I made my move to the Philippines almost four years ago. It has been the best four years of my life. I’ve seen wonderful places like Palawan and Bantayan Island and I found an incredible woman.I cannot adequately stress just how different life is here. For example, when I first saw how people drive here, I called it combat driving which caused long term expat to chuckle.
When I moved to the Philippines, I threw all caution to the wind. I sold most everything I could, left some with family and just abandoned other things. I miss only few of those things but it required adjustment.I do not recommend you do it the way I did. I know at least one other person that did it the same way. We got lucky. Not all stories go so well. We both found wonderful women here which played a significant part in our outcomes.
If possible, come for a visit before you commit to a long term stay. The longer you can stay the better your understanding of the Philippines will be.. It took me six months to feel like I had any idea what was going on in the Philippines. Living here though is not the same as visiting. Also, don’t forget about your U.S Taxes before living, otherwise you can get in a lot of trouble.
I arranged for an apartment before I arrived here and what I paid was three times what it should have been. The apartment that I actually got was much smaller than advertised.Instead, I recommend you stay at a resort or a pension house. You can do this for $15 to $35 a night with maid service and Internet access in your room.
In Cebu City, I can recommend both Pacific Pension House and Cebuview Tourist Inn. Cebuview is in a somewhat seedy area but the rooms are decent and includes in room Wi-Fi for about $25 a day. Pacific Pension is about $20 per day.
In the Manila area, many recommend Victoria Mansion in Malate. I have not stayed there. It should not to be confused with Victoria court.
Once here, talk to other expats and find a long term place to live. Local newspapers will also be a good source for rentals. Taxi service here is low cost making it easy to visit the locations.
The few things I did ship over, I paid questionable custom duties on. To avoid that, I recommend that you use Johnny Air Cargo. There are three services, balikbayan boxes which are low cost but take some time to arrive. Another service usually takes about 10 days but is more expensive. If you have many items to ship, you should consider a container.
During my first few days in the Philippines, I was sitting at the back of a motorized tricycle and asked myself “What have I done?” I answered myself with “Millions of happy people live here, if they can do it, so can I.” I decided to embrace the Philippines; from that point forth it has been a grand adventure.