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Adjusting To Expat Life

By: Gene Davis Posted: November-24-2009 in
Gene Davis

In the United States, when moving from one city to another or even one state to another 3,000 miles away it is not a big deal usually. The hardest part is just making a phone call to get the utilities turned on and maybe finding a grocery store close to your new residence.

Moving to the Philippines from the U.S. or another 1st world country can be the most challenging and also frustrating experience imaginable.

First there is at least a small measure of a language barrier and level of understanding. But if one exercises some patients and an interest in the “Pinoy” way of doing business it can be a good learning experience also.

Here the utility companies (water and power) have requirements such as proof of ownership or written consent of the property owner for service. Also there will be a deposit and or installation fee that is required before service is given.

Before buying or renting a house or apartment here it also pays to be sure there is no outstanding utility bill by a former owner or renter.
If there is an outstanding bill for water, power, or even cable TV at the address you have in mind, YOU are responsible for paying the bill before service will be granted.
There is no way around this anywhere in the country. So arguing with a provider will only tend to raise your blood pressure.

Another aspect of life made difficult here is banking. It’s difficult and time consuming just to open an account at any bank.
Also, when making a withdrawal it requires you to go inside the bank to do so. And even though you might be the only customer in the bank, it sometimes can take up to two hours to get your money and be gone.

Most stores and other businesses do not accept credit cards. So it pays to have enough (well hidden) cash with you at all times.

Maybe I am just a slow learner; but it took me the better part of two years of living here to finally realize and accept that this is just the way it is and its not going to change.

These types of things really do never change or become any easier. It’s just part of life here and a learn-as-you go-experience.

And in the end, who cares if it takes two hours to make a withdrawal at the bank? Its air conditioned and usually has many beautiful girls to admire working there and that makes the wait a little easier.
And on top of that, we’re retired right? We have all the time in the world to enjoy all of this and thank God we are out of the fast lane of living in Los Angeles or some other crowded fast paced, high stress place in the world.

So who knows, maybe I’ll see you at the bank one of these days. You’ll recognize me. I’ll be the foreigner sitting there and enjoying the long wait for my withdrawal and drooling all over the floor as the beautiful girls walk by…


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