Why I Left the Philippines (Honestly)
So, in this video, I will explain not just why I left the Philippines again, but also why I continue to explore other countries. I will show you a video I took in the Philippines as I explain.
Why I Left the Philippines
In the US, we have an ice cream store called Baskin-Robbins. They are famous for having 31 flavors of ice cream. If you go to Baskin-Robbins and order the same flavored ice cream every day, maybe you would be happy spending all of your time in one country.
But I like to taste more flavors. I indeed prefer some flavors more than others, but I only know that because I have tasted them. I tend to prefer flavors that include at least some chocolate, coffee, mocha-mint, or salty caramel. I also enjoy a butter-pecan, strawberry, or boysenberry.
In that way, countries remind me of ice creams. Some just feel better on your tongue than others. The only way you will know your favorite countries is by going there and tasting them.
The Philippines has some great flavors that you really can’t get easily in other countries. In the Philippines, you could walk on a white sand beach shaded by palm trees, swim in a pristine plunge pool at the base of a 50-foot waterfall, snorkel through a floral coral reef with thousands of colorful fish, and dance the night away with a beautiful local that speaks English… all in the same day for less than $20 USD.
Once you have tasted that flavor you will want to come back for seconds.
Over the last 3 years, I have spent almost half of my time in the Philippines. I have traveled all over the Philippines reporting on the best places to retire including Camiguin Island, Davo, Dumaguete, El Nido, Coron, Makati, Panglao, Cagayan De Oro, Tagaytay, Subic Bay, Angles City, Baguio, Vigan, La Union, Puerto Galera, Siargao, Cebu, Moalboal, Siquijor, Iloilo, and Baguio.
Once I have been in a new city for a few weeks or a few months, I want to taste another city. Each city I visit in the world tastes different from the last. Every city I have visited so far has something amazing about it, but also a thing or two that is not as good as other cities I have tasted. The Philippines is no different in that regard.
So, I think of the world like Baskin-Robbins. But instead of 31 flavors, it has about 180 countries. Now, I don’t want to try all 180 countries. So, how do I decide which countries to taste?
That is simple. As I travel around, I talk to other travelers. If they love many of the same cities that I love, there is a good chance I will love other places they recommend. So I put those countries on a list and go see them eventually.
But every country has a thing or two that annoys me after a while. So I eventually want to go taste some new countries. So what are a few of the things in the Philippines that make me want to see other countries?
The top hospitals in the Philippines seem to be pricey when compared to other hospitals in some of the other cheap countries. We went to one of the top hospitals in the Philippines to renew our Hep A and B vaccines and the prices were much higher.
Also, the hospitals in many rural areas of the Philippines seem to be underfunded. You may find great individual doctors in some of these rural areas, but the hospitals and equipment they are working with may limit what they can do for you locally, so you may have to travel to a larger city where the healthcare can cost substantially more.
The prescription meds in the Philippines can also be much more expensive than in other countries nearby. For example, the same prescription meds are often much cheaper in Malaysia and Vietnam.
Plus, some hospitals in the Philippines will not bill your international insurance directly. They expect you to put up a large deposit before you are admitted and then expect you to get reimbursed from your insurance company.
In densely populated cities like Metro Manila and Cebu, you can get all sorts of international foods from around the world. Some smaller towns like Dumaguete have an assortment of imported international foods in stores and restaurants, but as a whole, medium to smaller cities have fewer international options.
This means that you may not be able to get all of your comfort foods from home very easily. It also means that the international restaurants near you will struggle to get the ingredients they need to make your taste buds dance.
When that happens to you, it is natural to start thinking … I wonder what flavors they are serving in other countries today. Maybe it is time for you to go taste another country. That brings up the next one.
Four. The Harem Effect.
I have lived in or visited 67 countries so far in my life. But the truth is, I like some more than others. And I like them for different reasons. And no one country has ever left a perfect taste in my mouth. Eventually, my memory takes over and I miss one of my other favorite countries.
No matter how much you love a country, your mind will begin to miss one of the other countries you have loved in the past. So you naturally want to go back and visit one of the other countries you love. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
So eventually, in each part of the world, you will have your favorite countries. I call these your harem countries. And since the world is your harem, you will eventually want to get back into bed with your favorites. With all of these beautiful places you have been, monogamy with any one country won’t feel natural to you.
Every year I do a harem report, where I share my top 15 places in the entire world to retie early for cheap. I will put a link to that video at the end of this video. But you can never create your harem of countries until you go taste other countries.
There are also financial security reasons to keep a harem of countries instead of going monogamous with one country. You need to leave so the tax man keeps his hands out of your pockets.
Five. The Tax Man. Less than 180 Days.
Many countries around the world might begin taxing your income if you spend more than 180 days there. So, if you spend less than 180 days in those countries you are less likely to be required to pay income taxes when you exit. Source.
Taxes are a complicated subject and the rules change all the time, so there is no guarantee that this won’t change in the future. So, make sure to speak to a local accountant so you can verify how long you can stay in each country without paying taxes.
But in the general sense, if you stay in each country for less than 180 days total per year, you are less likely to be taxed on your income.
There are a bunch of people shaking in their boots right now. You see, Thailand announced that they may be taxing the income of people who stay in Thailand for about 180 days. I read that this new law goes into effect on January 1, 2024. Discuss it with your accountant for details.
So, by having a harem of 3 or more countries, each of which you spend less than 180 days in per year, you may have fewer tax men with their hands in your pockets.
I think of this one like the old saying, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” You are the rolling stone and the tax man is the moss that will grow on you if you sit still for too long.
Six. Foreign Banking.
I don’t open bank accounts in foreign countries for the same reason. Once you are in a foreign country’s banking system, you become more visible to the tax man. Many governments require their banks to report financial transactions so you may eventually show up on the tax man’s radar.
A moment ago, I mentioned the new tax law going into effect in Thailand. Here is something to ask your accountant. If you keep your money in your home country bank (in my case a US bank), and you pull money out at ATMs when you need it instead of opening a Thai banking account, would you still have to pay Thai taxes?
So, if you limit your time in each harem country each year, and you don’t open bank accounts in your harem countries, you might be reducing the chances that you will end up on the tax rolls of your harem countries.
Additionally, your home country may require you to report any foreign accounts you have opened overseas and the failure to do so can result in substantial penalties. For example, the penalties for US citizens not reporting foreign banking starts at about $10,000 per year.
For high-wealth individuals with international tax accountants, they may suggest bank accounts in foreign countries (and report them if required by law), but a small guy like me just keeps his money in US banks and pulls money out at ATMs in harem countries when I need it.
Companies like Charles Schwab even rebate foreign ATM fees.
So, in my opinion, if you stay in each country less than 180 days per year and don’t open foreign accounts you are less likely to be required to pay taxes in foreign countries. But laws change all the time so check with your accountant before making any tax related decisions.
Seven. Bring Sand to the Beach
Lets assume for a minute, that you are going to start building you harem of countries. If you are in one of your harem countries and you fall in love with someone, should you bring them with you to your next harem country?
I received a comment on one of my videos. Someone said, “Why are you bringing sand to the beach?” Basically, he was asking me, why are you bringing your girlfriend Qiang from Malaysia to the Philippines?
I don’t really see Qiang as just another grain of sand. She is one of a kind. So I am not bringing sand to the beach, I am bringing Qiang to the beach.
But there is a problem hidden in his question. If you decide to bring your new love to your harem countries, what countries can they go to without getting a visa? That is something you need to think about.
Passports have travel power. A person’s passport will determine what countries they can go to and how long they can stay without getting visas. So, when you are deciding what country to shop for travel companionship, passport holders of that country can travel to your other favorite harem countries.
For example, Google “What Countries Can a Philippines Passport Holder travel to without a visa.” Also search, “What countries can a Philippines passport holder travel to with a visa on arrival.”
My Google search today found the following harem countries that I would enjoy staying: (Visa Free) Brazil, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, (Visa on Arrival): Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Seychelles.
Before I knew anything about the power of passports, I had already met Qiang. She is from Malaysia which has one of the strongest passports in the world. For example, I am an American and I can travel to about 180 countries without a visa. Qiang is Malaysian and she can travel to about 178 countries without a visa.
So, what does it cost to keep a harem of slow-travel countries that you are circulating through each year?
Eight. Costs of Slow Travel.
I want to talk in the general sense about why living a slow travel life might be conducted more cheaply than you think. Imagine for a moment that you found 3 countries on the same content that are adjacent to each other on the map, A, B, and C.
Three adjacent countries on the same continent
If you were to stay in each country, one after the other, in a circular motion, each stay for less than 180 days, and you were to travel on land or on cheap flights of $75 USD, your travel costs would be only about $225 USD per year.
Your travel expenses would be minimal. Assuming you stayed in furnished apartments with kitchens, your food expenses could also be controlled fairly well by cooking. If you had any expense challenges it would likely be accommodations because you are not negotiating one-year leases in each place. After all, you are not staying long enough.
But what if you were to find two other people who were willing to circulate through the same countries with you while moving forward through each other’s 1-year leased accommodations, you would each be able to enjoy each other’s lower rents by staying in the other’s apartments.
That is just another example of how a slow travel wheel could be used to reduce expenses for all three people circulating through this wheel. If you would be interested in being part of these slow travel wheels, please join the slow travel email list (here or) in the description below this video.
Finally, the Philippines is not the only place in the world that I recommend retiring early for cheap. I have over 950 videos of us on the ground in these countries and 113 written reports on retirement cheap cities around the world along with 65 overseas retirement planning reports along with two courses, one on how to retire overseas and another on how to make money online with your favorite hobby, all available at VagabondBuddha.com.
If you have enjoyed this video, make sure to like comment, and subscribe. You can also watch the video appearing on screen now that shares my top 15 retired cheap harem countries in the entire world and make sure to get my free eBook link to learn “How I fired my boss and traveled the world for 16+ years.”