20 December 2016

Jonny Lis - Expat in the Philippines

Jonny Lis - Expat in the Philippines

We’ve had the chance to talk to Jonny Lis, 29, a British expat who has moved to the Philippines with his girlfriend. Mr. Lis who has been living there for four years, now works as an operations manager.

Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: London, England.


Q: What made you move out of UK?

A: I got offered a chance to work for a company based in the Philippines, so decided to make the move, and I’m very glad I did.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I’m still living in the Philippines, for reasons mentioned in the last question i.e. for work reasons.


Q: How long have you been living in the Philippines?

A: Four years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I live with my girlfriend and our daughter, my girlfriend is from the Philippines. The rest of my family lives back home.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Yes of course, but I don’t really get homesick as I’m very settled in this country.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: They’re great, very friendly and accommodating, plus all the locals speak English, which makes it much easier to live here.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in the Philippines? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: Not really, it took some time as it’s hard to make friends when you’re in a completely new country and don’t know anyone. Yes, I mainly socialise with other expats but also hang out with locals too. I mainly met people through work and from going to local bars.


Q: How does the cost of living in the Philippines compare to your home?

A: It’s much cheaper for most things, particularly food, alcohol, and transport, but not as cheap as other South East Asian countries like Thailand etc.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: Starbucks is usually around $2.50-$4 a cup, so not much different

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: Probably around $2.50-$3 for a very cheap meal

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Something like steak at a nice restaurant might cost up to $40 or more, there are a lot of gourmet restaurants here, which charge the same as western prices

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: You can get a bottle for about $2, however, beer and rum is only $1, cigarettes are even cheaper than that


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in the Philippines?

A: It’s very difficult unless you’re a permanent resident or have a job.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Thankfully my company takes care of most of that for me, but there is a huge amount of paperwork and processes to go through, and getting approved usually takes time.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in the Philippines is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Thankfully I’ve not had to use it too much but generally it’s been good. I don’t know enough about the medical institutions to recommend any specifically.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the UK or the Philippines? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: Yes I have health insurance, just the usual coverage is probably fine unless someone has a specific disability.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to the Philippines was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: It was my first time going to Asia, so I was very excited about the journey and didn’t sleep on the plane. I only brought a suitcase and a backpack with me so there wasn’t much hassle in terms of moving, and I didn’t need to use a moving company.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Adjusting to the culture wasn’t easy, as well as finding new friends, it’s just something that takes time.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in the Philippines?

A: The weather and variety of locations and beaches to visit are definitely the positives, the negatives are probably the traffic, which is really bad.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Go to the beach – there are some very exotic islands nearby like Boracay, El Nido etc. which are very easy to get to and lesser known compared to other countries in SE Asia.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Not really, I’m perfectly happy here for now.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Explore, and be polite.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about the Philippines?

A: Yes, http://thephilippinesexpat.com.