Moving to the Philippines with your family

Hello everybody,

When settling abroad with your spouse and children, the expatriation process requires an extensive preparation.

What are the considerations to take into account when moving to the Philippines with your family? What challenges have you faced? How did your children adapt to their new environment?

What is your recipe for a successful family expatriation in the Philippines?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience,


Well we did face alot of challenges ,firstly children had difficulties do to climate ,and environmental conditions  ,since 2013 today we all feel at home I important thing expat wanted to move to Philippines make one thing sure you ALWYS be prepared for emergency cash account  as for staying in Philippines is really great,in the end me and my are happy and no regret .it's not here if move any other country  it really take time and Courage's to settle we should plan it wisely

Some men who moved to the Philippines with their wives, divorced them and married local ladies.

Tombok17  well I am happy with my wife and four kids we are still together,  we living in Iloilo state ,and we are one big HAPPY FAMILY ,it all come down to you how much you care and value yr family .well I am sori to hear that I am not like them maybe they didn't value the family

The end is you should be in control ,husband and wife😱

if love is served right there is no reson to eat elswhere
congratulations whid your strong relation

Based on my experience, and witnessing others, the prime consideration when moving to the Philippines with your family is: Are you prepared and ready to move back to your country when you realize that you had made a big mistake by moving to the Philippines? Or are you going to be stranded and unable to recover from your unwise move.

Hi everyone,


Maybe some examples to support your answer ? Why would moving to Philippines with family not be a wise decision or something that we would regret later on ?

Please explain.

All the best,

I married a Filipina and brought my two children with me, aged 12 and 14. plenty of red tape  for the eldest, but the youngest was fine, no restrictions. As to settling down, no problems, however having lived in Spain for 10 years, they spoke fluent English and Spanish, so  it was never going to be a problem. The eldest left school at 15 but still learnt Visayan. she is now back in England, married and studying modern languages at the open university. The youngest is now fluent in English, Spanish, Visayan, and Tagalog. He is, after a few years break, back Studying Hotel and restaurant technology at a local college. Kids in my opinion adapt far quicker than adults. As for me, after 10 years as RAF aircrew, I travelled far and wide, so definitely no culture shock. My advice would be if you are going to miss your own country's style, don't come, because it certainly is not here. I miss nothing. I am now divorced, but have a lovely filipina girlfriend. My life is now complete, it's just is my style,  life does not get any better than this. I am English and  retired.

Thankyou I am not saying I am doing it . :one

Bavana 40 answer to  WORD "WHY" are you really asking me this why move to this place , well I wl really  want you to chat with my wife  she choice Philippines  and I agreed with her lots of business opportunities ,no matter wht race or reglion. or wht country and no one can take awy yr culture  try another culture  to adopt yrself in it only then you wil knw      THANK YOU

And one another thing if we had moved to America or England or another rich country ,I am sure you would never ask this ,I HOPE YOU GOT OUR ANSWER

Hi Bhavna,

I would love to share many examples but I really don't have the time. I work here and I don't have enough spare time in hand. To summarize:

Environmental factors:
Unbearable noise and air pollution, hazardous to children and adult, wherever you go. Although they vary in degrees from one place to another, they remain high in levels.

Safety Factors:
Substandard buildings  and facilities, chaotic traffic, severe corruption, police/justice system inefficiency/corruption,  elevating crime rates and intensifying safety concerns--everywhere in the country.

Foreigners polices:
Rigid immigration laws, frustrating requirements and unreasonable fees, especially if you have to pay for each child's via. Immigration laws are bias, don't think as a foreigner without corporate-level attorney firm that will guard you at all times and drain your finances, and an good embassy to stand beside you when needed which American and British embassies will never do--in short: foreign corporate laws exist only for the Filipino to win.

Cost of living:
For a back bag traveler, it is a cheap country indeed. For a family to live here, it is very expensive. Traveler can bare cheap noisy hotel rooms for the travel time period and eat local foods and travel on budget, as long they can go back to their comfort zone when done travelling and already got burned out. For those living here, especially with children, they need to guard themselves from environmental, social and safety hazards. They need to live in acceptably safe place and eat acceptably nutritious food. The food in the public market cannot be trusted for children, and food in the supermarket can exceed your bill in the States. Houses in safe and semi-quiet subdivisions (there is no quiet in the Philippines) are expensive: 800-1200 USD for a 3-4 bedrooms. It's hard to find 2 bedrooms in these subdivisions. Now comes a car: used cars are very expensive and it is very hard to find decent mechanic unless you go to the dealership and pay prices higher than back home. Gas, electricity, internet, and cellphones, are higher than in the States.

Health care:
Visiting a doctor clinic can be frustrating experience. You go to the clinic, even if you "have an appointment" and sit and wait your "turn", and lucky you if the doctor shows up just an hour late. Doctors' visitations are cheap, but cost of hospitalization and medication can be comparable with the States, yet the quality of care is recognizably poor. Yes, they have health care plans and they are cheaper than the US. But having an invasive work done on your body here in the Philippines is not quiet advisable.

So called "good" private schools are very expensive here, and to get to them from where you may find reasonable place to live will be a challenge. A newer SUV and a hired driver will most likely be required.

The question is: Why do you want to move to the Philippines, where many, many Filipinos (rich and poor) are seeking to move abroad or at lease send their children to study or settle abroad for their own good, meanwhile, we bring our children here thinking that because we have extra money we will be okay and we will enjoy an affordable "paradise" on earth. Filipinos know their country well---their environmental, political, and social setups and that is why they seek opportunities outside. Be rational and look at all the red flags ahead.

I am here working on a program in the social science field. I have my two children with me. It has been a unique challenge living in the Philippines.  We lived in various provinces, small islands, and major cities (I lived here for 9 years). As soon I am done with the program, I am out. Saving money here is a hard task and avoiding hazards and frustration is not an option. There are better countries around here for foreigners with their families: Go visit around, spend enough time to explore and the ins and outs, and do your research. Good luck to you.

Rich better environment area ,problem still exist, I knw were you are from if its India this much better place then India  sori if said it please dnt get me wrong ,even if I say my country it's still better place to stay need to adjust , we got all this in our country to but end I still love my country this our second home country  I WILL SHARE it I was in the middle East with my family for so many year I was born in the middle East till we left we had to put our residence visa even I was born their  they never GV us the citizenship all my children were born their we had no rite yes it's safe and expansive place to stay so we decided to move I had spent alot of  time abroad I studied in states  had good job left it all behind WHY  we could hardly save any !money so their is place I am so sori you need to leave as soon as possible ,ME AND MY FAMILY WE LOVE THIS PLACE PHILIPPINE

Dear Ms.

Kindly, you asked for my input and I took the time and effort to reply and offer comprehensive explanation to why, based on my professional experiences and others, the Philippines is not well suited for foreign families, specifically from developed countries.  I don't expect you to agree with my views, however, telling me "You are so negative in life this will take you no were ,even you go to better country" is rude! You don't know who you are talking to and the empirical basis for my statement. I regret giving you my attention and sharing my findings with you.

By the way, if you are doing the 5-6 business on poor Filipinso, and selling them low quality products for high prices, then yes, absolutely, this is the place for you and your family to be. Best wishes.

Well sori to hear that you felt bad I was not trying to rude ,I am asking you about yr place yr birth country compare it  in all point S of view not jst in one point frm 1 to 10

I mean both yr birth place and this country what would you rate it  both well you felt bad I am sori this is truth ,at one point I had negative point about this country but now I hv adjusted to it this wht you need to do

Well Sam 40    [Moderated] I hv never tried to do 5 to 6 in other word why dnt you  jst say it 56 this work belongs toyr country man dear Sam 40  they are ripping of the poor Filipinos and you know it ,well I hv nothing against them ,yr country man lend money in big interest base ,me I am frm Pakistan and it against our regilion ,we hv our own POULTRY farms here we earn in good way , as I said before I am not criticising any race or regilion ,it's you saying it all bad about this county and at the time you still working you should hv left long time back ,me i dnt judge the book by it's cover .
Me and my wife  we love this our second home

Moderated by Bhavna last year
Reason : Could be misleading
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

Also, I have commitment  and responsibilities towards my work, this means I can't just pack and leave. People from where I come from (the West) hold responsibility towards their obligations and if they don't like it, they first complete their commitment, and THEN they leave. So don't worry my "cousin" from Pakistan, I am leaving as soon I fulfill my obligation. Enjoy it.

Hello everyone and thank you all for your inputs.

@ Mujeeb23, thank you for your feedbacks on the topic. Please note that this topic has been launched by the Expat.Com team (myself) so as to gather as much information as possible to help out members who are considering the move.

This thread is not about agreeing or disagreeing, it is only about sharing his/her own experience.

All the best,

God bless you ram 40  well I am 40 years plus ,but what are doing is I totally dis agree ,were ever u move u need to love that place I am sori if my word got in too deep ,anywhere in world you move their is likes and dislikes about that place ,try not set bad impression about country guide the expat .Once again thankyou ,Once I say it if you are part of expat team you are doing it in the wrong way God bless expat team

Bhavna :

What are the considerations to take into account when moving to the Philippines with your family? What challenges have you faced? How did your children adapt to their new environment?

What is your recipe for a successful family expatriation in the Philippines?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience,


I, my husband, and our then 1-year old son moved to the Philippines in 2008. We knew that the Philippines is a third world country. We knew that it's very different here, from the weather, politics, culture, services, food. We understood that we would have to give up things we were used to seeing and enjoying, like museums, local libraries, nice parks, courteous drivers, etc. The first consideration was would the move be worth it. Considering the kind of life we left behind in the US, we took a shot at it. The move was worth it despite giving up some of the privileges of living in the US.

I could name a lot of challenges we faced, but it would take up several paragraphs and a lot of time to explain them. But among them, the main challenge, I think, is financial. Our plan was for me to re-open my parents' business. In the beginning, business was slow and we were on a tight budget for quite some time. My husband sought employment in a call center as an extra source of income. Since the business took off, we now have a bigger budget, and life became easier. My husband does not need to work, but he stayed with the company because he doesn't feel like giving up his circle of friends there and he feels that he can contribute to the company by teaching co-workers how to be better and more confident English-speaking agents.

Another challenge was developing a circle of friends. Except for my relatives, we were "friendless" for some time. We now have friends outside of our family whom we do trust.

Our son did not have difficulty adjusting. He was actually the first one to adjust to the weather. I think the younger the child, the easier it would be for him to adjust and adapt. I have always wanted my kids to learn Tagalog so they would understand what others are saying. We're planning to add language classes to their summer activities while school is out.

We are all different, including the reason for which we went or planned to go here. What worked for us may not work or may not even be feasible for others. So, the recipe for a successful family expatriation is to have a recipe, a well-laid out plan that suits you and your family, including an exit plan. Come up with a personal "mission and vision". If you can, try living here for a few months. Don't bring the kids yet. Just one of the parents could do a "test drive", if possible. If you find it won't work out, or if you're already here and things don't go as planned, just go back to your home country at the soonest chance you get.

Well I agree with what you have said ,specially the last part till the see end  sam40
Expat forum team you need to read this .God bless

It's healthier to live in the countryside. Life is simple but everything is healthy.

Sam40 :

Dear Ms.

Kindly, you asked for my input and I took the time and effort to reply and offer comprehensive explanation to why, based on my professional experiences and others, the Philippines is not well suited for foreign families, specifically from developed countries.  I don't expect you to agree with my views, however, telling me "You are so negative in life this will take you no were ,even you go to better country" is rude! You don't know who you are talking to and the empirical basis for my statement. I regret giving you my attention and sharing my findings with you.

I beg to differ. I think it is you that is not well suited to Philippines. I do agree that it isnt the place to live for a lot of people. I was there for a year and really didnt want to leave and have been planning my return ever since. I was born and raised in East Africa. So maybe I'm used to the lifestyle and the way things are done. But generalising that Philippines is not suited for foreigners isnt right.

Well ever since Sam 40 so negative  about this place  she is expat forum team shameful she never share the good  part of this country if you are so down to earth about it why not try moving out yrself frm this country why wait for the contract to finish , once again sori to say Sam 40  God bless you

Hello everyone,

Can we now get back to the topic please?

Thank you.

Well stated...the information given by you has my sentiment of approval. Without my family, I could tolerate the Philippines, but I want the best for my children. So when I have completed my affairs I too will depart the Philippines.

I think Sam40 is mostly correct in her comments about family living if your spouse is from the western world. Children can adapt easier than adults however for western women to become integrated in the Philipinnes is not easy. You don't find many western women living in the Philipinnes.

About the issues that Sam40 enumerated, most of these apply to the Philippines. But still, my husband and I prefer to live in the Philippines and raise our kids here, because there are also positive sides.

Regarding the level of noise, our residence here in the Philippines is quieter than our flat in San  Francisco, CA. In the Philippines, we live in a quiet gated community. Most of the residents are professionals or business owners who are mature, have good finances (which is why almost all houses have 4 bedrooms or more) and are well-educated. No karaoke singing or loud partying.

If we stayed in SF, we would have to endure the horrible loud partying of the inconsiderate neighbors upstairs. If we moved to another apartment, we would have downgraded to a smaller apartment closer to the main roads, since rent for our flat's size would be more expensive. (Our then US$1,800 / month 2-bedroom flat is now US$4,000+ ) Living in the quieter suburbs, like say Benicia or Vallejo would mean travelling in and out of the city, about 2 hours travel time plus bridge tolls.

As for crime, from personal experience, in the 10 years or so in the US, I became a victim of assault and battery and pickpocketing. In the Philippines, none. My husband was pickpocketed here in the Philippines twice. Lost 2 cheap "china" phones and a total of PhP3000. We are very careful when crossing the street, especially when with our kids. Drivers and traffic are horrible, but we've accepted it and adapted.

Back in 2008, for me to be able to work in the US, I would have had to bring my child to daycare or to a nanny. Daycare was around $8-10 per hour (or $80-100 for 10 hours). A very good nanny in the Philippines: $160-200 / month. If you're lucky, you might find a good one for $100 / month.

Private school was $1000+ / month / child in the Bay Area.  My kids' good progressive school tuition in the Philippines: around PhP120k / year / child. The kids are driven to and fetched from school by us. Just a compact car, not an SUV.  (Anyway, if we lived in the US, we would also need to drive and fetch them to and from school.) With security at their school, I doubt whether something like Columbine or Sandy Hook would happen there.

Many politicians and officials here in the Philippines are corrupt. They would blatantly accept bribes, get cut backs from projects, inflate costs of projects, etc. That's unfair, right? But corruption is not exclusive to the Philippines. The US is also riddled with corruption, through swaying of policies and enactment laws to favor individuals and companies with money and influence, from relaxing financial oversight and regulations to FDA approvals.

We could not afford to buy a house in SF Bay Area back in 2008. Interest rates were low, banks and lenders were approving loans for people who normally would not be approved. But at the same time, house prices went up to ridiculously high levels. When the bubble burst, many lost their homes to foreclosure or found their mortgages under water. Meanwhile, bankrupted banks were bailed out with money from taxpayers in the trillions, some of which went to executives' bonuses. Isn't that unfair?

Here in the Philippines, we own our home outright. As to the cost of electricity and gas, it's actually reasonable. The most we have paid for electricity was PhP4,200  and that was when my mother-in-law was on vacation here and had aircon in her room for 20 hrs a day for 20 or so days. Usually it's just PhP3,800, with aircon at night for 3 bedrooms. An LPG refill is around PhP550, which lasts from 40-60 days depending on how often we use our stove and oven.

The level of pollution in our residence is not bad. There actually are places in SF which are worse. In places near the main highway such as EDSA in Quezon City, of course it will be polluted. So we avoid it.

About waiting at a doctor's office, there were times when I had to wait for over an hour for our doctor with Kaiser HMO back in the US. We had an appointment. My son was getting antsy. It was stressful for me. And then the doctor cancelled. He said it was getting too late in the day.  Even his reliever for the next day was late.

Here in the Philippines, it's first come, first served at doctors' offices. A simple hack: I have someone  (usually my assistant) go to the doctors' office to sign us up, so we'll be first in line, who would then call us when the doctor is close to arriving. We don't have to wait long, the kids are happy, I'm happy.

How many times does one go to the doctor anyways and wait? A few days in a year. If I can't do the hack, I bring reading materials. When the kids are with me waiting, that's when I allot their tablet time for the day.

The cost of hospitalization and medication is cheaper here, even in first class hospitals and without insurance. Cost of delivery via C-section in the US: $37k-45k without insurance. I had insurance, but I still had to pay $3000 copay and $900+ for anaesthesiologist. When I was unemployed, i.e., no employer to pay for insurance, monthly premium in the US, $800+ for me and my son, with $30 copay for visits.

C-section at a first class hospital in the Philippines without insurance: PhP250k. My hospital bill was PhP170k for a C-section (child birth was not covered under our health plan) at a reputable hospital. Hospital visits here: PhP500 without insurance. With our health coverage here through my husband's employer, we don't need to pay any co-pay for doctor visits.

My epilepsy medication in the US: $600 for 60 tablets refill without insurance. With insurance, $50 / refill. My epilepsy medication here for 60 tablets: PhP3,400 (not covered by insurance).

My son goes to therapy on a regular basis. The cost is definitely a lot cheaper here than in the US.

We came here prepared and with low expectations. But we were surprised because the quality of our life is actually better here. So, are we going to pack up and move to the US any time soon? No.

I would not suggest moving to the Philippines if you have a family. Not because of the weather, but because you always want the best for your kids. This country is woefully divided between the haves and the have nots. Unless you have so much money as to live in a private subdivision with guards and walls, then your families safety will always be an issue.

Power is expensive, and goes out sometimes for 10 hours at a time. If you have a baby then you must do what we did and fan the child all night till the power comes on. When the power goes out , so does the internet and TV.  The water is not drinkable. You must buy all drinking water. Meat at the market is not refrigerated and sold open air, with flies around.

Streets are not safe since many of them have no side walks or the sidewalks are used up by local businesses. The biggest cause of child deaths in our area are children walking home hit by speeding cars and vans.

Schools are, in my opinion as an educator, woefully backwards. The Catholic religion is a mandatory part of most schools. You must deal with that if you are agnostic or another religion. Private schools are available, but often charge a lot and again, the actual quality of education is poor. BEWARE, there is no mandatory vaccination requirement for schools.

There are very few parks and playgrounds available for kids to play at. The ones in our area are overgrown with grass and weeds and have broken swings and other equipment. What grass that is available to play on is infested with red fire ants. Some times there are animals grazing in the playgrounds too.

There is a small, one room library with books decades old. Only one local paper is available to read, the one favored my the mayors political party. Children's books are hard to find as is quality educational supplies.

I have seen a ballet school, and an place teaching the organ, but there are no other places a child can go to to learn the arts.

There are no public pools. The coast line is highly polluted and very rocky. None of my nephews and nieces know how to swim.

We want our son to play with our neighbors but often they do not have vaccinations and are sick. Our son has already caught PINK EYE and had pneumonia (both communicable).

Toys, bikes and scooters for kids that are available in local stores and malls are mostly from China and break easily. 

We have a dog for our son, but again, vaccinations for animals are not required or enforced, so sick dogs run loose in our barangay.

Home burglaries are common, especially to foreigners. They can be very traumatizing to children. After our house was robbed at 3 AM, our son does not want to go to the CR (bathroom) by himself any more.

Our son fell and cut his eyebrow open. We went to one local hospital, but the ER doctor was still on his lunch break after two hours. We went to the hospital where he was born, and there was no ER doctor on call. We went to the new, large hospital downtown, but there had been a road accident and their ER was full. We went back to the first hospital, where the doctor had returned from lunch. He simply put a piece of medical tape over the wound, NOT a butterfly bandage, just tape. There is a large scar there today, but it is under the eye brow, and hard to notice.

So, I would not suggest any one with a family move to the Philippines unless you are one of the HAVES, and have enough money to lived locked away from the average Filipino. But if you want to live like that, why come to the Philippines in the first place???

I live in Quezon City. I have a very different experience from the experience of the expat living in Ormoc. 

In Quezon City, we have not had rolling black outs since we moved here. There was one time when power was out for around 20 hours, but that was because of a tree fallen on our block due to typhoon Lando. Same thing happened to us in San Francisco in December of 2007. No power for almost a day because of a storm.

Whether in the US or in the Philippines, we don’t drink water directly from the tap. We  use a filter. Brita brand there. Unilever brand here.

We live in a gated community here. Streets are pretty safe. Only neighbors’ vehicles and their guests pass by. Our kids ride their bikes, scooter, play catch, badminton, basketball out in the street. Sometimes my cats would just lie out on the street and bask in the sun. None of the cats, or people, have been run over.

Vaccinations for pets are not required or enforced. But we took it upon ourselves to have them vaccinated (and spayed / neutered as well) for our and our pets’ safety and also as a courtesy to our neighbors. Sometimes, you just have to take the initiative if you know it's for you own good, even if the law does not require it, like when we installed carbon monoxide detectors in our home in SF, even before a CA law required it.

Once in a while, we would swim / wade at the clubhouse pool. My kids don’t know how to swim. Well, not yet. I did not enroll them in swim class this summer because their schedules were already full.

There were a lot of options for extra curriculars and summer classes. My daughter currently goes to ballet and painting classes. My son is midway through basketball camp / clinic, has guitar lessons and goes to regular therapy. They both attend Kumon. Except for therapy, all of the activities are just a 5-10 minute drive from our house. And then there are playdates with their friends from school and also with neighbors. At the end of the day, I can spend more time with my kids because I do have hired help to do chores.

I don’t know if vaccinations are mandatory in Philippine schools. Nevertheless, my kids’ vaccinations are updated. I’m sure their classmates’ shots are also updated. It was one of the parents from a playdate who reminded me of getting flu shots for my kids.

Our kids go to a progressive school. Tuition is around 120k pesos per year per child. Catholic religion is not mandatory. The school has a Character Education class, which teaches values to children. The school does give us the option of having the teacher give our kids reading materials and instructions on Catholicism. I was surprised that the school had an advanced science class.

I am very satisfied with the quality of their education because it goes beyond your usual academics. My children are responsible and respectful, and it shows in the little things they do every day.

Here in Quezon City, I have the option of either having the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star or Manila Bulletin delivered at my work.  One can also read some of the articles in these papers on the internet.

There are a lot less channel selections on Philippine cable / satellite compared to the US. But as long as my kids can get to watch Disney channels and my husband and I can watch NBA games live, and maybe an international news channel or two, we’re happy.

For children’s reading materials and school supplies, I get them at Powerbooks or National Book Store, the latter of which is found in almost all malls. It’s true that you can’t always find the title that you want here in the Philippines. But that’s also true for the US.

When we were still living in SF, I remember trying to find two book titles at Borders. One was in stock, but it was nowhere to be found in the store. The other was out of stock. So, I ended up with an impulse purchase of a “For Dummies” book. Since then, if I needed a particular title, I just don’t bother to go to a store. I get it at amazon. I still order books and other stuff from amazon and have them shipped here by a relative.

I would not suggest moving to the Philippines if you can afford the nice things that America can offer. We moved here because we cannot afford the nice things that America can offer, but can afford the nice things the Philippines can offer. If you do want to move to the Philippines, I would not suggest living in Ormoc if you want the best for your kids.

I don't miss much the things that we used to do in the US. Except maybe being able to go to Oracle to see my team play. Considering what they won the Championship last season and the amazing things they've done this season, I'm sure even the tickets for the nose bleed section will be expensive.

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