The Philippines My First 90 Days – Lessons Learned!

Lessons Learned!

When I first arrived in the Philippines back in 2016, I had made many mistakes in those first 90 days.  Most of the mistakes were simple and avoidable but as a newbie I really didn’t know any better, so if I can share a little bit of my experience with my viewers, maybe they will learn from my mistakes.   Here we go!

Mistake #1 (Accommodations)

The first mistake I made was immediately getting into a lease after 3 days and not even knowing what part of the city I wanted to live in.  I had booked a hotel for 3 nights upon arrival and being in a rush to get a place I jumped at the first place I looked at.   Later I had regretted it because I started seeing nicer places, better locations, lower costs and even better amenities.  So, what would I have done differently if I could rewind the clock?  Well, I believe a hotel is the way to go when arriving initially in the Philippines and I recommend maybe 3 or 4 days to start with and I recommend using Agoda  Then I would start looking for a long-term Airbnb in an area that you might be interested in but always arrange to view the place before booking it long term.   I would repeat this process in every city staying initially in a hotel for a few days then book longer in an Airbnb until you find the ideal location within the city or in another city or even island.

Mistake #2 – Travel Medical Insurance & Backup sources to receive money

When I first arrived in the Philippines I had one way to receive my money which was my bank/debit card.  I had no back up sources incase that care was lost stolen or expired.  Well, six months later my card expired and panic set in when the card never arrived in the mail (welcome to The Philippines postal service). I finally found a friend who was coming out that I had the card mailed to and he had delivered it a few months later.  Well, in the meantime, I set up a PayPal card and account, cash remittance account and told myself never again would I just have one source to be able to access my money.  Now the travel medical insurance is something I kept saying I will get around to it, I will buy it later, or I don’t really need it.  I just kept coming up with excuses and I finally broke down and got it.  It wasn’t long after that when I had a scuba diving accident where an inexperienced diver was above me and came down onto me pushing me down onto the coral cutting my leg open.  When I got to the surface I had a bad cut and my leg swelled up.  Well, I was off to the ER in Cebu and needed it cleaned out, stiches and antibiotics and my travel medical insurance came in handy that day.  Since that day I run into so many foreigners who come out here and have motorbike accidents, dengue, food poisonings and they all tell me they wish they had purchased travel medical insurance.  The one I recommend and personally use is listed below.

Mistake #3 (Instant Relationships)

This is a mistake that is very hard to avoid because a Filipina can be very charming and after being beaten down in the west for so long by the feminist culture it is a welcome change.  Many of us guys enter into what I call an instant relationship which includes the scoop and swoop at the airport upon landing. I caution guys coming out here to slow it down and go by some basic guidelines which I admit were thrown out the window when I first arrived.   Number one if you have never met in person avoid the meet at the airport upon arrival.  For one thing you will likely be exhausted and will just want to get to your hotel, shower, eat and sleep.  Meet the next day when you are fresh and ready to start your journey.  Meet at a coffee shop where if things for some reason go bad, you can get out of the date fast.  If things are going well, then you can easily extend it out.  So many guys get met at the airport and have the Filipina glued at their side instantly and if the chemistry is not there then you are stuck in many cases.   .

Mistake #4 (Moving The Girlfriend In)

I’m not sure why guys including myself do this but so many move their girlfriends into their apartment, condo, or house almost immediately.   I am guilty of this a few times over.  I entered into a relationship and because of all my feelings in overdrive or even just feeling bad for their living situation moved them in almost immediately.    I think for many of us we are just notused to being pampered and cared for so much by a beautiful and sometimes much younger female companion.  The other reason is you may feel sorry for her living in such a squaller.   One thing you need to remember is she was living like that before you met her and likely if she had not met you would continue to be living like that.  We often like to be the knight in shining armor who comes in and swoops them off their feet and elevates their lifestyle.  A much better solution is to simply elevate her life a bit by maybe moving her into some short-term place that is nicer.  You can often greatly elevate her life by moving her from 1000 pesos a month boarding house to 5000 pesos a month apartment.   I try to follow a 90-day rule which I believe is the honeymoon period.  I firmly believe that most problems or red flags will show within the first 90 days and so I have a rule, no living together till after that.  

Mistake #5 (Spending Like A Tourist)

When I first arrived, I was thinking in dollars, not in pesos, so, I just kept comparing the cost with things in the USA instead of comparing it with what the real rates might be.  For example, if the taxi ride was 213 pesos, I would sometimes give 500 pesos thinking well, in the USA this would have cost me three times as much so let me just give him a huge tip.  When shopping I would sometimes be well aware of the skin tax on an item and even though I was being ripped off I would say well, it is still cheap compared to the USA.  Even in the first condo that I moved into I overpaid because I again compared it with what I used to spend for rent in the USA.  Well, after about 90 days or so I started converting my mind to think in pesos and not compare everything to the USA, and all of a sudden, my expenses went way down.  So, when you come out here try not to think about your currency, ask people what is an appropriate tip, and ask how much you should be paying for a condo in the city you decide to settle in.  Ask locals or foreigners that have lived here to make sure you know where to buy your fresh fruit and veggies or clothes or whatever.   Think in pesos!

Final Thoughts!

The first 90 days are what I consider the dangerous times upon living here or even visiting.  I think most mistakes are made during this time with relationships, moving to a city or spending money.  Follow the advice as best as you can and enjoy everything the Philippines has to offer and enjoy what many of us would consider a 2nd chance at life and stop being an invisible male in your home country.  The Philippines is what you make of it and sometimes it takes a little time to get to know how things work.  Spend that first 90 days just dating and not moving in your girlfriend or jumping into an instant relationship.  Travel around and discover what place is going to best suited for you or even if the Philippines is really for you.  Hopefully, this article will help someone avoid some of the mistakes I made during my first 90 days.  

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5 thoughts on “The Philippines My First 90 Days – Lessons Learned!”

  1. Donald Knoblich

    I absolutely love this realistic view on being the new guy. Thank you for saving me time and money!

  2. Good advise on both fronts, location & ladies. As far as travel and finding a landing pad goes, I do the same thing. Short term hotel, AirBnB or whatever till I get a “lay of the land” for 4 or 5 days. During that time i’m researching what areas have the things that are of interest to me and go for a visit or walk around. When I find a place I try to do an AirBnB for 30 days, that’s where your best discounts are. As far as women go, NEVER move her in, in a heartbeat. If you find a winner within a few minutes of landing it’s nothing short of a miracle, ( which I wouldn’t rely on ). If you move her in without “really” ( ? ) knowing her , it could be like putting your hand inside a hornets nest. Use the head on your shoulders, not the other one….. ( I too have been guilty of “choosing unwisely” )…….

  3. Gio……excellent advice! I’m formulating a plan to permanently move to the Philippines within two years. I was there back in the 1970’s and have dreamed about going back. I’m well aware that is a totally different country now but, I’m sure the people haven’t changed all that much. All the information on your website has been helpful in starting and organizing my plan and goals. Thanks again!!

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