Let me start off by saying this article is not balanced. I feel a lot of the other bloggers paint a picture of the Philippines that is way too rosey, whether it’s because that’s what gets clicks or because they’re simply green I’m not sure. But as someone who has been here for almost 7 years I want to give you the other side of the story.
There are many great things about this place. The people are beautiful, and friendly, and it’s super easy to get a visa to stay here. I also must say that this place isn’t for everyone, most especially those who are inflexible.
Here are some good reasons not to move to the Philippines:
The Filipino People (The Locals)
What?! You just said the people are beautiful! They most certainly are, but like all human beings they have a bad side as well.
If you are not white you may experience racism, especially when it comes to dating people of the middle and upper classes. Also, most of the population will see you as a walking ATM and that’s not just in dating either. Landlords, small business owners, and others will also try to cheat a foreigner that doesn’t know the true price of things.
It’s absolutely true that Filipinos are genuinely friendly and hospitable but it’s also true that The Philippines is home to some of the biggest tricksters and con artists on the planet. Go to any expat forum and you’ll see stories of expats getting cleaned out by a local (usually a girl) or in some failed business venture.
I love the low cost of living, and the Philippines has so many gorgeous places to visit. The people? Well, I have some wonderful and amazing Filipino friends, but dealing with the people on a whole can be exhausting
Services and Infrastructure Issues
“Sorry sir, out of stock ” is a phrase you’re going to hear a lot if you live here. The Philippines is still a developing nation and you can’t expect the same 1st world service you got back home. It’s not uncommon for restaurants to be out of stock of the most common menu items.
Before the only choices for the internet were PLDT or PLDT but now there are a few more options. Expect that your cell phone may not get good service indoors because the frequencies the companies use don’t penetrate walls very well. In the provinces, 4G coverage is still not available in many areas. Outside the major cities, brownouts are a daily occurrence.
The biggest infrastructure issue you’ll notice is, of course, the inadequate road space but there’s more to it than that. The tap water is not drinkable and I’ve lived in places where the water that came out of the faucet had little pebbles in it.
Last year in June I was looking forward to some time away from the city. I had my plane tickets to Bacolod and my friend was ready to receive me.
I landed, and he picked me up at the airport. As we got closer to my hotel in the city center I saw it. Traffic! Aahhh! I thought I had gotten away from it. He just laughed and said ‘yup there’s even traffic here’.
If you want to come here then we need to talk about traffic. The Philippines is a nation of over 100,000,000 people in a land area the size of the state of California. For your reference, California has a population of approximately 40,000,000 people.
That means traffic is going to be a problem almost anywhere you go. Everyone knows Manila is one big gridlock but even in the smaller cities, such as Bacolod or Tacloban, you should expect some traffic.
Con: The Food in The Philippines
Move on Massimo Bottura Philippine Cuisine is coming for you! But no seriously, the food here sucks. Sorry to be harsh but it’s the God’s honest truth. Things that we westerners may be used to such as spaghetti and even nachos they managed to make taste horrible.
Never before in my life have I eaten spaghetti sauce or nacho cheese with a pound of sugar in it. The spaghetti sauce is ketchup with cut-up hot dogs in it.
Some other Philippine ‘delicacies’ include:
Boiled chicken heads
You get the picture. You don’t come to The Philippines for the food. After spending 3 years here I’ve started to see McDonald’s as a delicacy.
Lonnie Simon Weig was a retired American soldier who went on a routine jog on Sunday morning at 5 am in Baclayon Bohol Philippines. No one knows exactly what happened afterward but the South Dakota native was found with two gunshot wounds in the head and one in his abdomen.
There’s a reason almost everyone who is middle class and above lives in gated communities in The Philippines. While most of the crime is locals vs locals, expats certainly are victims of serious crimes, including murder. I have an entire article on why Expats Get Killed in The Philippines. The Philippines has some of the highest crime rates in South East Asia and unfortunately, expats are sometimes the target of that crime.
The murder with firearms rate is 3x higher than that of the US (source). Crime is one of the top concerns of voters in The Philippines after the availability of jobs and low wages.
Government corruption isn’t something most foreigners give mind to until it affects them. The World Justice Project ranked the Philippine judiciary as one of the most corrupt in the entire world. In the Philippines, if you ever get into a serious dispute with someone(s) being right isn’t enough to guarantee a win in court. The barangay officials will often side with whoever has the most social clout in the community and most of the time it won’t be you.
Bugs! Lots of Bugs
I remember the first month I came to the Philippines I stupidly left my window open to get some fresh air in my place. When I came back from the store my bathroom was filled with these giant flying whatevers! I told my neighbors about it and they just laughed and said it was their mating season. They also advised me to never leave my windows open when I go out anyway.
Inconsistent Implementation of Policies
“Sorry, we only give a 6-month extension if you’re married to a Filipina”. This is what I was told when I went to renew my tourist visa for 6 months at the Bureau of Immigration office. The thing is, nowhere does it say the 6-month visa extension is given only to those who are married to a Filipina.
I tried at different offices as well and they just told me that they don’t do it at their office. It’s not just the extensions either. I was forced to pay for an ‘express fee’ to renew my visa in Davao even though that’s not official policy anywhere. That’s the thing in the Philippines reality is often quite different from what is written on paper.
Most of us have heard of rabies. Its symptoms include foaming at the mouth, a strong desire to bite, hydrophobia (inability to drink water), and death. Sadly once a patient shows symptoms the disease is 100% fatal and it’s not a pleasant way to go. What’s even worse is the Philippines is a rabies hot spot. According to the National Library of Medicine, the Philippines ranks number #4 in the world for rabies cases and it’s getting worse.
Once a patient starts to show symptoms he or she usually dies within 10 days. There is no treatment except for sedation, and patients brought to the country’s only rabies ward in the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila are generally tied down until they die.
Should You Move to The Philippines?
These are reasons why you shouldn’t move here but really there are many more reasons why you should. I love it here but the best way is to come here for 3 months, live like an expat and experience the country for yourself. That’s how you’ll know for sure. Besides, you can always move on if it doesn’t work out. Good luck!
For me personally, didn’t want to take my wife back to USA away from her family. But also kinda got burned out with American way of life, want to experience something different. I can easily adapt to new places, so nothing in PH has been a real challenge so far. Just kept an open mind about a lot of things and tried to minimize comparing how things are done in US vs here. Can’t wait to travel more though. Only had a chance to travel north to Clark area, and El Nido.