You Don’t Have To Work Where You Live!

Jobs for Americans in the Philippines

Well, here goes yet another post about foreigner jobs in the Philippines.  It is by far my most popular subject when it comes to people finding this site.  They come like little miniature armies, hundreds per day, finding the site with search terms like “Jobs for Foreigners in the Philippines, or “Foreigner Jobs, Philippines”, “Jobs overseas for foreigners” and so on.

Although these people find me via Google so often, the thing that so many of them fail to notice is, I write almost exclusively advising foreigners, especially my American brethren, to get the foolish idea of an “American job in the Philippines” out of their head.

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

Jobs for Americans in the PhilippinesI Don’t Provide Jobs Or Find People Jobs

Instead of reading and paying attention to my advice, they completely ignore it and instead send me plaintive emails asking me to help them find a job in the Philippines.

Some are even so concerned with their privacy and so secretive (they are probably writing from their current employer’s computer system, while they are supposed t be working) (this happened again just recently, Daniel, that’s why you received no response, you want my help but you didn’t even share a working email address … wasting a lot of my time (and yours).that they don’t even give me working email addresses to respond to … tells me a lot about finding a job if one were offered, but that’s a different subject entirely … read some of my posts about why you don’t have or can’t get a job for help in that area.

Jobs Are So “Last Century”

Be that as it may, I don’t have a job here in the Philippines myself, and I have absolutely no interest in having one.  I think “last century’s” ideal of “having a job” is a dream of the past and isn’t coming back the way it once was, ever.

However, all that ranting aside, I know plenty of Americans and other non-Filipinos working here the Philippines, often for salaries, or at least incomes, equal or better to what they had back in the USA.

How can this be?  Well although even they may say they have “jobs”, they do not have “jobs” in the way so many of you aimlessly “looking for a job” think.

They are men who have realized the truth of the 21st century, which even 10 years along, so many of you haven’t yet cottened to … you don’t need a conventional “job” to live and earn here in the Philippines.  Where you chose to live does not have to have anything to do with where your money comes from.

Here’s a little snippet from a recent article a friend wrote about how he got a “job”, a good paying “job” too, here in the Philippines, in only an hour or so.

… I was unemployed a grand total of one hour. After a very brief moment of consternation about the future, I got on the phone and made some calls (This is the Philippines, after all, and getting a “job” here paying anything near what I was used to earning is extremely rare to non-existent). Fortunately, for what I do, a border or location is irrelevant: I can live anywhere and still work. (my emphasis)  … Go read John’s article on Finding a Job in the Philippines in an Hour, and then come back and we’ll talk more.

John’s former company, and the one he recently joined, are global and ‘distributed”.  Some people like to call companies that are organized this way “virtual” companies, but I don’t like that definition.  Virtual denotes something that isn’t real, but is substituted for reality, like a pilot practicing on a flight simulator.

These companies are as real as they come, but instead of trying to herd all the employees into a few small buildings in some city or another, they distribute themselves around the world to places where the market for their product and where the talent they need resides.

In John’s case, both his old and new employers dealt mainly with the commercial shipping industry … is there a more distributed market than that?

Commerce is Global — You Should Be Too

Actually, yes there is.  Let me tell you about another friend of mine, this one living in the USA and employed by a large American company.

I’ll call this friend Joe to make sure I don’t unintentionally reveal any trade secrets or sensitive information.  Joe is a fairly senior executive with a very large international networking company.  Their hardware and software products are found in data centers large and small, literally all around the world .. almost assuredly the very fact you are reading these words is in part due to one or more of this company’s products.

Because of his stature in the company, Joe indeed does have a ‘conventional’ office in one of the company’s US headquarters.  But because of his job, Joe travels nearly continually.

All ’round the world,and if they get to expand to other planets I don’t doubt they’ll find a way for Joe to travel there too … they already have equipment on the Moon, although no branch office there (yet).

While I am sure Joe’s travel is wearing and often presents difficulties for Joe, it doesn’t impinge much on his job.  why?  Because he is hardly ever ‘out of the office’ .

Whenever Joe lands in another city or country, Joe goes to the nearest company facility, large or small, plugs his laptop into the closest LAN port and logs on the network.  Bang.  All his emails, voice messages, schedule of meetings and commitments, internal contact lists, confidential sales data, etc. are right there n his screen, as if he never left his home office.

He can also pick up a phone in any company office (VOIP phones of course, so the company incurs no additional charges, no matter where Joe is)), punch in a security code and his employee number and instantly, the phone he is touching becomes his own direct extension back home where he was talking this morning before he left for the airport.

So, even though he does have what appears to be a ‘conventional’ job, Joe is very much a “distributed” executive.  If the company wanted him to come to, say Manila, for a month, no problem … he’s there and “in touch” with everyone who matters … business or personal.

You Can Work Like Joe Does Too — If You Want To

The exciting thing to me … but possibly not so many of my readers … is that you don’t have to be a senior executive with a large firm to be like Joe.  You can have a small business back in the USA for example, pack you bag, and be working from the same ‘desktop’ and with the same phone number, the next day plus one (can’t get rid of that International Dateline thingy, yet, anyway) in the Philippines.

OK, so far we talked about a small company who happened to have a world-wide focus mainly because their clients are widely distributed.  Then we talked about a US corporate giant who is global simply because they are so big they have to spread ’round the world.  And we talked about a small businessman who, situation allowing, could work his own business out of the Philippines for weeks or months at a time.

You Don’t Have to Earn From Where You Live

Again the message is, to be successful in the 21st century, you need to lose the idea that where you live determines (or limits), where you can earn. (for my Filipino readers, please read that last sentence again, ok, lang?)

Now, before I wrap this up, let me make a point which I guarantee touches you.  Even if you haven’t been interested in John’s emission control company or Joe’s networking company or my mythical US small business, read on because I guarantee you this example touches you, directly.

How can I be so sure, you ask?  Easy, because you are reading these words … brought to you from my mind to your eyes via a piece of software and a blogging ‘platform’ called WordPress.  Enjoy my words or hate them, you would never have seen them if it were not for this brilliant use of technology that opened publishing to anyone … for free, I might add.

Once upon a time there was a young man name of  Matthew Mullenweg from Houston Texas, who devised and idea for a software package and rather than sell it, give it away.  Impossible?  Well, apparently not.  Not only did his project succeed, he built a profit-making company out of the free software and today, employs more than 50 people.  And where are those people?

5 reasons why your company should be distributed

I’ve noticed a new trend in Silicon Valley. More and more startups are beginning life as distributed companies, and investors and partners are starting to accept it as normal. Our company Automattic is distributed, and I’m ready to sing the praises of running a business in this way. BTW, I think distributed (“evenly spread throughout an area”) is a better description than the more commonly used virtual (“nearly real or simulated to be real”) for a company that has people working from all over the place instead of a centralized office. In Automattic’s case, we currently have over 50 employees spread across 12 US states and 10 countries.

Jobs for Americans in the Philippines

These guys don’t work where they live. And they are rich!

Here are my top 5 reasons why you should consider the distributed model for your company:

  1. Your employees will love it: I can’t overstate how much quality of life people get out of working for a distributed company. … In addition, your employees get to live where they want, not where the job market dictates. …
  2. You can hire great people wherever you find them: Once your company is untethered from one physical location, your pool of available job applicants becomes the entire world. You can hire anyone who fits the culture and mission of your company wherever they live. …
  3. You will use better communication tools: Communications is a challenge for every company and one that’s amplified for distributed ones because the communication channels are more narrow – a chat conversation is simply not as rich as a real life one. But there are advantages as well. A chat conversation can be archived, searchable, and visible to the entire team, whereas in person conversations in meetings and hallways are often lost to the ether. Being distributed is a good excuse to abolish inefficient meetings, conference calls, and email silos …
  4. You can still be social: Probably the biggest disadvantage to being distributed is the lack of social interaction. Online tools help make up for some of this, but most people like to spend some time together to make their work experience more enjoyable. …
  5. Your offices will be more fun: A distributed company doesn’t have one, large centralized office but there are other office options available. …

I recommend you read all of Toni’s post on his original ‘why you can work anywhere’ blog.

Update: Great follow on post by Bob Patterson about the cost and time saving benefits of a distributed company model.

So, to put a point on this opus, here’s a summary of what I have been saying mainly about Americans and working here in the Philippines.

I showed you how real-life Americans are working here in what you might call “conventional” jobs, but their employers are not based here in the Philippines.  Not everyone can set their work up this way, but I can assure you, many more of you can than just the ones who have concentrated on the “cans” of the situation rather than the majority who focus only on the “can’ts”.

I’ve shown you how other Americans can live here and work elsewhere as well, using the free technology that so many readers are just using to play “Farmville”.

I’ve shown you how real-world corporations can be built up, from ground zero, with their workforce distributed world-wide, and why it they found this to be a better solution that the “conventional” brick and mortar corporation-building model.

Over To You — The Ball’s In Your Court

So I now pose a question for you … my “price” if you will, asked of you to compensate me for the hours I put in to finding you ways to live in the Philippines and earn a living from outside the Philippines.

The price?  Write and tell me why you can’t come up with a similar method for yourself .. rather than plaintive “help me find a job” messages.  You pose a legitimate problem, I promise to help you find an answer.

PS: If the idea of a distributed team excites you, please take a look Automattic’s  our jobs page.

(Special note especially to my Filipino readers … want to know why the map doesn’t show any Automattic employees in the Philippines as of yet?  Foreigner or Filipino?  How many of you have applied?)

What else can I write about Jobs for Americans in the Philippines.


  1. Paul Thompson says

    That was great reading, it’s amazing to find out that a person could exist outside the 9-5 commute, to that boring little box in some windowless building. I sincerely hope that a few of your readers will muster up the desire to venture out of the box, and find their dream. If they don’t take the time to thank you for your effort, than I will. Thanks Dave, wish I was a younger man and had processed that info. I’d be hard put to say I’d have lived my life differently, but it would have been nice to have the option.

    • says

      Thanks, Paul.

      You are a bit of an exception to the rule, in that a big portion of your working career you were in a very distributed occupation … merchant seamen from the time of pre-history were the penultimate practitioners of earning a living regardless of where they happened to be .. although I guess the opposite side of the coin is, how much more ‘centralized’ can being on a ship be? … your work and you living accommodations are always with you … no matter their latitude/longitude.

      But what you say about being younger rings true with me .. in general I have no particular issue or regret about growing old, but the one part that makes me want to be young again from time to time is the amazing opportunities that exist now that weren’t even a dream in my younger days.

      To all the younger folks reading this … especially from the USA where doom and gloom seem to be the only export these days … be of good cheer … if you follow your passion and forget about what all the ‘experts’ say yo can not do, you have a bright future ahead.

      • Paul Thompson says

        Since I was single for most of my working life, what you say is true. The married people or those in a relationship might have seen it in a different light than me. As a matter of fact, after I met my bride, my desire to keep shipping out waned greatly. When you’re entering port and the excitement isn’t there, it’s time to go home, if you have one. Prior to Mayang, my father called me the wealthiest “Homeless Guy” he ever met. (lol)

  2. John Miele says


    I feel famous now! ;-). What you say is absolutely true, and the future bodes well for decentralization. The days of a 25-year job in a factory, or even government, are ending quickly. Oh, there will always be bureaucrats, but no traditional job is safe… Those days are gone. And, for any of your readers that think I just got “lucky”, I had the following options with other companies, each based in different locations: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dubai, Marseille, Tunis, Melbourne… That’s right. One week after leaving, these offers all came through, on 4 continents, each of which I could have worked from Manila (Though Shanghai and Hong Kong were at the same time, but I chose the one I have now.) Each offer was six-figures. Even though skill set had some influence, flexibility is key in this day and age. My last 4 jobs were all worked from a home office, and I keep in touch much like your friend Joe (Blackberry and laptop should be surgically attached to my hip!).

    Yes, bouncing around the world can be hard on your family / nerves, but, let’s face it: Nothing worthwhile in life is ever free.

    I’ll do this for a few more years, then start something on my own to keep me going through retirement, once I’ve had enough. With an Internet connection, the world is literally at your fingertips (With Skype, even a phone is unnecessary!)

    • says

      Thanks for checking in, John.

      And yes, it’s amazing how often “luck” just seems to happen to those who are actually doing somehting to find it. Some who haven’t read it may want to look at my own Make Your Own Luck piece:

  3. BRUCE HALE says

    Dave It seems you have become a employment agency on Google, or the folks want you to be????

    As a reader I kindly want you to know .I really enjoy your blogs on life here ,just the little things you touch on that,you would never know or understand until you lived here. I know this would have helped me finding your sight before moved here.
    I really like living here, but to be honest there is a lot of stupidity/ and things that just seem backwards at times, that can get you down.There is good and bad everywhere. Always a good heads up for useful things in life. Why I like your sight is you seem to honestly say it the way it is, in a nice way. always prefered the no-bull shit approach. alot if your info./insight here is priceless. No you don’t wan’t to get a job here:)
    most “worker bees ” often have dreams of being there own
    boss.I have seen very few better places that are ripe for this than the philippines.
    The things I have read on internet,or blogs don’t seem to touch on that compared to alot of 1st world countries. There are so many things you just don’t have to deal with to start something up. Mainly little capital. There is not all the building codes/inspections ongoing/lisence,expensive leases etc. How would you really know this if you were not living here and just going for it. But how do you explain that to someone? Life, success are educated risks.
    I don’t know if your life wisdom/experiences here are on google in a search? But i think your raw thought here is more profitable in my oppinion.
    Just wanted you to know I enjoy most of the blogs,thank you kindly for your time and effort,keep up the great articles.

    • says

      Thank you Bruce. I’ve been taking a little flack here and there over the years about my ‘you don’t need a job’ angle, but so far my real-world experiences having conventional jobs as opposed to now, where I supplement my retirement income with online income show no comparison. I made three big mistakes since 1999. I was eligible to retire in 1999 and instead I stayed four more years for ‘security’. ha. My pension would have been bigger had I retired then … and I would have had four more years of freedom.

      then, when I did retire, I ‘made myself a job’ with a government contractor I had been working with, and after a year that really, really lost its flavor. Watching a friend run his (felt like it was ours) company it what seems the wrong direction is very stressful … and the saddest part is, the stress actually killed my friend … made that job a double loser.

      Then, although I already knew some decent ways to make a living using the Internet, I formed a business with my wife selling ‘brisk and mortar’ items to industry. We were successful, we made some money, but working for yourself as a ‘mom and pop’ trying to sell into big industry and government agencies is harder than any office r assembly line job I’ll tell you .. counting my time and Mita’s devoted assistance as well, I bet we made $0.20 an hour buy the time we decided to quit swimming up stream and move to the Philippines.

      I’m retired and I don’t _need_ any money, but I do some online business ventures mainly to keep active and keep learning. I don’t push very hard, could make a lot more for sure, but if you work out the income per hour spent actually working? Waaayyy more than $0.20 an hour. It’s just great to wake up in the morning and see what you’ve made while you were sleeping … and think of those days when ‘the job’ ruled my life.
      The best way to insure the future is to sculpt it the way you want it to happen … or so it seems to me.

  4. Paul Thompson says

    Freedom, that’s the key word. Or at least as much as you can get out of life. The Navy gave me one half my pay to retire after 20 years. I ended up doing 21 years as I was required to finish my last tour. So I received 52.5% upon retirement and my freedom. Had I stayed for 28 years I would have received 75%. So I figured it would cost me money and freedom to stay, as retiring I get half my pay, and staying in I would only collect the other half. Owning a couple of Night Clubs, and sailing as a Merchant Seaman both gave me more freedom than I’d ever had before. (The money was nice also) But I agree with you on your view that freedom from the grind is the only worthwhile goal. I have it now, as you do and it’s our treasure to keep.

    • says

      Yes indeed y, Paul. It’s pretty amazing today at times, when I find out what people really seem to aspire to in life …always someone telling me I should get a job of some sort or another because I am (arguably) smart about something or another.

      Why the heck learning about some subject and perhaps gaining some expertise in that area should make one want a J*O*B in that area surely puzzles me. And working for yourself? Ohhh, that can be a heck of a lot worse … sometimes the ‘boss’ wakes up grumpy with blurry eyes, a headache and bad breath and no matter, you still have to live with him 24-7. Also he can be irritatingly stubborn about certain business decisions you just know are you are right about LoL.

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