firstly you expect that people accept you for being senior and respected for being older. In most societies this has changed but luckily the Philippines still cares for its older generations and in many cases they still have a lot of control over the families as its in a respect system where age within a family should be respected. It works well in most instances. But whatever you do like you would anywhere in the world use common sense.
Medical care is cheap here but I have also heard from others of “cashing in” where you may be taken for treatment that isn’t required. E.g. there could be a medication that treats a complication but for the hospital there is more profit in the knife and surgery. Personally if I got sick I would be on the next flight out or stay at home. Depending on what my illness was. Ideally find a doctor used by other foreigners who is respected and recommended if you’re looking to have treatment done here.
Dentistry is cheap here and dentists are everywhere service varies from one dentists surgery to the next so best to look for recommendations from other expats as the standards and quality vary greatly.
One of the biggest problems people have is getting money to the Philippines and I would scout the forums for the latest deals. I would write this up by next month things would have changed again. Opening a bank account is pretty much a pain because you have no credit history here (all introduced by the U.S. to do with anti-money laundering legislation) there are certain banks that are friendly to foreigners and don’t expect an ACR card to get an account but if you’re in the U.S. or other country best way to do it is open a H.S.B.C. account and get them to do it for you in your home country as there is H.S.B.C operating in the Philippines. Once its open you can start building a bit of credit history and 6 months later it becomes easier to move around the banks. A lot of people transfer money by Western Union, Xoom, Forex and other methods but most of these are expensive. Personally I Advise opening an account with a major bank and then using a specialist company that deals in larger transactions. Normally there is a good exchange rate and no charges except by the receiving bank for the transaction. Advantage of this is its electronic and you’re not carrying too much cash in your pocket. But I wouldn’t advise using smaller banks because of theft issues. Recently someone had P250,000 go missing by Robinson’s bank in Cebu which isn’t the first time vie heard of such things. I have also had a relative have money stolen by bank personnel then deny all knowledge. How do we know it was within the bank? Because there was no ID or bank card but only fake signatures its only bank staff that have access to committing the crime. So stick to the big players. Metro bank and BDO are also good banks if there is anything negative or positive you know about them please post here!
So how do you open the bank account? Generally I would speak to the manager directly. The reason I say this is you ask someone behind the counter everything is procedure this and that. But speak to the manager and he knows you have plenty of cash being a foreigner they are a bit more lenient on not having all the paperwork. e.g. a utility bill yet you have only just arrived!
Moving around Cebu and most other major areas is pretty easy and if you do struggle a bit getting around I would find a local driver or taxi owner who you can use regular (get his phone number). Once you have settled in people will point you in the direction of good people to use. Otherwise if you are fully able-bodied you can pick up a car pretty cheap or motorcycle I wouldn’t buy new because the driving and roads here are very poor. My multicab has received no less than 3 bumps in the last year from being parked in car parks..I just come back to find a bit of scratched paint or a dent. Which is why I spent P45k on it and not P300k Otherwise there is the public transport of Taxis, Vhire and Jeepney only advice I will give is just try things and see what you enjoy. The Philippines in general is a pretty safe place to travel around.
Finding a house or apartment. Many people arrive here and look to buy a house personally I would look at the value of your investment because rent is so cheap. I live in a small house where my rent is P36,000 per year. To buy a house getting something nice would be around P2 million. It doesn’t take much to do the figures but if you had P2 million in the bank your interest even on a poor account at 3% interest would = P60,000 so personally I would rent unless you are leaving something for your partner. But bearing in mind that the money a trust lasts forever. I know of several widows who received only the house, they sell it then within 3 – 6 months they have no money and no house. A big house is unsustainable for most Filipinos due to the high costs of maintaining it and running costs. Much better to have a trust fund or buy a couple of rental units you rent out.
The above discussion tapped into another topic which is getting round fluctuations in exchange rates. Best method is look to be earning at least 20% on small projects within the Philippines. You don’t even have to be to intensely involved in many cases if you have a new partner they will have businesses they are operating that are lacking capital and an assessment will find areas of increasing profits. I work on a 50/50 scheme which I would advise doing the same. The family gain 50% of the operation for being involved and you gain 50% of the profit for being the financial backer. The reason I run 50/50 is you find that you are part owner and the people you deal with are thankful that you give them half the business earnings which gives them motivation. I would make sure the business is viable and you have the right people for the job before looking at this. There are also time deposits and other options to do with finances but currently I’m avoiding discussions with those topics due to the current Legacy scandal and the economic climate.
Getting furniture can be a major issue here as most of the stocks are pretty crap all the good stuff is sold for export. There are a few locations worth knowing otherwise look for a local carpenter for construction of personal made goods. Its cheaper and higher quality than what’s available in most locations.
Finding new friends is pretty easy as there are a lot of expats in the Philippines finding good ones takes a bit more time. Advice would be to search around and visit some of the social gatherings. A lot of people suffer with being isolated here due to not being into the social scene but I think its worth doing at least a few times to find a few key friends who you can chat with or meet up regular.
Finding a partner in life is another thing many people come here for besides the cheap cost of living and the truth is its very easy but personally I think people should look towards people closer to they’re age group if a retiree e.g. someone in the late 60s+ a woman who is 35+ would be a better match than someone who is early 20s. I don’t have an issue with anyone who has a girlfriend/wife who is 20+ just think it’s better for the relationship to have a shorter gap as well as the fact that a 30+ woman is more mature, can cook, knows her direction in life and knows what she wants from the relationship. The number of guys murdered here by women and they’re relatives I don’t know the percentages but I would say the 20 something’s are more likely to murder the guy than someone in the 30s or 40s.. am I right?
Either way just arrive and meet up with some of the locals it wont take you long to fit into your own niche. Some of the people here have high budgets spending a lot each month others living on less than P20,000 a month. Whatever happens you will no doubt find some people who are on a similar wave length.