Over the next weeks I will write about Philippines, how it is to live here as a former Thai expat.
With the never ending visa changes in Thailand, I hope this will be helpful now for some present stressed TH expats and others.
*** I will stress this early on: you will ONLY be happy in PH if you live happily, with less frills and comfort and not choosy about food, or pay 10-15$ for a western meal in a mall. You must be patient, and get used to that many items are not available here. Will talk more about that later on.
I lived in Thailand more than 10 years, before I started to explore Philippines. The first short holidays here I was both very happy, but also very miserable.
I always compared to Thailand, and Philippines did not match up.
My mistake #1.
Reset your mind and forget all you used to, in TH. Else you just waste your time going here.
Many dislike PH and call it a $hi#hole. Others who want to be around english speaking people who welcome foreigners, visa regulations that stays the same, they will be happy here. Less stress.
Unless you live in Angeles near Manila, nightlife is minimal in other places, and decreasing. The rest of PH is not a place for mongering or chase new lady every night. PH is not patpong, pattaya or phuket!
For me, the people in PH was so much more welcoming to foreigners, so my curiousity grew over time. Learning the ropes, slowly adjusting my mind, Philippines became a alternative destination to live. After a few years I moved to PH. Been here almost 10 years now.
I choosed Cebu because a larger expat community, and climate 3 degress cooler than Manila and Bangkok. Cebu average 31 degree celsius. We have earthquakes up to 7.2, tropical storms and hurricanes.
Before my move from TH to PH, I wanted to ship my household items to PH. Contacted many companies in Laem Chabang and Bangkok, lowest offer for 1 container to PH was more than 100.000 THB so I quickly gave up that idea, and sold my items. Auction companies picked up, sold and got paid within a month, but with great loss.
Visa, or visa or arrival?
Contacted PH embassy in Bangkok by email, didn't get any reply, so call them instead. If you want a visa in your passport, (not required) 2 entry tourist visa should be available. When 1st entry is done, go to immigration some days ahead and activate 2nd entry, no need to leave the country.
I moved without a visa, and got 29 days on arrival.
One are required to have a ticket out of PH within 29 days, BKK airport want to see it before you are allowed to check in.
PH immigration at airport also ask for it.
Ticket out of PH can be a cheap one way Air Asia Manila to Kuala lumpur, usually 70$
Alternative a return ticket that can be refunded.
I flew Philippines Airlines BKK - Manila - Cebu. 4 hours stop over in Manila. Immigration was done in 1 minute. Customs was done in seconds.
Cebu pacific had (have) direct flight Bangkok - Cebu. Immigration and customs in Cebu are more thorough.
Arriving in Cebu, I had online hotel booking and stayed at a hotel in city center near Ayala center, Cebu.
Already made contacts with expats in PH, on local forums, I had a few phone numbers I could text or call.
Local forums search:
Livingincebu c o m
Met up with expats next days, and the next weeks, they show me the city, teached me 'do and dont's'. Friendly approachable expats here.
Majority of expats here are age 50+ 60+ 70+
Unlike in TH, here in PH they use lease contracts and usually minimum 6 months or 1 year.
These contracts are always notarized, even you only rent a parking space for a motorcycle or car.
1-2 months advanced rent, and 2 months security deposit it the norm, but can be negotiated. With hard work and luck, you might strike only pay 1 month rent and 1 month deposit.
Some demand PDC for the full contract length. You sign and give owner bank checks for the full length of your lease. As a foreigner this can also be negotiated, since you at arrival don't have a local bank account yet.
PDC are not recommended because if you choose to cancel the lease early, you are by law bound to pay the remaining rent. Cancel checks, change bank account, will lead to serious legal problems and jail time.
Apartment prices Cebu:
For a very small 18 sqm modern apartment example (search photos online)
'Lot8 cebu' units rent for 300-400$ smallest modern apartment in the city 18sqm. Tiny balcony.
'La Guardia 1 or 2 Cebu' are located in It park, little further away from Ayala center, rent for 300-450$ and have fiber internet. Balcony.
'Mabolo Garden Flat cebu' walking distance to Ayala mall (the preferred expat hangout) is 24-28 sqm and rent for 450-600$ This building has faster fiber optic internet, balcony and pool.
When i say faster, that is in local terms 8-20Mbps.
Most other apartments in budget range do not have balcony here.
* Before you say that rentals are more expensive than TH, take into condideration the much better exchange rates here in PH.
31-32 Thai baht to dollar.
52 peso to dollar.
Even it's a current building boom here in Cebu, there is a lack of apartments between 200-350$ per month.
Month to month rental same TH is difficult to find, that's why so many expats choose to live in hotels, monthly hotel rates start at 650$, no other deposit than the 650$ cash at check in.
Credit card at hotel usually add on 2-3%.
Much more to come