American Expat Living in Philippines - Interview with Randy

Published: 10 Jun at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Philippines
Randy first arrived in the Western Pacific in 1974, and lived and worked for the next 8 out of 12 years in both Guam and the Philippines. Randy met and married his filipina sweetheart while living and working in the Philippines. After retiring from the field of meteorology and oceanography, and again after a short second career in real estate, Randy and his wife of now nearly 30 years decided that a return to the slow pace of a tropical lifestyle was was needed. So they sold everything and shipped the rest to their newly built home in Samar Province in the Philippines, where they are both enjoying a more simple and relaxed lifestyle in the land of coconuts, mangoes, and smiles. Randy's expat blog is called Retired in Samar (see listing here)

Happy Together, a Beach at Home
Happy Together, a Beach at Home

Here's the interview with Randy...

Where are you originally from?
Born and raised in Cullom, Illinois. My family relocated to Texas shortly after I graduated H.S.

In which country and city are you living now?
We are living just outside Calbayog City in Samar Province in the Philippines.

How long have you lived in Philippines and how long are you planning to stay?
We have been here now for almost 11 months and plan on living here indefinitely.

River Overlook in Northern Samar
River Overlook in Northern Samar
Why did you move to Philippines and what do you do?
We retired from the workforce. I keep my self somewhat occupied as an official representative of World Outdoor Racquetball with the goal of building and promoting the sport of outdoor racquetball here in the Philippines.

Did you bring family with you?
My wife and our two pet cats accompanied me to the Philippines.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Because I've already spent a few years living in this part of the world, it is my basis of understanding how one lives here. Being married to a Filipino national for so many years also helped me prepare and provided me with many insights and much understanding. With all the experiences and cultural exposures beforehand, it really wasn't a big transisiton for me.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I socialize with expats and locals alike. Because English is like a second language here, it is easy to communicate. However, a language barrier becomes more prevelant near the lower income levels and can restrict some relationships from ever developing. When that happens, you learn to get by with friendly gestures and a smile.

Moutain Farmer's Hut, Samar
Moutain Farmer's Hut, Samar
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
I stay active in outdoor activities such as swimming, biking, kayaking, motorcycle riding and playing tennis. I also work outside in the yard and small garden. I also like photographing the great scenery here. The key to a fulfilling lifestyle here is to stay busy.

What do you enjoy most about living in Philippines?
I enjoy the tropical weather. I especially like the ocean, beaches, and the scenery. I also enjoy the non-processed foods and freshness of the fish, fruits and vegetables. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the warm and friendly people. I really enjoy the family togetherness that is engrained in the people and culture here.

How does the cost of living in Philippines compare to home?
When living a more humble or local lifestyle, there is no comparison - the cost of living is low. Although housing costs here where I live are a real bargain, electricity costs are high. Local products and food stuffs here are fairly inexpensive. Of course if one demands a more western lifestyle filled with all their favorite foods, gadgets, and all the modern conveniences, living costs will climb substantially. Insurance costs, medical and dental costs, and transportaton costs are all a bargain.

Veriato Falls, Samar
Veriato Falls, Samar
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Philippines?
Like in any developing country, corruption and a common disregard for local laws and ordinances is prevalent. Sewage and sanitation problems are difficult to experience at times and for some westerners to deal with, and the lack of education that addresses these problems continues to be a problem. When many people are living in such a confined space, there seems to be a lack of consideration for others. Take loud karaoke for example.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Philippines, what would it be?
Have a real exit strategy. A well devised plan is not something that should be thrown together over some weekend out of frustration. A set of both short term and long term goals and objectives will help you achieve the lifestyle you feel you deserve...and take your time.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Probably transportation. We purchased a motorcycle for our transportation needs outside of using the public transportation system here, but living in the tropics means it will rain no and then - which is not applicable to dry and safe travel when it is most conveniently needed. A car would be nice but then the costs of living here grows exponentially.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
At this time, I have no plans to return to the U.S. As long as my health allows, I will stay right where I am at. If I did have to return, I would undoubtedly have to return to working to survive.

Always Time for a BBQ
Always Time for a BBQ
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Have a Plan!
  2. Know what you want.
  3. Do your research and know where you are going. Language and culture plays a large role in adapting to your new lifestyle - Choose wisely.
  4. Stop wasting your money now and save, save, save.
  5. Take your time in making your decision. Not many people get a do-over.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog takes a personal approach, as presented from a straight forward and sometimes humorous perspective, to living a retired life as an American expat in the Philippines.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Through the comments section or the contact page on my website
or through facebook at

About the author

Expat Blog ListingRandy is an American expat living in Philippines. Blog description: A personal blog presented from a straight forward and sometimes humorous perspective about living the retired life as an American expat in Calbayog City on the island of Samar in the Philippines.
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