What is an Expat?
For Westerners living in other countries the word ‘expat’ is so ubiquitous that they may be shocked to learn that many people do not understand the term. If you read books about living and traveling in other countries you will come upon the word constantly. Yet, when I first started hearing the term ‘expat’, I was quite confused and had a hard time figuring out exactly what it meant. Although I knew it had something to do with living outside of your home nation, I also assumed that the word “expat” had something to do with the a person also being an ex-patriot. A dictionary definition of the word “patriot” is:
“A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and it’s interests with devotion”
Thus I assumed that an expat was somebody who no longer loved their country, and as a result, was living somewhere else. I was also amused to find out that some people think the word has something to do with the word “expert”. Thus, “expat” is a person who has become an “expert” at living in another country. While in a sense both the above misconceptions might have some truth to them, nevertheless the term ‘expat’ has nothing to do with either the words expert or patriot.
The word expat is short for expatriate, which has a Latin root, namely “expatriate”, which means “to leave your native land”. Until recently, the word was used in a more negative sense, to mean someone who has been exiled from their native land.
The modern usage of the word, as it is used among expats, implies a lot more than you will ever find in the dictionary. ‘Expat’ refers to a person that for one reason or another has chosen to live in another country. More specifically, it usually implies someone of a western culture living in a country of non-western culture. A Filipino living in America would not usually refer to himself as an expat, and neither generally would an American living in England. The word also implies that it was the person’s own choice to live in a different country. An American in the armed forces being stationed in another country would not consider himself an expat. The word “expat” also implies long-term living and some level of adaptation to the new culture. An American traveling in the Philippines for a few weeks is not an expat. A retired and divorced American choosing to live in the Philippines because it is less expensive, and who has a Filipina girl friend or wife is a perfect example of an expat.
About Currency – What is a Peso?
The “peso” is the Filipino unit of money. Since these articles are about the Philippines, it is best if you develop a feel for the value of currency stated in pesos. In this case, when talking about small amounts of money the values will be stated in pesos only. For example:
The cost of a beer at a restaurant is about 45 p.
When discussing larger amounts of money the costs may be stated in both pesos and U.S. dollars. For example:
In the Philippines you can buy a very nice house in a good location for as little as P 2,000,000 ($40,000).
When converting the value of pesos to U.S. Dollars I will use the present exchange rate of 50 pesos being equal to $1 USD. One peso is equal to two cents. Of course, I can’t know what the exchange rate will be at the time you read this. As of the moment I am writing this the exchange rate is 50 pesos to the US dollar. Please keep in mind that the exchange rate is always changing. Also, I am assuming you have a feel for US dollars, but you may come from another country other than the USA. The UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe all have their own forms of currency. It is up to you, the reader, to know the exchange rate for your own country and to develop a feel for the value of a peso. Do a Google search on exchange rates to find several sites that will convert any currency to any other.
Who are You and What Do You Want (In General)?
As you read on, most likely I will be describing you. You are from a western country. I come from the USA, but these articles will apply equally well to folks from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. In fact, this book should help anyone from a western culture who speaks English (either as a first or second language).
Most people interested in the Philippines as a vehicle for life changes fall into several categories. They have gone through a certain process. If you are reading this, chances are unlikely that you are under 40 years of age. Most likely you are between 45 and 65. Most likely you are divorced. Almost for sure you are a bit disillusioned with something: The attitude of the western woman, the attitude of western society, the day to day grind of a working job, or some combination of the above. You might also realize that you are not getting any younger. You want to enjoy your life before it’s too late. You want to find a younger sexy woman to enjoy life with. You want to make changes in your life but you are not exactly sure how. Well that’s the purpose of this article series: To help you use the Philippines as a vehicle for such life changes.
Marriage vs. Girl Friend for Foreigners Living in the Philippines
I decided to put this topic in the introduction because it is important for you to have some idea of your goals and desires relative to marriage and children. Your attitudes about these choices will greatly influence the type of woman you are looking for and how you go about looking for them. Some women really want marriage and that is their top priority – absolutely mandatory,actually. Others may be willing to live with you as a girl friend without being married. You should have an idea of your goal or anti-goal. That is, perhaps you don’t merely not want to get married, but you absolutely refuse to get married!
So this section will give you a little practical information to help you formulate this in your mind, assuming your mind has not already been made up. Basically, you will probably fall into one of three categories: you want to get married, you don’t want to get married, or either way is OK with you. Keep your views on marriage in your mind as you read about the different kinds of women available to you in later articles.
If you plan on living in your own country with your Filipina partner, you really don’t have much of a choice. You will have to get married so that you can legally settle down with your wife in your home nation.
If you plan on living exclusively in the Philippines the question of marriage becomes less obvious. I will discuss some of the pro’s and con’s of marriage a little bit later in this section.
If you don’t need to get married, I would strongly suggest you don’t rush into it. You will have many opportunities to meet women in the Philippines, and if you rush to get married you may very well regret it when you later discover how many young, sexy and beautiful women are available to you! As a single you will be very desirable. As a married man not many good women will be interested in you. So better to keep your options open.
Of course if you develop a serious relationship with a woman she will probably pressure you to get married, one reason being that she knows how desirable you are as a single, and she wants to take you off the market! Most Filipina want a feeling of security.
Some Filipinas may not be willing to live with you if you are not married. This is especially likely if the woman is young and living with her parents or her parents or relatives live near by. If the woman is living in a separate location from her family, then she will be more willing to live with you.
There are some women who will not be willing to have sex unless they are married, but in these days they are a small percentage. Most Filipinas realize that if they want to attract a foreigner, they can’t insist on celibacy. In any case, if a woman is so conservative that she insists on remaining a virgin until married, this is probably not the kind of woman you want, unless you yourself are a very conservative type.
So, that being said, are there any reasons to be married other than to please your woman? The answer is yes, as discussed below.
Being married to a Philippine citizen allows you to secure a low-cost marriage visa and permanent residency. If you don’t have a marriage visa, you will have to renew your travel visa every couple of months and leave the country every three years to ‘reset’ your visa. You can also get permanent residence without being married by obtaining a Special Resident Retirement Visa (SRRV). I will discuss this more in a later article.
Status and Protection
Getting married to a Filipina also offers you some additional status and protection, not in a formal way, but in a subtle way. Filipinos will be more accepting of you and treat you more like you belong if they know you are married to a Filipina. Filipinos will be less likely to take advantage of you knowing you are married to a Filipina. If you get in any kind of trouble or are accused of something, there will be somebody on your side to be your advocate and stand up for you. These are not overt issues, they are subtle issues, but they definitely exist.
Operating a Business
A business can’t be opened in your name. You need to operate a business in the name of a Philippine citizen. Most foreigners of course operate the business in their wife’s name.
Owning a House or Land
A foreigner can’t own property in the Philippines. Most foreigners who want to buy or build a house do so in their wife’s name. I will discuss the pro’s and cons of owning property in a later chapter of this book.