of solid concrete neighbours walls. Which also lead to another problem in sub-divisions most seem to be tightly packed reducing airflow which also increases heat build up. Before you think this is a sales pitch on my lot its a comparison I am toying with the idea of finishing the lot ourselves if it doesnt sell within the next few months as it would be an ideal location for a summer house for family or just for stopping over at weekends either way its a nice lot the road upto it is still under discussion as the neighbours are still wanting it finished. One thing I am doing though is sitting quietly as the lot in front of ours has just started construction of a nice big house. With little road access they will have no alternative but to concrete the road otherwise they will really struggle.

Getting back to the main topic doing business in the Philippines isn’t easy either but its not impossible. The biggest issue I have found which some people will be thinking is corruption, poor quality etc. but its the fact not enough Expat’s network together. There are people who have been here for decades who have everything from transport companies to restaurants and hotels. Most generally keep themselves to themselves but at the end of the day its cross networking that saves time and money for everyone. Even getting trivial things can become complex scenarios here and a prime example is a friend of mine who was sold fire extinguishers that later involved someone coming round trying to get more money as the fire extinguisher agent had disappeared with the money. With so many hotels and other businesses needing these sort of items wouldn’t it be better that GOOD suppliers are cross shared so that everyone shares the benefit of reliable service? same with getting the right food suppliers, laundry, legal processing hundreds of things that relate to so many businesses but are rarely shared. I don’t want to form a business forum because at some point someone tries  to assume ownership or responsibility for the group yet the whole point is that its not owned by anyone but a combination of people who just want to do business in the Philippines. If someone has a solution for getting people to work better together I am all ears…

So what do I think about the Philippines myself? I find frustration in a lot of things purely because people don’t want to listen or understand. I find people will avoid change at all costs.. I find that people will often say yes when they mean I haven’t got a clue.. I find government officials quick to try and extort money as corruption ripples through too much of society here that it has become the norm. I find that most expats wives families have caused rifts that have separated them from their daughter, niece, extended relative assuming that their relative has won the lottery not that they have gained a new family member and friend. But at the same time I find people around me are friendly I can wonder around at 3am and there is no drunks wandering around with a kebab in hand vomiting up the road as I would find in the UK. I see people every day that will do most things just because their your neighbour or friend not for reward. I find that the cost of living is a splash in the ocean compared to the cost of living in the UK. I wake up to the sun each day and the choice of what I do is mine.. unlike the U.K. where life has turned into a rat race where even standing still costs money you have to constantly look for the next pounds to stay ahead. Here its different.. here life is at a pace you choose just don’t expect others to keep up with you if you want things done faster. All in all life is good and although my frustrations are to do with speed of projects as I have the next 5 years planned ahead. In reality the Philippines is a country that doesn’t believe in prompt or quicker but more it will happen when it happens. Which once adapted to you can start to relax and enjoy the country… Have I adapted? not to slow paces of life and I never could.. but what I have done is realise that I don’t have to either. If someone is fixing the jeepy for example expecting the mechanic to take 1 or 2 weeks instead of 1 or 2 hours is something I have learned to adapt to. But when working on websites or trying to find more opportunities to make money I can still fill my time as its something I can control myself.