There are several major things people keep doing and even when you advise them they will generally shrug it off because they have already “overspent” prime example of this is my 13(a) visa which is a resident visa because I am married to a Philippines citizen. I paid P13,000 for the initial and will probably pay the same again for the permanent visa. But I recently bumped into someone who paid P500,000 for the same visa even though they were legally entitled to it anyway, when you discuss the fact they have wasted over P400,000 the response comes back “it saved me waiting in queues and the hassles”. For P400,000? Its an amount that was not only excessive there was no need to pay it the process for visas is simple and at worst your going to lose a couple of hours every time you go to immigration. Best advice is learn to do it yourself as in the long run at some point you do need to know how things work as it stops you getting ripped off by others (not just locals expats too!).
Accommodation is another major problem here where prices will increase when they find out the foreigner is looking for it. Best solution is using someone like me to find it I have currently got several of my own properties and other peoples rented out at rental rates of below P10,000 a month. Basically for less than P10,000 that is all their electric,water,Wifi,telephone and accommodation taken care of. Not that we are providing all the services in the same properties but you will find on average a 1 bedroom apartment (new and part-furnished if not fully) we are renting out at P7,000 a recent arrival asked about one of the properties my landlady owns (as we rent ourselves due to taking on an apartment before we started construction and it helps out the landlady so we don’t mind stopping there at least for the near future). The new tenant asked for a mattress and a few other items such as a refrigerator etc. etc. (we did manage to russle up a refrigerator but its not always guaranteed) but I explained if we provided the mattress, refrigerator, cable tv etc. the rent would start approaching P12,000 which he agreed is how much all the other places he had looked at were charging. At which point I explained if he bought a mattress and the other bits and pieces because his rent is fixed at P7,000 how much would it all cost? less than P5,000 so in theory his first months rent would be P12,000 but after that not only is his rent P7,000 he now owns all the main items in the property which he can sell on when he leaves (we will probably buy them to add to the properties inventory). So the important thing to remember though is that often the properties are going to be higher because your a foreign national but also they don’t have to be use someone like me and I can locate accommodation which more often than not is brand new or newly refurbished for less than you would pay elsewhere. If your lucky enough to find other expats with properties they are looking for someone to look after when they are abroad you can also be on a winner as often those rents are dirt cheap they’re main concern is having someone they can trust.
Avoid buying a vehicle unless you really need one. Public transport is cheap here although with the spate of bus crashes I would never advise anyone to take the crazy drivers routes instead look for smaller things such as the V-hire (mini bus) heading that way. For localised travel the Jeepneys are everywhere and very cheap to use I believe the first 6km is P7 with every km after that being P1 (need to double check as I have never used a jeepney more than P7 due to the length of a lot of the routes I use). Taxis are also very cheap but always get the driver to use the meter its actually illegal for the taxi to be in operation and not using the meter as obviously from a government perspective this would mean there is no tax being paid. But sometimes you are forced to negotiate which is fine I got stuck at 4am on Mactan island needing to get home there was only 1 taxi in over 20mins he refused to put the meter on we agreed P350 to get back to Minglanilla then he tried to hike the price at which point I gave him the P350 and just walked away. Taxi drivers are netorious for trying their luck don’t let them do it as it will just make it harder and harder over time to stop it. If you do need a vehicle I would look at a motorcycle over a car, reason being most cars here are overpriced and generally death traps. There are obviously some that have made it to the Philippines in one piece but at the same time they just aren’t worth the sales price. Also several people have mentioned to me before about the price hikes when buying a vehicle when they realise its a foreign buyer this is where “texting” is the best method of communication guarantee the price etc. before they even see you. Motorcycles on the other hand are fairly cheap, fuel efficency over the cars will also pay dividence in a short period of time. I keep a 125cc scooter for going into the provinces or the city as its convenient as well as fast may only get used once a week but it cuts the transportation hassles out completely. Mine is a Rusi chinese copy of a Yamaha not great but gets from A – B very easily and costs less than P2,000 a month in instalments. Yes I could have bought it cash and saved on the interest but I actually bought it from a friend of mine taking over the payments. I would advise going for the Japanese bikes over the Chinese currently though as the quality of the build is pretty poor in comparison I have signs of rust, seat is tearing on the leather, have had to alter the carburettor due to idling issues, the throttle doesn’t work properly and the horn is broke just to name things off the top of my head for a bike that is 12 months old! Also a common fault on Chinese copies of the motorcycles is the frosting of the lenses you don’t get that problem with the original Japanese bikes.
Learning to eat local is another major expense that many expats overlook they get used to import habits that are not only expensive a lot of the time they aren’t as good as they would taste back home. There are ways round several of these issues though which I will cover later. Learning to eat rice over potatoes is something a lot of people don’t seem to like doing but I would advise try doing the rice with things like pineapples to give it flavour the more local food you can live on the less expensive your grocery bill will be. I don’t eat pork besides bacon but I do love chicken. I would advise getting into the habit of using localised fresh produce also for the health benefits as well as freshness. But also do your geography homework as a lot of the food is coming up from places like Mindanao so although you think its fresh it could actually already be a few days old. Mangos is typical of this issue but if you can find a good supplier you can get mangos nearby. We have a mango tree in the middle of Aprils parents lot same as banana plants (which grow like weeds here without too much maintenance), head over to the back of the houses you will find pineapples growing out of the ground how fresh do you want your food? Please remember to ask your friends and neighbours as they generally won’t say things like “we are just harvesting our mango’s do you want to buy any?” you normally find out after they sold everything!
Saving on imported goods.. first thing is the Balikbayan Box services which is how Filipino’s abroad send goods to their families they are generally expensive at the same time if you look at the price of a second hand jet wash here in Cebu it costs about P10k and they want you to buy the attachments as well. Buy it in the U.S. or in the UK your talking half that price with it being sold as a complete unit (when I say attachments I mean they actually sell you the pipes and attachments for the jetwash seperately even though originally it was a single product). So you order it to your relative/friend in the UK/US and then they add in a bread maker so you can get good bread here as you can find flour in most markets. Add a couple of other items you are missing such as a good toaster and then your wallmart/Tesco/Asda/Sainsburys shopping list of all those home goods your missing. By now you’ve got a large box bulging and ready for shipping the cost will generally be around P4,000+ for your first box I have found second and third boxes you can negotiate on price because their main cost is actually the petrol picking the thing up in the first place. Its then stuck in a container for a couple of months before arriving at your door in Cebu. You have received a brand new jet wash for the same price as a secondhand one here, as well as the money you had saved on the jet wash actually covered the complete shipping costs of the box. The bread maker and other items will make life that little bit easier while living out here in Cebu.
Originally posted 2010-11-01 08:05:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter