30 Days to Move to the Philippines

Move to the Philippines in 30 days? There’s headline you don’t see every day.  Many folks I know spend years thinking and planning.  My wife and I spent 6 years in the USA, waiting mainly for the time to run its course on my wife’s US citizenship process … but we were planning, researching, re-planning the whole time as well.

But I decided to write this article for those of you who don’t have time to wait.  what if something came up, or you finally got “off the pot” and decided it was time to go.

Could you make the move in 30 days?

I’m not sure, but let’s explore the possibility and see.  perhaps we’ll learn something along the way.

Long Poles in the Tent

First of all, there are some things that certainly can’t be done overnight.  In the military planning world we often called these the “Long Poles in the Tent”.  Get  the long poles taken care of first, and erecting the rest of the tent is much easier.


You have to have one.  It needs to have an expiration date at least 6 months later than the date you plan to arrive in the Philippines.  And this is one of the “long poles” you have the least control over … since it’s up to the US State Department to issue you a passport.  Typically it takes 6 weeks or more, so our “thirty day plan” sounds like it is a non-starter at first.

However, for a “Few Dollars More” (apologies to Mr. Eastwood), you can get ‘Expedited’ service.  If you use an overnight service, like FedEx or DHL, you can get your passport in as little as two weeks.  See: Apply for a New Passport,  follow the instructions, pay the fees, and our first long pole is out of the way.

Philippine Visa:

There are dozens and dozens of articles on this site, and on many others regarding all the many considerations about what type of visa you can use for permanent living in the Philippines.  Which one is best, which procedure costs less, etc.  Many routes you might consider take longer than 30 days, so this seems to be  a valid “long pole”.

However, I’ve already written on this subject in the past.  See:

Move To The Philippines — KISS 1

Just apply the KISS principle.  If you are married to a Filipino/former Filipino, just come on a Balikbayan stamp.  No prior permission or processing time required at all.

If you are not married to a Philippine citizen/former Philippine citizen, just get on the plane and come over.  You get 30 days free stay with a “Visa Waiver Stamp” at the airport.  Again, no application/advance notice required … so there goes another “Long Pole” literally chopped up onto kindling wood.

I’d like to stress, again, that I am not at all against the various permanent resident solutions that folks are commonly struggling over.  Eventually you may have to decide on one or another.  But I maintain it is purposeless to struggle before you go over which one to get, and spend time and in some cases non-trivial amounts of money to get one … and then discover after 6 months or a year that you really can’t stomach living here in the Philippines.

All that time and effort wasted when you should have been here in the Philippines learning, experiencing and making your own decisions based on personal experiences, rather than what you read in some blog.

And it is perfectly fine to buy a cheaper One Way ticket.  You have undoubtedly heard and read many a complicated and boring word about the on again, off again issue of the airlines at the insistence of the Philippine government in refusing non-Filipinos and other non-residents boarding unless they have an “onward travel” ticket in their possession … a ticket that is dated within 21 days of their arrival in the Philippines.  Big issue?  Hardly.  Not worth the thousands of words that have been written about it,

Just by two tickets.  the one way ticket to the Philippines that suits your price needs, and then, just before you leave, a one way ticket OUT of the Philippines, dated within the 21 day initial stay period.

When you buy this ticket just us a name-brand airline with ticket offices in the Philippines (United, Delta, Cathay Pacific, etc.) and buy a full fare, refundable ticket.

The Cost of the Refundable Ticket Doesn’t Matter Because You Are Going To Refund It

Yes, the initial cost is likely way more than your low fare, restricted, non-changeable ticket to the Philippines.  But it doesn’t matter. You aren’t going to pay for it, ever.  Stop amaking an easy issue a hard one.

Put the “onward travel” ticket on your credit card, and then when you arrive in the Philippines and get checked in through Philippine Immigration, just proceed at your earliest convenience to the airline ticket off and turn in the “onward travel” ticket for a full refund (that’s why it is called refundable ticket).  The airline, noticing it was bought on a credit card will issue a refund directly to that card, and that’s it.

No hassle, no 10,00 words of argument, all done and dusted.  Why so many people insist on making this so hard I just don’t understand.  Creating problems for themselves when there really is no problem.  Next issue.

I Have To Sell My House in the USA First:

Well are you sure you do?

First thing I would ask you to think about is, again, what if the Philippine adventure doesn’t work out as well as you want it too. What if you want to come back to the USA?  The easiest way out out the real estate sales conundrum, and temporary avoidance of one of the really and truly “long poles” is to not sell your house now, but to rent it out instead.

Rent It Out:

Move to the Philippines

Next Stop Philippines?

There are a hundred and one good reasons to hold rental property as part of your “portfolio”.  A single family home is not usually the top choice for rental property, but you already own this one.

You can rent out a home in decent shape, at a decent price, in an afternoon in many places in the USA.  especially with today’s population of folks who lost their homes to foreclosure, and thus have a credit rating that makes it almost impossible to own a home for many years, decent one family rentals are in demand.  Everyone has to live somewhere.

Any decent size city or metro area has professional rental agents available.  They can handle all the hassles of collecting rent, making regular inspections of the property, managing repairs if they become necessary, etc., typically for a fee of 10% to 15% of the rent (tax-deductible, of course).  The depreciation allowances in your Federal tax alone when you shift a property to rental from residence status will probably cover the agent’s essence.

I’m not  a tax advisor, but it’s worth a discussion with yours.

And again, easy to do in one afternoon, much less the 30 days this article started out with.

Another “long pole” reduced to splinters.

Use An Attorney to Sell It:

But let’s say, for whatever reason, you are firm with the idea that the house must be sold, not converted to a rental.

Well OK, again, no problem.  There are attorneys everywhere who specialize in real estate.  Just hire one to be your representative during the listing period and to represent you at the closing table or escrow proceedings.

This might cost a thousand dollars or two, but it also might save money at closing.  The last time I sold a house in the USA, I hired an attorney for $600, which later totaled up to about $750, because of added tasks that I asked for.

The mortgage company was trying to pull off a shenanigan at the closing table which I didn’t realize could happen.  They conveniently “forgot” to credit my last two mortgage payments to the amount I owed … and had my lawyer not caught it for me, that money might have been lost forever.

The lawyer saved me WAY more than his fee, and my house went to closing with me not at the closing table .. not even in the country for that matter.

The “other side” seemed a bit miffed that I chose to send an attorney to close.  Tough luck.  It’s your right in nay state of the union to send a legal representative instead of yourself, so let them feel “miffed”.  I’d rather be eon the beach in Boracay sipping an “umbrella drink”.

I sit my imagination, or are we running out of “Long Poles” here?

How Can I Possibly Get My Household Good Shipped in 30 Days:

Store It There:

First of all, if you don’t have a permanent place to stay in the Philippines, maybe you should just pack and store there in the US until you know you are going to stay in the Philippines.

Easy enough in most areas to rent a personal storage unit.  But if you are absolutely sure you must have it with you ..

Ship Via Balikbayan Boxes:

With no practical weight limit, you can cram a lot of possessions into every Balikbayan box.  Of course, if you don’t (yet) have an address in the Philippines, this sounds problematical, doesn’t it.

But I just checked with my favorite Philippine expert shipping company to be sure and was told, “No problem, you can ship the boxes to yourself, to be held at our main warehouse in Valenzuela City (Part of the Manila Metro), and either pick them up there later, yourself, or have them shipped on to a permanent address”.

Ship a Partial or Full Container:

The same conditions apply.  The shipping company will hold the container/container contents for you, for a nominal fee.

One thing to consider also, as I wrote about when I described my actual shipment … how to get your possessions from you home in the US to Loa Angeles (or wherever your shipping company’s primary office might be).

One way is to order a container brought to your home, picked up there, and trans-shipped to the container Port of Embarkation.

A second idea is, load your stuff in a U-Haul van and drive it to the port where you turn it over to the shipper, and then fly out to the Philippines directly.  That’s what my wife and I did.

Yes it cost some hundreds of dollars to rent and fuel the U-Haul truck … BUT … we had to get ourselves to Los Angeles also, so if we had not driven the truck, we would have had to pay several hundred dollars each for domestic plane fare.  The rental truck costs and the air fare we avoided, pretty much cancelled each other out.

What Do You Feel I Have Missed?

OK, I juts looked down at my word counter and I am up to nearly 2,000 words already …far more than many of you care to read.

So it certainly seems time to close this article out.

Reviewing it, I find I have answered the majority of the “I can’t figure out how to” tough questions I have received over the years.

But certainly I have missed something … especially for the few of you out there who have spent the last 5 or 10 years thinking up all the reasons that you Can’t move to the Philippines.

But overall, I don’t see any long poles left.

When Will You Decide To Apply the KISS Principle and Take Action?

So what stands between those of you who want to go and actually being here in the Philippines in 30 days (or less)?

I really want to know what you think I have missed about how to move to the Philippines?


  1. John Miele says

    Dave: just as an FYI for any reading this, when I returned from Europe last week the lady at Singapore airlines told me that immigration is really cracking down on the airlines transporting people without outbound tickets. She told me that SQ was fined a few times this month and was adopting zero tolerance on that. Unfortunately the machines in Amsterdam were not set up to accept my ACR number (this is how I know this)

    It would be prudent for those traveling and hoping for a Balik ayan stamp bring a copy of the law and mucho documentation…. The further afield from the Philippines you board, the less likely they may be familiar with the program (the first girl in AMS was not familia with the ACR …. The supervisor needed to sort it out)

    • says

      Yes but, you got on the plane, didn’t you? The first time Mita and I came back from Macau the same thing happened. i wrote about it in detail. Long story short, the counter clerk had to call her supervisor because we (politely, I hope) refused to take her “no” for an answer. In 3 minutes or so it was all settled and we were on our way.

      One thing I notice about a lot of foreigners experience here in the Philippines is that, I guess because of being conditioned by the TSA (and other jack-booted, fear-mongers) is, people don’t question things.

      I often hear from readers something like: I went to do such and such and they said “no” … your information is all wrong. Well actually my information wasn’t wrong, but I never said things always happen automatically.

      Anyway, how are things going … are you planning a move any time soon?

      • John Miele says


        Extremely busy…. Move will depend on how quickly we get Thailand up and running. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we are so busy there, rest of asia, and Russia we are moving at a snail’s pace. Last few trips to bkk I was tied up with other projects and haven’t even been able to get over to the appropriate ministry yet. Our board is still trying to find time to even visit…. My bet is that if all goes well, may move end of year if gods are smiling

  2. Gary says

    It only took me 16 days to get my passport, via regular mail. Packed two suitcases and here I am.

    • says

      @ Gary

      Exactly, Gray, thanks for sharing. It does not have to be a 10 years “Due Dilly-Dalliance” project.

  3. says

    Good article Gary. However, when it comes to real estate laws, each state is different. For example, in Mississippi (and many of the southern states), and while your attorney can be your Power of Attorney (POA), he/she cannot sign the deed. That has to be done in the “first person” and if you are over 8,000 miles away, that could pose some problems. I would advise anyone wishing to sell their home talk to a real estate/closing attorney to find out if there are limitations of the POA. Holding real estate in some of the states deemed “spiral death states” (Google it) should be well considered risky as values could again head south, especially while occupied with renters. I have had renters destroy our properties in a good market and we were local. All in all, it’s a tough call but if you already know that your destiny is the Philippines until the end of time, I would suggest liquidating. If you have doubts in whether you could possibly return to your home country, well….happy dilemma! :)

    • says

      Who is Gary?

      Regarding the specifics of sales, yes indeed use a professional, I did not advise anything different. But the whole point of the article is to inspire a few people to stop the mental masturbation of spending years thinking up reasons that they can’t, and instead, take action. Interesting that some state does not allow a person with power of attorney to sign a deed. So, in other words, if a person dies, then their property can then never be transferred to another? Strange.

      By the way in the real estate deal I personally went through with the attorney attending closing for me, my own realtor told me this could not be done. I questioned him as to whether he wanted to continue with the sale and earn his commission of if he wanted me to find another realtor. _then_ he actually got a legal opinion rather than taking the word of some “guide to earn a Real Estate License” text he had been relying on, the sale went through and he got his commission. Whether or not he “earned” his commission? Well, that’s a horse of a different color.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • says

        Philly! Not Gary…sorry, I had facebook on my other screen with Gary W. from Mindanao on the screen while I was typing. he he. My bad.

        Anyway, to clarify the issue of POA’s. I should have stated that it’s not that a closing attorney wont act as a Special or Limited POA, the fact remains, that although the deed can be prepared early and signed by the principle, if the closing does not take place under the specific date of transfer, the attorney cannot step in and just change the date and sign the deed. In many cases the closing attorney frowns upon acting under a Limited POA for long distance closings for several reasons, the main one being a Limited or Special POA only provides the authority to act in a specific capacity to act on your behalf ONLY on a specific date. Any delay in closing will become problematic. Therefore, many attorneys will not agree to such specifics, and may even not agree to close the loan. With a seller potentially located over 8,000 miles away, a disrruption in the closing process would surely derail a closing and potentially the sale of the property and the attorney would be hung out without his fees. Most wont take the risk. General POA’s are a different matter and usually for more broad scoped matters. If the seller(s) of real property are deceased, that property will be transferred through the legal process as state laws that govern wills, conservatorships, and probates allow. It’s also true that a Limited POA that does authorize someone to sign a deed must also be filed and attached to the deed and if not filed with the deed, renders the transfer

        I can only speak from what I am told by the closing attorneys I regularly work with in the my area where I actively practice as a real estate broker. I am not an attorney and because there are many complexities to real estate transfer laws and POA’s, I suggest to anyone in any other state to seek legal advice in their own locale or jursidiction.

        • says

          @ RandyL

          OK, Randy, thanks. That explained a lot and helped me make a lot more sense out if it.

          Oh, an dby the way, I never said the Realtors involved would like the idea of sending a lawyer to the closing 😉

          The only way I got my listing broker to stop bitching at me about how “It’s just not done that way” was to inform his managing broker that I was going to take the listing away from them and they could file suit against me … through my attorney, of course … if they didn’t want to close the way I wanted it done. Suddenly, all was well and everything worked fine, once they started thinking about the dollars disappearing down the legal fee’s drain. Remarkable change of attitude overnight there 😉

          You know something which surprises me, Randy? If you count all the different countries that Americans decide to move to every year (the Philippine-movers ar just a small drop in the bucket), there are thousands and thousands of real estate deals involving expats every year … yet I have yet to see any ‘guru” or website offering down to earth information regrading all the options involved, let alone offering any service in that area.

          If you want to sell your house in Podunk County, you will find a thousand “real estate professionals” jumping up and offering their services, but throw in specific issues/guidance about moving overseas and the silence is deafening. Likewise the people offering to find suitable accommodations/investments in the Philippines? Virtually nil, I can count anyone I know in that space on about two fingers .. and Philippine real estate firms make no effort to attract/connect with foreigners.

          I think there is a real “Philippine Pony” in there for someone. Do you have a blog yourself?

          • says

            There is a lot to be said about my industry and boy have I been one outspoken critic on many matters! Most Realtor’s don’t like me because I’ll be the first one to call them out on something. My real estate blog ( http://activerain.com/blogs/randylandis ) is still active although I don’t publish much there these days…but read on and you will can get a feel for how I point the discontent I have for many “unprofessional professionals” in the industry. After 12 years, I’ve had about all I can take. Ha! Anyway, I do own both FSBOPhilippines dot com domains and hope to get a site launched soon that will emphasize marketing and information dissemination. I am currently working on a site design and site specifics. There is a fine line that exists with Philippine real estate laws that prohibit me (even as a licencee) from working in the Philippines as a Consultant or Salesperson so my intent is that strictly as mentioned above – information and marketing. I must be careful not to be construed as offering any type of representation (as some other site provider recklessly does) which could land me in hot water with the authorities. My other blog is of course http://retiredinsamar.com . Thanks for asking Philly!

          • says

            @ RandyL:

            Thanks for commenting.

            i guess I wasn’t making myself all that clear when I talked about writing more about real estate issues for those retiring (or otherwise) moving to the Philippines. There is sooo much more to think about on the US end before the move is made.

            As far as getting in trouble with authorities here for helping people find accommodations? Of course everyone should be as cautious as they think is best, but, (possibly) outside any big cities, nobody really gives a damn. The laws here regarding property listings and such don’t even seem to apply to Filipinos, let alone foreigners.

            But finding a place to rent or buy is only the end of a very long chain … and very little info is really provided for Americans planning a move.

            be well ..

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