Questions people Ask About Living in the Philippines

Living in the Philippines

What Did You Forget To Ask?

From time to time I like looking at the keywords or questions about living in the Philippines that people type into Google that lead them to PhilFAQS, the site where I write about the frequently asked questions (FAQS) about living here in the Philippines.

I try to put the more common questions on a dedicated FAQS page (it’s right up there on the top menu bar, if you haven’t had a chance to check it out).

Here’s a few recent queries that landed people here, where Google ‘sent them”’, and a bit of my thoughts/commentary:

Q: How much is Cataract Surgery in the Philippines?

A: Much less than in the USA. I wrote about my cataract surgery several times.  I am still very happy with the way the procedure turned out, still enjoying seeing so much more, and still dismayed at the archaic attitude of my former US doctors and health insurance carrier.  They wanted to ‘wait until the carats ripened’.  As if the damn things were mangoes or durian.  Old fashioned thinking and typical US high-cost, low service medical care attitude.  Good vision, is not something you should wait until you get really old for, if you have the disorder, get it fixed … it’s relatively inexpensive, very quick, totally painless and it’s literally a life-changing experience.  See more below.

Q: Can I Make ATM withdrawal with a Bank of America ATM card in the Philippines?

A: Yes, absolutely.  All major ‘name brand’ ATM networks you see in the US are supported here in the Philippines.  However, considering costs and other issues, you may not want to visit the ATM with a ‘foreign’ ATM card all that often.  many articles on ATM use in the Philippines below:

Q: Philippines insulation.

A: Yep, we have it.  It may not work the way you are used to feeling insulation work back in the USA, though.  A LOT of misinformation and misapprehension regarding insulation is circulated back in the USA.  (much of it paid for by oil companies, the real political power in the USA now). Some of it is correct ‘back home’ but is totally off-base here because of the vastly different climate, sun angles and such.  See more below:

Q: Is there any accredited hospital in Cebu which i can get medical exam for us visa application?

A: No.  The US Embassy only accepts health exam results from St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City (Metro Manila).  It would be pointless, in a way, to allow exams from other hospitals because you are going to have to visit the US Embassy for your interview, anyway.  Most people schedule things so they can do the whole procedure in one trip.  More on hospital accreditation in the Philippines below:

Q: Philippines retire 2011.

A: Sure.  Why not?  Any year you decide to make the move is better than waiting another year or more.  A chief concern many people seem to have is the cost of living here.  Well, it’s going up … like it is everywhere in the world.  Waiting won’t make it cheaper, that’s for sure.  Another thing on many people’s minds is running out of money.  Guess what?  Our government is doing it’s level best to destroy unions, union-based retirement plans (which form the basis of all retirement plans, something for you rabid union-haters to consider), Social Security and Medicare.  2008 was the high point for me in government benefits, I get less from the US government now in 2011 than I did in 2008 and it’s going to go down, year after year from now on.  (I am not letting it happen, passively though, you can find out more about empowering your retirement so you never run out of money at my retired pay world site). Retirement is way better here than in the US for me, though, so I am glad I didn’t wait.  Is Philippine retirement best for you?  Only you can make that choice.  More at:

Q: Can I live on 800 dollars per month?

A: You certainly can.  Hey, millions and millions Filipinos live on that much, own a home, raise their children, send them to college and save for retirement.  This country is not just a slum of squatters shacks built on the side of a garbage dump you know.  Will the average American be happy on $800 USD per month here in the Philippines, though?  Frankly, I think that’s too low for my tastes.  You really should plan on more like $1200 to $1500 USD.  But that depends very much on where you live and more than location on how you chose to live.  Or, you can learn to make yourself financially independent and not worry about limiting yourself to artificial dollar amounts.  More on cost of living below.

Q: Filipino fairy tale stories.

A: I did write an article with fairy tale sin the tile (see below) but I think what most people are looking for would be better found at my freind’s John and Rebecca’s site,

Q: Living in a strange land.

A: I get a lot of ‘hits’ off Exodus 2.22 , which is also the title of one of the best science fiction novels ever Stranger in a Strange Land.  RIP, Robert A. Heinlein.  However, the article that keeps drawing these hits was written to describe how strange I felt the last time I visited the USA.  Believe me, the USA today feels more strange to me than the Philippines.   Perhaps I am stuck here forever, like George Webber?

Q: American citizen jobs in the Philippines

A: A perennial favorite.  I’ve written thousands of words on this.  See my dedicated Philippines Jobs page or start with the article below.

Q: Tell me about Philippine annulment immigration and divorce.

A: A tall order indeed.  You might want to start with Marriage, Nationality and Divorce

OK, enough for today.  They say the secret to success in this blogging business is to write about what your readers want to know.  So there’s a small sampling of just one day’s inquiries.  What do YOU want to know about living in the Philippines?


  1. Fred says

    Good morning Dave:
    Went your post about insulation. Here is the URL for the company that makes Insulating paint using NASA technology

    It only comes in WHITE!!!

    16 liter bucket 2980.00P according to price list.

  2. Fred says

    Hi Dave:

    A couple of weeks ago I sent you short email about the following “A message to Garcia”. Do a Google search you can download it for FREE!!

    Have not seen anything.

    Today I will call it as I see it!!

    If you “ARE NOT ROWAN TYPE”, stay where you are in the US, EU, they are 3rd world countries that you know how to GAME the system. Here there is no SYSTEM to game. It is pretty much DEMOCRATIC ANARCHY.

    I have been here since 2001, unless you are “A ROWAN TYPE”, you will go back to which ever of the above mentioned 3rd world countries you came from, much POORER than when you arrived. I guarantee that when you go back, you will bad-mouth the Philippines!!

    I enjoy it here, everything is pretty much a work-around, like trying to buy tires an front shocks, for our multi-cab. We have been waiting for close to 40 hours for our local drinking water supplier to deliver some, have called a couple of times. They say they will deliver!! They just delivered, 1640, the truck which services our are has disappeared.

    My wife and I have been together since 2002, she was 40 at the time. We got married in 2007. I did not want to buy a house!! You do not own a house it owns you!!
    After dealing with the VA and the Government regulations regarding ERISA I came to the conclusion that she would not be able to get the small bit of money that I had put in a 403-b account.

    In November 2010, she start dickering for a house and lot, the woman originally wanted 1.5 million pesos. She was close to losing it to the bank as it was used as collateral for several loans that were way in default. The house was unfit for human habitation, no water, no electric, no working bathroom, no kitchen, FULL of TERMITES.

    The deal she struck was for 300,000.00P down, 300,000.00P, payable in 5 years, at 6,000P a month, ZERO PERCENT INTEREST. Will be paid off in 4 years and 2 months.

    We now have a kitchen, 2 bedrooms, 2 working bathrooms, a Water Tank on a tower, low water pressure in the morning, more electric wall outlets than you can shake a stick at, re-worked all the windows in the house, 5 plate glass, none opening, for noise reduction. With the sealed windows in our bedroom, a bit of insulation in the ceiling. We have cut the air con usage buy at least a third, the biggest improvement has been in the HUMIDITY from an average 70% to about 55% sometimes as low as 40%, so even with the temp hovering around 80 degrees F, it is very comfortable to sleep in.

    My wife did the WHOLE project, design, construction boss, buyer, paymaster. She had a very good crew, treated them very well, the people they normally did work for kept trying to hire them away, but the crew just ignored them. The other people just waited, they also knew how good they were!!!

    If somebody has a rehab job in Northern Cebu, maybe they could talk her into it.


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