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Moving to the Philippines – What to Pack?

What to bring with you when moving to the Philippines?

The answer to this question when moving to the Philippines in my case was relatively simple. Just myself!

Yes, I had a small suitcase packed with bare essentials such as hot weather clothing. I also had my laptop but very little else when my plane touched down at NAIA, Manila.

For the previous three years or so I had lived out of a suitcase for most of that time. It came with me to Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Australia. Then back to England once more. I had divested myself of many worldly goods as a result of a divorce. True, I would have liked to have kept hold of many of those goods like my bicycle, power tools, socket wrench set and my 25″ monitor Sony all-in-one PC. Oh, I nearly forgot to add my Sony “all around the house” wifi music system, and my Yamaha FJR 1300 motorcycle. But, unfortunately, I had nowhere to keep them so I said goodbye to them all.

Moving to the Philippines - Sea freight
Moving to the Philippines
Sea Freight

My first port of call after leaving the UK was Thailand. I did take my external hard drive with me along with personal possessions such as photographs. During a two month trip to Australia from Thailand, I decided to send the hard drive and other personal effects back to England. I sent them via sea with AusPost to my sister for safe keeping. It was a good move as I was starting to incur excess baggage fees on my air trips and they can run out expensive! And much to my delight, I was recently repatriated with my hard drive and other personal belongings when my sister visited here from England, for the first time since my moving to the Philippines.

There are many people however, that plan their permanent stay or retirement to the Philippines far more meticulously than I did. Some of them plan ahead for years.

I often see a question posted in expat forums asking what to bring when making decisions about moving to the Philippines on a permanent basis. Here are my thoughts –

It is not easy to find quality on certain items here like we take for granted back home. For example many small kitchen appliances and tools such as potato mashers, can openers, peelers.  You can find  quality blenders, but you have to look hard to find them. The blenders with the best quality don’t come cheap. Most of them that you find in the malls aren’t worth buying as they break so easily and burn out the motors in no time at all. They are mostly junk!

If you have one of those  mini ovens you can cook a turkey or large roast in, then I would consider shipping it over. Back in the UK I was a fan of the Crock Pot and cooked some of my favorite meals in one. I was talking about them to an American expat here. He had ordered one from the States at a unit cost of $49, but it cost him almost $200 to have it shipped here owing to import charges and other taxes!

Quality knives such as fillet knives, quality stainless steel knives that don’t rust, chopping block knives…  etcetera – I recommend you bring with you. You can find them here – but at a price!

Induction cookers are sold here, but you need quality steel and copper bottomed cookware to use on them. Again, you can find such cookware here but it will be expensive and not of the same standard as you would buy back home.

In general, quality items are not easy to find  especially outside of Manila. Even there, I am told that you need to ask around and do a lot of homework to find those stores. The one-stop store does not exist here.

You can buy quality electrical transformers  at any major hardware store. Indeed, my favorite hardware store in Bacolod is Citi Hardware. They have a good range of products and if you are picky, then you can find good quality power tools.

There is a good range of consumer electronics but the brands you know and trust such as Samsung and Sony, will inevitably be more expensive than back home. One tip, I would buy a separate freezer and refrigerator. That’s what I plan to do next time as our present refrigerator with a top freezer compartment is simply inadequate. Not just because of the lack of storage space but with two young boys in the house, the refrigerator door is constantly being opened. This does not help the frozen goods in the freezer compartment at all.

You may decide to bring your own bed sheets with you. Be wary of this if they are king size. Most beds on sale here are queen. It is possible to buy quality king beds and mattresses but again you will pay top dollar for them. We bought our king size bed and mattress at Mandaue Foam in Bacolod, but they have other branches in the Philippines.

Besides quality or lack of being an issue, there is something else to consider bringing with you. The average foreigner is larger than most Filipinos. Many foreigners have difficulty in finding clothes and footwear that fit.  In the past two months, I have bought two pairs of shoes. Well, I say shoes but one pair are what are known here as slippers, flip flops to me and you. The other was a pair of imitation Crocks. Both pinch and chafe my size 11 feet.

I would suggest you think carefully about what to bring with you. There is plenty of advice out there if you search for it.

You can always do what I did. Divest yourself of many things that foreigners have come to believe are indispensable and live a simpler life.
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