It’s easy to fall in love with the Philippines. It is a beautiful country with plenty to offer, especially for people who love nature and the beach. The Filipinos’ inherent warmth and hospitality have also been reason enough for many people to want to stay in the country for good – or, at least, for a very long time.
Many foreigners who have made the Philippines their home, however, have realized that living here is not as challenge-free as they originally thought it would be. This is especially true for those who came without making the right preparations.
Here are some of the most common mistakes foreigners make after moving to the Philippines:
While its economy is growing, the Philippines still has high unemployment and underemployment rates. Finding a job here is not easy, for locals and foreigners alike. And if you do find a job that matches your skill set, you may realize that the salary you can expect is nowhere near what you need to have a comfortable lifestyle.
Unless you have pre-arranged employment with a company operating out of the country, or have special skills that companies here need, you may be better off setting up your own business. But if you do find a good job, make sure you have the necessary visa and working permit. Resident aliens do not need to get a permit, but non-residents have to obtain the appropriate visa and work permit, or be liable for serious penalties.
If you want to setup a business in the Philippines, conduct a thorough study first on the type of business to establish, the market, investment needs, operational needs, and others.
Consider the potential of the venture. Are there too many of the same thing in the country? Will Filipinos like what you plan to offer? Do they have a need for it? Understanding what type of business could work in the Philippines often means looking beyond economic figures and delving into the Filipino psyche.
You might want to look into the economic activities included in the Board of Investments’ Investment Priority Plan (IPP). These are foreign-capital-friendly investment areas, which the Philippine government promotes through a number of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.
Land ownership in the Philippines is restricted to Filipino citizens, except under rare circumstances. This does not mean that you have zero chances of owning land here. Some options exist, such as investing in a Filipino-owned corporation (at least 60% Filipino-owned), which then invests in land. You will do well, however, to work with an expert who knows about the legal requirements and ramifications for such a transaction.
You might also consider leasing instead of buying land. Foreigners can lease land for 25 years (or 50 years if the circumstances fall under the Investors’ Lease Act), renewable for another 25 years.
Buying a condominium might be the better option. There’s an ongoing housing boom in the country, including medium to high-rise condominium properties. There are far less restrictions in foreign ownership of condo properties, with foreigners allowed up to 100% equity in a condo unit.
The cost of living in the Philippines may be lower than in many other countries, but this does not mean that it’s cheap. While you may find low-cost apartments or housing options, these would generally be in less ideal locations and less-than-stellar amenities.
A comfortable home in one of the nicer neighborhoods in Metro Manila might cost you more than you bargained for, but if you know where to look, you can find a good, middle-ground option. Get help from reputable professionals who can offer you several choices based on your budget and preferences.
In addition to housing, it is advisable to also look into the costs of utilities, meals, transport, gasoline, and other lifestyle essentials.