Expat-to-be...A few questions

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Posted

Hello everyone!  
    Lets get right to it, Might as well call me an Expat-to-be... Im still in the states and hopefully in a few months i'll be in the phils  enjoying the sun and lifestyle like everyone else.   I'm 31, Former US Army Paratrooper, and Ive become stuck in this stale life I have and Im looking to start doing some traveling an possibly relocation.  

I've done ton and tons of research already about  budgets,  traps, scams,  the people, they're concept of 'Time' , lifestyles...etc... From everything Ive gathered I should be more than fine with a soft budget of  P70k for living expenses ( rent, phone, food, ).   Im not too big on beer  drinking so im safe there. Whiskey CAN be a vice if im in the mood.    I enjoy Nature, being outdoors,  Sports, swimming ( never been snorkeling tho), Animals, An i'd love to learn more about the people and the culture.

Some specific questions I have for everyone are..
1.  Most obvious, Where would be a good Home base so to speak So I could experience everything im into. It would be great to explore other Islands or remote locations.   

2.  How safe is it for me to travel Solo?     Part 2A, Being that Im 1. A Veteran and 2.  I'm Covered in tattoos...Really, How safe will I be solo? I also have 1 military related tattoo that is super visable.   From waht i've herd/read, It just makes me a target ( being a vet more than the tattoos).  My PTSD  makes me super hypervigilant and weary of people already. 

3. Aside from Cebu and Manilla being on my list of places to explore, where else should I go given the interests i've listed?
4. Anything I should completely stay away from or avoid? Aside from the Illegal shit.  I ain't gonna get Death Squaded. Lol
5.  Whats the most effective way to handle money out there... as far as how much to carry, storage, and accessing it from my US account?

Im sure I'll have more questions, figured i'd get a good solid base going first. Thanks in advance.
 

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Posted

Welcome to the forum and thank you for your service. Many members also served.

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Posted

If you haven't yet checked the State Department website yet, it has good information on where you shouldn't be traveling to.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/philippines-travel-advisory.html

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3 minutes ago, Ram1957 said:

If you haven't yet checked the State Department website yet, it has good information on where you shouldn't be traveling to.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/philippines-travel-advisory.html

Yes, Ive seen that. One of the first things I checked on..I'll prolly be avoiding that area If I can.  "NOT TODAY ISIS!"

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Posted
9 minutes ago, ElevenSeries said:

I'm 31, Former US Army Paratrooper

Welcome.......First of all your crazy as a loon, not for wanting to move here, but for jumping out of perfectly good airplanes (straight leg 11B here lol). Where do start.

Tattoos: Tattoos are starting to get popular here so it wont be like your the only one.  As long as they are not offensive or "burn the village, eat the babies" type. Naturally I would stay out of certain areas where anti Yankee sentiment runs high, but I hope you would avoid those Tats or not. (embassy advisories are good, but you can ask here also)

Budget: at $1400 USD a month, and at your age, I am going to assume (apologies if I am overstepping here) that you are on a disability retirement.  For me, (retired and married) that is a bit low, but I am spoiled lol. Remember, your budget will be your budget, the chances of you getting a job here are very, very slim. So I hope you have a substantial nest egg and escape plan in case things go south. A lot will depend on what you plan to do.

25 minutes ago, ElevenSeries said:

I enjoy Nature, being outdoors,  Sports, swimming

Unlike the states, most beaches here are not public property, so if you go to a resort or a nice beach that will cost you. This is really not the type of place where you can load up a van, drive, park and camp on the side of the road, go swimming, jump back in and rumble on.

28 minutes ago, ElevenSeries said:

 Whats the most effective way to handle money out there

We are semi civilized here, :hystery: use your ATM.

29 minutes ago, ElevenSeries said:

P70k for living expenses

one living expense you have not considered, is renewing your visa (there are many topics here about it, look at a few of them) but that will be a recurring expense that does not occur to most when planning to come here. 

33 minutes ago, ElevenSeries said:

Im sure I'll have more questions

So Young Troop, let me give you some old dog advise, You are in a perfect position. No real ties or obligations. So don't burn all your bridges right now. Pak your duffel bag, put you Harley in storage, jump on a plane and spend an extended vacation here. (I believe you can extend your visa up to two years with out leaving the country). That way you will get some boots on the ground experience. If its for you, head back to the states, sell up and return and go native with the rest of us lol.

Again, welcome!

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Posted
37 minutes ago, scott h said:

Welcome.......First of all your crazy as a loon, not for wanting to move here, but for jumping out of perfectly good airplanes (straight leg 11B here lol). Where do start.

Tattoos: Tattoos are starting to get popular here so it wont be like your the only one.  As long as they are not offensive or "burn the village, eat the babies" type. Naturally I would stay out of certain areas where anti Yankee sentiment runs high, but I hope you would avoid those Tats or not. (embassy advisories are good, but you can ask here also)

Budget: at $1400 USD a month, and at your age, I am going to assume (apologies if I am overstepping here) that you are on a disability retirement.  For me, (retired and married) that is a bit low, but I am spoiled lol. Remember, your budget will be your budget, the chances of you getting a job here are very, very slim. So I hope you have a substantial nest egg and escape plan in case things go south. A lot will depend on what you plan to do.

Unlike the states, most beaches here are not public property, so if you go to a resort or a nice beach that will cost you. This is really not the type of place where you can load up a van, drive, park and camp on the side of the road, go swimming, jump back in and rumble on.

We are semi civilized here, :hystery: use your ATM.

one living expense you have not considered, is renewing your visa (there are many topics here about it, look at a few of them) but that will be a recurring expense that does not occur to most when planning to come here. 

So Young Troop, let me give you some old dog advise, You are in a perfect position. No real ties or obligations. So don't burn all your bridges right now. Pak your duffel bag, put you Harley in storage, jump on a plane and spend an extended vacation here. (I believe you can extend your visa up to two years with out leaving the country). That way you will get some boots on the ground experience. If its for you, head back to the states, sell up and return and go native with the rest of us lol.

Again, welcome!

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First of All,  There is no such thing as a "Perfectly Good Airplane"! Second, Thanks for the welcome and for the solid advice.  It's greatly appreciated. 

Tattoos aren't anything near offensive or burn the village.  Jump wings on my left forearm are a dead giveaway though.  You are correct to assume I will not be frequenting the Dare i say it " Muslim " areas. I did that once, made it out by the skin of my teeth. I wont risk it a second time unarmed and without backup. but hey, if its my time then its my time. 

You are also correct to assume that it is my disability.  For the visa renewal fees, that is factored in elsewhere. Remember, its a Soft Budget.  As for a nest egg, not sure what one considers substantial, suppose its what one is comfortable with. mine would only be about 15k US.  Im fine with that.     im also pretty ignorant to the way everything works in the phils..but im a risk taker..lol.  Unless everyone advises completely against that.

Thanks for the info about the beaches not being a super public thing. probably a good thing.  Not a huge fan  of being super crowded by people. so i dont mind paying for the nicer things. ( Funny thing too given where I want to go LOL!)

Does a US atm card do just fine?  I Haven't looked into atms/banks/money exchanges yet really. from searching around it seems lots of people just carry cash on them..

 

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ATM cards work well you must inform your bank you will be using them in Philippines.

Carry cash in modest amounts no problem, never flash a wad. Also beware when withdrawing from an ATM bad guys watch for easy money simple common sense.

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Posted
5 minutes ago, ElevenSeries said:

Does a US atm card do just fine?  I Haven't looked into atms/banks/money exchanges yet really. from searching around it seems lots of people just carry cash on them..

 

Atm is actually your safest. Carrying alot of cash is not a good idea. As for ATM cards I use NFCU they pay you back the ATM fees and don't take you to the bank on international fees. I keep all of my money in US banks. 

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If you don't need a manicured beach, there are many that are barely more expensive than free in many places. When I was in Danao Cebu, I lived walking distance from a beach resort that charged 10 peso entrance fee for the beach and facilities were cheap to rent also. Awesome beach and resorts in Pinamalayan Mindoro, 500 pesos for 4 adults and 3 kids for half a day, including pool showers CR and so forth. If you don't need big city amusements, I find that cities of 250k or a little more population provide most things that make life bearable and much cheaper than Manila and Cebu. I do recommend bringing electronics with you, saves some money and cost of aggravation. Companies do ship things from Manila though. The Philippines is a cash society, largely and I carry about 10k pesos beyond what I expect to spend and in a different pocket, just in case. Never had any problems. Haven't had a problem with an ATM card lately but years ago only about half the ATMs liked my Chase cards, they all do now. Get multiple cards just in case. Normally I just Western Union  wire money to myself. The Philippines is easy if you don't have big goals, there.

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Posted

Hi Mate, and welcome.  20 year Aussie navy vet here and here's some random thoughts from me:

I'm a PTSD sufferer as well but I find my hyper-awareness and constant threat assessment drops considerably when I'm in PI, it's still present but much more manageable.  The nightmares and anxiety attacks disappear completely.  I put this down to being genuinely relaxed and happy there; it's my happy place and has put me further down the road to recovery than anything else; basically made me realise that life isn't just one big shit sandwich.  Having said that, I've only ever been there for extended holidays and shorter visits not having to deal with everyday life for longer than 3 months. Time will tell  after I make the move full-time. 

You could consider opening an international bank account with a bank that has a world-wide presence such as Citibank or HSBC.  With Citibank you can have an account in your home country and an peso account as well, thus avoiding the international transfer fees charged by your home bank every time you make an ATM withdrawal.  Not sure what it's like in the US, but many banks here in Australia also charge you an additional monthly fee on top of the actual transaction fee for international withdrawals.  You can also transfer between the two accounts free of charge.  There's no way to avoid the 250PHP charged for use of "other" ATM's locally other than opening an account with a Philippine bank which you'll be unlikely to be able to do until you receive your ACR-I card;  having said that, there's a few expats that have got lucky on this front but not for a number of years now that I'm aware of.  For those that remember my post of a few months back, yes the Citibank thing did work, much to my surprise. 

As others have said, avoid carrying large wads of cash unless you can avoid it.  

Personally, I'd base myself out of Cebu/Mactan if I wanted to look around the country.  It's very central, has an airport that flies to everywhere in PI and most places in the world, it's not that big of a task getting out of the city on day trips to some beautiful spots and shortish ferry/bus rides to most other places.  I'll admit to being a little biased though, even though I do enjoy the North, my heart is well and truly in the Visayas/South, but each to their own. 

Avoid the Zamboanga peninsula, but if you've read your State Dept. advisories you'd know that.  I've traveled Mindanao a fair bit: Davao, Butuan, General Santos city but outside of Davao City, I'm very cautious.   Admittedly I haven't been there since Abu Sayyaf (local criminal/terrorist group that justifies their actions with religion) starting aligning itself with ISIS and since that time, things have become more interesting on Mindanao. 

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