Five Traits of Successful Foreigners in the Philippines

Successful Foreigner:

We’ve all seen the YouTube videos and read the articles of the guy who has a beautiful house near the beach with a hot wife who proudly hangs on to him and truly loves him. It’s hard not to wish how that could be us.

Not so Successful Foreigner:


We’ve also seen that drunk guy in the tiny apartment who has nothing to do but whine on the internet and complain about his life.

The Philippines is a popular destination for many foreigners who want to experience a different culture, enjoy the natural beauty, or pursue their personal or professional goals. However, living and working in the Philippines is not always easy, as there are many challenges and difficulties that foreigners may encounter. How can foreigners succeed in the Philippines and make the most of their stay? Here are five traits that could help them:

The Story of the Lazy Car Mechanic:

My car was making a funny grinding noise 2 years ago so I decided to take it to the shop for repairs. I researched mechanics and I took it to a guy who came highly recommended by a local friend. I dropped it off at around 10:30 am and the guy said it was a problem with the bearings and assured me it would be fixed by 5. My gf and I went shopping and had a good time. I came back at 5:30 expecting to drive my car home only to find out that the guy hadn’t even started the work yet! I felt a litany of emotions, at first I wanted to strangle him for his laziness but then I calmed down and smiled. I said ‘its okay when can you have it done?’. He said he’d have it done by the end of tomorrow, so we just got a taxi and went home.

It could’ve turned into an ugly situation if I had my American work ethic and mindset but because I’ve been here for several years I knew that would be fruitless so I just smiled and let it go.

The Philippines is a developing country, which means that there are many things that may not work as expected or as efficiently as in other countries. For example, traffic jams, power outages, internet problems, corruption, bureaucracy, and natural disasters are some of the common issues that foreigners may face.

Successful foreigners do not let these things bother them too much or ruin their mood. Instead, they learn to cope with them and find solutions or alternatives. They also focus on the positive aspects of living in the Philippines, such as the friendly people, the rich culture, and the low cost of living.

The Story of Expat John:

John had always dreamed of retiring in the Philippines. He was a truck driver from Texas who had saved enough money to live comfortably in the tropical paradise (about 30k). He was attracted by the warm weather, the low cost of living, and the friendly women. He met Jane, a young single mom, at a bar in Dumaguete. They hit it off and became a couple. John didn’t bother to use any protection when he slept with Jane. He trusted her and didn’t think she would get pregnant again. He was wrong.

Jane broke the news to John that she was carrying his baby. John was stunned and terrified. He didn’t want to have another kid at his age and he didn’t have enough money to support them. He also didn’t want to marry Jane, because he was already married in the US. Yikes! He begged Jane to abort the baby, but she refused. She was a devout Catholic and believed that life was sacred. She also loved John and wanted to keep his baby.

John had no choice but to pay for Jane’s medical bills and other expenses. He ran out of money and had to borrow more from his friends and relatives. He also sold some of his stuff, like his laptop, camera, and motorcycle. He became depressed and hopeless. He felt trapped and regretful.

He decided to leave the Philippines and go back to the US. He contacted a charity organization that helped expats in trouble. They agreed to pay for his flight and arrange his papers. John left behind Jane and their baby girl, who was only three months old at the time. He promised to send them money when he got back to the US, but he never did. He also never called them again or asked about their well-being.

John’s story is a sad example of what can happen when expats move to another country without proper planning, preparation, or responsibility. It also shows the consequences of cultural differences, miscommunication, and lack of trust between expats and locals. It is a cautionary tale for anyone who wants to live abroad or start a new life in a foreign country.

Traditionally the Philippines was a destination for retired veterans who had a pension to rely on but now more and more non-vets are coming and some just have a 10k lump sum and no plan for how to make things work once it’s gone. Unlike other countries in Asia like Thailand or Vietnam, we foreigners don’t have the luxury of teaching English to fall back on when things go south. Online jobs are more competitive than ever and most English teaching companies prefer to hire younger people. If your plan to survive is by working online I suggest lining up a job before you get here.

Unexpected medical bills and getting cleaned out by Filipina are the main reasons I see foreigners going broke here. We all know about expat John. He came here with 30k and then had to rely on the charity of others to even get back home to the US.

Related: How to Make Money in The Philippines

Speaking of trying to buy a person…

The Philippines is known for its beautiful and charming women, who may attract the attention of many foreign men. However, successful foreigners do not try to buy a person or treat them as a commodity. They do not use their money or status to manipulate or exploit anyone. Instead, they respect the dignity and rights of every person they meet. They also look for genuine and meaningful relationships based on mutual trust and love.

I did a survey of expats in The Philippines to see how happy they are in their relationships and the best places to meet quality partners

Related: Best Dating Sites to Meet a Wife Now Ships to the Philippines for FREE


They make a budget and stick to it:

The Philippines is a relatively cheap country to live in compared to other countries. However, successful foreigners do not spend their money recklessly or irresponsibly. They do not fall into the trap of living beyond their means or getting into debt. Instead, they make a realistic budget and stick to it. They also save some money for emergencies or future plans. They also avoid scams or frauds that may target them as foreigners.

Successful Foreigners are Friendly:

Filipinos are very friendly, hospitable, and sociable people. They love to interact with foreigners and make them feel welcome and comfortable. Successful foreigners reciprocate this friendliness and kindness. They do not isolate themselves or act arrogantly or rudely towards anyone. Instead, they mingle with the locals and learn from them. They also participate in the social and cultural activities that the Filipinos enjoy, such as festivals, parties, karaoke, and family gatherings. They also make friends and network with people from different backgrounds and sectors.

These are some of the traits that successful foreigners have in common in the Philippines. Of course, these are not the only traits that matter, as each foreigner may have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, these traits could help foreigners overcome the challenges and difficulties that they may face in the Philippines and achieve their goals and dreams.

Related: Why Foreigners Get Killed in The Philippines


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