Be Sure To Have An Exit Plan!

The statistics for expats who move to the Philippines and actually stay there for many, many years are not an exact science.  I mean, with 94.4% of all statistics being pulled out of thin air anyways, who can really trust them?  Still – and from what I have seen – there is a definite percentage of expats who move to Philippines (either through retirement, pension or “remote careers”) who don’t actually stay for the long haul.  Whether it be the traffic, the noise or really, really bad Tagalog soap operas, at some point, they eventually decide they’ve had enough and move on.  Greener pastures and whatnot.  That said, I also have to add that there is also a certain percentage of the guys pack it up and leave and then come back!  Just goes to show…..



If you are planning a move to the Philippines (or anywhere outside of your home country , for that matter), you are strongly advised to make sure you have a very SOLID exit plan in case things don’t turn out so well.  The lure of the unknown is very strong and with people extolling the virtues of living in a sunny, tropical (semi)paradise (like us), some folks get their judgment clouded, beguiled by the idea even before they step onto the plane.  It’s funny –  when I first started dreaming of the Philippines, I had this vision of renting a seaside condo on a secluded white sand beach for $200 a month, long trips along mountainous green trails on an enduro motocross, and taking long trips to see the seaside sites in my SUV.  None of those things actually happened for various reasons:  You want a white sand beach condo, you’ll be paying through the nose – motocross enduros are just too uncomfortable (plus I don’t want to break any bones here) – and fuel prices make SUV trips pretty much impossible.  Again, I was taken in by an ideal, not the reality, which is a heady (and confusing) mix of both the good and the bad.  I will NEVER forget my first time in downtown Duamaguete – 8 PM at night by the market –  it was hot as blazes and I couldn’t even figure out how to cross the frikken road due to the lack of traffic lights and overall congestion.  Yeah, there have been more than a few instances in which this Dream has slipped into a potential Nightmare.

Anyhoo, please, please, please have a fallback plan if things don’t work out here.  Visit first (a few times for a good amount of time each on each trip) before quitting your job (if you are not retired), selling all your stuff and heading off into the unknown.   And even though I didn’t possess the advice that I am now offering and  never visited before moving here, I was fortunate enough to possess the temperament and disposition necessary to adjust to it long term.  So – in other words –  don’t do what I did!  I also sold  90% of my things, but  I sold them to a friend with the understanding that if I returned within two years, I could buy it all back (with a bit of interest, of course).  I also keep a good reserve of cash (I am frugal and tend to be a saver) and have earmarked a major chunk of it in case I have to ever pull a Plan B and return to the United States.

I am bringing this up because I hear a lot of guys talking about getting rid of all their stuff, selling their homes and making the move.  Some, without having even visited;  putting it all on a wing and a prayer.  As with anything in life, this is just bad policy, as you might find that all the eggs that you have put in that basket will never hatch. 

It’s a good thing to have a dream, particularly – in my opinion – a Philippine Dream.  Just make sure you have a contingency plan in place before you do anything drastic that you might live to regret.


Possessed of good intentions, itchy feet and a retirement fund or pension?  Thinking about moving to a laid back, sun-kissed land?  Join us on Philippine Dreams to hear about all the good and bad making such a drastic undertaking!




  1. This is so true .. for us b4 we begin we already include our exit plan its bcoz our kids will be staying in OZ nd who knows one day we might want to be near them ..but our finances is designed for a long long time incase we like it there .. we will be self finance as Australia is very tight on pensions .we work in private sector so pension is given o ly to military living in philippines .but we dont mind not getting the pension for us rest is looking pretty good after 23 yrs nd more of physical nd mental work .. if we wait for the pension by that time we will be very old nd will never enjoy life at all .. so we decide to do it soon … but you so right in this one .. this must be remembered .. thanks for this Ned .. stay safe ..

  2. I really like your advice about having the right temperament. In my opinion, a lot of the problems can be resolved/avoided/made smaller by having the right attitude. Being able to adapt is the key for success. I am currently practicing speaking Cebuano using the Peace Corps study guide that you provided on this website. And even though I knew about thirty words before reading the study guide, I have doubled that number over the course of two weeks. Thank you for the resource.

  3. I am looking at the San Fernando La Union area – two national parks and on the ocean – do you know anything about that area? I have made one trip and I am making my second trip in Jan planning to move (and retire) in March or April.

  4. I love the idea of a contingency plan they taught us that in the military I was wondering if you could do me a favor could you please give mario and Nick a shot out in Iowa on your you tube show it would be a great motivator we watch it all the time it’s a great assistance with our plan to move to the Philippines thanks again

  5. Great advice. I have lived a good part of the past four years in Thailand and Cambodia. I now have a retirement visa which is easy to renew, for Thailand. Means I can live there permanently. But this is 10 trips later. Even coming to Asia for a month or so is a wonderful experience because one probably comes during the high season. Try waking up in Phnom Penh for example on the 30 th day of straight rain. A different story. So yes everyone visit a few times.

  6. First, I really enjoy the you tube videos. Second, I’m planning on retiring in Cebu in about 4 years. I have been researching about the Philippines and Cebu for about 3 years. I visited there last March and will be back in 2016 for another visit. My question is i’m not clear about the the
    Different visas there. Could you offer. Some guidance? Thanks.

  7. We love your show thanks for the reply we especially love the shows that deal with your budget thanks again nick and mario

  8. First. I like all of your stuff there.
    I am a single guy and similar in an age like Henry (LBTS). I`ve lived there in the Philippines several times at several places, from Manila to Davao to Cebu to Tacloban to Subic and so on. Well, I don´t have a plan B. I think the problem for many Expats is, they want move to PH before the party is completely over (when retired). When worse comes to worst I have to go back to my home country ( Germany).
    By the other hand, the most Expats don´t have tons of money and don´t know what to do with.
    I was long time before I thought on moving to PH a minimalist. I found my dream once in the Province of Zambales but that´s really a living pinoy style.
    A native house, nipa, cooking with wood or coal, sometimes electric, sometimes lampara or candles, water on a pump near the house. There was no aircon or TV or whatever electronic devices. And I was the only foreigner ever seen. THIS was MY PHILIPPINE DREAM I was looking for a lifetime. When it was heavy raining , I collected the water flowing from the roof for washing my clothes or for the CR, so I saved time pumping water nxt other day. Or I was showering in the rain. Some fruits I found on the trees.( Bagong pitas…mmh. ang sarap iyon). I don´t want own much material things, just enjoy life at the fullest.
    So, well, that´s not a living for a relationship based on money or material things. I´m not looking for that. But after all this is my dream life I wants to live and my path because in former times I was (and I am ) a special operations survival trainer, that´s my thing.
    I think that´s a simple but not a stupid life and there are serious reasons for why I do that.

    1. Some people are comfortable living that simple life, others (like me) are not. We have a buddy from Germany who lives like that. He saves a boatload of money every month, but I wouldn’t be happy living without internet, aircon, window screens, and all the other amenities I discovered that I like to live with. Thanks, Jean!

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